Metadrama and antitheatricality in Shakespeare's King Lear and Troilus and Cressida

Metadrama and antitheatricality in Shakespeare's King Lear and Troilus and Cressida

Material Information

Metadrama and antitheatricality in Shakespeare's King Lear and Troilus and Cressida
Willcox, Douglas R
Place of Publication:
[Tampa, Fla]
University of South Florida
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
National mythology
Antitheatrical prejudice
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- Masters -- USF ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


ABSTRACT: Shakespeare uses metadrama as a rhetorical vehicle for responding to antitheatricalism; realistic drama and staged theatricality therefore coexist in his plays. The cultural context of the early modern era, especially its antitheatrical rhetoric and the predominance of theatricality throughout the structures of its society, illumines the interaction of metadrama and antitheatricality Shakespeare's plays, particularly Troilus and Cressida and King Lear. By failing to consider adequately the unique nature of the emergence of early modern theater and the equally distinct reaction to its popularity, previous scholarship considering antitheatricality has exhibited essentialism and a universalizing tendency similar to that of the antitheatricalists.The paucity of specifically protheatrical response in prose to the immense antitheatrical work of polemicists such as William Prynne and to antitheatrical tracts and publications signals the presence of protheatrical response within the literature of the stage: its plays. Metadramatic critics have noted that metadrama provides a subtle means of establishing a connection between actors and their audience and that it serves as a means of interrogating various deployments of theatrical power and the motives implied by its use. Troilus and Cressida celebrates, interrogates, and reproves the theater, engaging the proponents and detractors of the theater through depictions of Ulysses and Pandarus as effective and ineffective interior directors, respectively.Ulysses's militaristic drive toward victory at all costs demonstrates his affinity to the figure of the stage Machiavel, while his seemingly inexplicable hostility toward Achilles similarly marks his connection to the figure of the Vice. Pandarus's relation to theatricality highlights the negative associations of theater and prostitution apparent in the works of the antitheatricalists. His self-delusory propensity to motivate others to actions to which they are already predisposed mocks and calls into question the assertion that theater exerts motivational power over its audience. Literary critics considering King Lear observe that identity loss underpins the tragic process apparent in the plays' protagonists. Depictions of staged theatrical ability and inability and positive depictions of antitheatrical Puritanism pervade King Lear.The deployment of theatricality in the play both emphasizes its creative and soteriological function and embodies the harmful potential of dramaturgical art.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2008.
Includes bibliographical references.
System Details:
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System Details:
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
General Note:
Title from PDF of title page.
General Note:
Document formatted into pages; contains 70 pages.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Douglas R. Willcox.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
002047307 ( ALEPH )
497852636 ( OCLC )
E14-SFE0002756 ( USFLDC DOI )
e14.2756 ( USFLDC Handle )

Postcard Information



This item has the following downloads:

Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 standalone no
record xmlns http:www.loc.govMARC21slim xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.loc.govstandardsmarcxmlschemaMARC21slim.xsd
leader nam 2200385Ka 4500
controlfield tag 001 002047307
005 20100113122251.0
007 cr bnu|||uuuuu
008 100113s2008 flu s 000 0 eng d
datafield ind1 8 ind2 024
subfield code a E14-SFE0002756
PR83 (Online)
1 100
Willcox, Douglas R.
0 245
Metadrama and antitheatricality in Shakespeare's King Lear and Troilus and Cressida
h [electronic resource] /
by Douglas R. Willcox.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 70 pages.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2008.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: Shakespeare uses metadrama as a rhetorical vehicle for responding to antitheatricalism; realistic drama and staged theatricality therefore coexist in his plays. The cultural context of the early modern era, especially its antitheatrical rhetoric and the predominance of theatricality throughout the structures of its society, illumines the interaction of metadrama and antitheatricality Shakespeare's plays, particularly Troilus and Cressida and King Lear. By failing to consider adequately the unique nature of the emergence of early modern theater and the equally distinct reaction to its popularity, previous scholarship considering antitheatricality has exhibited essentialism and a universalizing tendency similar to that of the antitheatricalists.The paucity of specifically protheatrical response in prose to the immense antitheatrical work of polemicists such as William Prynne and to antitheatrical tracts and publications signals the presence of protheatrical response within the literature of the stage: its plays. Metadramatic critics have noted that metadrama provides a subtle means of establishing a connection between actors and their audience and that it serves as a means of interrogating various deployments of theatrical power and the motives implied by its use. Troilus and Cressida celebrates, interrogates, and reproves the theater, engaging the proponents and detractors of the theater through depictions of Ulysses and Pandarus as effective and ineffective interior directors, respectively.Ulysses's militaristic drive toward victory at all costs demonstrates his affinity to the figure of the stage Machiavel, while his seemingly inexplicable hostility toward Achilles similarly marks his connection to the figure of the Vice. Pandarus's relation to theatricality highlights the negative associations of theater and prostitution apparent in the works of the antitheatricalists. His self-delusory propensity to motivate others to actions to which they are already predisposed mocks and calls into question the assertion that theater exerts motivational power over its audience. Literary critics considering King Lear observe that identity loss underpins the tragic process apparent in the plays' protagonists. Depictions of staged theatrical ability and inability and positive depictions of antitheatrical Puritanism pervade King Lear.The deployment of theatricality in the play both emphasizes its creative and soteriological function and embodies the harmful potential of dramaturgical art.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Advisor: Sara Munson Deats, Ph.D.
National mythology
Antitheatrical prejudice
Dissertations, Academic
x English
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856


Metadrama and Antitheatricality in Shakespeares King Lear and Troilus and Cressida by Douglas R. Willcox A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of English College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Sara Munson Deats, Ph.D. Sheila Diecidue, Ph.D. Patricia Nickinson, Ph.D. Date of Approval: November 21, 2008 Keywords: National Mythology, Antith eatrical Prejudice, Meta theater, Performativity, Barish Copyright 2008, Douglas R. Willcox


i Table of Contents Abstract ii Introduction 1 Historical Milieu 3 The Antitheatrical Debate 3 The Antitheatrical Case 4 The Protheatrical Case 14 Troilus and Cressida 18 Critical History 18 Antitheatricality and Metadrama in Troilus and Cressida 28 King Lear 44 Critical History 44 Antitheatricality and Metadrama in King Lear 52 Conclusion 66 Works Cited 68


ii Metadrama and Antitheatricality in Shakespeares King Lear and Troilus and Cressida Douglas R. Willcox ABSTRACT Shakespeare uses metadrama as a rhetorical vehicle for responding to antitheatricalism; realistic dram a and staged theatricality ther efore coexist in his plays. The cultural context of the early modern era, especially its an titheatrical rhetoric and the predominance of theatricality throughout the structures of its society, illumines the interaction of metadrama and antitheatri cality Shakespeares plays, particularly Troilus and Cressida and King Lear By failing to consider adequa tely the unique nature of the emergence of early modern th eater and the equall y distinct reaction to its popularity, previous scholarship considering antitheatri cality has exhibited essentialism and a universalizing tendency similar to that of the antitheatricalists. The paucity of specifically protheatrical response in pros e to the immense antith eatrical work of polemicists such as William Prynne and to antitheatrical tracts and publications signals the presence of protheatrical response within the literature of the stage: its plays. Metadramatic critics have noted that metadrama provides a subtle means of establishing a connection between actors and th eir audience and that it serves as a means of interrogating various deployments of theat rical power and the motives implied by its use. Troilus and Cressida celebrates, interroga tes, and reproves the theater, engaging the proponents and detractors of the theater thr ough depictions of Ulysses and Pandarus as


iii effective and ineffective interior directors, respectively. Ulyssess militaristic drive toward victory at all costs demonstrates his a ffinity to the figure of the stage Machiavel, while his seemingly inexplicable hostility to ward Achilles similarly marks his connection to the figure of the Vice. Pandaruss relati on to theatricality highlights the negative associations of theater and pros titution apparent in the works of the antitheatricalists. His self-delusory propensity to motivate others to actions to which they are already predisposed mocks and calls in to question the assertion that theater exerts motivational power over its audience. Lite rary critics considering King Lear observe that identity loss underpins the tragic process appa rent in the plays protagonists. Depictions of staged theatrical ability and inability and positive depi ctions of antitheatrical Puritanism pervade King Lear The deployment of theatricality in the play both emphasizes its creative and soteriological function and embodies the harmful potential of dramaturgical art.


1 Introduction In Troilus and Cressida and King Lear, two intensely masterful and sobering plays, Shakespeare portrays not only drama at its purest and most straightforward, but alsoand simultaneouslymultiple levels of metadrama. Both plays debunkthough in vastly different waysfailed mythologies; both plays can also be considered dramas of the real, although Lear surpasses Troilus in this aspect with the latter play having a more poignantly satirical flavor. In addition, the perf ormance histories of both plays testify that only at the advent of th e modern erawith modern ism to be more precisedid they come to be widely performed in ways adhe ring to the original scripts by Shakespeare. Paradoxically, however, these realistic plays bo th exhibit and to some extent revolve around the depictions of depictions, the dramas of dramas, andespecially in Troilus the satires of satires. In these two works heightened realism and self-consciously histrionic metadrama dynamically complement each other. An awareness of the early modern eras cultural context, specifically its well-documented antitheatrical debate, elucidates this paradox as it operates in these two particular plays, as Shakespeare simultaneously affirms and subverts the cultu ral construction of th eater, a construction manufactured by both the proponents and antago nists of an art form whose flowering coincided with what we now know as modernit y. In this thesis, I will build and expand upon the works of scholars such as Sara Muns on Deats, Jean E. Howard, Jyotsyna Singh,


2 and Erin Rutter, who first discovered and documented the connection between metadrama and the antitheatrical prejudice in the drama of this period. I will employ a new historical methodology closely modele d on their works and demonstrate the correlation between metadrama and antitheatricali ty in the early modern era, a connection that I believe enhances an historical and aesthetic unders tanding of a unique cultural phenomenon.


3 Historical Milieu The Antitheatrical Debate Controversy surrounded the Elizabethan and Jacobean theater as it became more and more popular, just as c ontroversy has surrounded popular theater of other eras. The rise of theater in early modern England, however, displayed some important characteristics not shared by the ascendenc y of theater in these other eras, and consequently the opposition to the theater in the early modern era proved to be particularly vehement. In The Antitheatrical Prejudice Jonas Barish observes: One recurrent feature of the history of the theater is the fact that outbur sts of antitheatrical sentiment tend to coincide with the flourishing of the theater itself (66). In this brief introductory chapter, I will explore the historical context informing certain methodologies and techniques in Shakespeares Troilus and Cressida and King Lear and also consider literatures from the early mode rn era that are avowedly antitheatrical or protheatrical. I will not attribute the motivations of the antitheatrical writers to a universal antitheatrical prejudice somehow inherent in human naturea fundamental assumption of Barishs workbecause this view fails to account adequately for the unique historical forces present in early modern England during the emergence of its theater. Political, religious, and artistic aspirations spurred writers on both sides of the controversy


4 surrounding the popularity of the early modern theater in England, and although I risk oversimplification by casting the debate as a simple antitheatrical vs. protheatrical binary, I will employ this method for expe diency, looking first at the case of the antitheatrical writers, follow ing with a consideration of specifically protheatrical writings, and then concludi ng by analyzing the overlappi ng assumptions, disjunctions, and anomalies extant in the works that I consider. The Antitheatrical Case In his famous rebuttal of the antitheatric al case, A Defence of Poesy, Sir Philip Sidney perhaps most eloquently and succinc tly states the antitheatrical position: [t]he most important imputations laid to the poor poets . are these. First, that there being many other more fr uitful knowledges, a man might better spend his time in them than this. Secondly, that it is the mother of lies. Thirdly, that it is the nurse of abus e, infecting us with many pestilent desires, with a sirens sweetness drawing the mind to the serpents tale of sinful fancies . ; how both in other nations and in ours, before poets did soften us, we were full of courage, give n to martial exercises, the pillars of manlike liberty, and not lulled asleep in shady idleness with poets pastimes. And lastly, and chiefly, they cry out with open mouth as if they overshot Robin Hood, that Plato banished them out of his commonwealth. (369)


5 It is worth mentioning in connection with th is passage that during the early modern era and well before, not much distinction was ma de between poetry and playwrighting; they were considered to be the same endeavor (D eats 1). What Sidney sums up in a single paragraph comprises over one thousand pa ges of rambling, margin-riddled prose in William Prynnes Histriomastix a work that has received very little scholarly attention since the nineteenth century. According to Arthur Freeman, Histriomastix is probably the longest antitheatrical polemic in any language (5). Whether or not antitheatrical writings had any measurable effect on the early modern English theater is an interesting que stion unfortunately be yond the scope of this thesis. Speaking hypothetically, however, I am confident that if there were one antitheatrical work that effected a radical change, it would be Histriomastix That the work had far-reaching implicationsincluding personal ones for the authoris indisputable, given the historical circumst ances of its publication and the reaction of Charles I. After the publication of Histriomastix in 1633, Prynnes ears were cropped on two separate occasions by order of the Star Chamber, which also branded SL onto both of his cheeks, signifying to the crown that he was a Seditious Libe ler, and signifying to Prynne that he had received Stigmata La udis, or the marks of Laud (i.e., Bishop William Laud). After the interregnum, Charles II restored Prynne to a degree of dignity by awarding him a position as Keeper of the Tower Records (Barish 88). Both in his punishment and in his subsequent restoration, Prynne proved to be politically useful to the civil authorit ies of England. Although Barish somewhat mockingly genera lizes the writings of Prynne and his fellow antitheatricalists as rehears[ing] all the objections against the stage first


