Shakespeare - a modern psychologist
by Mihai Radulescu
English version Mihnea Gafita
It may be inappropriate that this essay should open with a confession. However, if I am making it, I am also readily forgiven: the reader I address has reached the generous age of confessions. Moreover, since it is an essay, the author's digressions come as only too natural, even if my first one precedes the beginning of the work itself. So, I was sixteen - the age of the earliest questions. One of my teachers inquired what it was that I wanted to be in life. "Before I can decide who I am going to be, I would like to know who I am" - I replied. The same concern I worded so naively at the time comes up again and again in the mind of every teenager, phrased and rephrased in hundreds of ways, as a crowning of his or her youth about to slip into maturity. "Read Shakespeare" - my teacher advised. "In his work you will find a lot of answers concerning even yourself." "How can that be?!" - I wondered, driveling awkwardly. (There may also have been some disrespect in my reply, since I meant it to point to my sense of responsibility, or even "superiority"). And I added, as if I was talking to myself: "As far I have seen on stage, Shakespeare's characters are heroes of adult dramas." "With adult actors, you mean. If you read the plays carefully, you will see that almost all his main characters are of the same age as you are: Romeo, Cordelia, Desdemona, Ophelia - there's no need for me to list them all. He also brings children before the footlights from time to time. Puberty is one the ages that Shakespeare loved most, and early maturity, one of his favorite themes. Believe me, you won't find any friend more tolerant, nor any adviser more experienced. No one else knew the youth's soul better than he did. This made me think. Until then, I had considered Shakespeare to be the greatest playwright, but I had not been particularly fond of him. I had tried several times to read something by him: the profusion of his poetical imagery had left me numb and the age in which his plots took place, one so many centuries apart from our own, emphasized, in my opinion, the fancifulness of whatever he was trying to tell. Shakespeare - an author who could decipher the souls of my generation? A contemporary? I was almost ready to discard such an outrageous idea, if it hadn't been for the great trust I cherished in my teacher's opinions.
Once again I opened a volume of the English playwright's works, searching for the Renaissance man who had been recommended to me so warmly for his love of his fellow humans, but I was also afraid of the Baroque structure of his wordly edifices, that was so alien to the sharp-tongued nature of my teenager soul. I opened the book and never let go of it and more. Nevermore. From that moment on, I began reading with different eyes. I had previously wanted either to have a good time, or to obtain some information. This time, I was looking for Man. For myself. And I met him. I met myself. In each and every of his printed letters. I abandoned myself to enthusiasm as if it were a stream, until the merging became so thorough, that one night, after a delight of reading, I exclaimed: "I am Shakespeare!" (how awful it sounds!) And I would not deserve any more consideration in my own eyes if I had not added straight away: "We are Shakespeare! All of us!" Indeed, Shakespeare has helped me know myself, just as he has helped me know the people around me. No one is missing from his writings: the fighter, the degenerate, the enthusiast, the plotter, the infatuated, the cinic, the sacrificed, the hangman, the revolutionary, the tyrant, the subdued, the conqueror, the scholar, the no-gooder, the poet, the swindler, the brave, the coward, the honest, the treacherous, the good, the evil, the rightful, the intriguer, the healthy, the sick, the lover, the indifferent, the earnest, the whimsical, the clear-headed, the dreamer, the hero, the coward a.s.o. Each of those stands for a world of his or her own, but also for a part (at times a tiny one, at other times a major one) of the psychology of any of us. I discovered the keys of those worlds and of those recesses of the soul - and I keep on discovering them - in the words put on paper by William Shakespeare. In the beginning, I deciphered the characters. The laws came later. With the countless books about characters in the work of William Shakespeare and the other, as many, about the laws of human psychology reflected in it, that have been published, my own experience proved to be universal, since I was able to find it in the knowledge of all those who have analyzed his writings. Until recently, forgetting about my own starting-point, I had considered the great Will's theatre to be an asset of all mankind, one conquered and assimilated for good. But then, it so happened that I was talking to this young man who told me unexpectedly: "I would like to know myself". The advice I gave him is quite obvious and I need not repeat it here. * Since this piece of advice can be addressed to all youths, so they may acquire the certainty that Shakespeare's work really is a Book of Man, I have taken the liberty to analyze it, in the following pages, in terms of a series of statements of modern psychology. I do not claim that by so doing I can bring too much help to the achievement of self-knowledge or to the knowledge of man in general. However, I open two gates at a time: that of psychology and that of the shakespearian world. It may be that my virtual young reader's attention will be kept concentrated all along. Maybe he or she will not be supplied with enough relaxing digressions. But I am aware that they do not actually want any. Whenever one undertakes to learn about Man, joking and relaxing become out-ofplace. And no one knows it better than the youth craving to decipher reality. To this end, I have put together this modest essay. I hope it will be deemed more than that.
* Whoever writes about Shakespeare does his or her best to explain to the reader that the great Brit was a great man of letters. To us, William Shakespeare is not a writer; he is life itself. A hypothesis has been circulated, that Shakespeare were not the author of the Works of William Shakespeare, because life has no author. Life, whether it is called Homer, Cervantes, Balzac, Dostoyevsky, Mauriac a.s.o., must be experienced and studied, not attributed. After all, life does not obey the laws of aesthetics; it is the other way round: life generates them. This book is not concerned with a critique of the shakespearian Work , let alone with throwing a critical glance at psychology. All we are trying is to sketch a portrait: the portrait of shakespearian curiosity in relationship with the human psychic. While the impressionistic portrait does away with the mechanicity of the realistic one and replaces it with the practical results of several researches concerning the laws of perspective; while the cubist portrait replaces those with a number of findings in the field of geometry and dynamics, we here will attempt to draw the outline of our model with such lines as fit the purpose already mentioned. Unlike the countless animated, academic, fictionalized, monographic, or novelistic portraits that alleviate the scholarly wakes of the connoisseurs of beautiful books, this approach will resort to a less usual technique: that of an inverted perspective, since we believe that it allows to bring to light certain features overshadowed by our fellow authors' majestic, substantial oil portraits. What does such a technique imply? It is not meant to depict the development of psychology from the age of the playwright down to our own, but to prove that the psychology unveiled by the writer has nowadays gained the advantage of a systematizing rigor unhoped for: it manages to break itself up into countless little boxes, forgetting all about the initial thesaurus of the Complete Works ; these boxes await their place in the first chapter of a future, more comprehensive history that will discuss the evolution of human thinking on human thinking). We believe in the incentive "Know thy own self" as a one-and-only window open towards the truth. But we also believe that there is a door that must be unlocked first, before heading towards that window. The caption on that door says: "Know thy writers". They are the only divers allowed to descend into the depths of the restless waters of the human soul. (The composers and the graphic artists also do that, but they have their own secret gates, their mysterious idioms difficult to cast light upon within the framework of such a straightforward experience as we suggest here.) Know your writers and you will see the face of the human psychic enigmatically mirrored in their smiles. Hence, we open the book of Shakespeare's Works in order to better understand modern psychology. Are there any fields of the latter, in which the playwright's plough has not left deep furrows? It is doubtful. Are there any facets of the human psychic in Shakespeare's world that contemporary psychologists have not yet approached? It is certain. We have toiled ourselves with a morsel of a morsel of it for years on end. We have called it dichotomic-antonymical thinking; its analysis is one of the concerns of anthropological stylistics, a would-be science. We will not bother this essay's kind reader with cryptical theories. We will briefly state our opinion and illustrate it equally briefly.
In exchange, we will clarify, as profusely as we will do it concisely - and we hope to be forgiven this dichotomic-antonymical structure -, the fact that Shakespeare, beside being life itself, is also the realm of total psychology, while psychology proper is made of a bunch of theories, experiments and measurements that prove useful when it comes to stick labels onto the jars containing "similar psychic reactions, under similar conditions". Now that we have stated our own modest contribution to the expansion of knowledge on the human psychic in connection with the shakespearian texts and we have also obtained our young reader's permission to mention it when it proves useful to the understanding of the Work under discussion, a question naturally arises, that must be dealt with from the very beginning: why a stylistical anthropology? Are there several types of stylistics? To clear things up, let us open a couple of dictionaries, for it may well be that our reader is not in the least accustomed to this term. In the current sense of the word, stylistics is "a discipline that studies the means of expression of a community, of a domain, of a writer, from the point of view either of its affective content or its expressiveness, or of qualities and their norms" ( Explanatory Dictionary of Romanian , 1995); or it is "the study of style as a means of analyzing works of literature and their effect; now often, specifically, such study using mathematical and statistical methods" ( Webster's New World Collegiate Dictionary , 1995); or, more concisely, it is "the scientific study of style" ( Petit Larousse, 1990). The dictionaries also mention the special mode of expression used in a certain field, for certain purposes, the polished language, the noble behavior triggered by good manners (The Concise Oxford Dictionary, 1966), the behavioral characteristics of an individual, a group, or a people, the way of living of the same a.s.o. Expression seems to be the only common denominator of these definitions we have hurriedly reviewed. However, in spite of the first definition quoted above, we believe it is not expression itself that the stylistical researches are concerned with, but its "mode". Hence the possibility of having several types, or at least branches, of stylistics, according to the (incomplete) variety of the profile outlined. Among those, anthropological stylistics should deal with the way of being, of acting, of behaving, in short of expressing himself (this is not a redundancy) of the human being seen in its natural evolution. (We presume our reader is curious - to paraphrase Camil Petrescu - to see ideas come to life, for such a genesis mirrors, in its own way, the mechanisms of human psychology.) Let us now resort to the great French naturalist Buffon, founder of modern stylistics, and see to what extent he may be of use to us. Here is the very first sentence he greets us with: "Style is man himself". This sentence refers to the quality of literary style. But, commenting on its own statement, Buffon grants style much more than a plain aesthetic role; it is the mediator of expression: "Style is but the order and movement imposed to our own thoughts. If we link them up tightly, if we gather them up, the style becomes firm, nervous, and concise; if we let them follow one another loosely and only come together under the sign of words, however gracefully put together, then the style is diffuse, verbose, and inarticulate" (ibidem, p. 11). To each section of the argument corresponds a unique stylistical attire. Therefore, the stylistical analysis should lead to the unveiling of those
unique rational structures as emphasized through style. The surface is the effect of the content and the content is the cause of the surface. It is like a children's game. In the French scholar's opinion, the literary work (and, of course, any work of art) is the result of the cooperation between "genius", "judgment", "perception", and the "intellectual operations" they breed. Therefore, the analysis of the work cannot but throw light upon such operations as have given birth to it. What has all this got to do with Shakespeare, even if there seems to be a connection between stylistics and psychology? - our reader is bound to wonder. (Here is a point scored, because a stylistical branch of psychology does not exist yet.) It all becomes obvious as soon as we turn our attention to any page written by the great dramatist. Let us take, for instance, the following fragment of As You Like It : "ROSALIND: Time travels in divers paces with divers persons. I'll tell you who Time ambles withal, who Time trots withal, who Time gallops withal and who he stands still withal. - ORLANDO: I prithee, who doth he trot withal? - ROSALIND: Marry, he trots hard with a young maid between the contract of her marriage and the day it is solemnized: if the interim be but a se'nnight, Time's pace is so hard that it seems the length of seven year. - ORLANDO: Who ambles Time withal? ROSALIND: With a priest that lacks Latin and a rich man that hath not the gout, for the one sleeps easily because he cannot study, and the other lives merrily because he feels no pain, the one lacking the burden of lean and wasteful learning, the other knowing no burden of heavy tedious penury; these Time ambles withal " (Act III, Scene 2). We need not quote the entire passage, that is twice that long. The above-quoted cues are more than enough to illustrate the statement that metaphor parallels reality. Metaphor steps outside the path of reasoning. And yet, it favors the understanding of reality; it is an expression - or a means of expression - apart from the logical one, but it is not less useful to knowledge. Logical expression is possible because the intellect is capable of logical thinking. What about metaphorical expression? We say: "a flower of a girl": if we can say it, we are first and foremost able to conceive it; if we are able to conceive it, we have captured reality in such a representation. What kind of thinking have we been using, then? There is only one answer: a stylistical thinking - metaphorical thinking in this case. Likewise, there must be a specific stylistical thinking for every family of figures of speech: hyperbolic thinking, metonymical thinking a.s.o. But do these types of thinking manifest themselves only through figures of speech? Let us resort to Buffon once again, for he has something to say in connection to this last perplexity of ours. Not only works of art raise problems of style. Human behavior equally measures the "order and movement imposed upon its own thoughts". Further more, artistic expression is but a particular case of human behavior; be it linguistic, pictorial, musical a.s.o., or the most commonplace behavior of the man who wakes up, who is hungry, who loves - any and each of those is an unpolished mirroring of thought. According to Buffon: "These men feel vigorously, they are equally affected and, by means of a strictly mechanical impression, they share their enthusiasm and affections with the others. We are dealing here with the body speaking to the body: all the
movements, all the signs participate and officiate equally" ( ibidem , p. 10). This passage tells us not only that man has at his disposal, beside speech, as many means of communication as there are types of contacts he establishes with the other beings, or, rather, with reality (for it would be insufficient and inaccurate to confine ourselves to man's contacts with his fellow humans), but also that the organization of all these means of communication - that is to say, the behavioral style - reflects the structure of his thought and, moreover, of his experience. Hence the conclusion that, when two or more behaviors collide, a situation occurs that can be analyzed from a stylistical point of view. These considerations build up the scientific ground based on which we feel entitled to state that a figure of speech does not exist in a linguistic context alone - it can also appear as a behavioral or situational figure. Only one specific operation of thinking can square with each and every figure of speech. In literary history, we have often come across the opinion that a work of art represents a development of a given figure of speech. This or that figure of speech synthesizes the existence of a smaller or larger group of people: do we not say that poets "have their heads in the clouds"? Did the ancients not complain: homo homini lupus. Such figures of speech unveil the existence of a paralogical thinking that is being demonstrated by its very existence. The stylistical analysis cannot be reduced to a simple statistical-aesthetical undertaking; it is supposed to unveil the intellectual connections that have bred such non-logical, yet true, sentences and build up an original system of approaching reality. This is what anthropological stylistics is all about. * Since we have been allowed to explain our point of view concerning the analysis of some of the less tackled shakespearian dilemmas, we will take the liberty of inviting our patient reader to accompany us a little further, so as to clarify what dichotomic-antonymical thinking means to us. In All's Well That Ends Well (Act V, Scene 3), we find the following statement: "KING: For thou mayst see a sunshine and a hail / In me at once. " The character speaks about the coexistence, within himself, of two distinct and opposite objects, which corresponds to the elementary definition of antonyms. On the other hand, in The Life and Death of King John (Act III, Scene 1), we find: " CONSTANCE : .peace is to me a war. " This other character describes an identity, in fact one single object with two aspects simultaneously opposed. Structures of the latter type, that are almost impossible to count in Shakespeare's plays, have been classified in a variety of ways, but mostly mistaken for antonyms, perhaps because antonyms may be associated with simultaneity, whether implied, as in the area of the universalia, or specified, as in the following example: " .dost thou put upon me at once both the office of God and the devil?" Lafeu exclaims in All's Well That Ends Well (Act V, Scene 2); on the other hand, the simultaneity of the two aspects is implicit in the figure we have pointed out: “Though he be painted one way like a Gorgon, / The other way's a Mars. “the Egyptian Queen says in Antony and Cleopatra (Act II, Scene 5). Moreover, antonyms may be determined from a modal point of view, so as to suggest unity: " The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together. " the First Lord meditates in All's Well That Ends Well (Act IV, Scene 3) - but it is a false impression: what we are dealing with is a set in the mathematical sense. Likewise, our figure may sometimes resemble an antonymy: "though music oft hath such a charm / To make bad good, and good provoke to harm." Duke Vincentio praises music in Measure for Measure (Act IV, Scene 1). This idea cannot be phrased otherwise: the elimination or replacement of the predicate would trigger the change of the idea. But it takes some time to turn "bad" into "good" and "good" into "bad", when
"bad" and "good" are simultaneous; moreover, "good" is implied in "bad", as another potential aspect of it, and the other way round, which makes turning one into the other possible. This figure we have discovered is the so-called antonymical dichotomy. (I can almost see my readers' faces harden: more difficult terms? You were saying they mean to object, but they should rest assured that a good understanding of such terms will grant them a fast and smooth reading of the pages to follow.) Dictionaries explain the term dichotomy as being "the division of certain stems into bifurcated branches" (Larousse). Originally pertaining to botany, the term has been circulated by aesthetics and literary theory, sometimes to point to the notion of duality, at other times as a synonym for antonymy, omitting the fact that it used to refer to a bifurcation, that is to the acquiring of two simultaneous existences, without invalidating, in the process, the existence of the primary, never-abandoned, unity. We are using it while having in mind what has just been mentioned, with the adjective attached to it indicating precisely the antithesis between the two aspects resulting from the bifurcation. Let us now resort to the shakespearian examples once again, in order to get accustomed to this figure which, according to anthropological stylistics, signals a specific thinking, easy to track down in the plays approached below. For instance, in Troilus and Cressida : "TROILUS: But if I tell how these two did co-act, shall I not lie in publishing a truth? [.] Was Cressid here? - ULYSSES: I cannot conjure, Trojan. - TROILUS: She was not, sure. - ULYSSES: Most sure she was. - TROILUS: Why, my negation hath no taste of madness. - ULYSSES: Nor mine, my lord: Cressid was here but now. - TROILUS: Let it not be believed for womanhood! Think, we had mothers; do not give advantage to stubborn critics, apt, without a theme, for depravation, to square the general sex by Cressid's rule: rather think this not Cressid. - ULYSSES: What hath she done, prince that can soil our mothers? - TROILUS: Nothing at all, unless that this were she. [.] This she? No, this is Diomed's Cressid: if beauty have a soul, this is not she; if souls guide vows, if vows be sanctimonies, if sanctimony be the gods' delight, if there be rule in unity itself, this is not she. O madness of discourse, that cause sets up with and against itself! Bi-fold authority! Where reason can revolt without perdition, and loss assume all reason without revolt: this is, and is not, Cressid. Within my soul there doth conduce a fight of this strange nature that a thing inseparate divides more wider than the sky and earth, and yet the spacious breadth of this division admits no orifex for a point as subtle as Ariachne's broken woof to enter " (Act V, Scene 2). We notice the torments of the mind that cannot recognize its own multiple structure ("if there be rule in unity itself") and grants one single being two aspects distinct and opposed (although it is "a thing inseparate", it is also "more wider than the sky and earth"); the angelical beloved is also the deceiver who "soils" womankind and the very notion of maternal purity, feeling close to "madness" and "revolt": indeed, the unexpected appearance of such a way of thinking in the usual texture of logic may throw off balance shove someone towards lunacy, as we will see is the case with Othello. Therefore, the final words of the passage quoted above contain more than an explanation of a given
figure of speech; they express a proper evaluation, conducted by the great William Shakespeare, of the experience of whoever becomes aware of a dichotomic-antonymical thinking dominating his or her reasoning. As the reader may himself have noticed by now, the text represents an illustration of a doubtful attitude generated by a cynical or skeptical state of mind (Ulysses') and engendering a pessimistic reaction of the receiver. Such antonymical dychotomies we consider to be negative ones. When they are positive, they represent an illustration of a state of euphoria and engender an optimistic reaction of the receiver. In All's Well That Ends Well , the King shows Diana a ring: "KING: Know you this ring? This ring was his of late. - DIANA: And this was it I gave him, being abed. [.] - KING: [.] This ring, you say, was yours? - DIANA: Ay, my good lord. - KING: Where did you buy it? Or who gave it you? - DIANA: It was not given me, nor I did not buy it. - KING: Who lent it you? - DIANA: It was not lent me neither. - KING: Where did you find it, then? - DIANA: I found it not. - KING: If it were yours by none of all these ways, how could you give it him? - DIANA: I never gave it him " (Act V, Scene 3). The owner of the ring is present and on trial, so Diana refers to him playing a form of hide-and-seek and rejoicing: "DIANA: Because he's guilty, and he is not guilty: he knows I am no maid, and he'll swear to't; I'll swear I am a maid, and he knows not. [.] But for this lord, who hath abused me, as he knows himself, though yet he never harm'd me, here I quit him: he knows himself my bed he hath defiled; and at that time he got his wife with child: dead though she be, she feels her young one kick. So there's my riddle: one that's dead is quick. And now behold the meaning" (ibidem). The neutral structures are wordings by which the author does not intend to communicate any of the characters' states of mind. They are part of the vast category of plays upon words, hence somewhat gratuitous, e.g.: "APEMANTUS: [.] How now, poet! - POET: How now, philosopher! - APEMANTUS: Thou liest. - POET: Art not one? APEMANTUS: Yes. - POET: Then I lie not. - APEMANTUS: Art not a poet? - POET: Yes. - APEMANTUS: Then thou liest. ( Timon of Athens - Act I, Scene 1) From the point of view of consciousness, antonymical dychotomy may be: a) unconscious, e.g.: "ROSALIND [To DUKE SENIOR:] To you I give myself, for I am yours. [To ORLANDO;] To you I give myself, for I am yours " ( As You like It - Act V, Scene 4); the girl speaks according to her heart's impetus, unaware that by so doing she unveils a state of mind with two aspects simultaneously opposed; b) conscious , e.g. : "DUKE OF YORK: Both are my kinsmen: the one is my sovereign, whom both my oath and duty bids defend; the other again is my kinsman, whom the king hath wrong'd, whom conscience and my kindred bids to right. Well, somewhat we must do. " ( Richard II - Act II, Scene 2); here is the exact same situation, but submitted to a test of mind; becoming aware of it does not make it easier, on the contrary, the character lives the anxiety within himself; and c) willful , e.g. : "OLIVIA: Stay. I prithee, tell me what thou thinkest of me. VIOLA: That you do think you are not what you are. - OLIVIA: If I think so, I think the same of you. - VIOLA: Then think you right: I am not what I am. - OLIVIA: I would you were as I would have you be! ( The Twelfth Night - Act III, Scene 1).
