‘Each Subtlest Passion, with Her Source and Spring’: Hamlet, Sejanus and the Concealment of Emotion

  • Jane RickardEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Shakespeare Studies book series (PASHST)


Ben Jonson has featured little in the turn towards the emotions in early modern studies in which Shakespeare has been so prominent. Yet, this essay argues, Jonson’s Roman tragedy Sejanus shares with Hamlet a concern with the concealment of emotion and its political consequences. What underlies that concern in Jonson’s play is his reading of Seneca, particularly the tragedy Medea. Bringing Hamlet into this intertextual nexus draws our attention to a subtle, integrated strand of Senecan thought in Shakespeare’s tragedy. Reconfiguring the largely discredited but still influential opposition of Shakespeare and Jonson, this essay argues that Shakespeare’s classicism may be more pervasive and Jonson’s interest in the emotions more profound than comparisons between the two writers have tended to recognise.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LeedsLeedsUK

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