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Stage, Stake, and ScaffoldHumans and Animals in Shakespeare's Theatre$
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Andreas Höfele

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199567645

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199567645.001.0001

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Cannibal–Animal: Figurations of the (In)Human in Montaigne, Foxe, and Shakespearean Revenge Tragedy

Cannibal–Animal: Figurations of the (In)Human in Montaigne, Foxe, and Shakespearean Revenge Tragedy

Chapter:
(p.115) 4 Cannibal–Animal: Figurations of the (In)Human in Montaigne, Foxe, and Shakespearean Revenge Tragedy
Source:
Stage, Stake, and Scaffold
Author(s):

Andreas Höfele

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199567645.003.0005

This chapter explores the destabilizing of fundamental normative distinctions in the forms of juridical violence which, although set up to counter encroachments of the wild, barbaric and bestial, only give sway to the very forces they purport to hold in check. Revenge and cannibalism, twin figurations of violent excess, are traced in Montaigne’s disquisition on cruelty and his essay on the cannibals, in John Foxe’s account of the death of Jan Huss, and in Shakespeare’s revenge tragedies Titus Andronicus and Hamlet. Both cannibal and animal serve as threshold or borderline figures that mark but also question and infringe the limits of the human. While Titus shows political anthropology in dissolution – what is civil can no longer be cordoned off from what is savage – Hamlet expands the cannibalism of revenge into a bio-anthropology of universal flesh consumption and shows the breakdown of the distinction between the state theatre of justice and the ‘wild justice’ of revenge in its ‘brutish’ and cannibalistic figurations of otherness.

Keywords:   cannibalism, revenge, criminal justice, cruelty, martyrdom, Shakespeare, Hamlet, Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, Michel de Montaigne, Essais, John Foxe, Actes and Monuments

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