Shame in Shakespeare
By Ewan Fernie
Routledge – 2001 – 288 pages
Series: Accents on Shakespeare
One of the most intense and painful of our human passions, shame is typically seen in contemporary culture as a disability or a disease to be cured. Shakespeare's ultimately positive portrayal of the emotion challenges this view. Drawing on philosophers and theorists of shame, Shame in Shakespeare analyses the shame and humiliation suffered by the tragic hero, providing not only a new approach to Shakespeare but a committed and provocative argument for reclaiming shame.
The volume provides:
· an account of previous traditions of shame and of the Renaissance context
· a thematic map of the rich manifestations of both masculine and feminine shame in Shakespeare
· detailed readings of Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear
· an analysis of the limitations of Roman shame in Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus
· a polemical discussion of the fortunes of shame in modern literature after Shakespeare.
The book presents a Shakespearean vision of shame as the way to the world outside the self. It establishes the continued vitality and relevance of Shakespeare and offers a fresh and exciting way of seeing his tragedies.
'Shame in Shakespeare discovers at the heart of the great tragedies a confrontation with the most complex and disconcerting of human emotions. This ground-breaking study transforms one's understanding of works of which one rarely expects to learn anything new. It does so not only because of the originality of its subject, but also because it owes nothing to modishness and everything to the critical acuity of its author.' - Professor Kiernan Ryan, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
Ewan Fernie is lecturer in English at the Queen's University of Belfast. He is the author of several articles on Renaissance literature and culture.