6 formulated by the [Church] Fathers, along w ith a plentiful sprinkling of picturesque anecdote and invective agains t the loose manners of a London playhouse, he also astutely points out that [i]t need not be assumed . that when they recite grievances dating back to early Christian times they ar e merely witlessly parroting their ancestors (88). I fully concur with Barishs assessm ent, but would add that although Prynne may not be merely parroting the social concerns of early Christians, he does fail to make a distinction between Roman and English theater. For Prynne all theat er is pagan, and the rich history of the English theatera theater having its origins in Christian liturgy as well as in the morality and mystery playsmake s no difference to him whatsoever. Prynne evinces his knowledge of the English theaters ecclesias tical roots in the following passage from Histriomastix: Now even Stage-playes have a cert aine shape of Images; and oft times move the pious affections of Chri stians, more than prayer it selfe. And after this manner truly Stage playes and shewes are wont to be exhibited on certaine times of the year e, the certaine pictures of certaine Evangelicall histories being annexed to them. Of which sort is this, . that on the day of the resurrection of our Lord in the morning after morning prayers, Angels in white garments, sitting upon the sepulcher, aske the women comming thither and weeping, saying; Whom seeke ye women in this tumult, weeping? he is not here whom ye seeke: but goe ye quickly, and tell his Disciples; Come and see the place where the Lord lay. And that on the same day the im age of our Lord, bearing an ensigne


7 of Victorie, is carried about in publike procession, and placed upon the altar to be gazed upon by the people. (763-764) Prynne knows that the institution that he criticiz es, the English theater, has its origins in the institution that he champions, the Church. Yet his inability to discern degrees of moral value in different types of dramatic representation emerges in his commentary on Church drama: O the desperate madnesse, th e unparalleld profanes of these audacious Popish Priests & Papists, who dare turne th e whole history of our Saviours life, death, Nativitie, Passion, Resurrection, Ascention, and the very gift of the holy Ghost descending in cloven tongues, into a meer e prophane ridiculous Stage-play (765). According to Prynnes own legal testimony, he began Histriomastix at the age of twenty-four (Freeman 6), and the lack of refere nce to specific plays or playwrights in his work makes it apparent that he must have had meager exposure to the theater before taking his Quixotic stance agai nst it. As Barish notes (85) Prynne frequently catalogues multiple social evils, indiscriminately attribut ing the cause of each to the theater. Prynne assumes the stance of an arch-conservative reac tionary, conflating most of the evils that he addresses with the theater as if it were impossible that some of them might have existed independently of this institution, and as if it were impossible that these evils originated outside of the theater. Prynnes universalizing tendency pervades his work; he writes as if all theater everywhere were exactly as corrupt as some theaters and plays at some times and in some places. Despite these flaws, however, Prynne represents a salient example of the extent of the opposition to the theater flourishing at this period. At least, Prynnes inveterate negativism (Barish 88) could not have been impugned as being inconsistent or timid.


8 Theater for him metaphorically represented th e disintegration he sa w around him in every sphere of life: the political, the religious, and the social. This disintegration included the transgression of boundaries as commoners under patronage became nearly as wealthy as their masters, the transgression of gende r as male actorsmen and boysconvincingly portrayed women and girls, and the transgression of class as stage players openly violated sumptuary laws and donned the garments of no bility. Regardless of what motivated his zealous and passionate war agai nst the theater, Prynnes ac tions and life clarified the issues surrounding the controversy and ev inced the interconnect edness of multiple convictions undergirding his obviou s hostility to the theater. While endorsing Prynnes essential argument and employing many of the same writing stratagems, Stephen Gosson manifested many qualities in his writing diametrically opposite to those of Prynne. Part of this difference arose from a difference in occupation. Prynnea staunch Puritan, a lawyer, and a parliamentarianseemed unacquainted with and unappreciative of imag inative enterprises of any sort; his writing reflects a mind wholly occupied with prosaic things. Gosson, on the other hand, fashioned himself to be a reformed playwrig ht, and his writing reflects the imaginative repertoire of someone who has writtensom ewhat successfully, apparentlyfor the stage. The reader of Prynne may hesitate to grant any credibility to his opposition to the theater because it seems apparent that he ne ver really enjoyed th e theater and perhaps rarely saw a play. Conversely, Gosson strikes the reader as someone still fascinated with the theater and, in fact, trying to perpetua te a writing career by switching from poetic theatrical writing to prosaic an titheatrical writing. Just as Sir Philip Sidney eloquently states the position of his adversaries in his Defence, Gosson, in framing his


9 counterargument, lucidly delineates the argum ent in favor of drama: Nowe are the abuses of the worlde reueale d, euery man in a play may see his owne faultes, and learne by this glasse, to amende his manners (24). Nothing in Histriomastix exhibits anything like the deference and rationality that Gosson em ploys here by clearly stating the position against which he argues. While Prynne does paraphrase Aristotle ( 121), he does not display a sophisticated understanding of Aristotelian philosophy. C onversely, Gosson speaks in the language of the theater. For instance, in alluding to th e end of Caligulas life, Gosson remarks, For as [Caligulas] life was abhominable, so wa s his end miserable: Comming from dancing and playing, he was slaine by Chrea a iust rewarde, and a fit Catastrophe (29). By using terms such as Cas tastrophe and iust rewarde Gosson demonstrates his understanding of how Aristote lian literary theoryhamartia peripeteia, anagnorisis informs dramaturgical craft. Another difference between Gosson and Prynne lies in what they are willing to concede. Both hold the theaters accountable for the types of people and the types of transactions reputed to take place in the theaters without making a distinction between those who write and perform plays and those who frequent them. While Prynne remains stalwart throughout Histriomastix against all playwrights, ac tors, and Play-haunters, Gosson makes a concession that we would neve r hear from Prynne: And as some of the Players are farre from abuse: so some of their Playes are without rebuke (42). A final difference worth considering in th e two authors relates to their respective audiences. An early modern non-religious read er, regardless of whether or not he or she was familiar with the theater, would probably have been alienated or repelled by Prynnes


10 imposing 380-word title page that immediately labels plays as Pompes of the Divell, sinfull, and heathenish. Prynne include s many laws and regulations in his work specifically pertaining to the behavior of pastors and cl ergy, clearly indicating that professional audience to be the primary focus of his writing. Gossons work, for the most part, makes only very tentative and oblique references to the Church, God, or the scriptures. He freely invokes the myths of Greek deities, just as a playwright might in the dialogue of a play. Although passages in Go sson contain militaristic and reactionary overtones, his work probably appealed to a broader early modern readership. The approach of Phillip Stubbes in his Anatomie of Abuses shares much with that of Prynne, including exhortations to artists to abandon th eir careers, a ttacks on the lawfulness of plays, and complaints about the popularity of fictions as opposed to scripture and devotional liter ature. Unlike both Prynne and Gosson, however, Stubbes utilizes a dialogue form imitating that of a stag e play to argue his points. This technique resembles that of Platos Republic which employs a poetic and dramatic style to argue against the inclusion of poets in Platos ideal republic. Most early modern antitheatrical writers included an appeal to the authority of Plato in their at tacks on theater, but Stubbess use not only of the content of Platos argument but also of its form subjects Stubbes to the same criticism leveled against Plato himself, namely that he betrays an inclination toward poetry by using the di alogue form and poe tic language in his argument. A distinctive and effective feature of Stubbess Anatomie one that appeals in a strange way to the post-modern sensibility is the use of sarcasm. Consider, for example, the following passage:


11 And wheras, you say, there are good Exampl es to be learned in [plays]: Trulie, so there are: if you will lear ne falshood, if you will learn cosenage: if you will learn to deceiue: if you will l earn to play the Hipocrit: to cogge, lye and falsifie: if you will learn to iest, laugh and fleer, to grin, to nodd, and mow: if you will learn to play e the vice, to swear, teare, and blaspheme, both Heauen and Earth: If you will learn to become a bawde, vncleane, and to deuerginat Mayds, to deflour honest Wyues: if you will learne to murther, slaie, kill, picke, steal, robbe and roue: If you will learn to rebel against Princes, to comit tresons, to consume treasurs, to practise ydlenes, to sing and talke of bawdie loue and venery: if you will lerne to deride, scoffe, mock & flowt, to flatter & smooth: If you will learn to play the whore-maister, the glutton, Drunkard, or incestuous person: if you will learn to become proude, hawtie & arr ogant: and finally, if you will learne to comtemne GOD and al his lawes, to care neither for heauen nor hel, and to commit al kinde of sinne and mischeef you need to goe to no other schoole, for all these good Examples may you see painted before your eyes in enterludes and playes. . (105-106) Within the imagined dialogue, Philo (the pe rsona created by the author to convey the position represented in the work), in replyi ng to the prompting statementthere are good Examples to be learned in themdoes not openly rebut the statement, but instead agrees wholeheartedly: Trulie, so there are. . . The catalog of abuses that follows is predicated on the value attri buted to the word good, so th at at the end of the passage Philo can parrot the term good back to th e prompting persona, Spud: you need to goe


12 to no other schoole, for all these good Examples, may you see painted before your eyes in enterludes and playes (emphasis mine). Looking specifically at the writings of Prynne, Gosson, and Stubbes clarifies the following characteristics common to the group: none of these writers specifically targets any particular writer or play ; all the writers rail against ot her vices that they associate with plays, but which are not by any stretch of the imagination necessary adjuncts of the theater; each writer cynically dismisses the possibility that anything good or virtuous could be learned at a play; and all of the writers refuse to acknowledge any difference between the theater of Engla nd and the theater of antiquity. All of these writers, in various ways, demonstrate a hostile stance toward the theater. Considering the progression that the theat er made from the middle ages through the end of the sixteenth century helps to contex tualize the intensity of their resistance. In medieval England, Church and street dramas having Christian orig ins and content still met with harsh vituperation and outright prejudice. Although no sustained body of antitheatrical writing survives (Barish 66) from this era, individual instances of antitheatrical sentiment do appear in the historical record. Gerhoh of Reichersberg, for instance, berates those who use church as a theatre (qtd. in Barish 67) and an anonymous fourteenth-century se rmon against miracle plays, g enerally agreed to be of Lollard inspiration, similarly documents what one may assume to have been a vigorous minority opinion (Barish 67). Barish does emphasize that the theater in medieval England was less criticized and oppresse dat least initiallyand also more celebrated than that of ancient Rome precisely because of its Christian origin and content. The key to [the] forbearance [of the ecclesiastical au thorities], according to Barish, lies of


13 course in the fact that the theater this time had sprung not from an alien, hostile religion but from Christianity (67). Barish highlight s additional historical ironies of theatrical production: Early in the [sixteenth] century, when the stage served chiefly as an adjunct to pedagogy, helping teac h correct pronunciation and good deportment to schoolboys, or when it se rved as a toy of the court and the great nobility, it was possible for fi erce Protestants like John Bale and John Foxe themselves to write plays and destine them for performance. . It might help form sober citizens and godly parishoners. But with the building of the playhouse s toward the end of the century, the creation of a permanent class of professional actors under the aegis of the crown, and the gradual tightening of government control over all theatrical activityin short, with the theate r more visibly legitimized and institutionalized than at any time sin ce Greek daysthe attack moves into high gear. (Barish 82-83) Yet even this historical context fails to explai n the hostility of the an titheatrical writers in any satisfactory way. Barish sees this alle ged antitheatrical prejudi ce as a particular historical manifestation of an antitheatrical prejudice existing universally as a part of human nature (4). By approaching these works under this assumption, he overshoots the mark. While I agree that early modern an titheatrical writers share much with antitheatrical writers of ot her eras, Barish too quickly ascribes the pronounced vehemence of these writersparticularly Prynneto a repetitive process in human


14 history caused by an inherent prejudice. Barish himself concedes that Prynnes Histriomastix constitutes a high-water mark in the history of antitheatrical writing (83). I suggest that insecurities ar ising from radical paradigm shifts in the religious, philosophical, political, and arti stic realms contributed both to the rise of the theater in early modern England as well as to the particularly vehement opposition accompanying that rise, making both phenomena worthy of consideration as di stinctive historical events not easily reconcilable to the antith eatrical sentiment of other eras. The Protheatrical Case Despite the general lack of a specifically protheatrical discourse outside of the dramatic medium itself, two writers Thomas Heywood and Sir Philip Sidney published prose treatises in defense of poetry and the theater. Because of his status as an aristocrat and non-professional writer, Sidne ys treatise was not published until after his death. Sidneys Defence, quoted earlier, masterfully handles almost every accusation proffered by the antitheatrical writers. Hi s circumspect awareness of the arguments against poetry serves to buttress his cred ibility as a defender of the imaginative enterprise. Sidneys writing such an elaborate, highly rh etorical, well-researched, and logically complex prose work for the expresse d purpose of vindicating poetry testifies to the strong antitheatrical sentiment roughly c oncurrent with Shakespeares plays. Despite its many strengths, as Barish has documented, Heywoods workAn Apology for Actorsthrust[s] weapons into the hands of his adversaries (120) by not only validating the fears of the antitheatri calists, but also by ex acerbating those fears


