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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 Physics and Metaphysics of Metaphor

The Physics and Metaphysics of Metaphor

(p.29) Introduction The Physics and Metaphysics of Metaphor
Conceiving Desire in Lyly and Shakespeare

Gillian Knoll

Edinburgh University Press

This section argues that Lyly’s and Shakespeare’s characters process and experience eros through the primary metaphor of motion. These introductory pages explore the philosophical and conceptual underpinnings of this metaphor through the example of Shakespeare’s Angelo in Measure for Measure. Drawing from the work of cognitive linguistics George Lakoff, Mark Johnson, and Zoltan Kövecses, this section explores the broad metaphorical structures that shape Angelo’s erotic experience as both a passion and an action. Things happen within Angelo well before he ‘acts out’ his sexual pursuit of the novitiate Isabella. The remainder of this section investigates the relationship between erotic potentiality and actuality, or entelechy, in Aristotle’s Physics and Metaphysics. In Aristotle’s writings, as in Shakespeare’s play, the boundary between potency and actuality is fluid rather than fixed. As a result, Angelo’s metaphors dramatize the capacity of erotic potentiality to create drama. For him, as for so many of Lyly’s and Shakespeare’s characters, desire is itself a frenzied action.

Keywords:   Motion, Action, Passion, Aristotle, Potential, Measure for Measure, George Lakoff, Zoltan Kövecses, Primary metaphor, Metaphysics, Entelechy

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