Chapter

Roasted in Wrath and Fire

Gail Kern Paster

in Humoring the Body

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780226648477
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226648484 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226648484.003.0002
Roasted in Wrath and Fire

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This chapter examines a few locutions of affect in William Shakespeare's Hamlet and Othello in order to determine how such locutions, if properly contextualized in terms of early modern phenomenology, may point to key epistemic changes in subject-object relations. In order to appreciate early modern emotions historically, the chapter considers the characters' relations to their immediate material environments as constitutive of early psychophysiological truth about self and emotion. It describes this relation—between psychophysiology and the physical constitution of the ensouled premodern world—as the ecology of the passions. The two locutions on which the chapter explores in Hamlet and Othello (Aeneas's description of Pyrrhus as “roasted in wrath and fire” and Desdemona's expression of concern that something “hath puddled” Othello's “clear spirit”) form a convenient pair in precisely inverting what they propose as affectivity's relation with the physical environment: the phrase from Hamlet representing wrath as a quality of matter dispersed into the natural order, and the phrase from Othello introducing natural substances into the deep physical recesses of the embodied self.

Keywords: locutions; William Shakespeare; Hamlet; Othello; emotions; psychophysiology; wrath; natural substances; embodied self; physical environment

Chapter.  22079 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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