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Shakespeare’s Strange Conventionality

  • Brett Gamboa
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Shakespeare Studies book series (PASHST)

Abstract

This chapter explores how Shakespeare’s plays facilitate engagement by exploiting the audience’s reliance on stage conventions. It proposes that like mimesis, conventions pertaining to genre, the stage’s representative capacity, or the players’ ontological status are manipulated by the dramatist to valuable ends. Plays like Richard III, Cymbeline, and 2 Henry IV introduce ghosts and ‘dead’ bodies, then generate suspense, surprise, or disorientation by undercutting the conventions relied on for the representations. Elsewhere, the non-theatrical identities of a production’s constituent parts reassert themselves to confront spectators with problems similar to those encountered by the fictional characters; or else the plays restrict their elements’ capacities to function mimetically, our resulting awareness of the ‘real’ ontologies and uses of bodies, props, or the stage then disrupting the illusion in ways that simultaneously work to enrich it.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brett Gamboa
    • 1
  1. 1.Dartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA

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