From an intellectual point of view, antonymical dychotomy can be induced of inferred. We call it induced whenever it is triggered by somebody else's dichotomic-antonymical thinking, as in Troilus and Cressida: "PANDARUS: [.] Helen herself swore th' other day, that Troilus, for a brown favor - for so 'tis, I must confess -, not brown neither. CRESSIDA: No, but brown. - PANDARUS: 'Faith, to say truth, brown and not brown. CRESSIDA: To say the truth, true and not true " (Act I, Scene 2). Cressida's words are being induced by Pandarus' hesitations: she imitates him on purpose, to point out the nonsense he is talking. The inferred antonymical dichotomy expresses the result of an analysis of circumstances or experience, e.g. : "CARDINAL PANDULPH: For he that steeps his safety in true blood shall find but bloody safety and untrue" ( King John - Act III, Scene 4). Any antonymical dichotomy, whether induced or inferred, can be accepted or rejected by the human mind. If it is accepted , it produces a whole series of others. Could the ideas put forward in the following passage not have been communicated by other stylistical means? Still, Shakespeare chose to repeat the initial figure of speech in order to make it more conspicuous (he thought as a stylist) and because this is the very condition of its being accepted (he thought as a psychologist), e.g. : "CARDINAL PANDULPH: So makest thou faith an enemy to faith; and like a civil war set'st oath to oath, Thy tongue against thy tongue. [.] What since thou sworest is sworn against thyself and may not be performed by thyself, for that which thou hast sworn to do amiss is not amiss when it is truly done, and being not done, where doing tends to ill, the truth is then most done not doing it: the better act of purposes mistook is to mistake again; though indirect, yet indirection thereby grows direct, and falsehood falsehood cures, as fire cools fire within the scorched veins of one new-burn'd. [.] The truth thou art unsure to swear, swears only not to be forsworn; else what a mockery should it be to swear! But thou dost swear only to be forsworn; and most forsworn, to keep what thou dost swear " ( King John - Act III, Scene 1). Inasmuch as it is accepted by the human conscience (acceptance or denial are decisions taken in an area of the latter that has to do with affections), antonymical dichotomy, be it induced or inferred, can be either benign or malignant, from the point of view of its intensity. Its proliferation depends on this intensity. If it is benign, it does not engender other offsprings, nor does it upset logical thinking; if it is malignant, it triggers both effects. As for its form, the figure of speech we are dealing with can be simple, advanced or artificial. To illustrate the first two characteristics, let us compare this brief example from Cymbeline: "CLOTEN: I love and hate her " (Act III, Scene 5) with the following cues from Henry VI, Part I: "TALBOT: I laugh to see your ladyship so fond to think that you have aught but Talbot's shadow whereon to practice your severity. - COUNTESS OF AUVERGNE: Why, art not thou the man? - TALBOT: I am indeed. - COUNTESS OF AUVERGNE: Then have I substance too. - TALBOT: No, no, I am but shadow of myself: you are deceived, my substance is not here; for what you see is but the smallest part and least proportion of humanity: I tell you, madam, were the whole frame here, it is of such a spacious lofty pitch, your roof were not sufficient to contain't. - COUNTESS OF AUVERGNE: This is a riddling merchant for the nonce; he will be here, and yet he is not
here: how can these contrarieties agree? - TALBOT: That will I show you presently. [Winds his horn. Drums strike up: a peal of ordnance. Enter soldiers] How say you, madam? Are you now persuaded that Talbot is but shadow of himself? These are his substance, sinews, arms and strength, with which he yoketh your rebellious necks, razeth your cities and subverts your towns and in a moment makes them desolate" (Act II, Scene 3). The third characteristic refers to an artificial linguistic phrasing that contains the notion symbolized and its contradiction within one and the same word, as, for instance, Unomnia, the term by which Francesco Patrizzi (1529-1597) used to designate the prime cause of things. In King Lear , the Fool addresses the King seventeen times by calling him "nuncle" (Act I, Scenes 4 and 5; Act II, Scene 4; Act III, Scenes 2, 4, and 6), from the moment his heiresses prove their unfaithfulness. The term uncle expressed reverence in Shakespeare's time and the initial n marks the negative, according to a pattern for which there are other examples as well in English: ever-never , or-nor , either-neither a.s.o. Finally, there is another possible classification, from the point of view of manifestation. We have followed so far the linguistic dichotomic-antonymical illustrations; in the pages to follow, we will have plenty of opportunities to analyze the behavioral and situational ones. It may prove useful, however, to offer even here a sample. When the Bishop of Winchester exclaims, in Henry VI, Part I: “Love for thy love and hand for hand I give. [.] [Aside] So help me God, as I intend it not!" (Act III, Scene 1), he actually clarifies his own behavior. A behavior emphasized by the masks and disguises the Renaissance is so full of. Jean Rousset characterized the Renaissance-man as being "persuaded that he is never fully what he is supposed to be or seems to be, hiding his face behind a mask that serves him so well, that one can hardly tell which is the mask and which his own true face". For us to claim that behind all these linguistic, behavioral and situational figures there is a specific thinking whose Weltanschauung is that reality consists of two simultaneously opposed aspects, that thinking must be active in all areas of human manifestation, like all stylistical ways of thinking are. Researches in fields like psychiatry, sociology, or representational arts confirm this hypothesis. Let us add one single example, taken from linguistics. A very long time ago, when we were not even dreaming of what a fruitful evolution our observation was about to have, we co-edited with our then-teacher Andrei Banta s (I was still his student) a book entitled Capcanele vocabularului englez ( Traps of the English Vocabulary - Bucharest, Scientific Publishing House, 1967) and noticed the striking characteristic of certain words that seemed to inexplicably contain the seeds of antonymic dichotomization. The lexical category of so-called false friends was the very subject of our book, i.e. words of (almost) identical form, within the same language or from two different languages, which had a common origin but acquired, in time, two very different, if not opposed, meanings. This idea, once launched, was not without consequences in Romanian linguistics. Alexandru Graur took over and established the term "traps". As we will see further on, when talking about Hamlet, this word simply labels a fabrication of dichotomicantonymical thinking that becomes obsessive in the existence of Shakespeare's characters. Our research has not gone so far as to analyze all of man's self-expression modes that make up the target of anthropological stylistics; for the moment, it has just proved that stylistical ways of thinking exist beside the logical one. In the present essay, we will attempt not only to
unveil the shakespearian roots of modern psychology, as we have set about to do, but also to make brief forays into the domain of dichotomic-antonymical thinking, in order to throw light upon some of the methods and readings of anthropological stylistics. * Hopefully, we have not imposed on the patience of our young reader who has been willing to stay with us so far. We have promised to clarify our opinion "as profusely as we will do it concisely". Regarding the profusion of the pages above, his or her hard tried patience will be able to say its own word; if they find them concise, however, we advise those interested parties to leaf through other, much more elaborate, works of ours. The gratification we set before our reader is to be able to check everything we say through his or her own evaluation, whether it is a matter of analyzing literature as a reflection of the human psychic, or a matter of analyzing the human in all its behavioral patterns as expressing the very thinking that is far more complex than can even be imagined. William Shakespeare is waiting at the gates of "self-knowledge". Georges Louis Leclerc, Count of Buffon (1707-1788), Discours sur le style , Paris, Librairie M. Hattier (1920). Buffon, op.cit . Man is a wolf to man. A reflection by Plautus ( Asinaria , II, 4). Under the title Contraries and Contradictories , Sister Miriam Joseph, c.s.c., lists and illustrates eleven figures, in Shakespeare's Use of the Arts of Language (New York and London, Hafner Publishing Company, 1966), based on both shakespearian and contemporary texts. We thank our teacher, Zoe Dumitrescu-Busulenga, as well as Nicolae Balota, Leon Levitchi and Mihai Nasta for their guidance and moral support that have greatly helped us complete our disertation on the same theme. See the analysis of Bacon's Essays in our paper " Gândirea dihotomic-antonimica în literatura elizabetana" ( Dichotomic-antonymical thinking in Elizabethan literature), in Limbile moderne în scoala ( Modern Languages in School ), 1975. Jean Rousset, La littérature de l'âge baroque en France. Circé et le paon , Paris, José Corti, 1953. See, for instance, Silvia Pandelescu, Dificultati ale lexicului francez ( Difficulties of the French Vocabulary ), Bucharest, Scientific Publishing House, 1969; Doina CondreaDerer, Dificultati ale limbii italiene ( Difficulties of the Italian Language ), Bucharest, Scientific Publishing House, 1973; Victor Vascenco, Dificultati ale lexicului rus. Elemente de semantica contrastiva ( Difficulties of the Russian Vocabulary. Elements of Contrastive Semantics ), Bucharest, Scientific Publishing House, 1975.
See his book "Capcanele" limbii române ( "Traps" of the Romanian Language ), Bucharest, Scientific and Enciclopedic Publishing House, 1976. Beside the article quoted above, see also: Mihai Radulescu, "O tragedie a cunoasterii: Othello" (A Tragedy of Knowledge: Othello), in Limbile moderne în scoala ( Modern Languages in School ) , vol. I, 1973; "Stilistica antropologica. O aplicatie: Gândirea dihotomic-antonimica" (Anthropological Stylistics. An Application: DichotomicAntonymical Thinking), in Revista de istorie si teorie literara ( Journal of Literary History and Theory), vol. 24, no. 41, 1975; "Un mesaj hindus într-o miniatura armeneasca" (A Hindu Message in an Armenian Miniature), in Revue Roumaine de l'Histoire de l'Art. Série Beaux-Arts , vol. XII, Bucharest, 1976; "Un problème de stylistique anthropologique: la «Grotte intérieure»", in Revista de istorie si teorie literara ( Journal of Literary History and Theory ), vol. 27, no. 2, 1978; "Ibsen si fotografia" (Ibsen and photography), in România literara ( Literary Romania ), no. 40, 1978.
