Reading Shakespeare's Characters: Rhetoric, Ethics, and Identity

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University of Massachusetts Press, 1992 - Literary Criticism - 215 pages
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Although current theory has discredited the idea of a coherent, transcendent self, Shakespeare's characters still make themselves felt as a presence for readers and viewers alike. Confronting this paradox, Christy Desmet explores the role played by rhetoric in fashioning and representing Shakespearean character. She draws on classical and Renaissance texts, as well as on the work of such twentieth-century critics as Kenneth Burke and Paul de Man, bringing classical, Renaissance, and contemporary rhetoric into fruitful collision. Desmet redefines the nature of character by analyzing the function of character criticism and by developing a new perspective on Shakespearean character. She shows how rhetoric shapes character within the plays and the way characters are "read." She also examines the relationship between technique and theme by considering the connections between rhetorical representation and dramatic illusion and by discussing the relevance of rhetorical criticism to issues of gender. Works analyzed include Hamlet, Cymbeline, King John, Othello, The Winter's Tale, King Lear, Venus and Adonis, Measure for Measure, and All's Well That Ends Well.

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Contents

in Theory and Practice
10
Falstaff
35
Ethos and Epideictic
59
Copyright

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About the author (1992)

Christy Desmet is Associate Professor of English at the University of Georgia. She is the author of "Reading Shakespeare's Characters: Rhetoric, Ethics, and Identity," and co-editor of "Shakespeare and Appropriation."
Robert Sawyer is Assistant Professor of English at East Tennessee State University, and co-editor of "Shakespeare and Appropriation,"

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