In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews42 1 performative functions of the text as revealed mainly by verbal relationships" (p. 104). Hubert argues that in Much Ado, "themes, metaphors, and tropes . . . give unity and coherence to the comedy" (p. 25), and acknowledges that in his account of The Winter's Tale, "verbal analysis mainly of the new critical variety . . . tie[s] everything together and give[s] performative unity to the play" (p. 107). This may be a criticism "shorn of organicism," but it nonetheless evinces a yearning toward aesthetic coherence, self-referentiality, and overdetermined verbal patterning. Hope CollegeJohn D. Cox Staging the Gaze: Postmodernism, Psychoanalysis, and Shakespearean Comedy, by Barbara Freedman; xii & 244 pp. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991, $35.00 cloth, $12.95 paper. Staging the Gaze applies a combination of deconstructive and psychoanalytic ideas to The Comedy ofErrors, The Taming ofthe Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Twelfth Night. The book begins with two wholly theoretical introductory chapters. The first, "Displacing a Spectator Consciousness: Theater, Psychoanalysis , and Renaissance Considerations of Representability," draws significantly on the work of Claudio Guillen and Ernest Gilman, and relates the relativistic possibilities of Renaissance consciousness of perspective, including anamorphic representations, to Lacanian ideas ofstages ofidentity. The second, "A Fractured Gaze: Theater Cinema, Psychoanalysis," discusses how "the theory of the gaze" can be used by "theater theory," and stresses that "psychoanalysis and postmodernism alike employ theater to deny the possibility of an objective observer, a static object, or a stable process of viewing." The author argues that "the term uncanny describes the mood of The Comedy ofErrors," and that the play "operates at the level of the uncanny for its critics as well, for as we read the play we continually sense connections that we cannot understand. This comedy insists on its own meaninglessness and yet tantalizes us with the possibility of coherent meaning." Freedman suggests in this connection that "what is peculiar about farce is not the content of its fantasies but its recognition offantasy," and she concludes that "what The Comedy ofErrors finally puts on stage are such basic principles of psychological functioning as splitting, projection, denial, and repression as they haunt our quest for meaning." Stressing the importance of the frame play of The Taming of the Shrew, and 422Philosophy and Literature suggesting that its effect is analogous to that of a picture such as M. C. Escher's The Print Gallery, Freedman argues both that Shakespeare's comedy "displaces any stable relation of the spectator to the play" and that it "not only stages theatricality but can be said to be 'about' the very problem of theater's degenerating into mere show. . . ." Freedman also argues that "The Taming ofthe Shrew not only resists but succumbs to a feminist analysis." The author's analysis of A Midsummer Night's Dream is predicated on the assumption that "the play panders to an aristocratic ideology by wreaking comic punishment on all those who defy the prince's legislation of desire." Freedman does not present any argument to justify this position, she simply takes it as a given, on the authority of new historicist work on the play, notably that of Louis Montrose. Her interest, she explains, is to see what this kind of ideological "fawning" can illuminate. "Rather than refuse to teach A Midsummer Night's Dream because of its colonialist fantasies or The Taming of the Shrew because of its overt sexism, we can learn from both. Rather than censor either work, a more productive approach would be to explore how censorship operates with them." Accordingly, she explores how A Midsummer Night's Dream "puts representation on stage, displacing content with the disfiguring process of [dream] censorship itself." Finally, drawing upon the psychoanalytic work ofWinnicott as well as Lacan, the author argues that "most of the characters of Twelfth Night are unwilling to risk the drama of reflection by another's gaze," that neither Viola nor Feste "can reconcile the truth of self-division with the need for mutuality," and that "Twelfth Night is not only a pastiche of experiences of loss but a study of the more complex problem of recording and presenting loss." Freedman assimilates and explains a great deal of literary and psychoanalytic theory clearly...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 421-422
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.