Hamlet's and Other Experiments
However, before turning the floor over to Shakespeare himself, let us see what the common point of view is on the theme mentioned in the title. To experiment implies to bring about an especially devised situation in order to observe the pursued objects and phenomena that are being isolated from their usual environment for the very purpose of being examined. "Observation consists in the intentional and systematic follow up of an object or phenomenon." Being subjective, it also influences interpretations. Wundt laid an enthusiastically stress on it: "The best experience, then, is that in which personal observation plays the leading role and the outer experimental action is nothing more than a means capable of rendering personal observation possible". Well, is it not the knowledge of such a psychological truth that persuades the former student of the Wittemberg University - Hamlet, Prince of Denmark - to give up trying to put an end to his doubts rationally and to proceed to the direct observation of how the conscience of his uncle Claudius reacts when submitted to artificial circumstances especially devised to repeat the dreadful crime he once carried out against his brother? As we will see, Hamlet sets up a perfect experiment. There is no exaggeration in calling it "perfect", since the inherent subjectivity of observation is being balanced by a controlling observer - Horatio. Let us step into the shadow of the castle's cold corridors. Polonius gives the gloomy Prince the good news: a team of actors has arrived. Hamlet knows them. He is glad. Seeing them ruffles the waters of memories long benumbed. From the depths of memory a feeling rises, of something known and forgotten for a long time that may prove useful to him in the present. The project of an experiment takes a dim shape in his mind. It is a play. He remembers neither its title, nor its subject. Regarding the performance that haunts his thoughts, Hamlet's conscience is being pervaded by feelings, by axiological
and sociological judgments, by impressions about the atmosphere of the play and its impact on the public. He remembers nothing from the drama, yet requires, with an expert certainty, one particular monologue and indicates all the details needed to identify it. Let us now see him struggle with his own efforts to bring to light what lies benumbed in his subconscious, what his fear of the truth rejects because he guesses the part it is going to play in the unveiling of a crime implying his own mother: "HAMLET: I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted; or, if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleased not the million; 'twas caviare to the general: but it was - as I received it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in the top of mine - an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember, one said there were no sallets in the lines to make the matter savoury, nor no matter in the phrase that might indict the author of affectation; but called it an honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in it I chiefly loved: 'twas Aeneas' tale to Dido; and thereabout of it especially, where he speaks of Priam's slaughter: if it live in your memory, begin at this line; let me see, let me see. «The rugged Pyrrhus, like the Hyrcanian beast». it is not so: it begins with Pyrrhus." (Act II, Scene 2). It is obvious that the Prince knows much better what he is talking about than any ordinary man might know about a play: how many of us know by heart a monologue we have "listened" to only once? But he is about to recite its first two lines. Although he remembers a thousand bits and pieces, he is unable, however, as with any slip of the mind, to remember either the title or the subject of the play: he is certain that it is about Aeneas, Dido and Priam, but makes no connection to the Trojan war! His physiological condition explains such a slip of the mind to a good extent: the fatigue he experiences following the events triggered by the death that has stricken his family or the one caused by the perspective of revenge, that troubles him; the nervous maladjustment and cerebral excitement brought about by the vision of the ghost and the questions raised thereupon. Clearly, the physiological circumstances may have caused Hamlet's slip of the mind, but its reasons are to be found elsewhere. The Prince displays a tendency to forget the dreadful happenings in his family. He also tends to reveal those happenings and have justice prevail. In his detailed recollections and his wish to listen to one particular monologue so as to evaluate to what extent it may serve his planned experiment, the latter tendency should be inferred. The former accounts for the fact that he does not know the play's title, subject, or even author. (Slips of the mind occur "with the help or, rather, through the opposition of two different intentions". Hamlet's senseless behavior is to be noticed, in its logical contradiction: he wants and does not want to be reminded of his father's death, nor of how his mother should have conducted herself (in the recited text, Hecuba is desperate). He wants and does not want: what a dichotomic-antonymical way of putting things! The lines he listens to shake him more than expected (maybe at the subconscious level only). Polonius curbs the actor's impetus: "LORD POLONIUS: Look, whether he has not turned his color and has tears in's eyes. Pray you, no more " (Act II, Scene 2). These tears have revealed the truth to the Prince and heir to the throne of Denmark. He has forgotten, because he wants to remember. He has forgotten, because he wants to know. The prospect of the experiment flashes through his gloomy mind. He lets go the players, but retains their foreman: "HAMLET: Dost thou hear me, old friend; can you play the Murder of Gonzago? - First Player: Ay, my lord. HAMLET: We'll ha't to-morrow night. You could, for a need, study a speech of some dozen or
sixteen lines, which I would set down and insert in't, could you not? - First Player: Ay, my lord" (ibidem). We do not know which lines he refers to, from the multitude about to be performed on the hurriedly erected stage of Elsinore Castle. But we can safely presume that they are meant to "isolate certain aspects" of that recent and terrible occurrence following which Claudius has vilely grabbed the throne: "HAMLET: [.] About, my brain! I have heard that guilty creatures sitting at a play have by the very cunning of the scene been struck so to the soul that presently they have proclaim'd their malefactions; for murder, though it have no tongue, will speak with most miraculous organ. [.] (ibidem). Indeed, Thomas Heywood informs us, in An Apology for Actors (1612), that many such confessions have taken place in public. What blessed times when actors were so deeply dedicated to their art, that they could act as substitutes for either judge or confessor, awaking the human conscience with a strength capable of shaking down any barrier put forward by the dread of punishment! The time it took us to make this brief digression, the plan of the experiment has taken shape. Hamlet goes on: "HAMLET: [.] I'll have these players play something like the murder of my father before mine uncle: I'll observe his looks - the key-word pops up at once: it is observation; I'll tent him to the quick: if he but blench, I know my course" (ibidem). He then explains why he has deemed necessary to undertake such an experiment: for fear he may have been the victim of some deception that has forced the idea of a murder upon his mind; hence, his wish to check it out: "HAMLET: .the play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king" (ibidem). The said "thing" is called "The Mouse-trap" (Act III, Scene 2). We have seen how he has devised this mouse-trap that we would rather call an experiment: it is meant to create an artificial situation in which his uncle's crime be revived. The natural circumstances are different and the situation is set up and isolated on stage. It is not the crime itself that is supposed to be observed, however, but its reflection in the murderer's conscience, therefore the observation implies much more subtlety, insight, and detachment. The Prince fears most that he might lack this last quality. He knows himself too deeply anchored in his suspicions, too stuck in the mud of hatred, too subjective. Yet Shakespeare's genius overcomes the usual limitations of an experimenting scientist. How many are there who would request the presence of a second observer beside them, simply because they doubt their own capacities: "HAMLET: There is a play to-night before the king; one scene of it comes near the circumstance which I have told thee of my father's death: I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot, even with the very comment of thy soul observe mine uncle. " ( ibidem ). Hamlet briefs Horatio about the hypothesis of a would-be exposure, without however trying to persuade him of the subject's guilt; such an attitude is essential if he intends his method of investigation to remain absolutely unblemished: "HAMLET: [.] Give him heedful note; for I mine eyes will rivet to his face and after we will both our judgments join in censure of his seeming" (ibidem); one final precaution: "They are coming to the play; I must be idle. Get you a place" (ibidem). The experiment unfolds as planned. Hamlet gloats impatiently over its foreseen result. The last words he utters before the pantomime about to describe the murder refer to a hobbyhorse stuck in the text as a reflection of the apparent madness his speech reveals. The commentators either ignore it or make up ethnographical motivations for it, like, for instance: "One of the country games of the month of May used a wooden hobby-horse which was mentioned by the poets and ballad composers, at a time when the Puritan rules discouraged
such frivolous entertainments, to emphasize how ridiculous the sect's precepts were". Such an explanation only spreads confusion. The allusion is obviously double-edged: 1. Claudius is going to be forgotten like the ludicrous wooden horse; yet - with the threat soaring in the air 2) there was once a long-forgotten wooden horse that helped destroy a stronghold and its king; the Trojan horse is meant, of course - after all, Hamlet himself mentions Priam. The Prince exults when King Claudius ragingly requests torches so he may leave the room on the spot. Confronting the observations has now become a futile undertaking. The cues that follow echo the joy of the discoverer. The psychology of the narrow circle comes first now, the capacity of intimate friends to understand one another from glances, syllables or slight gestures: "HAMLET: [.] Didst perceive? - HORATIO: Very well, my lord. - HAMLET: Upon the talk of the poisoning? - HORATIO: I did very well note him" (Act III, Scene 2). Then Hamlet bursts into laughter. This faultless experiment should be corroborated with the one preceding it, for there is no important scene in Shakespeare's theatre, that is not preceded by a general rehearsal: "KING CLAUDIUS: Sweet Gertrude, leave us too; for we have closely sent for Hamlet hither, that he, as 'twere by accident, may here affront Ophelia. Her father and myself, lawful espials, will so bestow ourselves that, seeing, unseen, we may of their encounter frankly judge, and gather by him, as he is behaved, if 't be the affliction of his love or no that thus he suffers for" (Act III, Scene 1). This is the plan of another experiment. The phenomenon to be studied (not its reflection, which is a superior, much more difficult stage, hence the order in which the two are being distributed) is set up and isolated from the rest of Hamlet's life, its circumstances are modified according to the conclusions to be drawn. Yet how much different it is from the other one! The difference between them resides in one single word: "honesty", which is given contrary meanings by the two teams of experimenters (let us notice the reflection of dichotomic-antonymical thinking!): Polonius qualifies the King's political opponent thus: "LORD POLONIUS: .your noble son is mad: mad call I it. [.] Mad let us grant him, then: and now remains that we find out the cause of this effect. " (Act II, Scene 2). That is, we first call the political opponent a madman, then try to find an explanation for his madness - here is the kind of judgment engendered by the "honesty" of the two "lawful espials". The concocter of this profitable madness (in collision with reality) plans the faked experiment as well: "KING CLAUDIUS: How may we try it further? - LORD POLONIUS: You know, sometimes he walks four hours together here in the lobby. - QUEEN GERTRUDE: So he does indeed. - LORD POLONIUS: At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him. Be you and I behind an arras then; mark the encounter." (ibidem). The kingly counselor seems to be more of a director than an experimenter, since he also specifies the details, preparing Ophelia for an attitude that should not look unnatural when the Prince makes his appearance: "LORD POLONIUS: Ophelia, walk you here. Gracious, so please you, we will bestow ourselves. (To OPHELIA) Read on this book, that show of such an exercise may colour your loneliness " (Act III, Scene 1). How honest their experiment was meant to be may be inferred from Claudius' disappointment. After Hamlet's exit, he comments: "KING CLAUDIUS: [.] Nor what he spake, though it lack'd form a little, was not like madness" (ibidem). Then, after he expounds his plan to have the presumable claimer of the throne exiled to England (with the hidden intention of having him murdered there), he meditates, denying this very statement and treacherously parading a point of view that contradicts the truth: "KING CLAUDIUS: [.]
Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go" (ibidem). In his behavior, it is easy to recognize the things we have dwelt upon so profusely in our Introduction . It is essential for the theory we intend to illustrate that this earlier, simpler experiment was also preceded by a different approach to the psychological research, namely the interview or verbal inquiry. "This method is used to gather information about the activities, opinions, and attitudes of a group of people", in this particular case, of a single man. The very moment Polonius draws the coordinates of Hamlet's spying - as we have just mentioned it -, the latter enters the stage. So the counselor urges the two royal spouses: "LORD POLONIUS: Away, I do beseech you, both away; I'll board him presently" (Act II, Scene 2). The famous dialogue follows in which Hamlet feigns madness to mock the old, venomous-hearted man. Hence, in his tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Shakespeare introduces, in a dramatic form, three levels of psychological research arranged in their natural order: from simple to complex, from easy to difficult (we have just described them the other way round, because so it has served our purposes regarding the construction): first the interview or verbal inquiry, then the experiment with its testing (in both cases), the latter being of two types: (a) one observing someone's behavior in a given situation, and (b) another observing the reactions of someone's conscience in a made-up situation. Among the countless psychic manifestations looked into, there is also that of the slip of the mind (so seldom analyzed by the writers), as a reaction of two opposed tendencies - that is, approached according to the latest criteria. The phrase "play-within-play" has been haunting literary history and criticism long enough to become hollow, devoid of any substance, to simply name one of the formal techniques of dramatic construction. Certainly, it is often used in the shakespearian drama, as well as in the whole literature of the Baroque. We have already come across it in Hamlet, on the occasion of Claudius' exposure. As Zoe Dumitrescu-Bu sulenga so subtly and profoundly remarks when she divides A Midsummer Night's Dream into four areas, the connection between those is indeed "the performance". The author's comments are of the essence: "Oberon, the king, contemplates what has happened on the world's stage as ordered by him. Being endowed with magical powers, he can interfere like a facetious or stern deity in the undergoing game below. The grand idea, the philosophical idea of the performance, reverberated in the mental and affective areas, becomes the instructive and aesthetic pleasure of those who attend the entertaining set up on the occasion of the two mythological heroes' wedding. Reverberated in the coarse world of the unpolished, uncultivated feelings, the idea of the performance turns into a parody in which one can no longer tell the comic from the tragic, the actor from the character he embodies, and so on. The realm of the senses unlit by the divine reason can only be a realm of confusion, so the parody becomes a symbol, a comical expression of such a confusion of values". We will talk again of the "play-within-play" when we meet Sly, the drunkard in The Taming of the Shrew. Until then, another use that is being made of it interests us, namely the conscious general rehearsal of an event about to take place, as a sort of experimental probing of the random alternatives of a possible future.
Here we are in the ever merry tavern that does duty for the court of the red-faced Falstaff. He scoffs at Prince Henry, who has been summoned to appear before the King, his father, the following morning, and recommends that he brace himself up beforehand for a confrontation that may not prove very friendly: "PRINCE HENRY: Do thou stand for my father, and examine me upon the particulars of my life? - FALSTAFF: Shall I? Content: this chair shall be my state, this dagger my scepter, and this cushion my crown " ( Henry IV , Part I - Act II, Scene 4). The royal offspring mocks Falstaff's stage props, but his boastful friend anticipates the prince's theatrical gift: "FALSTAFF: Well, an the fire of grace be not quite out of thee, now shalt thou be moved." (ibidem). The two go on with their exchange of sneering, greatly admired by the inn-keeper and the other on-lookers, but Falstaff unexpectedly assumes his part: he starts finding faults with the behavior of all his tavern pals and praising himself (he is supposed to speak in the king's stead), which ends up annoying the prince. The latter presents a new royal hypostasis, taking over from his impudent blow-out companion who now becomes the prodigal son. In Act III, Scene 2, however, occurs the genuine encounter between father and son. The noble attitude of the true king, as well as the likewise noble excuses made by the prince give the full measure of the difference between the parody and the act, between the playful fantasy of illusion and reality. Hence a value judgment is made possible by creating a hierarchy between the experimental probing of the future and the future itself become present, with the former being incorporated in the latter. Another variety of "play-within-play", with a stronger emphasis on the experimenting, is the use of disguise in order to become a spectator of somebody else's life: "PRINCE HENRY: How might we see Falstaff bestow himself to-night in his true colors, and not ourselves be seen? - POINS: Put on two leathern jerkins and aprons, and wait upon him at his table as drawers" (Henry IV, Part II - Act II, Scene 2). Without any provocation by the observers, Falstaff sets about slandering them and emphasizing his own qualities by way of comparison. The two break off his endless chattering, at a given moment, pretending to be angry and trying him, but it is to check on his resourcefulness rather than to look for some pitiful excuses. But then again, Falstaff turns out to be a victim of Prince Henry's and his inseparable Poins' clever disguise. The two dress up, in fact, not to simply to laugh at his expenses, but to watch him open up as the formidable lier he essentially is. Their experiment observes every classical canon: "POINS: Now, my good sweet honey lord, ride with us to-morrow; I have a jest to execute that I cannot manage alone. Falstaff, Bardolph, Peto and Gadshill shall rob those men that we have already waylaid; yourself and I will not be there; and when they have the booty, if you and I do not rob them, cut this head off from my shoulders. - PRINCE HENRY: How shall we part with them in setting forth? - POINS: Why, we will set forth before or after them, and appoint them a place of meeting, wherein it is at our pleasure to fail, and then will they adventure upon the exploit themselves; which they shall have no sooner achieved, but we'll set upon them. - PRINCE HENRY: Yea, but 'tis like that they will know us by our horses, by our habits and by every other appointment, to be ourselves. POINS: Tut! Our horses they shall not see: I'll tie them in the wood; our vizards we will change after we leave them; and, sirrah, I have cases of buckram for the nonce, to immask our noted outward garment " ( Henry IV , Part I - Act I, Scene 2). The coordinates of the experiment are thus established. Its purpose is still to be stated, so Poins goes on to say:
"POINS: [.] The virtue of this jest will be, the incomprehensible lies that this same fat rogue will tell us when we meet at supper: how thirty, at least, he fought with; what wards, what blows, what extremities he endured." (ibidem). Things evolve just the way the two plan them: Falstaff reels off his spool of extravagant self-praising in Act III, Scene 4. When exposed and confronted with the truth, he still falls on his two feet, pretending that he has actually recognized the heir to the throne attacking him, but has given in to please him and to avoid raising his sword against his sovereign. Parolles, the boastful character in All's Well That Ends Well, is the object of a similar experiment undertaken by a great many observers. Its purpose is to prove that Parolles is not only a braggart and a coward, but a traitor as well. He is sent to retrieve a drum of the Florentine soldiers from the enemy, but is apprehended by his very brothers-in-arms whom he fails to recognize in the dark of night. He is blind-folded and threatened. He feels all the more tense as the ones surrounding him speak an imaginary, harsh, frightening language, with only one of them pretending to be the translator. When the latter questions him, Parolles covers with disgrace his friends, protectors, and commanders and lets out military secrets; to cut a long story short, he proves to be the meanest of scoundrels, unaware that he has never actually left his own camp (Act III, Scene 6; Act IV, Scenes 1, 3). In Much Ado About Nothing , a new type of experiment is being introduced: the situation artificially set up tends to influence the feelings of the subjects who are given the opportunity to become observers themselves (without, however, being aware of it). Relying particularly on the subjectivity inherent to observation, Shakespeare proves that examining a deceitful situation may trigger conclusions that are equally false or even opposed to the entire intellectual and emotional system previously built up. Don Pedro, for instance, addresses Hero: "[.] I will teach you how to humor your cousin that she shall fall in love with Benedick."; then Leonte and Claudio: " and I, with your two helps, will so practice on Benedick that, in despite of his quick wit and his queasy stomach, he shall fall in love with Beatrice " (Act II, Scene 1). In Scene 3, the object of the experiment makes a long statement against love. When Don Pedro shows up, together with the group of noblemen aware of the scheme, the whole atmosphere changes. They all gather to listen to a love song and to plan future serenades, then start talking about the beautiful Beatrice's secret love for the no-less handsome Benedick, with the latter in such a position as to be able to listen to everything without being seen (or so he thinks) and the former not even dreaming of such love for him. Upon hearing about the girl who praises him so much, yet accuses him of being so untouched by her so pure, yet unspoken passion, the young man takes the bait exclaiming: "BENEDICK: [.] happy are they that hear their detractions and can put them to mending " (Act II, Scene 3). The schemers thus win the first battle. On good account, it is the best of times to have Beatrice call him to dinner. She does so not only coldly, but also defiantly, as it were. When left alone, he comments on her words, recites them, explains them, until he manages to take them for the very thing they are not and, moreover, to feel flattered by those new feelings bred as required by the experiment: "BENEDICK: Ha! 'Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner'; there's a double meaning in that 'I took no more pains for those thanks than you took pains to thank me'. That's as much as to say: 'Any pains that I take for you is as easy as thanks'. If I do not take pity of her, I am a villain; if I do not love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture" (ibidem). Beatrice is likewise being
submitted to the same illusion: she is also given the opportunity to overhear a fanciful talk about the gentleman's would-be love for her. She reacts identically and goes all the way to imagining herself calling him to her bridal bed (Act III, Scene 1). At the same time, let us notice the way in which dichotomic-antonymical thinking is induced. A variant of this type of experiment is to be found in Othello and in King Lear : the observer draws subjective conclusions because he does not know all the facts, the purpose of the experimenter being the same: to alter his intellectual and emotional system. But there is no reason to anticipate. The experiments we have described so far do not exhaust the theme; their variety proves that the Elizabethan playwright fully mastered, both theoretically and practically, this means of psychological investigation, that he handles far more subtly than displayed in any scholarly treatise. Victor Târcovnicu, General Pedagogy , Timisoara , Facla Publishing House, 1975, p. 28. Wilhelm Wundt, Hypnotismus und Suggestion , Leipzig , 1892. Dr. Sigmund Freud, A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis (1910), translated into English in 1920. William Shakespeare, Ouvres dramatiques de. , translated [.] by Georges Duval, Paris, Ernest Flammarion, [no date], vol. I, p. 59, note 1. See also Mihai Radulescu, "Personajele lui Ibsen. Studiu stilistic antropologic" ("Ibsen's Characters. An anthropological study of style", in Studies and Researches of Art History Theatre, Music, and Cinema Series , vol. 25, 1978, p. 131. Victor Târcovnicu, op.cit. , p. 34. Zoe Dumitrescu-Bu sulenga, Valori si echivalente umanistice ( Humanist Values and Equivalences ), Bucharest , Eminescu Publishing House, 1973.
