Character and the Passions

  • Edward Burns

Abstract

The Elizabethan development of a rhetorical theatre as the arena of politics and historical representation has at its basis assumptions to which middle-class Protestantism opposes itself — an opposition to the idea of a visible, common, indivisibly social life, an opposition that expresses itself in the construction of interiorities and in the assertion of an authoritative basis for the self in individual relation to God and his revealed word. But, as we have seen, that theatre, in its articulate self-reflexivity, its complex mapping of the unsaid against the spoken, can at least point to the opposite of itself. It has no simple unitary value as the symbol of a certain kind of social ‘order’. To examine the representation of the human as a political praxis (which is how Aristotle and the rhetoricians examine it) is to become aware of the complexity of Elizabethan theatrical practice, especially in an area that often unexamined notion of character has tended to obscure.

Keywords

Coherence Posit Arena Ghost Defend 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Thomas Rymer, The Tragedies of the Last Age Consider’d and Examin’d by the Practice of the Ancients, and by the Common Sense of All Ages, in a letter to Fleetwood Shepherd, Esq/, in Curt A. Zimansky (ed.), The Critical Works of Thomas Rymer (Westport, Conn., 1956), p. 26.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    A. Dacier, The Preface to Aristotle’s Art of Poetry (1705; repr. Los Angeles, 1959) A4r.Google Scholar
  3. 10.
    A. C. Bradley, Shakespearean Tragedy (first edn 1904, repr. London, 1976), p. 7.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    See Joseph R. Roach, The Players’ Passion (Newark, 1985), pp. 29–31. Roach provides a valuable account of the links between rhetorical theories of acting and early medicine.Google Scholar
  5. 19.
    René Rapin, Les Réflexions sur la Poetique de ce Temps et sur les Ouvrages des Poetes Anciens et Modernes, ed. E. T. Dubois (Geneva, 1970), XVIII, pp. 98–100.Google Scholar
  6. 34.
    Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, edited by Fredson Bowers (Oxford, 1974) Vol. II, Bk XVI, Ch. V, pp. 852–4, 856–7.Google Scholar
  7. 37.
    See especially George Winchester Stone and George M. Kahrl, David Garrick: a Critical Biography (Southern Illinois, 1979).Google Scholar
  8. 38.
    See, for example, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg’s account of Macklin’s performance; A. M. Nagler, A Source Book in Theatrical History (New York, 1952).Google Scholar
  9. 40.
    An often quoted remark. See, for example, Helen K. Smith, David Garrick (London, 1979), p. 12.Google Scholar
  10. 45.
    From Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson (1793) II. 222, quoted in Brian Vickers (ed.), Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage, Vol. 6, 1774–1801 (London, 1981), p. 571.Google Scholar
  11. 47.
    Arthur Murphy, The Critical Heritage, Vol. 4 (London, 1976) p. 105.Google Scholar
  12. 52.
    Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, edited by Alexander Campbell Fraser (Oxford, 1894) Book II, Chapter 1, pp. 121–43.Google Scholar
  13. 53.
    Maurice Morgann, Shakespearian Criticism (1777; Oxford, 1972), p. 144.Google Scholar
  14. 55.
    Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, edited by L. A. Selby-Bigge (Oxford, 1888, repr. 1964), Book I, Part I, Chapter I, pp. 1–7.Google Scholar
  15. 63.
    See Lawrence Gowring, Hogarth (London, 1972), p. 50.Google Scholar
  16. 65.
    Thomas Middleton Raysor (ed.), Coleridge’s Shakespearean Criticism (London, 1930), Vol. I, p. 82.Google Scholar
  17. 71.
    See Joel Peter Eigen, ‘Intentionality and insanity: what the eighteenth-century juror heard’, in W. F. Bynum, Roy Porter, and Michael Shepherd (eds), The Anatomy of Madness: Essays in the History of Psychiatry (London, 1985), Vol. II, pp. 34–51.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Edward Burns 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward Burns
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LiverpoolUK

Personalised recommendations