'What is your substance, whereof are you made?' The formation of identity in Shakespeare's Sonnets to the Young Man by Anne Thoma

'What is your substance, whereof are you made?' The formation of identity in Shakespeare's Sonnets…

byAnne Thoma

Kobo ebook | January 23, 2008

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Seminar paper from the year 2006 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 1,0, University of Tubingen, course: Sonnet Cycles from the 16th to the 20th Centuries, 31 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Shakespeare's sonnets have often been discussed in terms of the degree of their autobiographical content. The question what role the persons which the poet addresses, a young man and a dark woman, had actually played in the author's life sparked as much debate as the opaque initials 'W. H.', a dedication by Thomas Thorpe, who had published a Quarto by the title of 'Shakespeare's Sonnets. Never before imprinted' in 1609 (Edmondson / Wells 4). Some critics were led to conclude their research with triumphant statements such as 'Shakespeare's Sonnets. The Problems solved', a title employed by A. L. Rowse in 1964. Rowse claims to have spotted the identity of the young man, the dark lady, the rival poet, as well as of 'W. H.'. His edition of the sonnets also includes a chapter called 'The Story: its Outlines' (24). Other critics have been focussing less on a coherent story with identifiable characters. In their analysis, they often take a purely immanent stance and are more concerned with how the poet, the speaking voice of the sonnets, establishes an identity, a private subjectivity and sensibility and in the course of his amorous encounters engages in a struggle to keep them afloat. I want to argue along the lines of those researchers who put the previously rather central issues of homosocial desire and Platonic and Petrarchan love into the lager context of what Stephen Greenblatt calls the 'self-fashioning' of the Renaissance individual (1). He points out that 'the power to impose a shape' upon oneself or another person is a major issue in the English Renaissance, the age of 'the formation of identity' (1 / 6). According to Colin Morris, there had been distinctions between 'types and individual representation' as early as 1020 (33 / 65), but A. J. Piesse states that 'self-interrogation' beyond a religious context began to loom only at the beginning of the sixteenth century (634). In the 80s, Stephen Greenblatt and Catherine Belsey stressed that 'any formulation of identity must be seen in the light of cultural context, that any exposition of self is a manifestation of a series of options, rather than something intrinsically different from anything else' (Piesse 635). In his work Sources of the Self of 1989, Charles Taylor differentiates along the lines of Plato and Aristotle between the importance of context and interior self for the individual (Ibid 635).

Title:'What is your substance, whereof are you made?' The formation of identity in Shakespeare's Sonnets…Format:Kobo ebookPublished:January 23, 2008Publisher:GRIN PublishingLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:3638899039

ISBN - 13:9783638899031