15 through a reckless defense of the theater th at lacks understanding of the arguments against it. Some of the arguments in the poetic prologue mirror and reverse antitheatric polemic by asserting that plays as a pastime exceed other potential pastimes in virtue. This argument rests on the view that theater serves primarily as a pastime, and by categorizing it as such, Heywood thereby asse nts to accusations that the theater keeps people from Church or productive work. Heyw ood rehearses much of the same material that Sidney incorporates in his essay: that the stage symbolically censures vice and rewards virtue, that it moves spectators to virtuous action, and that it provides a useful educational tool for educators. Heywood re fers to other theatri cal virtuesthe noble audience of plays, the excellence of actors, th e moral lessons that the theater teaches, and the improvement of the English language th at drama fosters, for exampleand praises the architectural accomplishments manifest in the theaters of the ancients as monuments to a noble enterprise. While granting the baseness of some players, Heywood makes a case that actors generally form an upright fraternity, censuring through exclusion those who transgress the standards of the community. The prose literature written against the theaterboth in the form of pamphlets and in more formal works like Prynnes Histriomastix certainly outweighs similar works in support of theater, such as Sidneys A Defence of Poesy and Heywoods An Apology for Actors. The paucity of protheatrical writings from this era, however, can be at least partially attribut ed to the theaters success; because it manifested a clearly effective rhetoric in its own productions, the theater had no pressing need to defend itself or engage antitheatricalists in prose argumen ts. The plays themselves are a form of protheatrical literature. Als o, the theater owed a great d eal of its success to royal


16 patronage and protection, without which it would have enjoyed ne ither popularity nor success. Looking to the play s themselves for the response of dramatists/poets to antitheatrical propaganda illumi nates how both protheatrical a nd antitheatrical discourses functioned. Shakespeare took the theater s opponents seriously, as did his fellow playwright Ben Jonson. To remark that theater is intrinsically protheatrica l may seem obvious, yet it is imperative to state clearly that the primary site of a protheatrical discourse resides precisely in the theater, and not only in the theater as an abstract concept, not only in its authors, its texts, its perfor mative utterances, and those th eatrical aspects most conducive to academic consideration, but also in the physicality of the playhouse building with its custom-designed architecture, the trapdoors, the heavens, the tiring h ouse with its costumes, the recesses and tiered galleries, th e elaborate props, mechanisms, and special effects.1 Stephen Greenblatt, in an imaginative reconstruction of the era, remarks that [a]ny young actor or aspiring playwright up from the provinces must have felt on entering a London playhouse that he had died and gone to theatrical heaven (184). The theater, then, functioned as a strategic site of resistance both in an intellectual sense and in a physical sense. The physical placement of the site, as Greenblatt also notes, was politically strategic: [James] Burbage and [John] Brayne were wise to build [the theater] on land they had leased in the liberty of Holy well in the suburb of Shoreditch, outside the Bishopsgate entrance to the city. Here . the enterprise wa s subject to the queens Privy Council rather than the city (183). The theaters locati on in the liberty of Holywell associated the theaterfi guratively, economically, and politicallywith other amusements that ecclesiastical an d municipal authorities opposed:


17 [The theater] conjoined and played with almost everything that the entertainment zone had to offer: dancing, music, games of skill, blood sports, punishment, sex. Indeed, the boundaries between theatrical imitation and reality, between one form of amusement and another, were often blurred. [Prostitutes] worked the playhouse crowd and, at least in the fantasies of the theaters enemies, conducted their trad e in small rooms on-site. (181) Given the proximity of the theater to thes e other sites of amusement, it makes sense that in the attacks of the anti theatrical writers the theater became closely associated with societal evils other than the supposed evil of theater itself. Barish identifies the catalogue of horrors as a staple technique of the radical antitheatricalists (85), yet considering the degree to which the theater shar ed a physical space as well as a similarity of entertainment appeal with other enterprises in the liberties, this conflation of terms and targets may be at least partially understandable if not excusable. I believe that the lack of specifically p rotheatrical literature from this era strongly indicates that the thea ter itself functioned as its own best defender, that we have in the plays themselves a strong protheatrical literature, a literature that by including within itself dialogue between pro- and an ti- theatrical positions succeeds, whereas the one-sided and reactionary literature of the antitheatrical polemicistsbecause of its unbalanced and overtly biased positionstotally fails.


18 Troilus and Cressida Critical History No survey of metadramatic literary crit icism could respectably begin without a consideration of Anne Righters Shakespeare and the Idea of the Play2. Righter informatively demonstrates that Elizabetha n and Jacobean theater goers inherited from their medieval counterparts a level of discomfort with plays that were overly selfcontained, since audiences of both eras expected to have a part to play in the plays that they viewed. She also notes that extra-dramatic address (direct audience address from a character within the play) was normally asso ciated with the Vice figure (55). Righter further points out that metadrama evolved in English drama as a means of establishing [a connection] between actors and audience that is far more subtle than extra-dramatic address (75). Righters c onception of the power of early modern English theater and how its proponents and critics viewed that power provides a valuable context for understanding Shakespeares em ployment of metadrama in Troilus. Righter incisively observes: Both the champions and the enem ies of the theatre thought that it could change lives (82). Philip Edwards, a critic c onsidered foundational by later critics such as Richard Fly, argues that characters in the play on bot h the Greek and Trojan sides attempt to


19 elevate hopeless, dull, and munda ne situations through the us e of elevated language (9798), yet this very attempt be lies and accentuates the enervating ubiquity of what Edwards labels the dark lake . of unorganized experience (3). Edwardss criticism calls attention to the enormous gap between word and action that pervades the play: There is a distance shown between mens beliefs, plans, vows, and what actually happens, which the play maintains is not bridgeable (106). Edwards also illumines the general lack of consistent moral integrity in any of the plays characters; according to Edwards, ironically, Thersites and Diom edes are the only two characters whose words truthfully describe actions in the world of the play. Frustratingly, Eugene Nassar in his work The Rape of Cinderella omits Troilus and Cressida in his survey of metadramatic play s by Shakespeare. This omission seems truly odd considering David Beving tons remark in describing Troilus and Hamlet that no other plays in the Shakespeare canon are so insistently conscious of theater and roleplaying ( Troilus 75). Nassars criticism of Shakespeares plays, however, quite insightfully illumines how Shakespearean actors inhabit the limina l space between being in character and functioning almost extra-dram atically as choric figures who offer the comment, the meditation, [and] the rhetorical or witty counterpointing upon the core action of the play (104). Nassars concept of (choric) rhetoric (109) provides an important vehicle for interpreting Troiluss frequently criticized disjunctions. James L. Calderwoods seminal work, Shakespearean Metadrama, in many ways inspires and anchors the body of metadramatic criticism that I have consulted in approaching Troilus and Cressida. According to Calderwood, Shakespeare is obsessed by the duplexity of art (15) and his plays a re not only about the va rious moral, social,


20 political, and other thematic issues with which critics ha ve so long and quite properly been busy, but also about Shakespeares plays (5). In Calderwoods reading, Shakespeares own theater becomes the master metaphor of life-as-drama and Calderwood expands his analysis by sugges ting that metaphors are reciprocally illuminative; between the metaphor of the play and the play itself th ere is a meaningful interplay (5-6). Calderwoods criticism tends to function at a macroscopic level, equating comprehensive themes pervading the plays that he discusses to metadramatic metaphors or statements. Lawrence Danson identifies Troilus as a play focusing on problems of expression (68) and interprets it in light of contrary streams of word and action. He also notes that Troilus is a play in which ironic dissoluti on is allowed to have its way over heroic reintegration (75) a nd identifies the play as a dead ly serious . parody of tragic attitudes and structure (77, 79). Danson further observes that the scene of Cressidas infidelity, also cal led the tent scene, (5.3) functions as a metadrama with Cressida and Diomedes as actors, Troilus and Ulysses as audience, and Thersites as ironic chorus (91). Danson sees Troilus as [a] daring experiment . [that] uses the arts of language to question the efficacy of langua ge in a secular world, [and that] uses the gestures of the stage to show mans inability to act meaningf ully in a world deprived of transcendent meaning (96). Richard Fly offers what is perhaps the first extensive metadramatic treatment of Troilus. He argues that certain of [Shake speares] plays arise out of a growing convictionexpressed in varying degrees of intensitythat poetic drama, although wide reaching, is not always answerable either to th e complexities of human existence or to the


21 art that tries to mirror it (x). Fly approaches Troilus from a theoretical perspective that views Troiluss metadrama as primarily serving to illustrate the unwieldiness for the playwright of the dramatic medium itself. In Flys view, Shakespeare is obsessed with the project of suit[ing] the action to the word, the word to the action ( Ham 3.2.17-18). In writing specifically about Troilus, Fly labels the play as d eeply troubling and further claims that it seems to be the work of a dr amatist no longer in serene control of his craft and, indeed, perilously close to capitulating before a medium that appears to have grown hostile and intransigent to his creative efforts (32). While duly recognizing the extent to which the characters in the play defiantly act out their intentions against the stark antithesis of foreboding prophecies (35), Fly oversimplifies Ulyssess motives by assigning to him the reactivation of Achilles as the ultimate goal of his rhetoric and interior direction. Conversely, I will argue that Ulysses maligna ntly desires to pluck . down Achilless plumes (3.3.385) and that this malignity aligns Ulysses closely with the figure of the medieval morality play Vice. Of the group of metadramatic critics whom I would consider to be foundational, Thomas Van Laan develops the most useful system of classification. He identifies four types of role-playing: 1) a role in the literal sense, a part in a play, pageant or other entertainmentthe play within a play in A Midsummer Nights Dream functions as Van Laans example of this type; 2) a nonce -role, a role temporarily assumed, but . constitut[ing] one dimension of its performers interrelation with th e rest of his world Viola in Twelfth Night serves as his primary example of this type, yet characters who unconsciously assume . self-misrepresentati on also manifest this type of role; 3) dramatic role: a category which includes t he beautiful and elig ible young woman of


22 comedy, the Miles Gloriosus, and the morality play Vi cecharacters in this third type of role often do . not realize [they are] playing it (9); and 4) that which the character possesses by virtue of his position in a mimetic so cial structure (11)these include king, courtier, and wife (19). I w ill refrain from employing Van Laans precise terminology, but will attempt to incorporate into my work the clarifying awareness afforded by such a system. Van Laans key metadramatic insight into Troiluss employment of role playing arises from the tension between character as r ealistic persona and character as historically determined entity. For example, the inf lated self-conceptions of figures such as Ulysses, Agamemnon, Hector, and Troilus corres pond to the reputations [that] they have acquired and which have become an integr al part of the history passed on to the spectators watching Shakespeares play. . Shakespeare implies [that these reputations] . are a supreme example [sic] of the over-prizing with which Troilus and Cressida is so much concerned (166). Like other critics before him, Sidne y Homan comments on the Shakespearean theme of the consonance or disjunction of wo rd/language and deed/action. He identifies As You Like It, for example, as swing[ing] between the extremes of cynical literalism and fatal artifice, between Touchstone-Jacques and Orlando-Phebe, thus generating its own need for Rosalind (132), who serves as a mediator between these extremes. Homan introduces another useful metadramatic concep t in his criticism: the return to . reality (134). Just as the theater audience en ters the theater as an implicit confession of a need to escape reality, and just as this audience leaves the performance in order to return to reality, so the internal/staged audi ence of a metadrama also has its return to


23 the reality of the pre-metadrama play world. Yet just as actual theatergoers leave the play as changed personsas people who w ill no longer see the world in quite the same wayso also the internal audience of the metadrama leaves and returns to reality with a different perspective: As audience we cannot be the same after the play since a part of our experience in life now includes the pl ay (Honan 134). Ulysse ss description of Patrocluss pageant (1.3) has an identical effect on Ulysses s audience, who return to the plays reality with quite a di fferent impression of their position in the war than they had before they vicariously experi enced through Ulyssess words. J. Dennis Huston argues that Shakespeare, in his early plays, dramatically announces his sense of the way play, in its almost infinite variety, can affect and transform the world (2). Huston identifies play as an intermediate reality between phantasy and actuality in which [t]o hallucinate ego mastery (Erik Erikson qtd. in Huston 6-7). Huston discovers confusing . and uninterpretable . behavior at the center of Shakespeares Much Ado about Nothing and yet finds that the confusion suggests the complexity of mo tive and action we associate w ith real human beings, and makes the world of this play the most realis tic so far encountered in the comedies (124125). To Huston, the quality of diminished interpretability in Much Ado signals that for the first time in his comedies Shakespear e sees his medium as extending beyond his immediate control, assuming a life that the playwright cannot altogether circumscribe, containing meanings that he cannot limit absolu tely (127). Huston judges metadrama to be a defensive force operating internally in th e play world and also asserts that role-play is a negative, self-deceptive, and insulating force (130) for many of the characters of Much Ado According to Huston, the shallowness and predictability of the figures in


