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Appears in Collections:Literature and Languages eTheses
Title: Shakespeare and the language of violence.
Author(s): Wightman, Juliet Heather
Issue Date: 2003
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Focusing on a selection o f Shakespeare’s plays and narrative poems, I examine the way in which violence is articulated in language and argue that language not only figures acts o f violence but is also violent in itself. I begin by situating my argument historically, exploring perceptions o f language and its effects in Renaissance England, and demonstrate that there was a keen sense of the materiality of language. Following on from this, I outline the theoretical insights that inform my argument, highlighting the way in which Marx’s assertion that the subject is socially constructed can be usefully considered in conjunction with Lacan’s conception of the role of language in the development o f the subject. I argue that because language precedes our entry into it, it effects a violent circumscription o f the limits of the subject. I examine the representations o f sexual violence in Titus Andronicus and The Tape of Hucrece and identify the ways in which assumptions about gender difference are encoded within language, producing a female subject position largely shaped by patriarchal imperatives. In Chapter Four, I discuss executions as a highly visible form of state violence during the period and suggest that as a recurring spectacle, they contributed to the changing attitudes towards death. Paying particular attention to the representations of death in / Henry IH, I consider the way in which the production of history occurs at the level of language and emerges out of violent contestation. The violence o f the bear-pit provides the focus for Chapter Five, and I offer a reading of Coriolanus which interrogates the significance of the metaphors o f bearbaiting found throughout the play. I argue that the paradigm o f unremitting violence offered by the sport addresses aspects o f an anxious subjectivity neglected by the teleological form o f tragedy. Finally, I discuss domestic violence in relation to A Yorkshire Tragedy, emphasising that the violent potentiality embodied within linguistic structures is often the agent o f violence inflicted within the domestic sphere.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Literature and Languages

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