Memory and Forgetting in English Renaissance Drama: by Garrett A. Sullivan Jr

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By Garrett A. Sullivan Jr

Reading 16th and 17th century conceptions of reminiscence and forgetting, this examine demonstrates their value to the drama and tradition of the time. Garrett A. Sullivan discusses reminiscence and forgetting by way of which numerous behaviors--from looking salvation to pursuing vengeance to succumbing to desire--are conceptualized. concentrating on works akin to Macbeth, Hamlet, Dr. Faustus and The Duchess of Malfi, he finds reminiscence and forgetting to be dynamic cultural forces imperative to early smooth understandings of embodiment, selfhood and social perform.

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Extra info for Memory and Forgetting in English Renaissance Drama: Shakespeare, Marlowe, Webster

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As has been suggested, it is on the early modern stage in particular that forgetfulness is seen as crucial to the 22 Memory and Forgetting in English Renaissance Drama delineation of subjectivity. The above comments about Hamlet’s forgetfulness can be understood in explicitly dramatic and generic terms: forgetfulness is the vehicle for generic experimentation. As many critics have noted, the stage avenger is one who both suffers under the burden of memory and who seeks vengeance as a form of remembering;65 tacitly, Hamlet also carries the weight of memory in the shape of generic expectation, a burden that promises to make his identity a version of Hieronimo’s (or Laertes’s).

45 Such extreme acts of forgetting, modes of action that encompass psychic and somatic phenomena, would also presumably constitute for this author the eradication of identity, grounded as identity is in the subject’s relationship to God. 46 Forgetfulness and sleep are routinely connected in Christian discourse with the idea of security. , Jonah 1. 47 On the other hand, memory represents a call to awaken and to become vigilant. Consider the following example from a text by Benjamin Austin that announces its ambition in its subtitle, “A Watchbell to rouze up a secure Sinner out of his sleep of security”: When the Grecians had taken Sardis.

In the next line, the Cardinal makes an explicit appeal to the Duchess’s memory, and, as in the introduction’s discussion of remembering, to remember here means to behave in a prescribed and restricted fashion. Also, the “wisdom” alluded to here describes not only the advice that the brothers have just given, but also the knowledge that “begins at the end” – that emerges from remembering one’s death and living accordingly. Tacit in all of this is the assumption that the Duchess needs to be reminded of such matters, that she is or easily could become a heavy sleeper.

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