The Angel-Faced Shrew
The drunkard Sly is the subject of one of the great Will's most dramatic experiments. Overcome by the fumes of wine, Sly falls asleep in an inn, with his head on the table. A lord returning from hunting finds him and thinks him dead. This confusion breeds the idea of a stratagem: " Lord: [.] Sirs, I will practice on this drunken man. What think you, if he were convey'd to bed, wrapp'd in sweet clothes, rings put upon his fingers, a most delicious banquet by his bed, and brave attendants near him when he wakes, would not the beggar then forget himself " (The Taming of the Shrew - Induction, Scene I) Together with the other hunters, he concocts and complicates the scheme, makes sure that music is played at wake-up (as the Renaissance philosopher Gardano recommended, sees that perfumes are not missing, provides the whole game with magnificent, almost Oriental set-up and pomp (as if he had recollections of similar events in the Arabian Nights), and manages to devise a perfect illusion, masterfully directed, then adds: " Lord: [.] Persuade him that he hath been lunatic; and when he says he is, say that he dreams, for he is nothing but a mighty lord. [.] It will be pastime passing excellent, if it be husbanded with modesty" (ibidem). The First Huntsman's pledge might seem shaking, if we did not know we are dealing with a comedy: " First Huntsman: [.] He is no less than what we say he is" (ibidem). Shaking, because a dramatic stratagem is being concocted, in which a handful of people decide to persuade a wretched ruggermuffin that he is not himself that is, they intend to rob him of his only possession, his only certainty. The most terrifying aspect Shakespeare had in mind is the fact that all the schemers are aware of their being able to steal and replace someone's personality, as well as of their having the effective means to do so. As in so many other instances, the theme of a comedy is essentially tragic. It is also not new, just the opposite, it is a very old theme, recurrent in the Arabian Nights and, moreover, already tackled in the Latin novel of the Imperial age. Its tragic sense has only been perceived in the modern age and has provided an impetuous source of inspiration to yet another genius of world drama, Luigi Pirandello, in his literary "testament", Henry IV. The Italian author seems not to have been influenced by the English one: "You wish to know how the idea of this tragedy came to me? In just the same way in which the idea of the mounted procession came to my character Belcredi - by leafing through an illustrated magazine". The writer apparently saw a drawing of a costumed mounted procession and wondered: "What if one of these gentlemen disguised as kings or emperors happened to fall off his horse, knock his head, turn mad and come to think he actually is the personage he is disguised as?" It is what actually happens to the play's main character, a young man disguised as Henry IV. His madness lasts for twelve years. During all this time, thanks to his sister's good care, he lives in an environment very much like the one in which the German Emperor used to live, in the 11 th century. After recovery, the convalescent refuses to return to reality and chooses to take refuge in the same fantastic world for another eight years, just as Pirandello himself had taken refuge in the realm of visionary writing ever since he found it impossible to live with his wife's madness. The theme dealt with in The Taming of the Shrew is in fact a variant of a suggestion in Hamlet. Let us recall that the latter was pronounced "mad" by the royal adviser Polonius, which was an easy means of getting rid of a political adversary. He pronounced Hamlet mad so, since "Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go", the Prince of Denmark
was to be simply removed from the public scene (in Polonius' view; in Claudius', who was less sophisticated and more practical, he was, however, to be killed). Sly, the drunkard, is not to be pronounced mad. His madness is about to be induced. A piece of news in a daily paper informs us that a young pilot who was tortured at the "School for survival, resistance, and escape" became unfit for flying, following the treatment he had been submitted to, and received no medical assistance for as long as six months. When his aggravating health allowed no more indifference, he was shipped over, as a psychiatric case, to a military hospital. This contemporary incident seems to fit the profile of a similar attempt at dehumanization. As the newspaper comments, such training units are "meant to turn a young soldier into a plain flawlessly functioning military machine". Sly's evil genius is supported by the presence of a team of actors (another hint at Hamlet). But, before those come into play, as soon as he wakes up surrounded by servants, Christopher Sly addresses them bluntly: "SLY: What, would you make me mad?." (The Taming of the Shrew - Induction, Scene II) and reveals his true identity. However, there is apparently no need of efforts too sustained to alter his identity, for he exclaims: "SLY: Am I a lord? And have I such a lady? Or do I dream? Or have I dream'd till now? I do not sleep: I see, I hear, I speak; I smell sweet savors and I feel soft things: upon my life, I am a lord indeed and not a tinker nor Christophero Sly." (ibidem) and a servant encourages him: " Second Servant: [.] O, how we joy to see your wit restored! O, that once more you knew but what you are! These fifteen years you have been in a dream." (ibidem). So the poor man adopts on the spot the new identity that is being presented to him, because the bitter days of the past have taught him that life is worth living; and the new life before him is most tempting. What follows is a "play-within-play", that is, the most subtle means of bringing about a crisis. Since the whole play deals with a case of split personality, this mutation is supposed to be induced through imitation, the way Don Quixote did, for instance, when he imitated Amadis' low-spirited madness. In Padua, two sisters have reached the age of marriage: fair-haired Bianca and men-frightening Katharina. Their father, Baptista Minola, refuses to part with the former before seeing the latter married, too. Bianca's suitors, Gremio and Hortensio, who are hence rivals, shake hands and pretend to be friends until they manage to find a husband for Katharina. Here is a first case of upside-down: the adversaries fight side by side and praise friendship. Montaigne was right when he wrote, of graver matters, that great friendships breed great enmities. At first, things appear to be true the other way around as well. A newly arrived in town, Lucentio, also falls in love with gentle Bianca and decides that he and his page Tranio should disguise themselves, so he may become a tutor of his beloved, while the servant impersonates the master: "TRANIO: [.] I am content to be Lucentio." (The Taming of the Shrew - Act I, Scene I). The switching of roles multiply rapidly. Padua is also visited by the Veronese Petruchio who has come to find his marital luck. His acquaintance Hortensio mentions the mean Katharina, thus arousing in him the temptation to challenge his own destiny. Hortensio himself
chooses to masquerade as Bianca's music tutor. Since Gremio has already hired Lucentio as tutor to Bianca and Hortensio also strives to obtain the job, the ambivalence of their fresh alliance is unveiled. Sliding from the world of fantasy down to the reality of Shakespeare's contemporary society follows naturally. Tranio, who comes disguised as the third suitor of the youngest daughter, joins the plot of the other two gentlemen who are determined to help Petruchio lay hands on the first-born daughter's dowry: "TRANIO: [.] Please ye we may contrive this afternoon, and quaff carouses to our mistress' health, and do as adversaries do in law, strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends" ( The Taming of the Shrew - Act I, Scene II). With Shakespeare, revealing such a behavior is always tantamount with revealing the lies and conventions undermining the social relationships he relentlessly bore testimony about. So the entire group make their appearance at Baptista's house. Petruchio, though aware of the truth, asks the master of the house: "PETRUCHIO: And you, good sir! Pray, have you not a daughter call'd Katharina, fair and virtuous " (The Taming of the Shrew - Act II, Scene I). And he goes on spinning qualities as many as can be, all echoing, in fact, the true self of Katharina that nobody has yet seen and he braces himself up to reveal by special techniques. Lucentio, too, is introduced by Gremio as a scientist, under the name Cambio. This school-like listing of a series of personality switching rather difficult to follow is meant to stress the psychic bombardment to which the spectator of this play is being submitted, namely the drunkard Sly, who has been changed into a lord overnight and, as we remember, the play is being staged in his honor. Moreover, the attempt to forge a new personality does not stop here (for the play, as already mentioned, is meant to support the transformation of his personality). Katharina's suitor devises his battle-plan. It consists in constantly resorting to a thinking that contradicts reason in a glaring way, a thinking that relentlessly conceives reality as having two simultaneously opposed faces: "PETRUCHIO: [.] I will attend her here, and woo her with some spirit when she comes. Say that she rail; why then I'll tell her plain she sings as sweetly as a nightingale. Say that she frown, I'll say she looks as clear as morning roses newly wash'd with dew. Say she be mute and will not speak a word; then I'll commend her volubility, and say she uttereth piercing eloquence. If she do bid me pack, I'll give her thanks, as though she bid me stay by her a week. If she deny to wed, I'll crave the day when I shall ask the banns and when be married" (ibidem). After he overwhelms her with compliments, in the spirit of his determination, he announces clearly and unequivocally: "PETRUCHIO: [.] Thou must be married to no man but me, for I am he am born to tame you Kate, and bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate conformable as other household Kates" (ibidem). It would not even be surprising, with such a program set before him! It is the way to turn a sane man into a lunatic, so why could it not help turn a scatter-brained into a reasonable person? Then, without any warning, he sets the date of the wedding, leaving the yet untamed virgin speechless. It is easy to recognize the theme of Sly's commitment to the cause of a different type of personality. From this moment on, the friendship of Bianca's three wooers turns back into rivalry. Tranio, the page who takes part in the dispute in Lucentio's stead, commits himself on behalf of the latter, without his father's knowledge, of course, to pay a fabulous dowry in order to win Bianca's hand. After stressing the reversible nature of reality: "TRANIO: [.] Fathers commonly do get their children; but in this case of wooing, a child shall get a sire." (ibidem), he sets about looking for a fictitious father who may warrant his plight.
The day of Petruchio's marriage arrives. Behaving the exact opposite way from what would be considered suitable for such an occasion, he makes his appearance only at the last moment, in a company at least awkward, with only his page and his hark of a horse, and looking like a scatter-minded rather than a bridegroom. Tranio, on the other hand, finally comes across the much-coveted circumstantial father for his beloved master Lucentio, a "parent" ready to vouch for the huge dowry he has promised. Gremio exclaims, failing to understand what game the newly-wed is playing: "GREMIO: I warrant him, Petruchio is Kated" (The Taming of the Shrew - Act III, Scene II). Things would even look that way, if only we did not know Petruchio's tactics and strategy beforehand. Indeed, let us follow the adventures of the newly-weds and their reactions - opposed to her nature, for Katharina; opposed to reality, for Petruchio - after the countless mishappenings the haughty bride had to face, and being so cold-bitten, so mud-smeared, so much ridiculed at every turn, and so hungry that they could eat the bark off the nearest tree. The couple arrive at their future home, a house uncared for and full of spider-webs (according to the master's indications). Dinner is finally served. The owner of the house catches the scent of the tray and yells, gloomy-faced: "PETRUCHIO: [.] What's this? Mutton? [.] 'Tis burnt; and so is all the meat " ( The Taming of the Shrew - Act IV, Scene I). He then furiously throws everything off the table, swears like a cesspit clearer, curses like a madman, kicks about like a gadfly, until he finally hears Katharina sigh, in a conciliatory attempt: "KATHARINA: I pray you, husband, be not so disquiet: the meat was well, if you were so contented " ( ibidem ). But to Petruchio it does not suffice that she should beg for peace only once: he wants her to be like a dove, like a medicine that heals the wound, he wants her obedient like an artist's model. Hence, they go to bed affamished. Petruchio knows the process of taming by heart, as a man who has often delighted in hunting does: "PETRUCHIO: Thus have I politicly begun my reign, and 'tis my hope to end successfully. My falcon now is sharp and passing empty; and till she stoop she must not be full-gorged, for then she never looks upon her lure. Another way I have to man my haggard, to make her come and know her keeper's call, that is, to watch her, as we watch these kites that bate and beat and will not be obedient. She eat no meat to-day, nor none shall eat; last night she slept not, nor tonight she shall not; [.] This is a way to kill a wife with kindness. (ibidem). (What we have here is the pattern of a persistent joke; the reader may remember the notice in the window of an electrical commodities shop: "Why let your wife get killed by household labor? Choose electricity!") In the meantime, in Padua, Biondello, one of Lucentio's pages, draws his master's attention: "BIONDELLO: [.] Baptista is safe, talking with the deceiving father of a deceitful son" (The Taming of the Shrew - Act IV, Scene IV) and urges him to take advantage of Baptista's absence to secretly marry his daughter Bianca. The final scene of Act IV allows us to admire the final touch of the husband's striving: "PETRUCHIO: Come on, i' God's name; once more toward our father's. Good Lord, how bright and goodly shines the moon! - KATHARINA: The moon! The sun: it is not moonlight now. PETRUCHIO: I say it is the moon that shines so bright. - KATHARINA: I know it is the sun that shines so bright. - PETRUCHIO: Now, by my mother's son, and that's myself, it shall be moon, or star, or what I list, or ere I journey to your father's house. Go on, and fetch our horses back
again. Evermore cross'd and cross'd; nothing but cross'd! - HORTENSIO: Say as he says, or we shall never go. - KATHARINA: Forward, I pray, since we have come so far, and be it moon, or sun, or what you please; and if you please to call it a rush-candle, henceforth I vow it shall be so for me. - PETRUCHIO: I say it is the moon. - KATHARINA: I know it is the moon. PETRUCHIO: Nay, then you lie: it is the blessed sun. - KATHARINA: Then, God be bless'd, it is the blessed sun: but sun it is not, when you say it is not; and the moon changes even as your mind. What you will have it named, even that it is; and so it shall be so for Katharina. HORTENSIO: Petruchio, go thy ways; the field is won. [.] Enter VINCENTIO. - PETRUCHIO (to VINCENTIO): Good morrow, gentle mistress: where away? Tell me, sweet Kate, and tell me truly too, hast thou beheld a fresher gentlewoman? Such war of white and red within her cheeks! What stars do spangle heaven with such beauty, as those two eyes become that heavenly face? Fair lovely maid, once more good day to thee. Sweet Kate, embrace her for her beauty's sake. HORTENSIO: A' will make the man mad, to make a woman of him. - KATHARINA: Young budding virgin, fair and fresh and sweet, whither away, or where is thy abode? Happy the parents of so fair a child; happier the man, whom favourable stars allot thee for his lovely bedfellow! - PETRUCHIO: Why, how now, Kate! I hope thou art not mad: this is a man, old, wrinkled, faded, wither'd, and not a maiden, as thou say'st he is. - KATHARINA: Pardon, old father, my mistaking eyes, that have been so bedazzled with the sun that everything I look on seemeth green: now I perceive thou art a reverend father; pardon, I pray thee, for my mad mistaking" (The Taming of the Shrew - Act IV, Scene V). The astounding fact, in the end of the "play-within-play", is that Bianca has now taken Katharina's place and has become a mutinous creature, while the latter proves to be the embodiment of tameness. It goes without saying that, let aside this entire comedy, we would have been interested in how the tragi-comedy of Christopher Sly ended. But the genius of the English bard has simply forgotten all about that one. What if Christopher Sly had actually lost his mind once and for all? We had better wait for the psychologists' prognosis. See Mihai Radulescu, Montaigne: The Maskless Man, a foreword to Montaigne's book of Aphorisms , anthology, translation and foreword by., Bucharest , Albatros Publishing House, 1977. Fragments of a letter by the author quoted by Benjamin Crémieux in Henry IV et la dramaturgie de Luigi Pirandello , a foreword to his translation of Pirandello's Théâtre complet (Paris, Gallimard, 1928, pp. 10-11). România Libera ( Free Romania ), of Thursday, March 11 th , 1976 . See the section "Methods of inducing the dichotomic-antonymical mechanisms of thinking ", in our article quoted above, "Anthropological Stylistics. An Application: Dichotomic-Antonymical Thinking" (note 10). Les Essais de Montaigne , 4 vols., Paris, Ernest Flammarion Éditeur, [no date], II, 12, p. 201.
The lovers of Mozart's music have noticed perhaps, in a recitative of the opera Cosi fan tutte, a strange reference praising a "magnetic stone" and mentioning a certain Mesmer. The curious who are interested in the French cultural atmosphere of the period of ebullition preceding the 1789 Revolution have come perhaps across an anonymous vulgar song in which the same reference is to be found, but aiming at a radically different effect: "Magnetism now has its back against the wall. / Faculty and Academy both / As one have stigmatized it. / Disgrace is now its only lot. / Its trial was as wise as it was legal, / So now if any spirit were so odd / As to keep on believing in such frenzy, / Then should you feel free to ridicule it: / 'You believe in magnetism. you animal!'" Those who love painting will find, in Marina Vaizey's essay on time's judgment, the following sentence referring to the painting The Execution of Lady Jane Grey , by Paul Delaroche: "It is a mesmerizing painting" - the barbarism meaning 'halucinating, with hypnotic qualities, emanating a fluid' etc. In fact, whoever is experienced in the English language, even if not in the visual arts as well, has come across this attribute - mesmerizing - in a great variety of contexts. Let us now proceed with explaining this series of quotations that have apparently no connection with our topic, but are linked together by a much celebrated (at its time) and equally contested theory - that of animal magnetism, discovered by Mesmer. We will see later that the details of the tumultuous history of hypnosis we present here are of the essence when it comes to weighing the glory of Shakespeare. Franz Anton Mesmer was born in Iznang, on May 23 rd, 1734. He studied Theology, Philosophy, Law, and Medicine, obtained two doctoral degrees, of which one was in the last of the mentioned sciences, and was concerned, until his death, with Geology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and, especially, Music. This passion urged him to launch the child Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a writer of operas. Hence, the composer paid him his due in undepreciating melodic currency, by devoting, as we have seen, a playful hymn to the extraordinary invention of his benefactor. What is the discovery that brought him such a lasting glory that still shines bright, after a quarter of a millennium? Franz Anton Mesmer was the first man on Earth who proved that through personal contact, finger touching, massaging, staring, through his simple presence, his talking, or the music he played he was able to cure any neurotic state, even blindness (suspected to have occurred at birth), if it actually had such an origin. On November 28 th, 1755, the healings never-heard-of that he achieved by submitting his patients to the action of metallic magnets - for this is how this thaumaturge started his career - were recognized and officially rewarded: the top scientific community, the High Academy of Bavaria , accepted him as one of its members. Well, it was the very moment when Mesmer, always discontent with himself, decided to contest what he had maintained that far and threw away the magnets, stating that the healings were achieved not by those, but by his own animal magnetism; hence, the new word of the day was the magnetizer, instead of the magnet. Mesmer conquered Vienna. There, a would-be love intrigue with the blind pianist Paradies - who, upon recovering her eyesight, refused to leave his dwelling-place - turned Mesmer into a victim of Empress Maria-Theresa's police-enforced regime. Miss Paradies lost her eyesight again, following the brutal pressure she was submitted to by her family, so her doctor was summoned before the much-dreaded Moral Conduct Commission and expelled from the Austrian territory, as a vicious and undesirable alien.
Paris was the cradle of his true celebrity, as popularized by Mozart, but also of his downfall. Suffice it to say that, at the highest of his glory, Mesmer turned down a life annuity of twenty thousand pounds Minister Maurepas offered him. Why? - if we may ask. Out of his stubborn desire to submit his treatment to the experimentation of the scientists who would not take him seriously, so that it may be put at the disposal of mankind through the recognized channels of competence, the golden channels of the French Academy and of the Doctors' Association. He went so far as to apply in writing to King Louis XVI. Since he did not receive the answer he expected, Mesmer put his threats into practice and returned to Germany. He was brought back thence by a crowd of enthusiastic and devoted supporters, at their expenses. They also set up the Society of Harmony, with branches in Bordeaux, Lyon , Strasbourg , and even Ostende. La Fayette proved to be the most enthusiastic among his pupils: he even wrote a letter to inform George Washington of the wonders performed in France. A writer named Radet tried his hand at writing a comedy in which he mocked Mesmer. The audience of the first night was made entirely of butlers who had been provided by their masters with both tickets and whistles; we may only guess as to what these were used for. The author Radet faded into anonymity after that November 16 th, 1784, failure. Finally, in March the same year, the French Academy and the Doctors' Association were ordered by the King to set up a Commission for the official investigation of mesmerism, since it was so insistently demanded by the doctor who was confused by his gift and would have handed down his means of healing to every practitioner. Members of the Commission were men as highly renowned then as they are today: doctor Guillotin, electricity researcher Benjamin Franklin, astronomer Bailly, chemist Lavoisier and botanist Jussien. The Commission's conclusions were absolutely discouraging, denying both the existence of any such thing as animal magnetism, and the positive results of the treatment. Jussien refused to sign these conclusions. Since the mesmerists' school would also "magnetize" trees that were supposed to "accumulate" animal magnetism and pass it on to the patients who leaned against them, Benjamin Franklin could not refrain himself from playing a practical joke. He told several peasants that a certain tree was magnetized. The sick stood under the tree and stated, after the "session", that they had been healed. Thus the academic standpoint triumphed, that maintained that it was the patients' imagination that caused the healing. The practical joke was repeated in England when Elliotson, Mesmer's supporter, bragged that he could magnetize coins that, if applied onto the painful spot, would bring about healing. The editors of the periodical Lancet repeated Franklin’s experiment, with similar results - hence, with similar conclusions. Elliotson enriched his theory, by mixing it up with phrenology. In his magazine - The Phreno-Magnet -, he maintained that by touching the human skull with his fingertips at certain specific spots and by locating various psychic centers, he could activate them. The English surgeon Braid described such a session held in 1841, with the subject being a young woman. He claimed that upon touching her centre of closeness and friendship, she had embraced him; then, after he had stimulated her centre of aggressiveness on the other side of her head, the woman had punched two gentlemen with her opposite arm, assuming that they were attacking the experimenter; she had hit them so hard that they were almost knocked down; with her free hand, however, she had never stopped holding him in a most friendly manner.
