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Face-to-Face in Shakespearean DramaEthics, Performance, Philosophy$
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Matthew J. Smith and Julia Reinhard Lupton

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474435680

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474435680.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

The Face as Rhetorical Self in Ben Jonson’s Literature

The Face as Rhetorical Self in Ben Jonson’s Literature

(p.210) Chapter 9 The Face as Rhetorical Self in Ben Jonson’s Literature
Face-to-Face in Shakespearean Drama

Akihiko Shimizu

Edinburgh University Press

In this essay, Akihiko Shimizu reconsiders the most widely accepted critical views on Jonson’s “flat” characters versus Shakespeare’s “round” ones. He argues that the Jonsonian concept of character—underpinned by classical rhetorical theories of Quintilian and Plutarch—should be understood as an effect of interaction and exchange and not as a manifestation of consciousness. Jonson’s characters are the effect of a simultaneous process of rhetorical self-enhancement and self-exposure. As these men and women attempt to depict their own worth by affecting humours, their interlocutors use rhetorical conjecture to expose what lies beneath this verbal disguise. Both Jonson’s and Shakespeare’s literature share an interest in performativity, acknowledging the impersonated character as inter-subjective, and prompting the audience to participate in deciphering the character from outward appearance and face.

Keywords:   Ben Jonson, Discoveries, The Alchemist, Every Man Out of His Humour, character, face painting, performativity

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