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Circumstantial Shakespeare$
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Lorna Hutson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199657100

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657100.001.0001

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Where and How?

Where and How?

Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Maid’s Tragedy

Chapter:
(p.107) 3. Where and How?
Source:
Circumstantial Shakespeare
Author(s):

Lorna Hutson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657100.003.0004

This chapter shows how the imagined circumstances of a Shakespeare play are not designed to be objectively coherent. Rather, circumstances ‘invent’ ethical and political arguments in ways that make them seem imaginatively real. So, in Two Gentlemen of Verona, famous for its geographical incoherence, ‘Milan’ and ‘Verona’ are not objective locales but aspects of the ethical question of whether social success ‘abroad’ entails infidelity to the values of ‘home’. This question, posed by Proteus’ mimetic rivalry with Valentine and mocked by the Vices, Lance and Speed, is developed through a metaphorical association of rhetorical emotion and mercantial sea-motion that transforms abstraction into an imaginable world. The chapter then considers how other dramatists (Gascoigne, Lyly, Jonson) became aware of the forensic uses of circumstances in Terentian drama. Finally, it reads Beaumont and Fletcher’s The Maid’s Tragedy as an invention of the circumstantial questions of ‘Where?’ and ‘How?’ to justify, forensically, an instance of tyrannicide.

Keywords:   Two Gentlemen of Verona, John Lyly, Ben Jonson, Vice, Terence, Beaumont and Fletcher, Maid’s Tragedy

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