Article Abstracts

Shakespeare as Poet or Playwright?:  The Player’s Speech in Hamlet
Jason Gleckman, Chinese University of Hong Kong

Lukas Erne’s recent study of Shakespeare in relation to print, Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist, has revised our conception of Shakespeare as one uninterested in publishing his plays.  Erne demonstrates that Shakespeare was interested in creating literary drama for print purposes and not only performances for the stage.  However, Erne’s work leaves open a variety of paradigms through which to view the relationship between Shakespeare’s literary and staged drama.  While Erne implies that Shakespeare moved between the two media unproblematically, this essay uses the player’s speech from Hamlet, as well as the immediate responses to the speech on the part of Hamlet and Polonius, to suggest instead that the relationship between a Shakespearean play as staged drama and literary drama was potentially tense and constantly being renegotiated by the playwright. 

Poisoned Ears and Paternal Advice in Hamlet
Reina Green, Mount Saint Vincent University

Moralists and parents writing in the early modern period advocated that children, even as adults, should listen to and obey their parents, and noted that the words of a dying or deceased parent should have a particular impact. William Gouge is the notable exception when he suggests that parents may not always have their children's best interests at heart, particularly when they demand that wrongs done to them be avenged. Such advice resonates with the action of Hamlet, as the play not only explores how a listener can be corrupted by what is heard, but also presents several pairs of murdered fathers and avenging sons. Engaging with both the conventions of revenge tragedy and the Judeo-Christian tenets of conduct literature, Hamlet reveals the dangers of obeying parental demands for revenge, particularly those given by the ghost and Claudius. While these figures are granted parental authority by Hamlet and Laertes respectively, both are substitute parents, part of a system of substitution that runs through Hamlet, beginning with the replacement of the guards and ending with the substitution of a poisoned and unbated sword. Such substitution not only occurs in Elsinore, but also in the theatre, where nothing is as it seems. If attending to substitute speakers imperils listeners, then audiences are also at risk of being corrupted by what they hear. Shakespeare, however, deflects responsibility for such corruption by claiming that it is not his words, but the "ill-breeding" minds of his audience that are at fault.

A Son Less Than Kind: Iconography, Interpolation, and Masculinity in Branagh's Hamlet
L. Monique Pittman, Andrews University

Kenneth Branagh's infamous "full-text" Hamlet (1996) relies upon military conquest as an image of masculinity and as a pre-text to open out the stage drama of Shakespeare, to give the film the vaunted "epic" feel Branagh claimed in publicity interviews. In Branagh's film, the Fortinbras invasion of Denmark provides epic material for the action genre aspirations of the film and legitimizes Branagh as a sedulously faithful interpreter of Shakespeare's original text. However, in the vexed treatment of Hamlet Senior and the conquering Fortinbras's prowess, Branagh articulates ambivalence about the ideal of active masculinity the film ostensibly celebrates and capitalizes on for box-office profit. A cluster of iconographic moments in the film demonstrates this ambivalence. Branagh's heavy-handed deployment of interpolated matter -- the convention whereby visual additions explicate text -- deepens the conflict over masculine subjectivity. In Branagh's Hamlet, interpolation paradoxically expands uncertainty about masculine identity by protesting too much. It is no accident that the scene most laden with cuts to interpolated material is also the one most burdened by the imprint of the father's authority -- the ghost scene. As the father calls his son to martial vengeance, the son/director asserts a narrative authority that while appearing to confirm the Ghost's tale actually presents an alternate masculine subjectivity that speaks rather than acts and that trumps physical aggression with epistemological certainty. What emerges from Branagh's Hamlet is a concept of masculinity as tortured as the titular hero himself -- one that asserts deeds over words but ultimately transforms words into a superior form of action.


Another Look at ‘Amyntor’s Grove’: Pastoral and Patronage in Lovelace’s Poem
Dosia Reichardt, James Cook University, Cairns

Ever since Hazlitt identified the inhabitants of Lovelace poem ‘Amyntor’s Grove’ as Endymion Porter and his family, this association has been unquestioned and reappears in contemporary criticism, though it proves quite fragile when contextual evidence both from Lovelace’s poetic practice and from the events of the 1640s is examined.  I would like to argue that the Amyntor of Lovelace’s poem is not an exiled courtier, but Charles I, and that Chloris is Henrietta Maria–a reading that is consistent with the political and dialogic nature of much of Lovelace’s work and which may also have implications for the further exploration of the links between Lovelace and Marvell, especially in relation to the latter’s ‘The Gallery’.  Lovelace’s poem is a multi-layered text commenting on the fondness of the pre-war court for pastoral drama and on the experience of royalist defeat, as well as showing an awareness of popular sentiment. Nevertheless, Lovelace maintains his loyalist resolve, not least in publishing a volume of poems with political content at a time when love lyrics dominated. Reading the poem for its historical and political resonances reveals a Lovelace who is sharply aware of the situation of the Cavaliers and who despite his allegiance is critical of the King.  This is a view of Lovelace which has been gaining critical momentum over the last decade and which gains support from challenging ossified readings of poems such as ‘Amyntor’s Grove’.


Genre's "Phantastical Garb": The Fashion of Form in Margaret Cavendish's Natures Pictures Drawn by Fancies Pencil to the Life
Emily Smith, Emory University

Throughout Margaret Cavendish's 1656 edition of Natures Pictures Drawn by Fancies Pencil to the Life, clothing serves as a metaphor for generic experimentation by which Cavendish asserts the necessary intimacies between fashion and form at cultural and textual levels. Cavendish repeatedly deploys images of clothing in her stories and in her paratextual materials, where she makes claims for her own similarity to a tailor. The relationship between her work as an author and the work of a tailor that Cavendish sets up in her prefatory materials is continued throughout the text, in which her stories are never (in her terms) "loosely drest." Systematically, Cavendish questions processes of self-creation and public intelligibility by representing characters in various attires. Specifically in "The Contract," "The Tale of a Traveler," and "A True Relation of My Birth, Breeding, and Life," Cavendish embeds her own tendency toward fashionable excess in her fictions of sartorial self expression, thereby elaborating a framework in which to explore and undress categories of gender and genre.

© 2006-, Matthew Steggle (Editor, EMLS).