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9.10.13. What is a man If his chief good and market of his time Be but to sleep and feed? – a beast, no more. Sure, he {He?} that made us with such.

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Presentation on theme: "9.10.13. What is a man If his chief good and market of his time Be but to sleep and feed? – a beast, no more. Sure, he {He?} that made us with such."— Presentation transcript:

1 9.10.13




5 What is a man If his chief good and market of his time Be but to sleep and feed? – a beast, no more. Sure, he {He?} that made us with such large discourse, Looking before and after, gave us not That capability and god-like reason, To fust in us unused… (4.4, Folio only)

6 ‘We in Englande deuide [divide] our people commonlye into foure sortes, as [1] Gentlemen, [2] Citizens or Burgesses, [3] Yeomen: and [4] Artificerers or labourers’ (William Harrison, Description of England, preface to Holinshed’s Chronicles (1577), Shakespeare’s favourite source text.) ‘Oh what a rogue and peasant slave am I…’ (2.2.527) Nb: The scale can sometimes be ascended – Shakespeare, the son of a glover, would rise to (purchase) the rank of Gentleman

7 Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia, And therefore I forbid my tears. But yet It is our trick – nature her custom holds Let shame say what it will. [Weeps] When these are gone The woman will be out… (Laertes, 4.7.183ff.)







14 “Now all knowledge makes its way into us through the senses... Knowledge begins through them and is resolved through them […] After all, we would know no more than a stone, if we did not know that there is sound, smell, light, taste...weight, softness, hardness, color..." Yet: “there is no existence that is constant, either of our being or of that of objects. And we, and our judgment, and all mortal things go on flowing and rolling unceasingly. Thus nothing certain can be established about one thing by another, both the judging and the judged being in continual change and motion.” (Montaigne, Apology for Raymond Sebond, 1575-80)

15 HAMLET: ‘Seems’, madam? Nay, it is: I know not ‘seems’. ’Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, Nor customary suits of solemn black, Nor windy suspiration of forced breath, No, nor the fruitful river in the eye, Nor the dejected ’haviour of the visage, Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief, That can denote me truly: these indeed seem, For they are actions that a man might play, But I have that within which passeth show; These but the trappings and the suits of woe. (1.2) MEDVEDENKO: Why do you always wear black? MASHA: I’m in mourning for my life. (Chekhov, opening lines of The Seagull) I wear black on the outside, Because black is how I feel on the inside. (Morrissey, ‘Unlovable’)

16 RICHARD BURBAGE, the first Hamlet

17 Hamlet: My lord, you played once i’th’university, you say. Polonius: That I did, my lord, and was accounted a good actor. Hamlet: And what did you enact? Polonius: I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed i’th’Capitol. Brutus killed me. Hamlet: It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there. (3.2)

18 THE GLOBE IN HAMLET: Hamlet: This most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. (2.2.299-303)

19 Hamlet: Remember thee? Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat / In this distracted globe.’ (1.5.100-2) Hamlet: O, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise. (3.2.8-12)

20 “The fictive worlds anatomized on the early modern stage disclose a fundamental characteristic of skeptical reasoning: the renewed attention to sense perception as a problem…” Intro to Knowing Shakespeare: Senses, Embodiment, and Cognition, eds Gallagher and Raman, 2010: p.10

21 “The scandalous idea that the senses have a history is one of the touchstones of our own historicity; if […] we still feel that the Greeks, or better still, primitive peoples were very much like ourselves, and in particular lived their bodies and their senses in the same way, then we surely have not made much progress in thinking historically.” (Frederic Jameson, The Political Unconscious 1981: 229)


23 HAMLET: Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you. Good night, mother. Exit lugging in Polonius. [ ] CLAUDIUS: There’s matter in these sighs, these profound heaves; You must translate. ’Tis fit we understand them. (3.4.218-220 - 4.1.1-2)

24 i) THE GHOST – ‘Say, why is this? Wherefore? What should we do?’ (1.4.38) ii) HAMLET before OPHELIA: Mad for thy love? My lord, I do not know, but truly I do fear it. What said he?(1.5.89) iii) OPHELIA’s madness: Her speech is nothing, Yet the unshaped use of it doth move The hearers to collection [inference]. They aim at it, And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts (4.4.8-10)

25 Scenes of Eavesdropping (Hamlet and Ophelia listened to by Claudius and Polonius; Hamlet and Gertrude listened to by Polonius) – sound but no spectacle.


27 EYES ‘THEORY’ AND ‘THEATRE’ ARE COGNATE Gr. a looking at, viewing, contemplation, speculation, theory, also a sight, a spectacle, abstr. n. f. (: * ) spectator, looker on, f. stem - of to look on, view, contemplate. L. theatrum, a. Gr., a place for viewing, esp. a theatre, f. to behold (cf. sight, view, a spectator).