The Royal Commission that examined Mesmer's activity and especially Benjamin Franklin manifested themselves in the most genuine enlightened spirit, carrying on the humanists' traditional skepticism. Montaigne had written, for instance, in the 15 th century, that the credit one gives to miracles, visions, sorceries and other such extraordinary stuff presumably springs from man's power of imagination and acts mostly upon the souls of the commoners who put up a weaker resistance. Their faith is so deeply entangled, that they believe to have seen things that are not actually there and a mere glimpse of the medicine proves enough to cure them. This last statement contains a truth that has turned the theory of animal magnetism into a mendacious source of a genuine medical technique and several important psychological discoveries. "It is obvious that, from the beginnings of medicine, the suffering people have been cured through suggestion far more often than they suspected and than therapists were willing to admit". The tragedy of Franz Anton Mesmer consisted in his practicing of hypnosis without realizing what he was doing. Although he paved the way towards a new field of psychological research and curative medicine, Mesmer could not explain (or tried to ineptly, as were the spectacular props he kept around him, like a physician descended from the Middle Ages) the true relationship between one psychic and another and the true nature of the illnesses he cured, let alone what was going on around his most celebrated baquet (tub). His disciple, Count Maxime de Puységur, discovered the phenomenon of the artificial hypnotic state only a few months after the brutal verdict passed against his master and published an Account of the healings achieved at Bayonne through animal magnetism, addressed to the Master Abbot of Poulauzet, clerical counsel, at the Bordeaux parliament, 1884. While he was trying to cure several peasants, one of those fell asleep, yet went on accomplishing various orders he was given and could not be awaken in any way except by command. Bertrand developed the theory of hypnotic suggestion. Braid gave up his Elliotson-influenced theories, adopted it and laid it down. Hence, at mid-19 th century, the phenomena of hypnosis and hypnotic suggestion acquired a scientific basis, were recognized and embraced by an everincreasing number of doctors. An addition to them were the lectures delivered by Doctor Esdaile, who had practiced surgery in Ceylon and had been initiated by the natives in the centuries-old Indian tradition of hypnotic anesthesia, a technique he himself was using during the operations he performed on hundreds and hundreds of patients. In 1886, Doctor Liébeault from Nancy, together with his disciple Bernheim, published a book entitled About Sleep and Its Analogous States , in which he gave full support to Braid's opinions, confirming man's capacity to induce certain ideas in his fellow human beings. He also described the way in which fits of hysteria could be induced to subjects by using hypnosis, but it did not cross his mind to give the same explanation to what was going on around the magnetic tub (which would have cleaned Mesmer's memory and honor and would have done away with his undeserved reputation of having been a humbug and a charlatan). Liébeault also demonstrated that he could induce temporary blindness - another matter that should have been tackled in connection with Mesmer's activity and with his misadventures involving young Paradies. The existence of the Nancy School was carried on by the New Nancy School that discovered self-suggestion. A pharmacist, Coué, was the latter's most prominent representative, who delivered a memorable lecture in Chaumont, in 1912, entitled "Achieving self-control by conscious self-suggestion". In the meantime, in Paris, Charcot had begun his famous achievements in curing hysteria. Writer
Axel Munthe counted among his well-known disciples. According to Gardner Murphy, one century after Mesmer's arrival in Paris, the hypnotic technique became an essential method of treatment for the greatest neurologist in the French City of Lights. It is obvious from this brief survey of the beginnings of hypnosis and hypnotic suggestion in Europe that they were associated to Mesmer's magnets for lack of any better explanation. Only later, after obtaining the people's recognition and awareness, were they granted an existence based upon scientific criteria that every history of medicine or psychology agrees with. We may wonder, however, whether the origins of such research should not be traced much earlier (they have indeed been mentioned as such and attributed to the earliest ages in the historical development of mankind, but we are interested here in proof, not in inference). Let us focus on The Tempest, which is supposed to have been written between 1600 and 1612. Here we are in front of the cave in which the overthrown Prospero and his daughter Miranda have been living for ever so long. The father has just told the girl the circumstances in which he lost his duchy and how the both of them were stranded to this no-man's island. But fairy tales, be they actually true, do not fit his nature. He is born a master: yesterday he had a country; today, matter itself and its laws are at his disposal. Moreover, the time has come for him to work out the full measure of his knowledge in order to free himself and Miranda from the bondage of this joyless island of exile. Hence, he tells her: "PROSPERO: [.] Here cease more questions: thou art inclined to sleep; 'tis a good dullness, and give it way: I know thou canst not choose (MIRANDA sleeps)" (The Tempest - Act I, Scene II). Could a hypnotizer speak more proper words to his medium before putting him or her to sleep? For those who may find the explanation in brackets insufficient (and wonder "How come? She sleeps - just like that?"), here is the description given by the great Wundt: "The lower degrees of hypnosis supply the best analogy to the state of somnolence that may sometimes be noticed during the transition from watchfulness to normal sleep, especially before the subject fully wakes up from a deep sleep". Prospero says "a good dullness", meaning a pleasant one. It is not difficult to recognize the very state described by Wundt. Hence, Shakespeare has his readers witness a classical falling into hypnotic sleep. Wundt goes on to say that "suggesting illusions and hallucinations is the most surprising symptom of the hypnotic state. The illusions take over from even the lowest stage. The hypnobate retreats displaying all the signs of fear when suggested that a mad dog is drawing near" ( ibidem ). The literary demonstration of the theory is being supplied in the same scene. Prospero addresses Caliban who has cursed him: "PROSPERO: For this, be sure, to-night thou shalt have cramps, side-stitches that shall pen thy breath up; urchins shall, for that vast of night that they may work, all exercise on thee; thou shalt be pinch'd as thick as honeycomb, each pinch more stinging than bees that made 'em" (The Tempest - Act I, Scene II). In his turn, Caliban explains his newly acquired friends brought over by the tempestuous waves: "CALIBAN: [.] the isle is full of noises, sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices that, if I then had waked after long sleep, will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming, the clouds methought would open and show riches ready to drop upon me that, when I waked, I cried to dream again " ( The Tempest Act III, Scene II). This last fragment could obviously be interpreted as a description of what the character feels when submitted to Prospero's magical skills (one should remember the latter's
dealings with Ariel, his domination over all spirits, his victory over the monster bearer, Sycorax the witch, his power of commanding the elements of nature, plus the props at hand, his mantle and wand - everything speaks for Prospero's intense activity as a magician. A comparison between this fairy play and the magical prowesses known to have occurred in England at the time of the Renaissance would be of the essence if we were to update our knowledge of Shakespeare's readings and tastes. But the former duke's threats are not actually threats, but assurances; commands, even, since he says: "be sure, to-night thou shalt have cramps etc." Caliban complains that every now and then strange noises frighten him or soft tunes lull him to sleep, yet mentions neither spirits, nor magic, but power and obedience: "CALIBAN: [.] (Aside) I must obey: his art is of such power." (The Tempest - Act I, Scene II). If what he describes to Stephano and Trinculo were the result of magic, it would imply too much effort for this unfortunate primitive man so easy to manipulate as sees a wretched drunkard as a god. No - Caliban's hallucinations are the result of hypnosis, of telepathy, of suggestion. The above-mentioned Nancy School dealt with such phenomena. Gardner Murphy says that to Liébeault and his disciple Bernheim suggestion was a mere name for the process by which the patient accepts such new ideas as may lead him or her to new beliefs, attitudes or behaviors: for instance, whoever has suffered a railway accident may easily be made to believe, through suggestion, that that person's legs are injured; this suggestion may come from another person or even from associations taking place in the subject's mind alone. Wundt offers additional explanations that throw light upon Caliban's state: very often, such self-suggestion takes place spontaneously, either as an effect of imitation, or because an order given during an earlier hypnotic sleep remains effective, in which case self-suggestion can once again be reduced indirectly to an alien suggestion, while preserving tight links to the post-hypnotic effects. The English playwright also describes self-suggestion. Let us look closer into his definition of it. Prospero says about his brother, the usurper: " PROSPERO: [.] .like one who having into truth, by telling of it, made such a sinner of his memory, to credit his own lie, he did believe he was indeed the duke, out o' the substitution." (The Tempest - Act I, Scene II). At the Nancy School, the term 'self-suggestion' marked an upheaval against the all-incumbent belief in the existence of a connection between hypnotizer and patient and stressed the fact that any suggestion is actually trusted by the patient upon himself. There is, however, proof, as we have seen, that the theory of an idea becoming mechanical by means of verbal repetition, so fashionable in the early 20 th century, was expressed poetically, in The Tempest, in the early 17 th century, therefore three centuries earlier. Shakespeare's Tempest hence describes hypnotic sleep and the phenomenon of self-suggestion, together with the posthypnotic effects associated to the latter. It goes without saying that Shakespeare was no hypnotizer, but he understood these psychical phenomena as if he had actually been one. It follows that he had the opportunity, through his readings or by witnessing some experimentation, to learn about them in depth and to grasp their meaning with a modern, scientific open-mindedness, without any trace of superstition in a domain that can lend itself so easily to fantastic interpretations. Moreover, when he staged them before the Elizabethan public, he must have been certain that the audiences could follow his message. Shakespeare was no hermetic, no withdrawn writer either; on the contrary, he was very popular. We may hence infer that the phenomena we are talking about were well-known to all social strata. (Besides, their presentation in the play is not in the least melodramatic, nor does it trigger any special scenic
effect; on the contrary, they go almost unnoticed. Howard W. Haggard wrote, in 1929, that hypnotism was still maintained as a circumstantial practice in the treatment of drug-addiction and neurotic disorders, as well as in the representation of vaudevilles. How could one fail to notice the final sarcasm and the type of shows in which one could expect to see a display of hypnotism? It is time to phrase a question that follows naturally. Has the history of psychology and medicine looked deep enough, in the abyss of time, for the origins of hypnosis? Hypnosis did not appear in any particular age. It is the result of a natural property, of a psychical ability that has been there ever since man walked upon the face of the Earth. It is its explaining that took so long and, if so, this chapter should come as a sufficient argument for a historian to focus his or her researches at least on the age of Renaissance. This is the text we are talking about: "This magnetic stone / Bear testimony to you. / It was once used by Mesmer / Whose native place was somewhere / In the countryparts of Germany / But he would become famous in France " ( apud S tefan Zweig, Healing Through Spirit. Mesmer, Mary Baker-Eddy , transl. by Eugen Relgis; Sigmund Freud , transl. by Stefan Freamat, Vatra Publishing House, /no date/, p. 30. Sunday Times , December 28 th , 1975 . Braid, Neuropnology , 1843, pp. 135-136. Michel de Montaigne, op.cit. , I, 21, pp. 108, 113. Stefan Zweig, op.cit. , p. 43. Gardner Murphy, A Historical Introduction to Modern Psychology , New York, Harcourt, Brace & Co., London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1929. Wilhelm Wundt, op.cit. Gardner Murphy, op.cit . Wilhelm Wundt, op.cit. We were pleased to learn that an expert, Dr. Alexandru Olaru, was likewise interested in this play, based upon similar researches. He wrote: "Hypnotic sleep is also being described therein and the scientific description is all the more valuable as it is expressed in terms available to many: 'SEBASTIAN: [.] This is a strange repose, to be asleep with eyes wide open; standing, speaking, moving, and yet so fast asleep ' [ The Tempest - Act II, Scene I]. ( Shakespeare and Dramatic Psychiatry , Craiova, "Scrisul Românesc" Publishing House, 1976, p. 339). Howard W. Haggard, Devils, Drugs & Doctors. The Story of the Science of Healing from Medicine-Man to Doctor , New York, Pocket Books, Inc., Rockefeller Center, 1929, p. 322.
The Francis Reflex and a Necessary Summing Up
After they had robbed their own pals and mocked the boastful Falstaff, Prince Henry and Poins disappeared in the thickets, each on his path, with an understanding that they would meet again at the "Boar's Head" tavern. Poins is now waiting for his royal friend in one of the inn's rooms. The latter finally makes his appearance, much later than he was expected to, laughing his guts out; he could use somebody's help to go on laughing - says he. He has just spent some time in the wine cellar, indulging in the illusion that he was making conversation to three inn helpers: Tom, Dick, and Francis. He was actually probing into their ways of thinking and expressing themselves. To his amusement, he has seen that their work prevails so much, that beside three or four stereotype phrases they have found to be of use in their line of work, the three boys are virtually incapable of expressing anything else. Prince Henry now offers to prove his finding to Ned Poins: "PRINCE HENRY: [.] But, Ned, to drive away the time till Falstaff come, I prithee, do thou stand in some by-room, while I question my puny drawer to what end he gave me the sugar; [it was customary, at the time, to serve sugar to the customers, so they may pick at something between swallows] and do thou never leave calling 'Francis', that his tale to me may be nothing but 'Anon'. Step aside, and I'll show thee a precedent " ( King Henry IV , Part I - Act II, scene IV). The general idea, therefore, is that of an experiment supposed to prove that should anyone call out loud "Francis!", there is only one possible answer he or she could get, and that is "Anon!" Moreover, for such an experiment to work as smoothly as can be, its conditions are being checked in a general rehearsal beforehand: "POINS: Francis! - PRINCE HENRY: Thou art perfect. - POINS: Francis! (Exit POINS. Enter FRANCIS.) - FRANCIS: Anon, anon, sir. Look down into the Pomgarnet, Ralph. [The tavern rooms bore names.] - PRINCE HENRY: Come hither, Francis. - FRANCIS: My lord? - PRINCE HENRY: How long hast thou to serve, Francis? - FRANCIS: Forsooth, five years, and as much as to. - POINS [Within]: Francis! - FRANCIS: Anon, anon, sir. - PRINCE HENRY: Five year! By'r lady, a long lease for the clinking of pewter. But, Francis, darest thou be so valiant as to play the coward with thy indenture and show it a fair pair of heels and run from it? - FRANCIS: O Lord, sir, I'll be sworn upon all the books in England, I could find in my heart. - POINS [Within]: Francis! - FRANCIS: Anon, sir. - PRINCE HENRY: How old art thou, Francis? FRANCIS: Let me see. about Michaelmas next I shall be. - POINS [Within]: Francis! FRANCIS: Anon, sir. Pray stay a little, my lord. - PRINCE HENRY: Nay, but hark you, Francis: for the sugar thou gavest me, 'twas a pennyworth, wast't not? - FRANCIS: O Lord, I would it had been two! - PRINCE HENRY: I will give thee for it a thousand pound: ask me when thou wilt, and thou shalt have it. - POINS [Within]: Francis! - FRANCIS: Anon, anon. - PRINCE HENRY: Anon, Francis? No, Francis; but to-morrow, Francis; or, Francis, o' Thursday; or indeed, Francis, when thou wilt. But, Francis! - FRANCIS: My lord? PRINCE HENRY: Wilt thou rob this leathern jerkin, crystal-button, not-pated, agate-ring, puke-stocking, caddis-garter, smooth-tongue, Spanish-pouch. - FRANCIS: O Lord, sir, who do you mean? - PRINCE HENRY: Why, then, your brown bastard is your only drink; for look you, Francis, your white canvas doublet will sully: in Barbary , sir, it cannot come to so much. - FRANCIS: What, sir? - POINS [Within]: Francis! - PRINCE HENRY: Away, you rogue! dost thou not hear them call? (Here they both call him; the drawer stands amazed, not knowing which way to go.)" (ibidem).
For the experiment to succeed, Prince Hal drives the boy into an intimate conversation, starting from the subjective aspect of his job (the harsh years of apprenticeship) and encouraging him to rebel and thus regain his freedom. Moreover, he tickles the youth's ears with the tempting perspective of a fabulous, undeserved earning, then, at the last moment, he starts talking nonsensically, so as to definitely muddle up the credulous Francis who is already torn in half between his duty and his dreams. What does he manage to prove with all this? That no matter how beautiful man's dreams are, his second nature, automatism, steps in and tears the subject in half to assert itself. But is it not true that this automatism was given a specific name within the field of psychology early in the 20 th century? Is it not true that its studying has changed the very basis of the understanding of the psychic? Do we not recognize in it Pavlov's conditioned response, that indeed conquered America in a shorter time and with a higher intensity than Dostoyevsky's thought? The Russian scientist's earliest researches focused on the physiology of glands, the salivary ones especially. He invented and developped specific methods for the analysis of the influence upon salivation of certain factors alien to the process of feeding. In other words, he made a tuning fork vibrate simultaneously with presenting a dog with its food. With the repetition of this double action at regular intervals, after a certain time the same number of saliva drops could be seen dripping from the dog's mouth at the mere sound of the tuning fork, even in the absence of the food that had initially caused the animal to salivate. This phenomenon was called conditioned response. A behaviourist, Lashley, published an article on the human salivary reflex and its benefits for psychology, in which he described the same method being applied with similar results to human beings by using chocolate bonbons as tempting factors - a fatal malice with regard to his female subjects, if any. Caron went beyond the domain of nutrition and proved that the sound in itself could cause a reflex of the eye-pupil if it regularly accompanied, for a given time, a sudden burst of light ( the conditioned pupilary response and the conditioned eye-lid response ). Chocolate returned into focus when Mateer analyzed the child's behaviour (this is the very title of his book) by placing a chocolate on a child's tongue and simultaneously touching its arm. Counting the chocolates swallowed by the subjects until salivation was caused by the mere touch led to the measuring of intelligence. These experiments speak precisely enough about the capacity of adaptation to the environment, especially as one could notice that the child who learned the reflex sooner was also the one that forgot it sooner after it was no longer rewarded with the chocolate it longed so much for. The point of view of the American school of psychology gradually prevailed, namely that any learning implies the creation of a conditioned response. Nowadays' programmed learning is but the same tendency improved and diversified. Resuming Pavlov's theory that turns words into stimuli, another behaviorist, Holt, stressed the fact that words, acting as substitutes of actual occurrences, trigger the same reactions as the occurrences themselves would. He maintained that the "meaning" of a word were but the conditioned response to that particular word or, to put it otherwise, the meaning of a word were but the behavior suggested by the designated object, a behavior acquired as a conditioned response.