24 Shakespeares earlier plays empower the pl aywright with cont rol and puppeteer-like freedom. Conversely, the characters of the la ter plays, having evolved toward realism, prove to be unwieldy to the playwright, yet co mpellingly lifelike to the audience. Huston asserts that [t]he world of Much Ado proves too complex, too unmanageable to be effectively controlled by an ar tist figure within the play; his powers work with full effectiveness only in a very specifically defined and isolated realm (142). Although he does not address Troilus s metadramas in enough detail to warrant specific citations in this thesis, Hustons work served the valuable pur pose of establishing a context for an understanding of the function of me tadrama as a general concept. While other metadramatic critics take issue with the idea that metadrama in Shakespeare primarily figures as a way of exposing artistic process and, in doing so, points up the degree to which early modern English society relied on theatricality in many facets of its existence, Richard Snyder a dopts a different tack. Theatricality runs much deeper for Snyder, who holds that what we normally call reality is just as much an imaginative construct, and more particul arly a theatrical cons truct, as any play (200). Seeing metadramas in Troilus as metaphorical representations of the breakdown of healthy relationships in society, Snyder connects images of disease and decay in the play with Shakespeares concern in Troilus about the tyranny and corruptive influence of audiences (201) on artists and performe rs. By circumspectly and conscientiously identifying terms having theatrical resonances within the play, Snyder discovers subtle instances of metadrama in Troilus overlooked or discounted by other critics. Jean Howard incisively appraises the lo cus of the anti-/protheatrical debate: Beneath all the arguments about [the] morality [of theatricality] . lurked the urgent


25 question of who would control the implicit power of this institution (5). Howards thesis that the drama enacted ideological contestation as much as it mirrored or reproduced anything that one could call the dominant ideology of a single class, class function, or sex resonates thematica lly with the tone and structure of Troilus To Howard, the presence within a play of i deologically incompatible elements does not necessarily signal aesthetic fa ilure, but can instead be read as traces of ideological struggle, of differences within the sense-making machinery of culture (7). Howard also delineates an important critical shift in the interpretation of metadrama by observing that the formalist and allegorizing bent of early metadramatic criticism tends to obscure the extent to which the theater shared a discourse of theatricality with the larger culture (10). I will present an interpretation of Troilus that parallels in some important ways Howards thesis concerning Much Ado About Nothing Howard posits that [ Much Ado] resembles the antitheatrical tracts in its silent legitimation of the theatrical practices of the powerful and the demonization of those same practices in the hands of subordinated social groups, in this instance, women and bastards (16). Essentially Howard postulates an unacknowledged nexus between Puritanism and a certain degree of social instability instigated through thea trical practice. The stage, Howard comments, stripped [monarchical] symbols of their sacred aura making it more possible for spectators to have a critical, rather than a merely reverential, attitude toward them (31). Howard identifies the counterfeitability of social identity (32) as a ke y ingredient in the growing social malaise of which the theater may have been partially a cause, but also, and more importantly, partially a reflection. Howard documents the extent to which fiction (theatricality) pervaded all aspect s of the lives of ea rly modern theater


26 professionals. The shareholders of the companies, writes Howard, were as much entrepreneurs as servants to an aristocratic master, though th e fiction of service was what gave them cultural legitimacy (45). Early metadramatic critics found the staged inability of theatrical endeavor to achieve its ends to be a representation of Shakespeares frustration with the intractability of his medium. However, Howard establishes an important standard in her savvy evaluations of the complexity and ambiguity of metadramatic representations in Much Ado positing that staged theatrical inability acknowledg[es] the validity of mu ch antitheatrical polemic (58). Having dedicated an entire volume to e xploring the ways in which Shakespeare appropriates and yet paradoxically destabilizes th e literary history of the Trojan War as a national English mythology, Heather James offers insights that help explain the plays disjunctions, ormore accuratelyhelps to make sense of why the play and its disjunctions do not make sense: In Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare refuses to privilege or adjudicate among versions of the Troy legend, but instead twists, disorders, and occasionally inverts versions of th e Troy legend. Drawing attention to narrative techniquesrhet oric, genre, and dispositionthat stamp interpretive values on the legendary events and heroes at Troy, he exposes lack of authenticity in a legend which exists only to bequeath authoritative origins. (89-90) Jamess brilliant analysis, although failing to locate exterior antitheatrical sentiment as motivating metadrama within the play, offers instead the plausible hypothesis that Shakespeares refusal to integrate source materials or mold his materials into a


27 recognizable genre yields the most acceptable strategy for explicating the plays intense self-reflexivity (97-106). James also poses as a context for this refusal the intense surveillance by cultural author ities around the time of the plays production. Ancient histories, according to James, had become almost as suspect as modern ones (117) to those who attempted to detect treasonous plots and sentiments in plays produced for the stage. James also notes that [c]ensors and secret service agents suspected the subversive power of staging events from the classical past (118). Michael OConnell sees early modern anxiet y about the theatrica l as being closely akin to early modern English anxiety a bout the overpowering immediacy of visual representation (116-117). Whereas other critics have called a ttention to the rift within Troilus and Cressida between what occurs at the level of language and what occurs at the level of action, OConnell observe s the disparity between what could happen visually within the play (i.e., what the text leaves strikingly open (135) in terms of visual possibilities) and what the text of the play, as well as the corresponding text of the Troy legend supporting the play, re quires. OConnell identifies the thorough debunking of the heroes deriving from the Homeric traditi on as figuratively ic onoclastic. According to OConnell, this figurative (i .e., theatrical/visual) iconoclasm abrades verbal tradition (135), and he incisively identifies Thersites as the plays primary ic onoclast, noticing the way that Thersitess lexicon mirrors that of the iconoclastic antitheatricalists: [Thersites] calls Achilles thou picture of what thou seemest, and idol of idiot worshippers (5.1.6-7) (135). O Connell finds metaphorical allu sions to idols, idolatry, and iconoclasm in Hectors argument for re turning Helen to the Greeks (2.2.53-60) and in the playlet Ulysses and Nestor stage for the sake of spurring Ajaxs pride (136) at


28 2.3.188-89. To OConnell, Troilus is a problematizing of vision, a literal revision of the Troy story, and an iconoclasm by vi sual image (138). In speaking of Shakespearean metadrama, OConnell asserts that this self-reflexive se nse . is itself a response to the larger interr ogation of the image that comes of the Reformation, an interrogation that, as it spilled over into the antitheatricalism of Puritanism, necessitated an intense self-consciousness about what theater is (143). Antitheatricality and Metadrama in Troilus and Cressida Just as the particularly virulent antitheat ricality of the early modern era springs from causes not extant in a ny other historical era, so Troilus and Cressida serves as a unique marker of both the anti theatrical sentiment present at the time of its production and the theatrical respons e to that antitheatrical sentiment. Unlike most early modern plays, Troilus and Cressida may never have been performed on the stage, possibly making it the only closet drama written by Sh akespeare; the publishers preface to the Quarto (1609), asserts that Troilus was never staled with th e stage, never clapper-clawed with the palms of the vulgar (1-3). Bevington documents, however, that the Quarto was published . in two states with two different title-pages and front matter, one advertising the play as having been acted by the Kings Majestys servants (Shakespeares acting company) at th eir public theater, the Globe (Bevington, Troilus 3). Thus the term closet drama is actually a misnomer as it applies to Troilus because regardless of whether or not the play was actually performed, the text of the play,


29 with its stage prompts and directions, its casting list, and its scenery and prop requirements, justifies the argument that Shak espeare composed the play to be staged. The assertion that the play was never cl apper-clawed (2) (i.e., applauded) by the palms of the vulgar (2-3) implies that wh at the general population finds praiseworthy must surely be contemptible. The antitheat rical sentiment prevalent in the prologue, however, also pervades the play itself, and th e publishing history of the play attests to the antitheatrical environment attendant upon its production. The disillusionment in Shakespeares Troilus and Cressida mirrors the disillusioned world of an ageing Queen Elizabeth in the wake of the failed rebellion by the chivalric Essex. Many critics have noted the absence of any supernatural agency in Troilus, and in some ways the play serves as a brutal commentary on what a world stripped of divinity and m eaning would be like. No play, according to David Bevington, is more capable than Troilus and Cressida of making Shakespeare seem thoroughly modern (Wide 125). Theatricality in Troilus generally fails to achieve th e ends to which it apparently aspires. Yet it is misleading to conclude that this failure demonstrates a consonance between the action of the play and the early modern antitheatrical rhetoric. While it may be true that in a play such as Much Ado Shakespeare asserts a knowable world of essences (Howard 60), the absence of just such an assertion in Troilus yields a sense of futility that pervades the ideolo gical world the play. Whereas Much Ado figures the origin . of disruption (Howard 61) by casting the villain as a bastard, Troiluss outspoken bastard choral figure, Thersites, paradoxically em erges as the character with the most unmediated apprehension of truth. Thersitess liminality empowers him with


30 transcendent vision and yet simultaneously consi gns him to theatrical inefficacy. His role thus parallels that of Cassandr a; both characters transcendent visions when articulated in the imperfect medium of speech fail to work a ny change in the behaviors of their hearers. If Shakespeare actively associates the pow er of theatrical representation in plays like Much Ado with aristocratic male privileg e (Howard 61), he undercuts this privileging of theatricality in Troilus by portraying theatricality itself as an inherently flawed form of power, by subverting the hier archy of its manipulators, by demonstrating an energetic and powerful theatricality in char acters such as Patroclus and Thersites, who might otherwise easily be categorized as ma rginal, and by mocking through disjunctive form and structure the effectiveness of theatricality. In Troilus Shakespeare questions the role of theatrical fictions as instru ments of power and as a means of compelling belief in a particular view of the truth (Howard 64). Ambiguity of interpretation also plays a key role in Troilus. In figures such as Hector, Shakespeare subverts both hierarchy an d heroism. For instance, Hectors sudden and virtually unexplainabl e reversal of his position in th e Trojan War council scene (2.2) simultaneously highlights Hectors humanity and debunks his heroic stature as received through the mythology. Shakespeare employs a similar dramatic mechanism to deflate the heroic status of Achilles, who also revers es position, as my explication of the plays ending will demonstrate. Scen es in which signifiers confuse motives and even the actual content of verbal communicationsuch as Ae neass scorning ceremonious address to Agamemnon (1.3.234) and Pandaruss unintentionally humorous interplay with the servant in 3.1contribute to this destabilization. In other words, Shakespeare highlights in Troilus the destabilizing effect of language, a constantly changing medium incapable


31 of supporting the supposedly static order of society sanctioned by the Elizabethan world view. Metadrama in Troilus and Cressida tends to move in two different directions simultaneously: toward the formation and the di ssolution of identity. Troiluss position as a spectator in the tent scene (5.2), when he overhears Cressida and Diomedes, causes a dual identity crisis: mentally he divides hi s ideal Cressida from the one he has just witnessed (This is and is not Cressid [5.2.153]), and he also experiences this division as being internal to himself (Within my soul there doth conduce a fight / Of this strange nature [154-155]). Metadrama for Troilus, then, functions as dissolution. Yet for Patroclus, Thersites, and Achilles, metadrama carries a function of play similar to that which Huston locates in Shakespeares early comedies. Thersitess pageant of Ajax (3.3.282) occurs in the wake of Ulyssess retributive machin ations against Achilles, and yet this scene finds an unrepentant Achilles inciting further theatrical productions (274279), ridiculing those in the Gr eek army who have fallen out of favor with him. The employment of theatrical tactics by Achilles Patroclus, and Thersites as a practical stratagem in the independent formation of identity in opposition to the hegemonic interpellation of authority mirrors the way that early modern theater, existing in the liminal space of the liberties, performs similar constructions of identity. The scene in which Troilus and Cressida pledge their love to each other (3.2) includes multiple instances of metadramatic staging and role-playing. Snyder chronicles these instances particularly well, but fails to note an important instance that indicates antitheatrical metadrama. Cressida am biguously claims and then disclaims her


32 passionate love for Troilus, attempting pe rhaps to reconstruct the witty but reticent persona she had employed earlier with Pandarus (1.2): CRESSIDA. Boldness comes to me now, and brings me heart. Prince Troilus, I have loved you night and day For many weary months. TROILUS. Why was my Cressi d then so hard to win? CRESSIDA. Hard to seem won; but I was won, my lord, With the first glance that ever pardon me; If I confess much, you will play the tyrant. I love you now, but till now not so much But I might master it. In faith, I lie; My thoughts were unbridled children, grown Too headstrong for their mother. See we fools! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sweet, bid me hold my tongue, For in this rapture I shall surely speak The thing I shall repent. (3.2.109-119, 125-127) Cressida begins this interplay with Troilus wi th a sincere and forthright avowal of love, yet Troiluss questionWhy was my Cressid th en so hard to win?reminds her of her former act of not being in love with Troilus. In her attempt to unmask former pretensions, however, she feels a need to r econstruct those preten sions. In line 116 she flatly contradicts her avowal of love: if, in a previous state, before the now of 116, she might master her love, then the not so mu ch state of that love does not reflect the


33 night and day love of 110. Her statement in line 117, In faith, I lie , enacts one of the chief concerns of the antitheatricalists: that actorsfar from bei ng skilled artisansare (from the antitheatrical perspective) simply liar[s] (Prynne 424). Cressidas attempt to come out of character backfires in this se nse, and by line 125 Cressida projects onto Troilus her need for a prompter or stage mana ger to cue her back in to character: Sweet, bid me hold my tongue. . . Her concern that Troilus will pla y the tyrant (115) manifests antitheatrical anxiety about roles and role-playing and yet paradoxically necessitates her own reversion to a previous theatrical self. The antitheatricality of the metadrama in Troilus is borne out in the discoveries of both Howard and OConnell. Howard notes that Protestant antitheatri cal writers such as Thomas Tuke tended to locate both Catholicis m and theater along an axis of duplicity. In this view, both of these institutions mainta ined a double purpose: on the one hand, to promote and promulgate an outward appearan ce of high morality a nd, on the other, to violate that feigned morality through actual prac tice. According to Howard, [t]his is the type of double purpose repeatedly attributed to the theater, where, it was alleged, under the guise of entertaining or even educating the audience, actors, like priests, debauched and corrupted that audience, making wo men prey to young gallants and making men effeminate (38). Troilus and Cressida recognizes and responds to such specifically articulated Puritan fears, incl uding the alleged interpenetratio n of theater and prostitution. Shakespeare finds in Pandarus a particul arly apt instrument with which to interrogate and parody both thea tricality and the anti theatricalist anxietie s. As priest, as pimp, but, most of all, as inept interi or director, Pandarus incites and allays apprehensions. In act 3, scene 2, Pandarus a ssumes a priestly role that embodies fears


