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Shakespeare’s canon includes many military figures, but arguably none is more successful than Henry V. In the play, the key to success is shown to lie in the king’s ability to instrumentalize the vehement emotions necessary to wage war. Shakespeare presents anger in Aristotelian terms as a hierarchical emotion reserved for elite men tasked with military leadership. The king’s deft use of anger demonstrates his self-discipline from his decision to invade France until his overwhelming victory there. This self-discipline distinguishes him from the quarrelsome soldiers (like the choleric Fluellen) who serve under him. The efficacy of Henry’s anger becomes evident when juxtaposed with the contrast in 1 Henry IV between his father’s ineffectual coldness and the reckless tempestuousness of Hotspur. In Henry V, the cool performance of hot emotions makes Henry a modern man of wrath.
The first three acts of Julius Caesar exemplify Shakespeare’s interest in depicting the material outcomes of affect and cognition within a densely realised world where social intimacy forms the basis for political decision-making. This essay concerns moments of inter-subjective inference when characters reveal the conditions of affective community. It argues that Shakespeare is interested in how patrician Romans think they know one another deeply because they share the self-conscious, public history central to romanitas. He shows us how the affective community thus formed is destroyed by factionalism and metaphorical language when metaphor replaces the practical language of social knowing and participates in the breakdown of community. This power of metaphor becomes clearest in 2.1 when Brutus decides to kill Caesar by comparing him to an adder. The metaphor shows social cognition betraying its own best uses when Brutus metaphorically casts out a known, loved fellow being from the human community in order to make him politically a thing you feel obliged to kill.
We now recognize that renaissance manuals of conduct, in which thinkers such as castiglione and erasmus sought to encode canons of polite behavior, are a major source of evidence about early modern emotions. But scholarly understanding of the relation between conduct literature and Renaissance society's management of emotions had to wait for the publication of the sociologist Norbert Elias's two-volume work Über den Prozess der Zivilisation (The Civilizing Process ), which only began to reach anglophone critics in 1978.
The poet John Dryden, writing near the end of the seventeenth century, criticized Shakespeare for failing to respect the unity of character in his tragedies: 'The last property of manners is, that they be constant, and equall, that is, maintain'd the same through the whole design: thus when Virgil had once given the name of Pious to Aeneas, he was bound to show him such, in all his words and actions through the whole Poem.' According to Dryden, the playwright is bound by the canons of realism – rules that characters as represented in literary works ought to manifest a high degree of psychological and behavioural consistency. Thus for Aeneas to be himself – to have the identity of Aeneas – he should be pious in mind as in deed. For Dryden, this artistic requirement is grounded in a conviction that real human beings are psychologically consistent and, as such, the autonomous source of their meanings. Self-sameness in a person's behaviours flows from an invisible self-identity. This inner identity is the product of a disembodied consciousness that sees the world as the objectified instrument of its own willed designs. The ‘I’ with which an individual represents him- or herself to the world is fully present to itself and thus can be held accountable for its words and deeds.
The terms of Jonson's quarrel with Inigo Jones about the rival claims of poet and architect have been clear ever since D. J. Gordon's discussion of the matter in 1949. The problem, as Professor Gordon explains, was far more significant than a temperamental clash between two ambitious artists vying for royal favor. Unfortunately, while they could probably agree about the inevitably intellectual origins of all artistic invention and about the important distinctions to be made between invention and expression, they could not help but come into conflict over the relative importance of poetry, on the one hand, and architecture, on the other. A passage from Vives translated in The Discoveries (160-167) indicates that Jonson knew and probably endorsed those divisions between the liberal and mechanical arts which placed architecture in the inferior group.
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