Departmental Bulletin Paper The Public Sphere and Cultural Infrastructure in Revenge Tragedies

Nakamura, Yuki

60pp.21 - 36 , 2016-01 , 関東学院大学経済学部教養学会
This paper, which focuses on Shakespeare and his contemporaries' revenge tragedies, explores the nature of public sphere inherent in early modern theatre and the mechanism of theatre making its audience the public and examines the cultural infrastructure that framed those tragedies. Here, cultural infrastructure means framework or a system shared by the public for representation and communication, such as a representational system that uses rhetoric, symbols, and conventional scenarios of drama on one hand, and moral and value standards on the other. The first question is in regards to how the system of symbols worked. In theatre, the audience shared knowledge of theatrical components such as rhetoric and images, various forms of representations, and symbols. Revenge tragedies typically contained rhetorical imitations and adapted plots from Senecan plays. Those debts from Seneca were conventionalized and worked as a medium for the public's shared experience.The second question here concerns how the moral problem in the revenge tragedy became the contention of the public sphere. Typical Elizabethan and Jacobean stereotyped representation of destabilized moral and value standards reflected people's anxieties and discontent in the unsettled times prior to 1642. With morally provocative factors, the revenge tragedy functioned as a public sphere, where the public scrutinized their own ethics and values collectively.

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