34 about priestly corruption and assumes the power to join the two lovers and facilitate their union. The theatrical use of a veil, as indi cated by the stage direction at 3.2.37, which Pandarus draws away from Cressidas face (Co me, draw this curtain, and lets see your picture [3.2.45]), could not have failed to have the effect of signaling to the early modern theatrical audience Panda russ usurpation of the roles of both father and priest. Pandarus directly addresses the audience immediately after this scene using a lexicon of corruption and enticement: And Cupid gr ant all tongue-tied maidens here / Bed, chamber, pander to provide this gear! (3.2.205-206). As noted by Righter (55), Pandaruss employment of direct address would associate him with the Vice figure, and his overt pandering to the audience in this scene would signal to some a playful parody of the antitheatrical rhetoric and to others an overt and perhaps terrifying validation of its truth. Michael OConnor comments on a similar moment in Winters Tale in which Shakespeare theatrically embodies a Puritan fear in this case the fear of theater as a manifestation of literal idolatry: Perdita falls to her knees in self-a vowed reverence, indeed worship, of what she takes to be the statue of her long-dead mother. . [A]s the statue returns to life, . [Shakespeare] involves even the audience in a moment that would seem to confirm the worst fears of the Puritan antitheatricalists. (13) Although this scene from a different and later play does not necessarily relate in content to anything portrayed in Troilus, its interrogation of a specifically antitheatrical


35 conflation of Catholicism and theater does ha ve currency and relevance in elucidating similar processes at work in Troilus. In contradistinction to Ulysses, who, I will argue, functions as a playwright of controlled action, Pandarus emblematizes the playwright of language, an interior director who tells [Troilus and Cressida], in part, what to think and sa y. As self-appointed prompter he ushers in the participants and gives them their cues (Fly 49). Pandaruss agency within the play connects him to Shakespeares agency as playwright: In [Pandaruss] actions as go-between he recreates the lovers identities for one another. Like Shakespeare he both mediates and create s (49). Pandarus represents the role of a stage artist who transforms ordinary reality the simple return of warriors from battle (1.2.172-240), for exampleinto art, exploiting this opportunity to st age a glorification of Troilus. Pandarus does not orchestrate the event, for the warriors would return from the battle with or without him, but he adap ts the events potentia l to evoke a response from his audience, Cressida. The return of the warriors, then, func tions as a discovered metadrama. Obviously, the efficacy of th is endeavor becomes problematic when Cressida reveals her love for Troilus to be a thousandfold more than . the glass of Pandars praise (275-276) would have her se e. That Pandarus is not a particularly effective stage artist demonstrates his antith eatrical metadramatic function. As a prosaic character he satirically deflates the nobility of those characters with whom he interacts. Pandarus attempts through the medium of la nguage to persuade various characters to adopt his vision of realitysuch as his at tempts to persuade Troilus of Cressidas beauty (1.1), to persuade Cressida of Troiluss worthiness (1.2.242-246), to persuade Paris to cover for Troiluss absence from Pria ms dinner (3.1.74), to fa cilitate and preside


36 over the union of Troilus and Cressida ( 3.2.192-199), to deceive Aeneas about Troiluss presence at Calchass house (4.2.50), and to co mfort Troilus with a letter from Cressida (5.3.99). Yet he succeeds only minimally, if he succeeds at all, in effecting any action to which these characters were not already predisposed. In the character of Pandarus, therefore, Shakespeare stages Puritan theatrica l stereotypes in order to contextualize them and to interrogate them. Moreover, Pandaruss ineffectuality as an interior director calls into question one of the central tenets of both the defenders of the theater and its detractors, the belief in the power of theat er to move an audience to action, either efficacious or deleterious. Inasmuch as Pandarus as inept interior di rector deflates theat ricality by calling its purported power into question, Ulysses manife sts a sinister and e ffective manipulative force akin to the motiveless malignity (S amuel Taylor Coleridge qtd. in Huston 146) terrifyingly portrayed in prototypical Vice figur es such as Iago in Othello Ulysses and Pandarus, therefore, can be in terpreted as competing internal playwrights, much as Don Pedro and Don John in Much Ado (Howard 59). Ulysses reverses Pandaruss incompetence and demonstrates staged theatricality as a devastating means of manipulation and control. One scene seems to attract a metadramatic and antitheatrical reading more often than any other in the play: Ulyssess set speech immediately following his oration on order and degree, in which he describes to the other Greek generals the way that Patroclus pageants them: The great Achilles, whom opinion crowns The sinew and the forehand of our host,


37 Having his ear full of his airy fame, Grows dainty of his worth and in his tent Lies mocking our designs. With him Patroclus, Upon a lazy bed, the livelong day Breaks scurril jests, And with ridiculous and awkward action Which, slanderer, he imitation calls He pageants us. Sometime, great Agamemnon, Thy topless deputation he puts on, And, like a strutting player, whose conceit Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich To hear the wooden dialogue and sound Twixt his stretched footing and the scaffoldage, Such to-be-pitied and oerwrested seeming He acts thy greatness in; and when he speaks, Tis like a chime a-mending, with terms unsquared Which from the tongue of roaring Typhon dropped Would seem hyperboles. (1.3.142 -161) Ulysses employs this speech in order to rally the other Greek generals and shake them out of their complacency. His earlier paean to or der and degree begins to move them toward a state of alarm by conjuring in lurid detail all of the enormities attendant upon the disintegration of an ordered world. However, it is not until Ulysses translates the import of his oration into theatrical actionactually parodying the parody of Patroclusthat the


38 other generals are motivated to any real change of attitude. Thus Ulyssess description of Patrocluss pageant becomes itself a dramatic presentation designed to move his audience to action. Ulyssess pageant mediates Patr ocluss dramatization of the Greek leaders and thus consigns it to what Howard calls the unreality of the unseen (63). In some ways, in this scene, Ulysses functions as a lite rary critic as well as an interior director, complaining not only about the content of Ach illess and Patrocluss metadrama, but also about its verisimilitude (1.3.167-8); he accuses them not only of insubordination but also of bad acting. Ulyssess pageant also functions as an unmasking of the evil theatricality of Patroclus and Achilles, yet, at a deeper level, Ulysses here actually achieves a re-appropriation of theatrical power. By becoming the actor and the director of his own drama, Ulysses displaces Patroclus and usurps his power of play, reversing the vectors of levity and seriousness, and st aging the ensuing psychological war against Achilles. Ulysses here paradoxically em ploys theatricality to stage a kind of antitheatricality, and his la ter production of the eleva tion of Ajax (2.3.234-249), a pageant staged with Achilles in mind, de monstrates his willingness to continue responding to the production of Patroc lus by staging his own productions. In addition to achieving an an titheatrical agenda within the play, the pageant also appropriates and transmutes the rhetoric of the antitheatrical tracts. Howard, reflecting on the anxiety about sumptuary transgression ma nifested in the antitheatrical writings, asserts that [t]he streets of London provided [a] scene [in which a] mingle mangle of apparel appalled the eye, but the theater was the place where such transgressions were literally institutionalized (34). Ulyssess pa geant targets just these anxieties about the institutionalized transgressions of the theater. First Ulysses censures Patrocluss pitiful


39 and exaggerated acting (Such to-be-pitied and oerwrested seeming) and then his presumption in assuming a role above his station (he acts thy greatness in), and the later accusation functions as a thinly coded allusion to sumptuary law transgression by actors who dress above their stat ion in order to portray nobility. In Jonathan Millers 1981 production of the play for BBC Television, Benjamin Whitrow (Ulysses) glances at Geoffrey Chater (Nestor) and seemingly aw aits his nod before beginning the speech on order and degree. After Agamemnon asks, The nature of the sickness found, Ulysses, / What is the remedy? (140-141), Ulysses looks to Nestor as if to say Are you sure you want to go through with this? Nestor nods, and Ulysses begins his speech: The great Achilles whom opinion crowns The sinew and the forehand of our host, Grows dainty of his worth and in his tent Lies mocking our designs. . (1.3.142-146) Millers stage direction to these actors stresses an important interpretation of Shakespeares text. Both Vernon Dobtcheff (Agamemnon) and Nestor are a part of the audience of Ulyssess double mimicry, yet Ne stors readiness to participate in the discourse, evidenced by his rapid support of Ulyssess reasoning in this scene (1.3.185196), suggests the possibility that Ul ysses has prepared him for their mutual presentation to Agamemnon and the other generals, and Ul yssess seizing the moment to converse further with Nestor after the other generals have left ( 310-392) similarly demonstrates that Nestor has been interpellated by Ulysse ss speech in a way not effected in the other generals. Because the speech of Ulysses and its amplification by Nestor occur before the appearance of Aeneas, the chal lenge to combat that Aeneas offers as Hectors proxy


40 functions for Ulysses as the return of the warriors from the field (1.2) functioned for Pandarus, offering Ulysses a metadramatic opportunity to to pluck . down Achilless plumes (3.3.385). Like Pandarus, Ulysses spon taneously finds material from the world around him with which to fashion pageants that motivate his audience toward a particular action. Ulyssess speech provides a point of identification for Shakespeare as a playwright because it emblematizes what Shak espeare does with the legend of the Trojan War: Breaks scurril jests and pageants (1.3.148, 151), thus depriving the heroes of their mythological significance (Yachnin 318; Danson 80). As a playwright of action, Ulysses does succeed, in an exemplary manner, in motivating action in the target s of his productions. In his first theatrical pageant he persuades the generals to the action that he proposes. Ar guably, in his second dramatic production, the elevation of Ajax, whereby the generals ignore the famed warrior Achilles as they parade by his tent and subsequently discuss Ajaxs greatness within Achilless hearing, Ulysses achieves his primar y goal of motivating Achilles to fight the Trojans, although not in the way that he had originally planned. Initially, Achilles is shamed by the generals blatant disdain and prepares for battle as Ulysses had intended. However, when a letter from Hecuba, mother of his beloved Polyxena, arrives (5.1.38), reminding him of his vow not to fight against Troy, love trumps honor and he declines to take Ulyssess bait. The play implies, howev er, that Achilless male lover Patrocluss decision to fight as Achilless proxyan action that Patroclus undert akes in an attempt to thwart Ulyssess depreciation of Achilless honorresults in the reversal of Achilless non-combatant position once again, as Patrocluss death in battle consumes Achilles with grief and rage and motivates him treacherously to ambush and murder Hector (5.7),


41 leading inevitably to the fall of Troy. T hus Ulyssess theatrical scheming succeeds in motivating action, not in Achilles but in Patroclu s. In this reading, the death of Patroclus in act 5, scene 5, forms the final piece of metadramatic theatricality that Ulysses employs to motivate Achilles to fight; the stage prompt in this scene (5.5.16) depicts a motivational spectacle inciting Achilless rage: Enter NESTOR [ with soldiers bearing Patroclus body]. In such a reading, Ulyssess ch aracter embodies the traits of a stage Machiavel who will scruple at nothing to achie ve his end. The stoic sense of absolute dedication to victory that Ulysses manifests not only relates him to Machiavellis Prince, with his total commitment to the good of the state at all costs. Shakespeare employs strategic opacity (G reenblatt 327), however, by depicti ng Ulysses as a character whose hostility toward Achilles surpasses the disint erested rationality one might expect of a purely military strategist. This aspect of Ulysses relates him to the kind of motiveless malignity (Coleridge qtd. in Huston 146) typi cally associated with a Vice figure. The plays ambiguity and uninterpretability, its in tentional disjunctions, and its denial of all possibilities of transcendence leave the possibility of Uly ssess agency in Patrocluss death as only one of many possible interpreta tions and establish the play as lacking a clear villain. Nevertheless, Ulyssess efficacy as an interior dramatist, in contrast to Pandaruss ineptitude, supports the view endorsed by both the protheatrical writers and the antitheatrical polemicists that the theat er had the power to move its audience to action, although whether that action elevated or degraded the audience was much debated. In Troilus, as well, ones view of whethe r Ulyssess puissance catalyzes positive or negative results depends upon ones interpretation of the play.