28 [I, 2] BARNARDO: Sit we down awhile, And let us once again assail your ears, That are so fortified against our storyI, 2 [II, 2] HAMLET: What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, That he should weep for her? What would he do, Had he the motive and the cue for passion That I have? He would drown the stage with tears And cleave the general ear with horrid speech; Make mad the guilty and appal the free, Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed The very faculties of eyes and ears.II, 2 [III, 4] HAMLET: Here is your husband, like a mildew'd ear Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes? […] Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight, Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all, Or but a sickly part of one true sense Could not so mope.III, 4

29 [1.4] HAMLET: I would not hear your enemy say so, Nor shall you do my ear that violence To make it truster of your own report Against yourself. I know you are no truant. [I, 5] GHOST: ’Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard, A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark Is by a forged process of my death Rankly abus'd. [IV.5] CLAUDIUS: Her brother is in secret come from France; Feeds on his wonder, keeps, himself in clouds, And wants not buzzers to infect his ear With pestilent speeches of his father's death,

30 ‘Hear’ heard 31 times: Hamlet: Follow him, friends. We'll hear a play to-morrow. (2.2) Polonius: he beseech'd me to entreat your Majesties To hear and see the matter. (3.1) Hamlet: How now, my lord? Will the King hear this piece of work? (3.2)

31 “texts can be read; works must be heard and seen. It is not only the performer’s body that distinguishes ‘work’ from ‘text’ but the listeners’ bodies. Every act of speaking and listening is an existential moment that affirms (1) the selfhood of the speaker, (2) the selfhood of the listener, and (3) the culture that conjoins them” (Bruce Smith, The Acoustic World of Early Modern England, 1999, pp.21-22) ‘when a manne bothe heareth and seeth a thinge […] he dothe remember it muche the better’ (Thomas Wilson, The Art of Rhetorique, 1557, 116-116 v )

32 ‘Sit in a full theatre, and you will think you see so many lines drawn from the circumference of so many ears, whiles the actor is the centre’ ‘An excellent Actor’ in Sir Thomas Overbury [and others], His Wife. With Addition of...divers more Characters (1616), sig. M2.


34 The ‘second tooth’ theory


36 Why is the ear more vulnerable than the eye? (intramission and extramission) According to one school of thought, seeing was the result of something leaving the eye and travelling to thing seen then back to the eye, often the result of beams of light sent out from the seer’s eye – He seemed to find his way without his eyes (For out o’doors he went without their helps) And to the last bended their light on me. (2.1.95-7) cf John Donne, ‘The Ecstasy’: Our eye-beames twisted, and did thread Our eyes, upon one double string

37 ‘The cause is for that the Sense of Hearing striketh the Spirits more immediately, than the other Senses; And more incorporeally than Smelling: For the Sight, Taste, and Feeling, have their Organs, not of so immediate Access to the Spirits as the Hearing hath’ Sir Francis Bacon, Sylva Sylvarum pub. 1626 Sounds are more physically assaultive than sights; ‘the power of sound resides in the fact that it is a matter of motion, of waves of air physically striking the members of hearing.’ (Bruce Smith, Acoustic, p.105)

38 All other senses involve choice: smell can be avoided by breathing through one’s mouth; we have an even clearer choice to taste or not to taste, to touch or not to touch, to see or not to see…

39 If you let the play speak for itself, it may not make a sound. (Peter Brook)



42 I haue heard, that guilty Creatures sitting at a Play, Haue by the very cunning of the Scoene, Bene strooke so to the soule, that presently They haue proclaim'd their Malefactions. For Murther, though it haue no tongue, will speake With most myraculous Organ.


44 What can sooner print the modesty in the souls of the wanton than by discovering unto them the monstrousness of their sin? If follows that we prove these exercises [plays] to have been the discovers of many notorious murders, long concealed from the eyes of the world. To omit all far-fetched instances, we will prove it by a domestic and home- born truth, which within these few years happened. At Lynn in Norfolk, the then Earl of Sussex’s players acting the old history of Friar Francis, and presenting a woman who […] had secretly murdered her husband, whose ghost haunted her, and at diverse times in her most solitary and private contemplations, in most horrid and fearful shapes, appeared and stood before her. As this was acted, a townswoman (till then of good estimation and report) finding her conscience (at this presentment) extremely troubled, suddenly screeched and cried out ‘Oh my husband, my husband! I see the ghost of my husband fiercely threatening and menacing me’ […] whereupon the murderess was apprehended, before the Justices further examined, and by her voluntary confession after condemned. That this is true, as well by the report of the actors as the records of the town, there are many eye-witnesses of this accident yet living, vocally to confirm it. Thomas Heywood, An Apology for Actors, 1612. (Reprinted in Shakespeare’s Theatre: A Sourcebook, ed. Tanya Pollard, pp.244-45)

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