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Conceiving Desire in Lyly and ShakespeareMetaphor, Cognition and Eros$
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Gillian Knoll

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474428521

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474428521.001.0001

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The ‘Raging Motions’ of Eros on Shakespeare’s Stage

The ‘Raging Motions’ of Eros on Shakespeare’s Stage

(p.67) Chapter 2 The ‘Raging Motions’ of Eros on Shakespeare’s Stage
Conceiving Desire in Lyly and Shakespeare

Gillian Knoll

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 2 studies Shakespeare’s metaphors of stillness and motion in Measure for Measure and Othello. While some of Shakespeare’s characters are immobilised by erotic desire, others experience desire as a stirring, physically moving, experience. For Angelo, Claudio, and Othello, it is both. In both Measure for Measure and Othello, Shakespeare’s metaphors trace the fine line that separates the extremity of erotic motion (chaos, convulsions, compulsivity) from the extremity of stasis (death, violent restraint). If over such extremes Shakespeare’s characters have little control, they nonetheless attempt to exert some degree of agency by reaching for certain knowledge, attempting to understand the aetiology and significance of their lustful impulses. Drawing on the work of Stanley Cavell, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jean-Luc Marion, this chapter considers the ontological and ethical consequences of metaphors of stillness and motion. The concluding pages explore a form of heightened erotic activity based on Aristotle’s writings on entelechy. For characters such as Desdemona, Juliet, and Cleopatra, ‘entelechial desire’ is conceptualised through metaphors of perpetual, if paradoxical, motion.

Keywords:   Measure for Measure, Othello, Stanley Cavell, Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-Luc Marion, Aristotle, Stasis, Motion, Paradox, Knowledge

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