An important distinction is to be noticed, between the passive habitudes of speech, that is, the reaction to words and the active habitudes of speech, or use of words. Finally, Watson demonstrated that the natural tendency may be modified by creating a conditioned response. In this major discovery we see a perfect explanation for the theory advanced by William Shakespeare (which, however, does not coincide with Prince Henry's; we will return to this matter very soon). What was his experiment? A number of children under the age of one were shown various domestic animals. Their impulse was to reach out to touch the animals. In no case could one detect any symptom of fear. Later, the sight of the animals was accompanied by a loud, sudden noise. Through repetition, a conditioned response of fear was generated at the sight of the animal, even in the absence of the noise. Moreover, the reaction was also noticeable in connection with anything covered in fur. To return to Francis now, his natural impulses were suppressed and replaced by the verbal reaction "Anon!" - "Coming!", as he would say today - each and every time he was requested to wait on a customer. Hence, a conditioned response. A number of psychological circumstances have contributed to it: his wish to end up his apprenticeship, so he may have a trade, his fear of the inn-keeper representing the human element that could have hindered his social achievement, his horror of impoverishment, of loneliness, of incapacitation, plus other personal reasons we have no knowledge of. The Prince, however, presents the case in other terms, for he is a spokesman of the ruling class: he claims to analyze the alleged stupidity of a given professional category. Upon entering the room where Poins awaits him, Hal is being asked: "POINS: Where hast been, Hal? - PRINCE HENRY: With three or four loggerheads amongst three or four score hogsheads. I have sounded the very base-string of humility. Sirrah, I am sworn brother to a leash of drawers; and can call them all by their christen names, as Tom, Dick, and Francis. They take it already upon their salvation, that though I be but the prince of Wales, yet I am king of courtesy [.]. They call drinking deep, dyeing scarlet; and when you breathe in your watering, they cry 'hem!' and bid you play it off. To conclude, I am so good a proficient in one quarter of an hour that I can drink with any tinker in his own language during my life." (King Henry IV , Part I - Act II, scene IV). He then adds that in all their lives those boys " .never spake other English [.] than 'Eight shillings and sixpence' and 'You are welcome', with this shrill addition, 'Anon, anon, sir! Score a pint of bastard in the Half-Moon', or so" (ibidem - one should remember, once again, that the Elizabethan tavern rooms bore names). Prince Henry presents the case in his capacity as a king's son, who allows himself anything; yet the test he submits Francis to is of no lesser value when it comes to demonstrate the conditioned response obtained. One should remember that the earliest results of the introduction of tests in psychology were published by Cattell in 1896 (Cattell & Farrand, Physical and Mental Measurements of the Students of Columbia University). It is true that the test Francis is being submitted to is not conceived as a test. But it is one, nonetheless. Moreover, it does not confine itself to a mere verbal association, but to a behavioral one as well (a behavioral association, as it were): as quoted above, Francis excuses himself from the Prince's company in order to react from a behavioral point of view, that is, to wait on another customer. What is being brought to
light here is the dominant generated by "habitude", by "routine", by "automatism", namely the impact of social activity upon one's personality. In 1900, Müller and Pilzecker studied another psychical phenomenon richly illustrated in the fragment we have analyzed so far - interference. It implies the decrease of efficiency of a certain activity when one is concerned with other activities. If Francis proves unable to develop his thoughts at Prince Hal's suggestions, which the latter misinterprets for a sign of the drawer's lack of intelligence, it is because of the interferences Poins is responsible of. Such a psychical phenomenon may appear with any normal human being, especially when working. All these theories were unknown to the English playwright. Had his work been studied more profoundly, however, they would have been known to psychology earlier. We will now pass on to a brief survey of what has already been argued, with a shift of stress that is supposed to bring forward the role of dichotomic-antonymical thinking in the Great Will's work. * Hamlet's attitude towards the murder not yet exposed that has occurred in his family springs from two simultaneously opposed tendencies: he wishes to leave such dreadful incident behind, but, at the same time, he wishes to let it out, for everybody to know. As we have already mentioned, the gloomy Prince both wants and does not want to be reminded: his behavior appears nonsensical, from a logical point of view. In order to be mindful and observe Claudius' reaction to what is going on on the stage, Hamlet needs, as he explains Horatio, to act as if he were mindless. Indeed, to throw somebody off guard, one must pretend to be after a purpose exactly opposed to the one actually followed; this technique seems to be intricately associated to the instinct of preservation, as it is to that of hunting. And yet, no matter how used one gets to it, there is something in its essence that makes one shiver: how can a man act one way and think the opposite way? This shatters the image one builds up in one's mind about the unity and integrity of the human being; for what it is worth, it obviously conflicts with the linearity of logical thinking. The term hobby-horse, as we have seen, has a double meaning in the context in which it appears: something of no consequence and something so important as to have ruined an entire stronghold. Isn't it strange! Claudius and Polonius, in their capacity as "legal spies", are both present and not present during Hamlet's meeting with Ophelia. To themselves, to the Queen, to the counselor’s daughter, they are present; to Hamlet, they are not. Hence, a man's presence both is and is not a fact, in relationship to another man's awareness. This is obvious; when we realize, however, that it assigns the person in question two simultaneously opposed attributes, we cannot help wondering. From the way Polonius makes up what he lets the ruling family know, one might say that he is in fact persuaded of the Prince's mental sanity. Nothing prevents him, however, from suggesting that Hamlet could be "granted to be mad". The very thought that one
could possibly say that something were exactly different from what it actually is exceeds the canons of judgment. The same fate awaits the drunkard Sly. In both the counselor’s and King Claudius' interpretations, "honesty" turns out to mean "dishonesty": the King decides loudly that Hamlet would henceforward live in exile, but aside he decides the prince would die. Hamlet on the other hand, though in his right mind, presents himself to his beloved's father as being rather weak-minded. This capacity of man to take over a role, to embody the very appearance denied by his heart, calls for disguise, with the whole range of faked behaviors it entails. In his father-and-son game with Falstaff, Prince Henry feels free to adopt a careless and jocularly non-committed way of being; the same Prince displays his true qualities of son and heir when summoned before his father's throne. At the tavern, however, he is a servant, a thief among thieves and a matchless liar (for the sake of revealing the lie). The truly honest nobles set a dishonest trap to Parolles who, in his turn, has two faces: the one fit for his boastful thinking and the one fit for the cowardice brought forth through his comrades-inarms' stratagem. The reversed presentation of the true state of facts has the same impact on the human soul as truth itself, for it is considered to be the truth that acquires, hence, a new configuration, one antonymical to the genuine one. We remember that Benedick read a "double meaning" in the words he spoke to Beatrice. All these peculiarities create a rich subject-matter for the comedies to pick from. In The Taming of the Shrew , enemies are friends, servants are masters, strangers are fathers, the sons invent fathers for themselves, the alleged "shrew" is the embodiment of kindness, the subdued Bianca is a rebel, men are women, the sun is the moon, old age is bright youth, the roasted lamb is repulsive, the wedding is its own take-off, swearing is like a nightingale's song, moroseness like a smile of dawn, grumpy muteness like cooing, banishment - a call, refuse - an acceptance. Miranda falls asleep when ordered, but it is not her sleep, it is induced. Caliban feels the stinging of non-existent bugs. Shakespeare's theatre, like all Renaissance literature, swarms with a great many obstructions of common sense, with probings into an impossible reality. It is all the more confusing as the aspects described by such authors occur in everyday life, in our own lives even. Does not everyone have moments when they sham, they pretend to be someone else or, even worse, they cheat, baffle, delude, or simply lie? The knowledge of reality is based on logical processes. What is the possibility of thought to replace the truth with something else based on? How can we lie? Let us make it clear that there is no ethical stigmatization, nor any indignation in this question. The dread inflicted by lying increases even more when the question is being asked from a standpoint acquainted with man's psychology, such as William Shakespeare prompts us to do. For is it not dreadful to be unable to realize what it is that allows you, in the inner structure of your thought, to falsify reality, to project in your fellow-person's consciousness even your own face upside-down?
The Moor's Madness
How could the Moorish general possibly fall victim to deception, when even Iago admits about him: "IAGO: [.] The Moor, howbeit that I endure him not, is of a constant, loving, noble nature, and I dare think he'll prove to Desdemona a most dear husband." (Othello - Act II, Scene I). What was is it, within its own self or from the outside that undermined this monolith the entire Venetian republic leaned against? This warrior who describes himself in terms such as these: "OTHELLO: [.] Rude am I in my speech, and little bless'd with the soft phrase of peace. "; or: " And little of this great world can I speak, more than pertains to feats of broil and battle.” (Othello - Act I, Scene III), who was raised from early childhood in the soldiers' camps, this fair man who loves order and discipline - how could he fall a pray to the web drawn around him by his flag-bearer in order to destroy him? Victorious in so many battles in which the chances of success depended not on his arm, but on his mind and on its capacity to raise hundreds upon hundreds of men like a living wall before the enemy, did he perchance allow himself to be defeated by a man cleverer than himself? by a strategist more skilled? by a more experienced or better advised military commander? No - Othello was not defeated in confrontation, Othello did not see his opponent. The latter crept under his skin, beat him from the abysses of his own thought, urged him to think according to a pattern with a geography unknown to him, and finally pushed him into the quagmire of despair. Othello was conquered by the incomprehension of his own thinking. Before he comes to that, however, his opponent is a man in flesh and blood, with a face all smile and candor, who follows him wherever he goes - he dogs the Moor's steps, so to speak, and praises himself in the mirror while muttering through his teeth: "IAGO: [.] I am not what I am" (Othello - Act I, Scene I), which allows him to take this unconceivable statement even further: " .In following him, I follow but myself. " (ibidem). He also wittily conjures the Lord as his witness that he does so not from love, nor from any sense of duty, but only adopts such a behavior in order to achieve his purpose. If we analyze the general's speech, we notice that he often uses antonyms, which gives us a hint about how he sees the world: people can be divided into good and bad; his sword protects good and eliminates evil from everyday life. It is, indeed, a rather soldierly way of putting things, yet simple, practical, and honest. To understand Iago's perspective on the world, we must resort to the new phrase that names this very figure of speech by means of which he characterizes himself: "I am not what I am". It occurs unexpectedly often, so what is this figure of speech? As mentioned before, it describes one single object with two simultaneously opposed aspects, while antonyms describe two distinct and opposed objects. We have called it antonymical dichotomy. While antonyms obviously contribute to clarifying reality, the antonymical dichotomies cannot but make reality ever more confusing. Antonyms are in the service of logical thinking; in whose service are antonymical dichotomies? The answer is not far behind. For now, suffice it to say that Iago's perspective builds up a world with two simultaneously opposed aspects.
Iago not only embellishes his speech with antonymical dichotomies, but, as quoted above in his self-praising, behaves according to their pattern, that is, he says that he pretends to love the Moor. Hence, his love is no love. From the play's further development, we find out that his love is actually fierce hatred. Do we not recognize here the many structures that we found amazing in the previous chapter? So not only Iago, but a great many Shakespearian characters behave in a dichotomic-antonymical manner, in other words they put on masks opposed to their nature, their feelings, and their thoughts. Not even in this Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice is Iago a single case. There is a second character that proves incapable of a single-minded thinking. From the point of view of Othello's affection, Desdemona is the embodiment of peace, of quiet, she is the harbor where the warrior takes refuge. From the point of view of the play, she is both a cornerstone and a bone of contention for the general's psychological balance. It is easily noticeable that, once defined by Iago, the dichotomic-antonymical pattern is already projected onto the Moor's destiny, onto his most intimate and every-day concerns, onto the person whom he overwhelms with all his love, the woman who embodies, for him, the all-incumbent reality and symbolizes life - in a word, onto Desdemona. Brabantio, her father, ends his speech in the Senate with essential advice for the unseen war he is about to begin with his flag-bearer: "BRABANTIO: Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: she has deceived her father, and may thee" (Othello - Act I, Scene III). The confrontation between the virtual image of a chaste Desdemona, existing in Othello's mind, and the treacherous image of the same, presented by her own father, defines a behavior that confirms the very words she speaks. These are the circumstances in which the Moor puts up a heroic defense against the treachery of his flag-bearer who does not shrink from stating his "double knavery" (ibidem) once again. The political game concocted by the intriguer is simple: "IAGO: Two things are to be done: my wife must move for Cassio. [.] Myself the while to draw the Moor apart. " ( Othello - Act II, Scene III). To the couple Othello-Desdemona he opposes the couple of his own marriage as a double-headed hydra about to undermine the unity between the former two spouses. The touchstone of the stratagem is Othello's lieutenant, Cassio, urged by the same plotter to bring disturbance to the peace of Cyprus. Symbolically speaking, Cassio is an alter ego of the general. Downright honest, like the latter, he too falls a prey to the flag-bearer's intrigues, in a kind of general rehearsal - an obviously recurrent technique - of the finishing stroke aimed at Othello, and replaces Desdemona's husband as commanding officer of Cyprus. Cassio represents Othello's honesty. In this last passage quoted, the word "Moor" refers to the general's evil-oriented disposition. The two actions mentioned by the flag-bearer obviously aim in two different directions. It is our opinion that the sentences describe, from a symbolical point of view, only Othello himself, at a deeper level than the one strictly dealing with the facts: they are about his good- versus evil-oriented dispositions - both likely to be directed in such a way as to create between them a hiatus that may allow the appearance of a dominant group.
A survey by Leon Levitchi proves helpful when it comes to better understanding the intriguer's efforts to obliterate the positive aspect of the Moor's personality in the latter's own eyes (from a symbolical point of view): " OTHELLO: [.] Is he [Cassio] not honest? - IAGO: Honest, my lord! - OTHELLO: Honest! ay, honest. - IAGO: My lord, for aught I know. - OTHELLO: What dost thou think? - IAGO: Think, my lord! - OTHELLO: 'Think, my lord!'. " ( Othello Act III, Scene III). In this fragment analyzed by Leon Levitchi, as well as in this following one, the verb 'think' occurs in the exchange of cues between the two characters with two opposed meanings: "IAGO: For Michael Cassio, I dare be sworn I think that he is honest. - OTHELLO: I think so too. - IAGO: Men should be what they seem; or those that be not, would they might seem none! - OTHELLO: Certain, men should be what they seem. - IAGO: Why, then, I think Cassio's an honest man" (ibidem). Spoken by Iago, 'I think' means 'as I reckon, in my opinion'; spoken by Othello, it means 'I believe, I am convinced': Iago does not say "I dare be sworn that he is honest", he says "I dare be sworn I think that he is honest". As we may see, Iago takes over Othello's thought patterns, even his words, in order to facilitate the mysterious mutation he endeavors to accomplish in the logical structure of his opponent's mind. In these passages quoted above, there is a confrontation between the two thought patterns: Othello's straightforward thinking, that is unaware of the danger about to fall upon him, and Iago's oblique thinking, that is always on the watch, like a predator, a thinking that allows for two faces of the same reality, according to the circumstances, as illustrated by Iago's use of the vocabulary. This psychological confrontation is worth keeping in mind in order to understand the ensuing argument. The thought pattern advanced by Iago reaches the field of general truths, in its voracious need to consume all that is thinkable: "IAGO: Poor and content is rich and rich enough, but riches fineless is as poor as winter to him that ever fears he shall be poor." (ibidem). Finally, Othello assimilates the image of a two-faced reality, by taking over the pattern suggested to him. How happy must Iago be! Let us notice, together with the general, how he assimilates the flag-bearer's metaphor, though slightly altered: "OTHELLO: [.] He that is robb'd, not wanting what is stol'n, let him not know't, and he's not robb'd at all " (ibidem). Hence, the flag-bearer was able to infiltrate not only a dichotomic-antonymical vision of the world into the general's mind, but also his own generalizing, therefore all-emcompassing ways of putting things. With few exceptions, the Moor plays the game of the mephistophelian Iago, this Merlin of Venice. Here we are, half-way through the play. Let us follow, step by step, the psychological mutations that the flag-bearer has managed to achieve up to this first victory. Iago shams honesty; he knows that his master grants it to him. Iago simulates prolonged pondering, fear of thoughtless haste, solemn and just simplicity - all attributes of the Moor's thinking. From the very omphalos of the latter's mind begins venom to spread. Iago himself assumes the role of a Trojan horse: "IAGO: [.] Utter my thoughts? Why, say they are vile and false; as where's that palace whereinto foul things sometimes intrude not?" (ibidem). His scruples make him think it is impossible that the temptation of meanness should not exist even in a man as "clean" as he is, as it exists in everyone; at least, this is how he depicts himself. His record is so good as to allow his innuendo to be accepted as gold of the highest quality. But it is a gold presented, without exception, in the form of either two-faced coins, warm on one side,
cold on the other, or equivocal aphorisms to which he soon gives a psychological name with affective implications - he calls them "doubt": IAGO: [.] O, what damned minutes tells he o'er who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves! ", after he has warned his master: " O, beware, my lord, of jealousy." (ibidem). To have Othello assimilate this new imago mundi as well he can, Iago insists, he repeats the same ideas in the guise of new words, he inverts them, ties and unties them, distorts them, only to finally put them together again in such order and with such meaning as he desires and finds useful. The blameless Othello rejects his flag-bearer's bait, but not strongly enough: he barely struggles, for the snake has already got to him: "OTHELLO: [.] I'll have some proof. " (ibidem). Iago, however, ignores his painful call. After having presented his master with an abstract model of a dichotomic-antonymical view of the world, he supplies him with practical details of how such a Weltanschauung may be appropriated: "IAGO: [.] I speak not yet of proof. Look to your wife. I know our country disposition well; in Venice they do let heaven see the pranks they dare not show their husbands “ (ibidem). The generalization in these last two lines was necessary. It is a new trap for the general who should not feel alone; Iago suggests to him that his honest wife's dishonesty is bound to be discovered by everyone, since this is how things work in Venice and, presumably, in the entire world. Then Iago sinks the dagger even deeper into the open wound, he rubs it in by alluding to the key-words uttered in the Senate by Brabantio, Desdemona's father, because the opinion revealed in them, about the Moor's wife being two-faced, actually is the flag-bearer's ultimate purpose. Let us recall that Desdemona represents a lot more than a wife - she is, in Othello's eyes, the symbol of reality: "IAGO: She did deceive her father, marrying you; and when she seem'd to shake and fear your looks, she loved them most. - OTHELLO: And so she did. IAGO: [.] She that, so young, could give out such a seeming, to seal her father's eyes up close as oak." (ibidem). In so doing, Iago makes it easier for the condemned to receive the finishing stroke. He works with a mechanic's carefulness, lubricating with the finest oil each and every new part of the machinery he puts together. But it is not enough for Iago to be believed. It does not fit his purpose that the new Weltanschauung he introduces be assimilated just as simply as a human body would if it received a new, artificial heart and went on using it as if nothing had changed in its structure. No, Iago needs to set in motion the usual crisis that accompanies a dichotomic-antonymical thinking and upsets the intellectual balance, because the uncertainty brought about by a reality with two simultaneously opposed faces is the weakest ground life may be built upon. He does not simply want to see the general torn by jealousy, he wants to destroy him. This is why he interferes with the psychological process, by speeding it up. He needs to do so, since Othello cannot possibly be jealous, being so common-sensical, as Mitya Karamazov meditates: "Jealousy! 'Othello was not jealous, he was trustful', observed Pushkin. And that remark alone is enough to show the deep insight of our great poet. Othello's soul was shattered and his whole outlook clouded simply because his ideal was destroyed. But Othello did not begin hiding, spying, peeping. He was trustful. On the contrary, he had to be led up, pushed on, excited with great difficulty before he could entertain the idea of deceit. The truly jealous man is not like that. It is impossible to picture to oneself the shame and moral degradation to which the jealous man can descend without a qualm of conscience. And yet it's not as though the jealous were all vulgar and base souls. On the
contrary, a man of lofty feelings, whose love is pure and full of self-sacrifice, may yet hide under tables, bribe the vilest people and be familiar with the lowest ignominy of spying and eavesdropping". Here is, however, someone ready to drive Othello towards doing all these wretched actions. It is Iago, the man who lets his acquaintances believe that he pretends to be meaner than he is, in order to conceal the fact that he is meaner than he pretends to be, as Kenneth Muir puts it. Let us follow his elaborate technique of driving the Moor crazy: "IAGO: I see this hath a little dash'd your spirits. - OTHELLO: Not a jot, not a jot. - IAGO: I' faith, I fear it has. I hope you will consider what is spoke comes from my love. But I do see you're moved. I am to pray you not to strain my speech to grosser issues nor to larger reach than to suspicion. OTHELLO: I will not. - IAGO: Should you do so, my lord, my speech should fall into such vile success as my thoughts aim not at. Cassio's my worthy friend. My lord, I see you're moved. OTHELLO: No, not much moved: I do not think but Desdemona's honest " (Othello - Act III, Scene III). The general's retorts deny his inner struggle, but not entirely, so Iago attacks again and again, he keeps pushing and uses the same technique by which he persuaded Roderigo, before sailing for Cyprus, to sell his fortune and turn it into money: he alternately states his community of interests with the man he is talking to and suggests the idea he wants to see enforced. This is how he creates the framework of psychological imbalance that eventually overwhelms the Moor. The general staggers under his blows. Driven by his diabolical Nestor, he begins to grasp two antonymical aspects of his beloved: "OTHELLO: [.] we can call these delicate creatures ours ", says he about the wives in general, then feels compelled to add: " .and not their appetites." (ibidem). He gropes his way through the geography of this newly-found illogical logic. He experiments with dichotomic-antonymical speech. He does not yet master his new wording, but manages to utter dichotomic-antonymical series: "OTHELLO: [.] I think my wife be honest and think she is not; I think that thou art just and think thou art not. I'll have some proof. Her name, that was as fresh as Dian's visage, is now begrimed and black as mine own face." (ibidem). If we did not mention sooner the most important cue spoken in the Senate, it is because we kept it to be brought to light in due course. Here it is, at this most convenient place. The Duke addresses Brabantio, Desdemona's father: "DUKE OF VENICE: [.] Your son-in-law is far more fair than black" (Othello - Act I, Scene III). The Moor's emotional wavering quoted above introduces a fresh element regarding the dichotomic-antonymical framework. The fair and honest Desdemona, the embodiment of reality in Othello's eyes, now has her name (equivalent to her face) "begrimed and black" as his. In other words, if Othello himself is "more fair than black", Desdemona has turned "more black than fair". According to G. Wilson-Knight, it is a characteristic of The Tragedy of Othello that separation and contrast manage to replace unity and harmony. Iago has achieved his purpose. Our reader probably remembers that we have discussed the line "poor and content is rich and rich enough" etc., an antonymical dichotomy that Othello expresses as his own with almost the same words as Iago uses. The latter utters this cue before he introduces doubt as a system of thought. Othello adopts it as soon as he wonders, upon entering the stage: "OTHELLO: Ha! ha! False to me?" (Othello - Act III, Scene III). He has not been instigated by his flag-bearer any more! He has been away and far from the latter and meets him only by chance. Yet Othello is suspicious. He has learned that there is such thing as suspicion. He has got accustomed to the pattern of dichotomical-antonymical thinking.
