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Shakespeare’s Universal WolfStudies in Early Modern Reification$
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Hugh Grady

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198130048

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198130048.001.0001

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Reification and Utopia in As You Like It: Desire and Textuality in the Green World

Reification and Utopia in As You Like It: Desire and Textuality in the Green World

(p.181) 5 Reification and Utopia in As You Like It: Desire and Textuality in the Green World
Shakespeare’s Universal Wolf

Hugh Grady

Oxford University Press

As You Like It, written and performed sometime between 1598 and 1600, is a genial comedy with an uncanny similarity to King Lear in structure and themes. The resemblance is based on the depiction by both plays of the division of families and the disruption of the polity as a reified power establishes itself at the expense of the customary bonds of traditional culture. Refugees from the disrupted world react through communal solidarity to create a social space as an alternative to that of reified power; in this utopian space eros functions, however, not as a metonymy-metaphor for reification, but as a social force creative of community. Both plays may also be linked to a social subtext constituted by the rioting against enclosure in the Midlands (the area including William Shakespeare's Warwickshire) in the 1590s. Robert Wilson argues that As You Like It, with its depiction of social transformation, hunger, and the woodlands as a sanctuary, is the Shakespearean text most marked by consciousness of the famines, riots, and disorders that swept over the English Midlands, with King Lear offering more generalized allusions to the same events.

Keywords:   As You Like It, King Lear, reification, rioting, Midlands, Robert Wilson, allusions, social space, woodlands, hunger

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