“We can clear these ambiguities”. Escalus’s econoliterary authority in Romeo and Juliet

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The dazzling incipits of Shakespeare’s plays “possibly always” perform the function of “the rapid and incisive dramaturgical mise en abime [sic]” because of their “intense codifying action”: thus, the initial syntagms of his dramatic texts, “known in rhetoric as the protasis” (Paola Pugliatti, From Shakespeare to Dryden: Three Dramatic Incipits, 1999: 258), lay many of the premises of future textual and cultural developments within the plays. A remarkable part of such premises is represented by Shakespeare’s econo(-)literary (with or without hyphen depending on the degree of interdisciplinary integration) dramaturgical foundations, i.e. those dealt with by the so-called econoliterary critics, and dealing with the relationships between Shakespeare’s “theatrical competence” (Marco de Marinis, The Semiotics of Performance, 1993: 176) and the economic experience and culture of his times. For example, not only the incipits of Othello and of King Lear structure often neglected or even ignored econoliterary components which determine a substantial amount of the following events in their plots. This also characterizes Romeo and Juliet (Q2), where the initial exchange between Samson and Gregory elaborates (unexpectedly?) on some originary socio-economic implications of the Capulet-Montague feud. In his first appearance on the stage, Prince Escalus predictably overrules such implications, thus expanding one of his traits in Arthur Brooke’s Romeus and Juliet (1562) and exerting for the first time his economic authority on his resisting and woeful subjects. Such authority, which will interact with and influence their overall behaviour in the play, is economic because it often expresses itself (directly and/or indirectly) in the specifically economic domain, and/or with an economic language, and/or with economic methods – Shakespearean authority in Romeo and Juliet being conceived of in this paper economically as a “limited resource available” and exploitable, used to try to pedagogically curb and institutionally orient “the unlimited wants of men” (Bettina Bien Graves, Free Market Economics: A Syllabus, 2007, p. 31).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAuthority, Resistance, and Woe, Romeo and Juliet and Its Afterlife
Pages41-55
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Escalus
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Shakespeare
  • econoliterary analysis

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