Othello's reason is staggering. With her childish game, Desdemona unwillingly challenges him. The jealous husband asks to see the handkerchief: "OTHELLO: Fetch't, let me see't. DESDEMONA: Why, so I can, sir, but I will not now. This is a trick to put me from my suit. Pray you, let Cassio be received again" (Othello - Act III, Scene IV). We know only too well that her pressing request is in fact a "trick" meant to protect herself of her husband's request that she should fetch the handkerchief. And yet, she blames the "trick" on Othello's request, while the latter suspects that she is actually "tricking" him, which plays havoc with the Moor's entire system of values. It follows that even he can be taken for a two-faced man! And if he can be regarded as such, is it not possible that he be one?! All of Othello's awareness falls to pieces. He realizes that there is something in his mind that does not serve him any more. His judgment fluctuates. After a series of cues revolving around one and the same word, "handkerchief", he finally utters: "OTHELLO: Away!" (ibidem) and exits, although he was addressing Desdemona. Pushed by Iago's infamous "help", Othello goes so far as to mistake abstract elements with matter-of-fact ones, he equals his wife's handkerchief with her honor: "IAGO: [.] But if I give my wife a handkerchief. - OTHELLO: What then? - IAGO: Why, then, 'tis hers, my lord; and, being hers, she may, I think, bestow't on any man. - OTHELLO: She is protectress of her honor too: may she give that?" (Othello - Act IV, Scene I). Desdemona, in turn, discerns a fundamental tension in her husband's reasoning: "DESDEMONA: [.] My lord is not my lord. ", says she, again in a dichotomicantonymical manner, then: "[.] Something, sure, of state, either from Venice, or some unhatch'd practise made demonstrable here in Cyprus to him, hath puddled his clear spirit." (Othello - Act III, Scene IV). Proofs begin to pile up, of the fact that the Moor can no longer master his own words to convey his thoughts like any normal, sound-minded man. He can no longer express his feelings. His thinking is more and more adrift. He rolls his eyes and mumbles like a demented man: "OTHELLO: [.] Handkerchief. confessions. handkerchief!. To confess, and be hanged for his labour. First, to be hanged, and then to confess. I tremble at it. Nature would not invest herself in such shadowing passion without some instruction. It is not words that shake me thus. Pish! Noses, ears, and lips. Is't possible? Confess. handkerchief! O devil! (Falls in a trance)" (Othello - Act IV, Scene I). What we are dealing here with is the famous fainting called epilectic fit. The linguistic demonstration in the quoted passages is enough to substantiate the psychical imbalance anyway. Iago allows him no respite. He is "is a philosopher, who fancies that a lie that kills has more point in it than an alliteration or an antithesis; who thinks a fatal experiment on the peace of a family a better thing than watching the palpitations in the heart of a flea in a microscope; who plots the ruin of his friends as an exercise for his ingenuity, and stabs men in the dark to prevent ennui. His gaiety, such as it is, arises from the success of his treachery; his ease from the torture he has inflicted on others. He is an amateur of tragedy in real life; and instead of employing his invention on imaginary characters, or long-forgotten incidents, he takes the bolder and more desperate course of getting up his plot at home, casts the principal parts
among his nearest friends and connections, and rehearses it in downright earnest, with steady nerves and unabated resolution". He is an Ivan Karamazov, a Lafcadio avant-la-lettre. No wonder, therefore, that the general accepts to play his game: "OTHELLO: [.] I will be found most cunning in my patience." (Othello - Act IV, Scene I). The dichotomic-antonymical symbolism gradually conquers the inanimate world. After the handkerchief, even the bed displays two simultaneously antonymical "moral" qualities: "IAGO: [.] strangle her in her bed, even the bed she hath contaminated" (ibidem ). The "contamination" of the bed is so vividly underlined because the idea lingers in Othello's soul that it is in fact the bed of his pure love. In such a world, one cannot react as a normal human being any longer. Madness alternates with ever fewer and shorter moments of lucidity. Here is a further sign of incongruity, similar to that quoted a while ago: "OTHELLO: [.] I am commanded home. Get you away; I'll send for you anon" (ibidem). Not only the lack of coherence of Othello's thinking should be noticed here, but, if we consider the couple OthelloDesdemona to be a whole, as we have done before, and we stress the fact that the character mentions one direction of movement for himself and the opposite direction for his wife, then we should also stress his final attempt at uniting the two roads. Hence, although pervaded by the dichotomic-antonymical system of thinking, Othello suffers because he misses his original Weltanschauung , the image of the world seen as a unity. But the outcome of the crisis approaches. Othello's pathological state becomes visible to anyone. " Are his wits safe? Is he not light of brain? " wonders Lodovico, Brabantio's relative dispatched from Venice , about the man he used to know under quite different auspices. He adds: " Is this the nature whom passion could not shake? " ( ibidem ) and so on and so forth. The night of the general ends up with the symbolical obliteration of the dichotomicantonymical reality, that is, with the murder of Desdemona. The building of this dichotomic-antonymical reality rests not only with the language and the evolution of thinking, but, all the more so, with the architecture of the tragedy that uses bipolar oppositional and situational structures. Romanian aesthetician Bogdan Petriceicu Hasdeu remarked: "Shakespeare introduced us to the contrast between the sublime and the ridiculous, between weeping and laughing, a contrast that we come across all the time in every-day life". He had noticed the technique of juggling with antonyms. Here is a passage in which the contrasting elements are two faces of one and the same experience, namely of jealousy. The passage is subsequent to the fainting, but previous to the dialogue between Cassio and Iago, that the Moor witnessed from a hiding-place, therefore it follows the climax of the main character's crisis: "OTHELLO: I will chop her into messes: cuckold me! - IAGO: O, 'tis foul in her. - OTHELLO: With mine officer! - IAGO: That's fouler. - OTHELLO: Get me some poison, Iago." (Othello - Act IV, Scene I). Indeed, jealousy may wear both masks depicted in the text, the tragic and the ludicrous one. As we know, the play starts with the announcement of a betrayal (which foretells the most elaborate dichotomic-antonymical structure of the text): "BRABANTIO: What profane wretch
art thou? - IAGO: I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs" (Othello - Act I, Scene I). Rabelais' words sound despicable in Iago's mouth. As the play develops, the benevolent defender of Desdemona's chastity proves to be the genuine traitor, while the exposed "betrayer" is in fact his innocent victim. Hence, the tragedy as a whole represents a situational dichotomic-antonymical structure reduplicated at a smaller scale, as follows: Iago meets "his good friend" Roderigo at Desdemona's father's house; the "good friend" later dies by the hand of Iago himself! In the second scene of Act I, Othello is being looked for by two groups, one led by Brabantio, the other by Cassio. Since it is dark, both groups light their way with torches: a bunch of torches look for the traitor in the name of the necessary justice; the other bunch look for the defender in the name of the just war; hence, there is light in the name of mistrust and light in the name of trust. The Senate has two points on its agenda: the conflict between Venice and the Turks and that between Brabantio and Othello. As far as the former is concerned, the city places all its hope in Othello, the providential man; as regards the latter, Othello is seen as the worst of men. The situational dichotomic-antonymical structures are woven with symbolic parallels. Act I foretells a war. Act II starts with the description of an uprising of the elements, of a storm. The faithful Cassio, an alter ego of the Moor is separated from his general by the gale. Othello is left alone at the mercy of the unleashed elements. Cassio embodies his faithfulness, honesty, and bravery. There is a symbolism here that offers itself to be deciphered: separated from his faithfulness, his righteous character, his thinking that conceives of reality as a unity (Cassio never renounces all these), the general is left alone at the mercy of the hostile elements (that is, of Iago). Othello is not the only character whose jealousy is being challenged. Bianca is jealous, too, but in a completely different way. Her reactions represent one of the aspects of the dichotomic-antonymical structure of jealousy, while the other is experienced by the Moor: one is only too natural, the other pathological. Othello plans, together with Iago, to kill his own integrity, under the traits of Cassio. The killing, though incomplete, seems a general rehearsal for the sacrificing of Desdemona. The fact that the lieutenant does not die confirms, from a symbolical point of view, the general's capacity to regain his personality, even if mutilated. Mutilated! Let us remember Cassio exclaiming: "CASSIO: I am maim'd for ever.” (Othello - Act V, Scene I). Othello himself similarly exclaims: "OTHELLO: [.] Man but a rush against Othello's breast, and he retires." (Othello - Act V, Scene II). Othello's skin color has always been a touchstone for world criticism. G.M. Matthews explains in an essay why the literary scholars refuse to discuss Othello's skin color: because it would be historically incorrect to consider skin color, in the sense we apply to this notion today, as being however relevant for the contemporaries of Elizabeth I or Jacob I and also because saying that Othello is a play about races would be tantamount to saying that Henry V were but a play about fatmen. The critic's conclusion is that Othello is not a story about jealousy placed in some historical moment, but an example of the love between a black man and a white woman. He goes on quoting R.B. Heilman's analyses of the contrast between light and darkness, both in the play's
imagery and in its structure, and states that the unavoidable effect of this opposition (one overlooked by Heilman) is the stress laid on the contrast between races, between Othello and his comrades. Matthews sees this contrast as the key to the understanding of the play, as its most significant feature (which does not mean that the whole play could be reduced to it, of course). G.M. Matthews' idea is worth retaining with all its supporting arguments, although expounded in such conflicting terms. He claims, basically, that the difference of colour between Othello and the other characters - and, should we say, even between Othello and himself (E.B. Heilman brings once again to attention the words of the Duke of Venice: " Your son-in-law is far more fair than black") - represents the structural essence of the play, its cornerstone, its fundamental dichotomic-antonymical structure. We cannot support, however, the statement that the tragedy is an example of the love between a black man and a white woman. It is awkward to say that Shakespeare supplied examples. This is what we do, who has been struggling for four-and-a-half centuries to comprehend him; all he did is to create a universe parallel to the one we live in. Othello's color represents the simplest dichotomic-antonymical structure to be found in the play, the one that engenders all the other similar structures. This is so because he, who is black, proves to be the whitest, when it comes to character, while the white men may be guessed to be black from the same point of view. Moreover, Othello sees Desdemona, his embodiment of reality, as having the blackest of souls. The rich accumulation of linguistic and situational dichotomic-antonymical structures in this play draws any reader's attention on the possibility of the existence of a mechanism of dichotomic-antonymical thinking. We may wonder why Shakespeare put his great art at work so much to underline it, why he chose to present it particularly in contrast with the usual logical thinking, unless he wanted to highlight a message. What connection could there be between this message and the "jealousy" or "betrayed confidence" mentioned at the beginning of this chapter? The play's message, using jealousy as an excuse (the appearance of an antonymical dichotomy in one's beloved), highlights the suffering implicit in any process of knowledge, the perception of reality as being dichotomic-antonymical, hence an unavoidable castigation of the values established up to this stage. The passage from one form of knowledge to another implies a discipline which is unknown to Othello (hence his intellectual failure). This discipline is described by the same Iago, the master psychologist of the tragedy: "IAGO: [.] Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners. ( Othello - Act I, Scene III). What Othello lacks is the will to know to the bitter end. If he remained firmly anchored in his own system of thought even when challenged by Iago's arguments, Othello would keep himself within the truth, that is, he would be aware that he is actually not betrayed. By adopting the new system of thought suggested to him by his flag-bearer, only his will and power of judgment can still help him rediscover that truth. He reaches it indeed, but only after he is defeated. From a certain point of view, experience and knowledge overlap. It is our free will that helps us stress one or the other. Othello is defeated in his struggle for knowledge because he stresses life, experience.
The tragedy of the Moor of Venice is the tragedy of a man with a straight gaze who is up against a false universe presented to him as dichotomic-antonymical, it is the tragedy of morality fighting amorality, it is the tragedy of the knowledge of a world that keeps showing its concealed face, it is the tragedy of one's shift from an older system of thought to one new and unfit to one's nature, it is the tragedy of a man who has to choose knowledge when his earlier and ultimate choice was life. The play, therefore, is a tragedy of initiation. Let us end this chapter with a splendid and conclusive antonymical dychotomy, the epitaph of the one-time Moor of Venice: "OTHELLO: I kiss'd thee ere I kill'd thee; no way but this: killing myself, to die upon a kiss " ( Othello - Act V, Scene II). Linguistic repetition in Shakespeare's plays , in Leon Levitchi, Studii shakespeariene ( Shakespearian Studies ), Cluj-Napoca, Dacia Publishing House, 1976, pp. 46-75. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov , Book 8, Chapter 3 (English translation by Constance Garnett, taken from www.bibliomania.com ). In Shakespeare the Professional (London, Heinemann), reprinted after Figurative and Wholesome, an unsigned article in The Times Literary Supplement, no. 3737, October 19, 1973. G. Wilson-Knight, The Othello Music , in Anne Bradby (ed.), Shakespeare Criticism , New Delhi, Atlantic, 2004. William Hazlitt, Characters of Shakespeare's Plays , London , C.H. Reynell, 1817 (excerpt taken from www.library.utoronto.ca ). B.P. Hasdeu, The Late Postelnic [Chancellor] . An Introduction , in Shakespeare si opera lui. Texte critice ( Shakespeare and His Work. Critical Contributions ), Bucharest, World Literature Publishing House, 1964. G.M. Matthews, Othello and the Dignity of Man , in Arnold Kettle (ed.), Shakespeare in a Changing World , London , 1971.
