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Guise and Disguise

Guise and Disguise: Rhetoric and Characterization in the English Renaissance

Lloyd Davis
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 224
  • Book Info
    Guise and Disguise
    Book Description:

    Davis's approach links Renaissance culture both to its past and to modern and post-modern notions of subjectivity and language.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7557-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction: Disguise in the Renaissance
    (pp. 3-18)

    A concern with characterization comprises a conceptual axis through much thought and literature of the English Renaissance. Texts from many different genres address issues of character, its authenticity, modes of representation, and functions in interpersonal relations. Character is viewed as a discursive phenomenon, as a sign of personal identity, and as a bridge between individual existence and social surrounds that can reveal fundamental connections between them despite their apparent separation: ‘In few,’ Montaigne concludes towards the end of the ‘Apologie of Raymond Sebond,’ ‘there is no constant existence, neither of our being, nor of the objects.’¹ Character may be consistent...

  5. Chapter One The Rhetoric of Characterization
    (pp. 19-52)

    The shifts in traditional notions of signification that take place through the sixteenth century provide an important context for the recurring figures of disguise and dissimulation in Renaissance texts. In addition, these changes are one of the key indices of the period’s relationships to previous and subsequent eras. Lauro Martines has noted that a post-structural conception of historical writing considers that ‘historians normally turn historical events into signs, whereupon all written history becomes an account of the history of changeinsystems of signs.’¹ In this view, disguise would be a revealing signifier for interpretations of the period. Its various...

  6. Chapter Two Political Acts
    (pp. 53-90)

    In discussing and representing political processes, many texts from the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods focus on the role and character of the prince. The secrets of social rule and hierarchy seem bound up in the royal person. Various works, such as popular pageants performed during Elizabeth’s coronation, plays about usurpers and restoration, handbooks on how to reign like Machiavelli’sThe Princeor King James’sBasilicon Doron, all contemplate this figure, concentrating the complexities of political rule and power into personal signs and symbolic identity.

    One of the notable features of this identity is its multiplicity. Spenser explains, using a familiar...

  7. Chapter Three The Allegorical Subject
    (pp. 91-128)

    In an essentialist perspective, an ideal self originates ethopoesis. Character traits are signs of this original presence, but they may also intimate a gap between the self and the roles it plays in social contexts. Even an archetype of imperial ethos can be suspect, as the prologue to Marlowe’sThe Jew of Maltasuggests: ‘What right had Caesar to the empire? / Might first made kings’ (14-15). If the circumstances of ‘might’ rather than inherent qualities of ‘right’ produce rule, the double nature of sovereignty, the ‘king’s two bodies,’ can be adduced. During the Renaissance, and as discussed in the...

  8. Chapter Four The Figure of Woman
    (pp. 129-166)

    Near the end of her essay on disguise in Elizabethan drama, M.C. Bradbrook asserts that after Shakespeare stopped writing for the stage the ‘deeper implications of disguise ... did not long survive,’ suggesting that dissembling characters could no longer aptly represent issues of selfhood and identity. Even by 1609 a certain predictability is found in the motif. The example is taken from Beaumont and Fletcher’sPhilaster. ‘Bellario’s true sex is not revealed till the end, though by this time any theatrical page might be assumed to be a woman in disguise.’¹ In this view it seems that an audience accustomed...

  9. Epilogue: Tragedy and Disguise
    (pp. 167-172)

    In the revenge scene ofThe Spanish Tragedy, Thomas Kyd stages a concatenation of dramatic disguise. The noble actors in the masque are costumed for their parts, and the princely audience perceives them both in character and as their royal selves. On the surface, Hieronimo’s script casts actors and audience in recognizable roles - Balthazar, playing the part of Soliman, woos a disconsolate Perseda, played by Bel-Imperia, while the king, viceroy, and duke exchange jokes about the apparent acting out of real love. Indeed, these parts hardly seem roles at all, so familiar do the actors and audience find them....

  10. Notes
    (pp. 173-212)
  11. Index
    (pp. 213-217)