42 Both Ulysses and Pandarus face the competition of a third internal dramatist in Troilus, one that completely surpasses them in efficacy: history itself and the weighty textuality of a culturally reproduced legend function within the play as the originator, orchestrator, and director of the fates of each of the plays characters. The etiolating effect, for instance, of Ulyssess demoralizi ng sermon to Achilles (3.3) takes on a special poignancy for the plays early modern spectators because Achilles, not having the perspective that the intervening centuries affo rd to the plays view ers, does not realize that his reputation will not suffer the deva luation that Ulysses conjures through his rhetoric; the audience knows that history has already secured Achilless glory. The story of Patrocluss assuming the armor of Ac hilles to fight and die is not found in Shakespeares play, but its omission hardly r obbed the theatergoers of key information because at the time of Troiluss production the legend of the Trojan War resided in the imaginations of the plays English audience as a foundationa l political myth. Similarly, the fond wishes of Troilus, who desires to surp ass all truthfulness in his love for Cressida, the certainty of Cressida, exemplified by the di re consequences to which she is willing to subject her name, and the smugness of Pandarus, who has taken such pains to bring [Troilus and Cressida] together (3.2.194-195) are all mocked by a force completely externalized to the world of the play: the knowledge already culturally imparted to every member of the plays audience as a matter of national mythology. Troilus, Cressida, and Pandarus thus take on semi-tragic dimensions as they, in their hope-filled attempts to embrace what they perceive to be glorious destinies of love and success, are viewed by the theater audience through the le ns that history as the most efficacious internal director of all holds up to them. Lacking the knowle dge held by the audience, the characters


43 unknowingly consign themselves to what they already are in the viewers minds: an overly idealistic and blind lover, an unconsci ously susceptible and unfaithful woman, and a base go-between. Shakespeares sensitive and realistic portrayal of these figures, however, proscribes viewing them as cari catures and endows them with a touching realism that compels identification. By stre ssing history as the consummate interior director, Shakespeare minimizes the power of the theater to influe nce human actions and shifts the responsibility of power to grander forces. OConnell convincingly argues (135-138) that Troilus and Cressida, through its antitheatricality, manifests an intrinsic iconoclasm, yet he also posits that the play as a whole functions as a theatrical response to antitheatrical polemic. By incorporating antitheatrical positions into this play and by subtly testing thei r insights while both parodying and validating them Shakespeare predicates Troilus on a classical antitheatrical position and simultaneously debunks that position. Given Shakespeares negative capability of thrivi ng in an atmosphere charged with conflict, this seeming paradox makes perfect sense. Much of the sa me kind of rhetorical interplay assumes new and more profound dimensions in another wor k, less experimental in nature and drawing on the deep psychological currents of classically based tragedy King Lear.


44 King Lear Critical History Because of the status of King Lear as one of Shakespeares greatest tragedies, any literature review that seeks to address the vast amount writt en about iteven one focused on aspects as specific as metadrama and anti theatricalitycan only skim the surface of the available material. Because in the previ ous chapter I have considered in detail many foundational critical works concerned with Shakespearean metadrama, I now turn my attention to the works of four critics whose insights and pe rspectives have helped me form my own approach to King Lear Three of theseVan Laan, Mack, and Danson approach Lear specifically, while the last one, Singh, provides a crucial background for other aspects of my analysis. Maynard Mack, in his King Lear in Our Time, illumines the extent to which allegorical resonances shape the plays vari ous shades of meaning. He also provides useful commentary on the structure of the play, arguing that its orga nization is as much homiletic as it is dramatic, citing as eviden ce characters who are pure states of being, unmixedly good and bad . or . scenes and episodes that have the quality of visual exempla (70). Mack believes the play to be about action and will, which seemingly spring directly out of the bedrock of persona lity (93), and a later critic, Van Laan, will


45 expand this insight to build a case for interpre ting the play metadramatically. Mack holds that in Lear Shakespeare presents human reality as a web of [commutual] ties (100), a position possessing a deep affinity with my own exposition of the plays dialogue between proand antitheatricalism. The play s imagined settings, according to Mack, are always emphatically social (100). He observes that Shakespeare concerns himself with the language of social use and habit (103), and this asserti on contextualizes my view that the play registers a social dialogue about theatricality concurrent with the plays production. Macks philosophic and profound approach to Lear provided a general but helpful guide to my own treatment of the play. In his introductory chapter to The Tragic Alphabet Danson focuses on one of Shakespeares primary concerns in the tragedie s: the inability of la nguage to express the depth of suffering to which humanity is prone (1-10). Explicating in detail the term device and demonstrating that it often signals artistic endeavor, Danson asserts that metadrama functions as a means employed by fi gures within a play to communicate what could not otherwise be expresse d in words alone (11). He obs erves that often the devices enacted within a play fail to express adequate ly what their designers intend. His chapter devoted entirely to Lear begins by observing that Lears love-trial production puts Cordelia in a situation that requires her to perform the highly difficult task of using ceremonial language to placate the insatia bly desirous Lear (164-5). Danson then argues that the theatricality of Goneril and Regan exacerbates Cordelias dilemma by unabl[ing] speech, dislocating signifiers from their signified meanings through deceptive and corrupt duplicity (166). Dans on suggests that the e ffect of the initial dislocation occasioned by Cordelias taciturn reply and Lear s reaction manifests itself


46 throughout Lears kingdom in all of his subjec ts. Kent, for example, loses his bearings concerning the proper mode of discourse, and finds himself in the same state of estrangement as Cordelia, whom he had sought to defend. Only th e language of paradox, Danson contends, can supply meaning for France and Kent as they struggle to grasp the full import of Lears wrathful pronouncements (167). The logic of paradoxical reversal evident in Frances acceptance of conditions (1.1.254-265) contains for Danson a kind of gospel in miniature (168), a connection that I will establish more firmly as I explore the plays response to antitheatricality. Dans on concludes that, like Goneril and Regan, Edmund simultaneously appropr iates language and divests it of its significance, preempt[ing] the words of love and duty from Edgar (169). Having thus defined a pattern of language and identity loss, Danson continues his explication, diagnosing a kind of madness at work in Edmunds interior direction. Danson interprets the theatrica l worldview of Edmund as exhibiting solipsism not unlike that of Lears madness (182). According to Danson, [Edmunds] pl ay, associated from the beginning with old comedy (1.2.137)a n inferior sort of comedywill never reach tragic proportions . [and will be] ove rshadowed by the tragic play which has not contemned the conditions of the inexorably real (183); in other words, Edmunds play because it refuses to partake of realityfails in comparis on to Lears. The madness of Edmunds play manifests itself through what Danson calls a movement toward . solitude whereas the productions of Kent a nd Edgarmetadramas that are forced upon them and which they stage as a means of protecting their identitiesmove toward community (184). I find that Dansons dich otomizing of these interior dramas, while supported to a certain extent by the text, also reflects an antitheatrical position. I will


47 argue that the play as a whole manifest s both proand antitheatrical positions simultaneously. Interestingly, Danson parallels the diminu tiveness of Edmunds play to that of Edgar, finding Edgars triumphant ending t oo pat, too neatly formulaic (192). He asserts that as interior playwrights both Edmund and Edgar reflect a dramatic tradition akin to the morality and mystery plays, thus constituting them as somewhat flat characters. Danson stops shor t of asserting that the Lear plot avoids this pitfall completely, and Dansons struggle to find a reso lution for the inexplicability of the plays ending testifies both to Dansons honesty as an interpreter and to the ambiguity and power of Shakespeares dramaturgy. Of the metadramatic critics I have cons idered, Van Laan is the most studious in interpreting the various degrees of role-playing operating in Shakespeares dramas. Van Laan aptly demonstrates that Goneril, Ke nt, and even the Fool employ metadramatic devices. Van Laans insight that Shakespea re sees the loss of identity as . the [primary] tragic problem (179) informs my treatment of Lear and its complex web of metadrama. Van Laan identifies public self-g lorification as the purpos e of Lears staged playlet (1.1) and observes that Cordelias re fusal to act in this scene highlights its theatrical nature (198). Becau se he declines to speculate about Shakespeares motives for opening Lear with such self-reflexive theatricality, Van Laan fails to make a connection that I will attempt to validate in my analysis: that this scene, as well as many similar scenes in the play, responds specifically to early modern antitheatrical rhetoric. According to Van Laan, Cordelias refusal to assume the role of flatterer derives from her desire to adhere more ten aciously to different roles, since Cordelia


48 dedicates herself to the roles of dutiful daught er and bride-to-be rath er than the role of flatterer that Lear desires to see her play. Van Laan thus understands the polarity in the first scene as deriving from competing role s and not from competing positions of proand antitheatrical conflict. Throughout his analysis, Van Laan maintains the basic assumption that none of the characters in th e play escapes from role-playing of one kind or another. However, in describing the di fferent types of roles assumed, he does not completely avoid the kind of moral privileg ing that Barish so diligently catalogues in The Antitheatrical Prejudice ; for example, Van Laan finds Lear guilty of play-acting, whereas Cordelias response springs from r ole-play (199). Incons istently applying his own system of role classi fication, Van Laan labels Edmund as role-less (200); however, in order to assert that Cordelia plays a socially defined role of the bride-to-be or of the daughter, one must also interpret Edmund as play ing the socially defined role of the bastard son. Like Achilles in Troilus who arranges to be indisposed when called upon by the generals, Goneril stages a similar inaccessibility (2.2) and, according to Van Laan, manipulates her steward Oswald, establishing her not only as a play-actor but also as an interior director. For Van Laan, then, G oneril performs the Ulysses-like function of bringing a rebellious character into line with a set of pre-c onceived expectations (201). In the same way that Nestor appears to be predisposed toward Ulyssess position by the time that they address Agamemnon, Goneril co ach[es] (201) Oswald to play a specific deprecating role with Lear. A ccording to Van Laan, Oswald prepares Lear for Gonerils coup de grace (201) as she personally ente rs her pre-staged scene to administer discipline.


49 Van Laan contends that guilelessness in characters like Cordelia, Kent, and Edgar signifies theatrical inability, at least initially (202). These figures, who are not originally predisposed to utilize theatrical means, assume theatricality only when forced to do so. For Edgar in particular, a theat rical transmutation into Poor Tom predicates itself on the annihilation of his previous identity as a result of Edmunds machinations (202). Van Laan identifies Lears initial disruption of the social order through the imposition of a relativistic theatricality as the cause of the abandonment of virtually all of the plays socially sanctioned roles. In this sense, Lear initiates and stages the chaos predicted by Ulysses in Troilus : Then everything includes itself in power, Power into will, will into appetite; And appetite, an universal wolf, So doubly seconded with will and power, Must make perforce an universal prey And last eat up himself. . (1.3.119 -124) Van Laan interprets the instability of Lears self-image in the plays first two acts as that of a player in search of a director: Lear steadily searches for others who will acknowledge his kinghood and fatherhood by trea ting him in the appropriate manner and [by] feeding him the proper cu es (203). By noting the ways in which Lear progresses gradually towards the realiza tion of his identitys dissolu tion, and by contrasting that gradual progression with the al most immediate recognition of ot her characters that Lear has nullified his role as king, Van Laan bolsters his case that Lear as a tragedy is built around a process of identity loss (204).


50 Van Laan argues that Lears madness inco rporates the presence of all possible roles (206), yet he also asse rts that Lear emerges in act 4, scene 7, as an entirely new entity, a man no longer imperious and needi ng to be obeyed, and one whose desire to communicate marks his transformation. Van Laan holds that Lears restoration to sanity concurrently manifests a restoration of order for the entire kingdom (208), yet strugglesalong with a host of other criticsto fit the play s ending into any rational schema. The chapter as a whole anticipates modern critical ideas about language and identity and posits the concept that the role s constructed in any given society determine the language appropriate to those roles. A truly role-less ent ity, then, can have no adequate means of communication; in other wo rds, for every role in our society, there is an appropriate lexicon. I now turn to a critic whose work does not address Lear directly, but whose insightful writing provides ample material fo r investigating metadramatic nuances and for contextualizing proand antitheatrical rhetor ic. Jyotsyna Singh el oquently elucidates a model for approaching Shakespeare that info rms almost every aspect of my current project. For Singh, the figure of Cleopatra in Shakespeares Antony and Cleopatra manifests a paradigm of every theatrical aspect feared and condemned by the antitheatricalists (308-9). Singh observes, how ever, that even as the play champions theatricality through its depicti on of Cleopatra, it also rep roduce[s] [a] conception of the social order in which women and actors are s een as duplicitously subverting the natural boundaries of social and sexual difference (311). Antony and Cleopatra s Romans thus portray the antitheatri cal position. Incorporating and citi ng previous feminist criticism, Singh draws an interesting parallel between antitheatrical rhetoric and concurrent anti-


51 feminist rhetoric, pointing out that women a nd the theater were subject to attack from the same rhetorical position (314). Identity loss forms a major concern in Singhs criticism as it does in Dansons; however, an im portant difference lies in the agency that Singh attributes as the cause of identity diss olution. Singh asserts that for the Romans in Antony and Cleopatra Antony ceases to be Antony once he falls in love with Cleopatra (317); femininity itself, in this view, become s the cause of identity loss. Singh reads the cultural background and ethos of the plays Roma n rhetoric as forming a similar basis for the rhetoric of the antitheatricalists (319). In an adept crystallizati on of theatrical philosophy, Singh posits that [w]hen life is experienced as a performance . all assumptions of selfhood become tenuous (320). According to Singh, Cleopatra demonstrates the validity of this tenet in the way that she captivates both an internal and external audi ence. The masculinity of the Romans thus genders the spectator position as generically male, even as the otherness and femininity of the performative Cleopatra gender the spec tacle position as female. Singh goes on to suggest that by acknowledging, reproducing, and staging these gender conceptions, Shakespeare puts a more positive construc tion (321) upon the early modern English ideology to which he responds. I propose that much of what Singh asse rts about Cleopatrathat she uses the Roman myth of honor as a manipulable fiction and that she doe s not accept any fixed identity (321)also applies to Edgar and Edmund, the central characters through whom Shakespeare anatomizes positive and negative conceptions of theatricality in Lear Like Cleopatra (as Singh has interpreted her), both Edmund and Edgar demonstrate an ability to improvise and manipulate fictions. Si ngh discovers that Cleopatra, like Edmund in


