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Word as ActionRacine, Rhetoric, and Theatrical Language$
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Michael Hawcroft

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198151852

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198151852.001.0001

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(p.243) Conclusion
Word as Action

Michael Hawcroft

Oxford University Press

The importance to Jean Racine's dramatic technique of showing characters engaged in acts of persuasion has long been recognized by modern critics. Speeches are interesting in the theatre if characters are arguing with each other for and against different courses of action. The notion of persuasion can readily be applied to scenes of confrontation between protagonists whether they adopt the role of formal orators or not. But the same notion is useful in demonstrating the theatricality of discourse in scenes involving confidants, in monologues, and in narrations. The method deployed in this book raises two major problems: the first relates to the assessment of the impact of scenes of persuasion on a theatre audience; the second, to the amount of text in any given play which lends itself to analysis in terms of verbal action, inventio, and dispositio. Spectators can be gripped by scenes of persuasion; they can also be moved by them to feel pity and fear. Rhetorical analysis illuminates the tragic effect; it also permits a truly theatrical exploration of Racinian discourse.

Keywords:   Jean Racine, persuasion, characters, theatre, protagonists, confidants, monologues, verbal action, rhetoric, narrations

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