52 Lear is schooled in the same theories of tr agedy upon which Shakespeares play is based (323). In Cleopatra Singh writes, Shakespeare identif ies femininity as one of powers crucial modes (325), and she elevates this identification as another of Shakespeares great contributions to his art. Antitheatricality and Metadrama in King Lear In the years between the production of Troilus and Lear, as England transitioned into the reign of James I, Shak espeare began to write his late tragedies. The ascendency of Protestantism became more firmly estab lished, yet the societal tensions that would eventually erupt into the Puritan Revolution began to surface in various environments. The social concerns reflected in Lear as well as its focus on di fferent ideas about nature, emerge from this historical context. Although in many ways more realistic and cohesive than Troilus Lear reveals itself to be similarly metadramatic, a drama of dramasor of sub-dramasin which multiple characters assu me the role of the interior director. Lear responds to antitheatrical positi ons through its inscription of multiple responses. First, Shakespeare empathizes with antitheatricalism by valorizing the plain speech of figures such as Cordelia, Kent, a nd Edgar; these characters either refuse theatricality outright (the choi ce of Cordelia) or use it only when no other viable option exists for them (the course of action chos en by Kent and Edgar). They represent a positive conception of nature through their tendency to act only in accordance with their true selves. Second, the plays depict ion of interior drama builds on the stage Machiavel tradition powerfully represented in Othello s Iago, andas I have


53 documented in my own treatment in the previous chapter Troilus s Ulysses. Edmunds machinations validate fears articulated by the antitheatricalists by demonstrating the corrosive effects of an appropriated theatricality; his alar ming role-playing acknowledges the potential for evil inherent in the deceptive practices of the stage. Edmund represents a conception of nature that anticipates Macbeth reflecting an amor al and purely selfinterested rationality, an anti-deterministic radical voluntarism. The plays third response to antitheatrical prej udice, however, revolves around th e protean theatricality of Edgar as his fantastic journey toward iden tity appropriate s the religious language of salvation that supported much of the rhetor ic of the antitheatricalists. As in Much Ado about Nothing Shakespeares Lear depicts theatricality in th e hands of the best and the worst. King Lear himself exemplifies a fourth attitude toward theatricality inscribed in the play: like Troilus s Pandarus, Lears ineffective and self-indulgent propensity to stage interior dramas serves as a self-mocking and self-probing agency, one that seems to assert moral ambiguity and relativism. A fifth and final response to anti theatricality manifests itself in the plays enigmatic ending. Although all of the characters in the major roles, excepting Cordelia, participate in theatricality, only four of theseEdmund, Edgar, Lear, and Gonerildisplay the characteristics of interior director. Kent and Regan, whose skill at role-play almost qualifies them as interior direct ors, act only in individual-role dramas or in parts scripted for them by the plays other personae. Kents role as Caius demonstrates a positive aspect of theatricality by en abling Kent to continue serving Lear despite Lears banishment of him, while Regans overplay ed rolethe passionately devoted daughter conversely critiques theatricality as a dest ructive influence. All of these players


54 experience a deviation from the course of events that they hope to achieve. In one sense or another, all of them have to reconstruc t themselves by adjusting to the unforeseen. As Mack has observed, unforeseen consequences that do not necessari ly adhere to the Boethian conception of a divine harmony (Bevington, Necessary 660) figure prominently in two important and emblematic opening scenes: the first establishes the Gloucester sub-plot; the second depicts the love-trial. Ma ck asserts that the plays theme of unexpected consequences finds e xpression in the first scene as Gloucesters dialogue with Kent displays casualness toward the illicit affair that produced Edmund, even while the principal effect of that acti on is already on stage. . in the person of the bastard son himself (96). As trumpets herald the appearance of Lear and his entourage, the ceremonial and therefore the theatrical asp ect of the ensuing scene becomes apparent. As Van Laan observes, the impression [of th eatricality] . owes a great deal to the highly artificial rhetoric of Lears speeches (197), and all of the proceedings leading up to Cordelias response seem to have been written specifically to Lears order, for . Goneril and Regan . speak in response to formal cues from Lear . and his replies, because they ignore the content of what has been said and go directly to the business of pronouncing rewards, define these speeches as having successfully measured up to some preconception of what they ought to have been. (197) Van Laans analysis clarifies the theatricality of the scen e, establishing the grounds for interpreting it almost as if it were from a storybook.


55 Thus, the shattering dislo cation occasioned by Cordelia s abrupt response to Lears queryNothing, my lord (1.1.87)clearly refl ects a strong antitheatrical position. In a scene clearly resembling a staged and scripted event, Cordelia has broken away from the script and seems intent on stopping the show. Although the speeches of Goneril and Regan do have rehearsed quality, th ey also have an air of improvisation, as though Gonerils attention-grabbing performance prompts Regans strained and overacted attempt to upstage her sister. Th is dramatic intensification degrades the standard of performance into the realm of melodrama, maki ng the gap between sincerity and showmanship impossible for Cordelia to bridge. Cordelia responds to the demand for performance by not performing and by taking a bold, courageous, and Puritanical stance that she does not abandon, even in face of retribution. The phrase that Cordelia employs in her criticism of the performan ces of her sistersglib and oily art (1.1.228) matches the valence that such terms have in the writings of the antitheatricalists. Kent displays a similar bol dness in his confrontati on of Lear and in his subsequent seeming acceptance of Lears banishment; his exiting lines, Thus Kent, O princes, bids you all adieu / Hell shape hi s old course in a country new (1.1.189-90), further anticipate the exile of the Puritans in 1608 and 1620 to Amsterdam and Plymouth. Shakespeare inscribes an entirely differ ent response to antitheatricality in the character of Edmund, a figure who exposes the menacing possibilities (Mack 95) inherent in malevolent dramatic manipulati on. Edmunds ascension to power begins as we see the interactions between a sc heming, theatrically adept Edmund and his unsuspecting, naive brother Edgar. Like bot h Cordelia and Kent, Edgar exemplifies a seemingly innate goodness, yet his suspension of disbelief as he fails to see through


56 Edmunds acts sets his course on fortunes wheel in a downward direction. Like Ulysses, Edmund stages dramas for the effect that they will have on their audience; he is effective in achieving the ends he seeks through theatricality. Edgars entrance in act 1, scene 2, illustrates both the metatheatricality of his relationship to Edmund and the adversity he embraces through his suspension of disbelief. He comes on stage as if on cue as Edmund is speaking of him: Fut, I should have been that I am, had the maidenlies t star in the firmam ent twinkled on my bastardizing. Edgar [ Enter Edgar ] (1.2.134-136). Edmund then continues to address the audience, as if in an aside: and pat he comes like the catastr ophe of the old comedy. My cue is villanous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o Be dlam (1.2.137-138). Bevington, in a footnote to this line, calls attention to the m eaning of the word pat for Jacobean audiences: on cue ( Necessary 668 n. 137). The words catastrophe, the old comedy, and the word cue itself also invoke theatrical associat ions. Danson observes how Edmund sets the stage fo r his play within a play: [A]cting is the forte of the Shakes pearean villain, and that acting, improperly used, may be the means fo r interpolating into reality the fantasy-world of evil. Edmund . be longs to the same school of acting as Iago; he practices upon Glou cester and Edgar as Iago does upon Othello, by staging plays which substitute for reality. (181-182) The spell that Edmund seemingly casts over Ed gar really has more to do with Edgars willingness to suspend disbelief than with any magical power inhering in Edmunds theatricality. As both Howard and Singh have demonstrated, however, the phenomenon


57 that we call the suspension of disbelief appeared to the ant itheatricalists to be a kind of magical spell cast through association with malevolent spiritual influences. Like the playwright Shakespeare, whose resourceful borrowings from a plethora of discourses enabled him to write plays that were conversant with each of those discourses, Edmund, the in terior playwright of Lear adeptly appropriate s discourses that do not interest him for their content, but rath er for their potential dramatic application. For instance, Edmund employs Gloucesters disc ourse of astronomical portents, a subject that the plays exterior audience knowsfrom Edmunds pr evious soliloquyto be of no intrinsic interest to him, and by pretending a concern with astronomy, he employs his newly acquired language to set the stage for his cue for Edgars actions. Edmunds use of the phrase these late eclipses instan tiates doubt about relationships at a cosmic level, not in his own mind but in the mind of his audi ence Edgar. Bringing the macrocosmic down to the level of the microcosmic world, Edmund questions Edgar about Edgars relationship to Gloucester: EDGAR. How long have you been a sectary astronomical? EDMUND. Come, come, when saw you my father last? EDGAR. The night gone by. EDMUND. Spake you with him? EDGAR. Ay, two hours together. EDMUND. Parted you in good terms? Found you no displeasure in him by word nor countenance? EDGAR. None at all. EDMUND. Bethink yourself wherein you may have offended him, and at


58 my entreaty forbear his presence until some little time hath qualified the heat of his displeasure. . (1.2.153-165) Having initiated through the language of astronomical porte nts Edgars propensity to doubt his relationship to his own father, Edmund nurses Edgars suspicion until by degrees Edgar becomes malleable to Edmunds wishes. In the realm of metadrama, then, suspension of disbeliefthe cost of allowing oneself to regress into a nondifferentiating perceptive statesubjects th e characters-as-viewers to roles of subservience. Singh notes that both dramatic text and public debates . bring to light the cultural dilemma of choosing be tween God-given identities a nd new, socially constructed ones (325). Edmund, by virtue of his being a bastard, has little difficulty in overcoming scruples occasioned by such a dilemma; because his apparent God-given role of bastard is radically de-privileged, his decision to embrace social construction as a means of identity formation essentially frees him to choos e from the entire vast array of identities, including, eventually, that of king. Along this line of r easoning, Danson observes that Edmunds acting is of a piece wi th his attitude toward language: as he considers (for instance) bastard and legitimate just two fine words with no fixed meanings, so in his acting he feels free to manipulate reality or to substitute for it any piece of sheer impossibility (Danson 182). Bevingtons in troduction elaborates Dansons insights: Edmund is the natural son of Glouces ter, meaning literally that he is illegitimate. Figuratively, he theref ore represents a violation of the traditional moral order. In appearance he is smooth and plausible, but in reality he is an archdeceiver like th e Vice in a morality play, a superb


59 actor who boasts to the audience in soliloquy of his protean villainy. Nature is Edmunds goddess, and by this he means something like a naturalistic universe in which the race goes to the swiftest and in which conscience, morality, and religion are empt y myths. . He spurns . the Boethian conception of a divine harmony uniting the cosmos and humankind, with humankind at the center of the universe. . To him, natural means precisely what Lear and Gloucester call unnatural. ( Necessary 660) Edmunds readily comprehensible motives for self-advancement are made explicit for the audience in his soliloquy in act 1, scene 2. Of all of the play s interior directors, only Edmund represents the prototypic Shakespe arean stage Machiavel. His motivation and aim is self-centered advancement; he justifie s all of his actions by the end which he hopes to achieve, namely acceding to the throne. Through the character of Edmund, Shakespeare exposes some of the negative potentialities of theatricality, yet he simulta neously demonstrates its power by exhibiting the efficacy of Edmunds stratagems and how n ear they come to success (success both in its modern meaning and in its earlier meaning of succession). As Rutter observes, Edgar and Edmund serve as foils to each other in their positions with respect to metatheatricality, in their motivations for us ing metatheatrical devices, in the rising and falling of their destinie s, and in their personal growth (or, in Edmunds case, lack of growth) (42, 43). To these valid and insightfu l observations I would add that Edmund and Edgar are also foils to each other in their initial reasons for adopting metatheatrical devices and in the development of those reas ons. Edgar, like Kent who has razed [his]


60 likeness (1.4.4.), makes this choi ce in self-defense; he deviates from reality only as a last resort, and as a protection against a hostile reality. In contrast, Edmund, who may justify his machinations because of his societal position, has already made his decision to employ theatrical means (by forging the letter) be fore he speaks his first word on stage in act 1, scene 2. Metath eatricality for Edmund, then, is an offensive weapon, one he chooses to employ without external coercion ; in fact, Edmunds voluntary choice to use theatricality as a weapon n ecessitates Edgars choice to em ploy it as a defense. Both characters demonstrate the power of theatri cality: one character, Edmund, exposes its destructive potentiality, while the other, Edgar, celebrates its liberating and creative power, a power that Danson finds to be akin to a gospel in miniature illumined through the plays language of paradox (168). This aspect of Edgars theatricality, its soteriological function, stages dramaturgical endeavor as having a meaning co mpletely opposed to its representation in antitheatrical literature. Edgar attains this pinnacle of imaginative generosity (Greenblatt 225) only after having passed th rough a number of trials and dramatic transformations. Edmunds vicious aspersions against Edgar occasion Edgars first metadramatic transformation into Poor Tom. Rutter maintains that this theatrical selfmodification serves not only as a defense against Gloucester, Ed mund, and those allied against Edgar, but also as a means of identity formation: . Edgars role-playing invokes an inner reflection and a desire for positive change. . Tom o Bedlam is an identity alien to Edgar and he uses this role to find reason within the madness of the world around him. By seeking this solace, living in anot her personality completely different


61 from his own, and understanding th e interrelation between other characters, Edgar becomes an active hero experimenting with different identities in order to achieve the appropriate one for himself. (34) Edgar not only enacts identity formation a nd personal growth through theatricality, but he also demonstrates the ways in which his theatricality is of benefit to other characters within the play, an attribute Edgar shares with Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra In his role-within-a-role of Tom o Bedlam in act 3, scene 4, Edgars antic disposition may be madness, yet there is method in t ( Ham. 2.2.205-206). Edgar is able to connect with Lear through the vehicle of his madness in a truly unique way as Poor Toms philosophic bent helps him to achieve a rapport with the increasingly insane king. As Edgar assumes new resolve (4.1.53) to stay in character, the motive of his metadrama expands beyond the purely self-interested. In his role of beggar, he can become the spiritual guide to his father, a role that he would not be able to perform if he were to reveal himself as Edgar, Glouceste rs son. In act 4, scene 6, Edgar displays a startling array of theatrical pow ers as he creates for his bli nded and suicidal father the steepness of the hill, the sound of the ocean, the way that the birds have nested midway down the cliff face, the herb gatherer, the fi shermen, and the boat at anchor. Because Edgars father lacks physi cal vision, Edgar becomes his eyes for him. Yet, paradoxically, the vision of the world that Edgar shares with his fatherlike a poetic vision of a world that never wasmust be pur ely imaginative so that by Edgars fiction Gloucesters death may be symbolic and not l iteral. This Shakespearean scene depicting two mena father and a sonmirrors and reve rses the story of Abraham and Isaac (Gen. 22:13); the two travel upward, one intending to enact a death, ye t, in this instance, Edgar,


62 the son, saves his father, Gloucester, by employing drama as a type of substitute sacrifice. In the last challenge scene with Edmund (5.3), the exultation of Edgars victory over Edmund supports the general es chatological atmosphere of th e plays closing events and stages a triumph of positive ove r negative theatricality as Edgar strips Edmund of his pretensions and exposes a ll of his impostures. The last interior director worthy of note is none other than Lear himself. During the play, Lear progresses from covert to overt in terior director. In the plays first scene, Lear incites action to which other characters must respond; in this sense he functions from the beginning as an interior director. Like Pandarus, he stages dramas because he enjoys the effect that they have on him; they feed his ego or help him generate certain kinds of emotions within himself, but they ha ve little effect on thei r exterior audiences. Throughout the play Lear fails to achieve the effects he seek s though theatricality. As Lears madness increases, the strength of his attempted position as an interior director also increases. During the scenes between the love c ontest and the beginning stages of his madness, Lear becomes more sh arp, pointed, and reifyi ng in his orders to inferiors: Call the clodpo ll back(1.4.46); Why came not the slave back to me when I called him? (1.4.52); Go you and tell my daughter I would speak with her. [ Exit one. ] / Go you call hither my fool. [ Exit one. ] (1.4.75-76); You whoreson, you slave, you cur! (1.4.80); Do you bandy looks with me you rascal? [ He strikes Oswald .] (1.4.83); Fetch me a better answer (2.4.89). Lears interior direction mani fests an entirely different aspect from that of Edmund and Edgar, not only because his nominal position as king requires his commands to be obeyed, but also because his commands lack true performativity. Lears commands and directives are so rude and so frequent, his position


63 as king so like the great wheel which runs down the hill (2.4.70), that his subjects including his daughtersfind it increasingly diff icult to obey him, even half-heartedly. Once Lear exiles himself into the open night he unsuccessfully attempts to command the elements: Blow, winds, and crack your ch eeks! Rage, blow! ( 3.2.1). Bevington notes ( Necessary 659) that Lear speaks his first kind words to the Fool only after he begins to realize the limits of his authority, as the elements refuse to obey him, and as he begins to suffer the discomforts of common men: My w its begin to turn / Come on, my boy. How dost, my boy? Art cold? / I am cold myself (3.2.67, 68). The mock-trial scene in the hovel deserves particular atten tion because of its metadramatic aspects. During this scene Lear s performative utterances reflect the flavor of his madness and the comedy of his foolishness, and yet also partake of the increasingly confusing logic of the gradually blurred boundary between what Lear perceives to be real and what is real. Bevingtons glosses add some sense to the lin es that Lear speaks at the beginning of act 3, scene 6, but the rapidity of the lines in actual performances allows little time for spectators to process conscious ly the rather equivocal logic of Lears words. Beginning at line 20, however, Lear suddenly becomes focused on the necessity of bringing his two da ughters to trial: It shall be done; I will arraign them straight. [ To Edgar ] Come, sit thou here, mo st learned justicer. [ To the Fool ] Thou, sapient sir, sit here. Now, you she-foxes! (3.6.20-22) In these lines, Lear exhibits hi s skill in recruiting other actors into his metadrama and also displays an imaginative suspension of di sbelief and irony through his willingness to


64 cast a beggar and fool in the ro les of learned justicer and sapient sir. Beginning at line 46, Lear begins to arraign G oneril on charges of kicking Lear: LEAR. Arraign her first; tis Goneril, I here take my oath before this honorable assembly, kicked the poor King her father. FOOL. Come hither, mistress. Is your name Goneril? LEAR. She cannot deny it. FOOL. Cry you mercy, I took you fo r a joint stool. (3.6.46-51) Although no stage direction specifically calls for a prop here, Bevi ngtons note to line 51 makes clear both the pun and the like lihood of an intended stage prop: joint stool low stool made by a joiner, or maker of furniture with joined parts. (Proverbially the phrase I took . stool meant I beg your pardon for failing to notice you. Th e reference is also presumably to a real stool on stage.) ( Necessary 690 n. 51). This entire scene highlights Lears stalwart need to be a king while contra sting that need with the paucity of resources available to him. Lears encounter with madness and with nature cures him of his propensity to succumb to the wiles of art; he can finally see through the theatri cality of Goneril and Regan (4.6.96-105), as he demons trates that the trauma he enduresa kind of madness ultimately brings him to the truth that he would have been unable to find otherwise. The image of Lear holding Cordelias dead body forms for Kent, Edgar, and Albany an image (5.3.268) of the promised end or apocalypse of humanity. The death of Lear also represents an antitheatrical statement because of its radical departure from any accepted philosophy of what tragedy ought to be. After four centuries of literary interpretation, the ending continues to bew ilder critics, signifying that Shakespeares


65 passion for representing the real refuses to be constrained by literar y theories of what tragedy should be and that the terrifying real ity of death, even when merely represented on stage, continues to baffle us and cha llenge us to look deeply for answers. By inscribing these multiple atti tudes toward theatricality into Lear a play that incorporates topics like spir ituality, nature, and social interrelatedness, Shakespeare champions his art and demonstrates that ed ifying content and prophetic insights can exist on the stage as well as in th e pulpit. The humanity of Leara man and a kingleaves a lasting impression with audiences who struggle to grasp the meaning of the circumstances around them. Lear serves as a continuing testament for our time, as Mack so eloquently illustrates, and will certainly continue to do so for many times beyond our own. My hope in approaching this play as I have, through the agency of historical contextualization, is that the rich dialogue thus discovered can advance our knowledge and appreciation both of history of Shakespeares soul-stirring art.


66 Conclusion The world of early modern England conti nues to fascinate and baffle us as we struggle to understand how early modern ci tizens viewed the world, even as their traditional outlook gradually faded into a blea k view of reality much like our own. Yet the ancient classical past, particularly thr ough such mythologies as the Troy legend, had an immediacy to their lives and their at titudes that we cannot reproduce. Through literature, the past manifested a force that impacted the polari ties that I have explored in this work: both art and arts detractors. Reading though Histriomastix the gigantic tome that Prynne wrote to establish his case agains t the theater, gave me an opportunity to witness firsthand the anxious care that Prynne took to validate his points through the citation of ancient authorities. Similarly, my exposureboth in Troilus and in Lear to the vast multiplicity of likely sources for just two of Shakespeares plays, made me realize that todays sound byte world of vi deo clips, internet, and iPod education will never recapture the linguistic and intellectual textual accomplishments of that great age of classic theater. Ironically, however, Shakespear es theater symbolical ly forms a point of origin for our own media-driven world in mu ch the same way that early modern English citizens may have viewed ancient Troy as a poi nt of origin for their countrys polity. History and literature, as recent critical theo ry has firmly asserted, provide the master narratives that we live by, ev en as we refuse to acknowledge the subjective agency


67 involved in the production of both. The rhet orical battle betwee n the drama and its detractors, a battle still raging in some wa ys even in our own era, may never again assume the proportions it held during those firs t years of professional English theater, but I would hope that a willingness on our part to consider both points of view, to see the interrelatedness of both ideologi es, and to perceive the moral dimensions of theatricality that operate in our own lives might form a basis on which to erect further scholarship. 1 My references to the physical playhouse structures are based on a drawing by C. Walter Hodges for the Norton Anthology of English Literature 2 Her work is occasionally cataloged under her subseq uent name: Anne Barton.


68 ts W orks Cited Abrams, M. H., et al., eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature Vol. 1. 5th ed. New York: Norton, 1986. Barish, Jonas A. The Antitheatrical Prejudice Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981. Barton, Anne. Shakespeare and the Idea of the Play New York: Barnes and Noble, 1969. Bevington, David. This Wide and Universal Theater Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2007. ---, ed. The Necessary Shakespeare 2nd ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2005. ---, ed. Troilus and Cressida. By William Shakespeare. The Arden Shakespeare. Ed. Richard Proudfoot, Ann Thompson, a nd David Scott Kastan. 3rd ser. Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, UK: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1998. Calderwood, James L. Shakespearean Metadrama; the Argument of the Play in Titus Andronicus, Loves Labours Lost Romeo and Juliet A Midsummer Nights Dream and Richard II. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1971. Danson, Lawrence. Tragic Alphabet: Shakespeare s Drama of Language New Haven: Yale UP, 1974. Deats, Sara Munson. Mark this show : Magic and Theater in Marlowes Doctor Faustus . UUPlacing the Plays of Christopher Marlowe: Fresh Cultural Contex Ashgate, (Forthcoming). Edwards, Philip. Shakespeare and the Confines of Art London: Methuen, 1968. Fly, Richard. Shakespeare s Mediated World. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1976. Freeman, Arthur. Preface to William Prynnes Histriomastix 5-7. Gosson, Stephen. The Schoole of Abuse 1582. Literature Online Chadwyck-Healey. Tampa Lib., U of Southern Florida. 16 Oct. 2008 . Greenblatt, Stephen. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare New York: Norton, 2004. Heywood, Thomas. An Apology for Actors 1610. Literature Online Chadwyck-Healey. Tampa Lib., U of Southern Florida. 16 Oct. 2008 .


69 Hodges, C. Walter. A L ondon Playhouse of Shakespeares Time Graphic. Abrams 2599. Homan, Sidney. When the Theater Turns to Itself Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 1981. Howard, Jean E. The Stage and Social Struggle in Early Modern England London: Routledge, 1994. Huston, J. Dennis. Shakespeares Comedies of Play New York: Columbia UP, 1981. James, Heather. Shakespeare s Troy: Drama, Politics, and the Translation of Empire Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 1997. Mack, Maynard. King Lear in Our Time Berkeley: U of California P, 1965. Nassar, Eugene Paul. The Rape of Cinderella Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1970. OConnell, Michael. The Idolatrous Eye New York: Oxford UP, 2000. Plato. The Republic Trans. Desmond Lee. New York: Penguin, 1987. Prynne, William. Histriomastix London, 1633. Reprint, New York: Garland, 1973. Righter, Anne. See Barton, Anne. Rutter, Erin. And So He Plays His Part: Theatrical Prejudice and Role-Playing in As You Like It and King Lear . MA thesis. U of South Florida, 2005. Shakespeare, William. King Lear Bevington, Lear 662-709. ---, Troilus and Cressida. Bevington, Troilus 119-354. Sidney, Sir Philip. A Defence of Poetry. English Renaissance Literary Criticism Ed. Brian Vickers. New York: Oxford UP, 1999. 336-391. Singh, Jyotsyna. Renaissance Anti-theatrica lity, Anti-feminism, and Shakespeares Antony and Cleopatra. New Casebooks: Antony and Cleopatra Ed. John Drakakis. New York: St. Martins, 1994. 308-29. Snyder, Richard C. Discovering a Dra maturgy of Human Relationships in Shakespearean Metadrama: Troilus and Cressida . Shakespeare and the Arts Ed. Cecile Williamson Cary and Henry S. Limouze. Washington, DC: UP of America, 1982. 199-216. Stubbes, Phillip. The Anatomie of Abuses London: Richard Iones, 1584. Early English Book Online 2008. ProQuest LLC. 16 Oct. 2008 Van Laan, Thomas F. Role-Playing in Shakespeare Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1978.


70 Yachnin, Paul. The Perfection of Ten : Populuxe Art and Artisanal Value in Troilus and Cressida . Shakespeare Quarterly 56 (2005): 306-27.


Download Options

Choose Size
Choose file type
Cite this item close


Cras ut cursus ante, a fringilla nunc. Mauris lorem nunc, cursus sit amet enim ac, vehicula vestibulum mi. Mauris viverra nisl vel enim faucibus porta. Praesent sit amet ornare diam, non finibus nulla.


Cras efficitur magna et sapien varius, luctus ullamcorper dolor convallis. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Fusce sit amet justo ut erat laoreet congue sed a ante.


Phasellus ornare in augue eu imperdiet. Donec malesuada sapien ante, at vehicula orci tempor molestie. Proin vitae urna elit. Pellentesque vitae nisi et diam euismod malesuada aliquet non erat.


Nunc fringilla dolor ut dictum placerat. Proin ac neque rutrum, consectetur ligula id, laoreet ligula. Nulla lorem massa, consectetur vitae consequat in, lobortis at dolor. Nunc sed leo odio.