The dramatic comedy in Ephesus
The wife of the Syracuse merchant Egeon gave birth in Epidamnum to a pair of twins "[.] which was strange, the one so like the other, / As could not be distinguish'd but by names. "(Comedy of Errors - Act I, Scene I). In that same inn and at that same time, another woman produced another pair of twins, those two buds equally alike. They were later purchased by Egeon to attend to his own sons. And all lived happily. However, before long, a storm such as one might say was blowing fire through heaven's nostrils split this happy family apart: the father found himself with one son and one of the adopted children, while the mother with the remaining two. Upon turning eighteen, the son Egeon had brought up and loved more than his own self took his servant as a travel companion and set out looking for his brother. A symbolic departure, as it were. Why should we see anything symbolic in this incipient odyssey? As we are about to see, many sound reasons compel us to do so. There is no telling whether Shakespeare actually and voluntarily intended to weave the plot of his play along the following lines, but it is our opinion, due to the one-too-many "coincidences", that these lay hidden in the recesses of the writing poet's mind, as did all the myths and their echoes (for he was a good classicist, in spite of what his contemporaries and, later, his critics thought) and readily fueled his inspiration with their eternal histories that helped him stretch a canvas much broader and far more deeply human than it appears when first leafing through the text. It is interesting and rather unusual in Shakespeare's writings that the hero's age is specified. Antipholus of Syracuse is eighteen years old, hence at the threshold of adulthood from a biological point of view. But his grown-up psychology has just about begun to take shape. To reach completeness, he is supposed to be fulfilled as much psychologically as he is biologically. The adventurous quest of his brother seems to be a quest of fulfillment. Let us suppose that Antipholus of Syracuse sets out looking for his other half, Antipholus of Ephesus, driven by his wish for completeness. But the Syracusian does not travel alone: he is accompanied by Dromio of Syracuse, from whom he has never been separated. As already mentioned, Dromio had been purchased to serve him for better or for worse. Dromio is not of the same blood as Antipholus; he is a stranger, yet the two are inseparable. If we were to find a purpose for him, Dromio is the one that links Antipholus to society: he feeds him, sees after him, watches over him. Dromio is like a living garment for his master and travel companion. But then again, Dromio of Syracuse himself cannot become fulfilled unless he finds Dromio of Ephesus. Here is, for one thing, a two-fold dichotomy (not an antonymical dichotomy): the two Antipholi form a whole not only with one another, but also each with his respective Dromio. The coordinates of this two-fold dichotomy are presented to the reader from the very first scene of the play. But they are not the only ones on quest. After Antipholus of Syracuse had departed on his perilous journey, Egeon waited for some time, then eventually decided to set out himself to look for his remaining son, whose absence made him feel so frustrated. By now, he has already been travelling for five years. In this case we deal with an antonymical dichotomy, for there is a sense of opposition in the pair begetter / offspring, that has nothing to do with a couple of twin brothers who are in fact the two separate halves of one and the same creation. Moreover, keeping in mind that the begetter moves down the ladder of existence while his offspring
moves up and the countless discrepancies that separate parents from children, we can easily discern the intrinsic antithetical nature of this newly-discovered unity. Which is in fact not unique either, but doubled by that of the separation between Egeon and Emelia, his wife - a clearly antonymical dychotomization of their unity as a couple. This double-folded antonymical dychotomy is also being presented in the first scene of Act I. It goes without saying that all these members of so many unities apparently shattered (although they look for each other, their unity is unspoiled from an emotional point of view) have been made by the playwright to gather in Ephesus so they can meet again. The future restoration of the initial unities is being heralded, from the very first lines of Act II, by a symbol. Antipholus of Syracuse speaks to Dromio about the inn called The Centaur, where they both stopped. Although from the point of view of the plot, such as it unfolds before the readers, Egeon has only got another day to live and Antipholus of Syracuse has been warned that he, too, may fall under the same implacable fate awaiting the Syracusans who trespass the territory of Ephesus, that is, under the curse that they end their lives there - in spite of all these, a gleam of hope persists at the linguistic level. Unexpected by anybody, modest like any gleam of hope that barely lights the horizon, it hides behind this word nobody actually cares about, this funny title of a one-night refuge: The Centaur. The name of this inn suggests an inevitable connection with the name of the town in which it stands: Ephesus. Our recollections are imbued with confusion, because they echo a troublesome and uncertain rumour about a connection between a centaur and Ephesus. And all of a sudden, there is bright light. The gigantic figure of Hercules emerges from the ruins of memory, covering the Renaissance sky. That wonderful jester of ancient times, while on a pilgrimage in Delphi, caused an unspeakable hullabaloo in Pythia's temple and inflicted upon her a revenge worthy of a hero's fury, since she refused to show him the way in which he could expiate the most recent of his all too many killings. Hercules went so far as to cast her sacred tripod only the gods knew where. Apollo himself interfered and a formidable wrestling followed: the colossus challenged a god born of the same begetter and the two could not be appeased except by the intervention of their Olympian father's strokes of lightning. The dispute ended in peace. The oracle showed Hercules the way he was supposed to take in order to pay for his blood-shedding: he had to accept, free-willingly, to become a slave for the following three years. Hercules let himself be sold to Queen Omphalia for a price of three talents. As was expected of him, he managed to shift, from the condition of slave, to that of husband of the Queen of Lydia. Instead of the three years of bondage, there followed three years of pleasures, slackness, and drowsy resting. Essentially important for the analysis of the Shakespearian comedy is the gossip that has cut through the ages and reached our ears, namely that all during this time Hercules was engaged in such womanly pursuits as spinning, reeling and weaving; not to mention that his mistress and wife had him walk about dressed in women's clothes. Hence, the legend does not only deal with disguise (a behavioral dichotomic-antonymical structure), but also with the adaptation to the occupations of the opposite sex. And yet, the hero had not given up completely his formidable fame of enforcing justice with the club. For instance, while in the proximity of - let us guess - Ephesus , Hercules was overcome by sleep and lay down in the shadow of a tree. And behold, some thieves
called Cercopi, found nothing better to do than try to take advantage of him. The outcome is no surprise: they were all bound tight and taken before Queen Omphalia. Hence, it is near the town of Ephesus that Hercules recovered his manly condition and turned back from a woman into a warrior. As we mentioned earlier, Antipholus of Syracuse had come down to Ephesus an adolescent, so he may become an adult; in the newly-shed light of the legend, we may also add that the ephebe he was aspired to become a man. By the way, the Ephesian Cercopi, too, are pawns of dichotomic-antonymical thought, since they so much indulged in the gift of lying that Jove eventually deprived them of their speech and turned then into monkeys, into nowadays' men without human faces. Let us now return from the town to the inn standing in it. So the inn was called The Centaur. After his three years' penance in sweet slavery, Hercules went to Deianeira as a suitor and won her hand. They left together, but soon their path was barred by the overflown waters of the river Evenos. Nessus the centaur happened to pass by. He offered, full of chivalry, to take Deianeira on his back to the other bank. Once there, the kind centaur turned aggressive. Upon hearing his young wife's scream, Hercules shot an arrow poisoned with the blood of the Hydra and killed the centaur. The two spouses were reunited after the waters had separated them (as is the case of the Shakespearian characters). The centaur, a being made of two different and opposed hypostases, since it is both man and animal, takes part in the antonymical dichotomization (he, too, is such a structure) of the unity of the Hercules-Deianeira couple. Then, the same system of thought creates new sequences that take the scenario further on, building up an eloquent conjectural framework that proves useful to the evolution of the characters in The Comedy of Errors. Before passing away, Nessus the centaur gathered blood from his arrow-inflicted wound and offered it to Deianeira. He advised her that, if she ever felt Hercules' love for her failing, she should imbue one of his shirts in that blood and give it to her husband to wear: the shirt, he claimed, would restore his love for her (a ritual to be found in many people's folklore). Then a time came when Deianeira felt as though she was being cheated. But, instead of lighting up again the flame of love in her husband's heart, Nessus' shirt stuck to his body and could not longer be removed; it sent through his flesh the flames of Hell. The dichotomic-antonymical feature acquired by the object is easily noticed here: the shirt that supposedly possessed the gift of restoring love was in fact the shirt that caused death. The hero eventually spared himself further pain and stepped alone onto his own stake. This last step achieved the prophecy that he was to die from a dead man's hand (in our play, too, objects possess dichotomic-antonymical reflexes and the destiny of each character is in turn influenced by another character that is presumed dead). There is also a second reference to the world of the centaurs whose beings bring together two different worlds. We notice that the names of the two brothers can be divided into the prefix anti -, meaning opposition, and Pholus. Now Pholus was another centaur, one living in Pholos. While he was hunting for the wild boar of Erymanthus, the same Hercules visited Pholus, son of Silenus and of a nymph. He was copiously treated, but without wine, which upset the hero. It was not that Pholus did not have a jug full of wine; but it belonged, in common, to all centaurs. For the sake of his new friend, however, the centaur uncorked the jug and the scent of the blessed beverage spread all around, tickling the noses of all centaurs, no matter how far they
were. They charged the source of the pleasant scent equipped with rocks, torches and tree trunks. A life-and-death struggle followed. Unfortunately for him, the peaceful Pholus, while burying his fellow-centaurs, picked an arrow out of the body of one of them and looked at it inquisitively, wondering how something as small as that could cause death. While he was fumbling with it, the arrow fell onto his leg and killed him, too. It is against this mythical background adorned with multiple dichotomic-antonymical structures that the episodes of the play are projected, thus creating an environment in which they develop naturally, though often so deeply concealed in the text as to seem incredible. In anticipation of the revelation that Antipholus of Ephesus, though physically identical with his brother, is opposed to the latter as far as character is concerned, Antipholus of Syracuse meets Dromio of Ephesus, his twin brother's servant. Their talk, the requests and laments they exchange facilitate the comprehension of the fact that the two brothers are as much alike as the two masks of one and the same youth, as the two faces of one and the same talent (in fact, the term pholus also designates an ancient Greek coin, hence the enhanced dichotomic-antonymical value of the name - head and tail are the two inseparable, yet opposed, faces of one and the same coin). A new humble name of an inn helps stregthen the symbolical framework, foretelling the future. Dromio of Ephesus informs his master - that is, the one he presumes to be his master - that his wife is waiting for him at the Phoenix. But is that not the of the bird that died and rose again from its own ashes? And is it not what is about to happen to all these characters who are presumed dead by the others, yet will rise again, or to one particular character who is presumed to be mad, yet will prove to be as sane as ever? Since it is a town where strange things occur: "ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE: [.] They say this town is full of cozenage, as nimble jugglers that deceive the eye, dark-working sorcerers that change the mind, soul-killing witches that deform the body, disguised cheaters, prating mountebanks. "(Comedy of Errors - Act I, Scene II). They are a skillful gang ready to lend reality a different face, such as may serve their purposes. The game of destiny makes poor Dromio of Ephesus describes his former encounter with his pseudo-master in these terms: "DROMIO OF EPHESUS: .he told his mind upon mine ear. [.] I scarce could understand it" (Comedy of Errors - Act II, Scene I). Of course, he reaches the conclusion that he dealt with a lunatic quite out of his mind. Later, indeed, Adriana, wife to Antipholus of Ephesus, blames the same thing upon the same man, insisting in her turn, when she meets Antipholus of Syracuse, on how difficult it is for her to grasp his true personality: "ADRIANA: [.] How comes it now, my husband, O, how comes it, That thou art thus estranged from thyself? "A little earlier, upon noticing his indifference, she even felt to be another woman: "[.] I am not Adriana nor thy wife. "(Comedy of Errors - Act II, Scene II). Adriana's beauty and love persuade Antipholus of Syracuse to accept the swapping of lives that is being forced upon him: "ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE: Am I in earth, in heaven, or in hell? Sleeping or waking? mad or well-advised? Known unto these, and to myself disguised! I'll say as they say and preserve so, and in this mist at all adventures go (ibidem). The same attitude stands for his servant as well, who has to face his own, equally confusing, adventures: "DROMIO OF
SYRACUSE: [.] This is the fairy land: O spite of spites! We talk with goblins, owls and sprites. "( ibidem ); when they come together, the two of them make up a chorus of bewilderment: "DROMIO OF SYRACUSE: I am transformed, master, am I not? - ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE : I think thou art in mind, and so am I. - DROMIO OF SYRACUSE: Nay, master, both in mind and in my shape. - ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE : Thou hast thine own form " ( ibidem ). In the meantime, poor wretched Dromio of Ephesus manages to find his real master, but cannot persuade him that he beat him earlier for the mere guilt of having summoned him home - since the servant actually summoned the other Antipholus. Soon afterwards, the two of them fall victims to their unknown and unsuspected brothers who have been appointed unwilling masters in the other pair's own house. Hence, the two pairs of twins are reunite. The brothers confront each other, they fight for the same right "to really be who they believe they are". How eloquent, this substantialization of their situation! One believes to be one person and is constantly mistaken for another. A kafkian theme and a reason to lose one's mind. The new arrangement of the chess figures upon the board available to the playwright allows us to check what has been said earlier about the symbolism of the inns' names. For instance, the angry Antipholus of Ephesus goes to eat - since he is no longer accepted at his wife's table occupied by the other brother - to a tavern called The Tiger . With the determination to take revenge on his wife, he finally invites his pals, accompanied by a courtisan, at The Porpentine . This sign-language is eloquent; it is to be found in all subsequent English literature, down to Charles Dickens' novels. Tension rises higher and higher. So Antipholus of Syracuse is being mistaken for Antipholus of Ephesus. Moreover, his sister-in-law, Luciana, who suspects that his indifference and denials of a man absolutely stranger and unaware were in fact due to some new love he may have, suggests to him the very double play that he dislikes so much: "LUCIANA: [.] Or if you like elsewhere, do it by stealth: muffle your false love with some show of blindness; let not my sister read it in your eye; be not thy tongue thy own shame's orator; look sweet, be fair, become disloyalty; apparel vice like virtue's harbinger; bear a fair presence, though your heart be tainted; teach sin the carriage of a holy saint; be secret-false: what need she be acquainted?. "(Comedy of Errors - Act III, Scene II). This is the short-version forerunner of a treaty of bourgeois false morality, the sketch of the classical love triangle from the future revue theatre, the voice of the conceited and vainglorious social conventions. It tells us that the appearance of the cheater's behavior (that belongs to the vast range in which we are interested) may be due, in part at least, to pity; the pseudo-pity preached here conceals the fear to disturb a temporary social adjustment; this fear, in its turn, springs from the resistance of inertia before anything new. Through Luciana, the specified society protects the flimsiness of its morals and introduces - imposes, even - the mask. It is apparently this society that Antipholus of Syracuse refers to when he answers her: "ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE: [.] Against my soul's pure truth why labor you to make it wander in an unknown field? Are you a god? Would you create me new?" (ibidem). He does not conceive of lying. He much sooner accepts a miracle that may change him into a different person, than wearing a mask. All the more so as his heart has chosen the woman who considers herself to be his sister-in-law and is talking to him about a so-called wife of his, her sister, whom he has never even heard about so far. Luciana is the one to whom he pays the passionate homage of his love. His words draw a portrait of her against a golden background. She retorts that his words belong to her sister, or at least they should do so. "ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE: Call thyself sister, sweet. "(ibidem), says the unknowing Syracusan who simply translates, in this cue, the relationship between his brother and himself.
On the other hand, Dromio of Syracuse experiences the very same kind of confusions: he finds out that there is a cook in that house and fears that she, too, may claim to become mistress of his soul and offer herself to him as a well-known realm of marital bliss. His actual master points out: "ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE: There's none but witches do inhabit here. She that doth call me husband, even my soul doth for a wife abhor. " (ibidem ) a.s.o. The first misunderstanding in the play occurs in reference to a sum of money; it is a slippery and brisk element of discord, foretelling the troubles to follow. In the last-but-one act, a new element interferes and causes a dispute; this time, it is in reference to a necklace which is a different image, on the one hand, of gold and, on the other hand, of bondage since a chain essentially prevents the scattering of things that have become disorganized. This particular necklace enhances the symbolism of the rope purchased by Dromio of Ephesus. Then comes a third element of the same family: a ring which is, even more than the rope and the necklace or chain, a symbol of the ultimate unity of the characters in a sort of universal marriage, if one wishes to see it that way, or else a symbol of a magical circle - the Syracusans see the town of Ephesus in such a light - that keeps the characters within itself for good. Thus, the necklace and the ring present a hypostasis of gold different from the one the reader stumbles on at the beginning of the plot and from the commerce making use of it (which is in fact the cause of the misunderstandings between the two cities that led to Egeon's arrest). At the climax of the plot, foretold by the sudden coming out of these three artifacts, both pairs of brothers are considered out of their minds, they are all bound tight, prevented from leaving the scene of events and forced to await their outcome. Before any such outcome, it was inevitable that the mother of the two Antipholus should make her appearance as well. She, too, was the victim of a destiny that eventually made her life hilariously tragic, since she had been married and had given birth to two children only to become the abbess of a convent. Once the mother has been squeezed into the play's plot, Egeon, her former husband, is being brought to the fore, too, so whole bunch of unlikely misadventures can end well. The text makes it easy to understand that the origin of all these tragicomical happenings lies in the Ephesian politics and in its impact upon the relationships between Syracuse and Ephesus. The tension existing between the two duchies is responsible for the misfortune that lifelong separated families cannot come together again, that the citizens of the two duchies cannot travel from one to the other, that the trade between them is suspended, that friends cannot visit each other. Everything is due entirely to the personal ambitions of the Renaissance tyrants. But the English playwright could not allow himself to treat so straightforwardly a political matter of such impact and with such a social echo, at a time so merciless and so divided between the official church and Catholicism as the one in which he himself lived. This is why, in our opinion, he resorted to comedy, concealing behind it his true feelings of rightful indignation against a society that makes one wear a mask and of progressive desire for a radical change of the state of things under the mask (!) of apparently harmless laughter. If there is a dichotomicantonymical structure in this play, it if due, first and foremost to the dichotomic-antonymical behavior of the author himself, a behavior made compulsory by the society of his time, when heads tended to fall so easily.
The Agitated Sleep of Lady Macbeth
"Doctor: I have two nights watched with you, but can perceive no truth in your report. When was it she last walked? - Gentlewoman : Since his majesty went into the field, I have seen her rise from her bed, throw her night-gown upon her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, fold it, write upon't, read it, afterwards seal it, and again return to bed; yet all this while in a most fast sleep " ( Macbeth - Act V, Scene I). Lady Macbeth's waiting gentlewoman must have told this story to the doctor many times during their two nights of watching or even before. The latter, too, must have scratched behind the ear as many times, as a sign of astonishment, since he tells her right now: "Doctor: A great perturbation in nature, to receive at once the benefit of sleep, and do the effects of watching!" (ibidem). Talking in these terms to the kind-hearted, worried, and almost certainly uneducated woman is tantamount to dropping into a friendly conversation statements like these: "Certain incidental nocturnal manifestations have been interpreted as 'physiological phenomena' related to sleep (common automatic movements, movements related to gestures, the so-called 'physiological' hypnotic myocloni) which may, however, due to their frequency, their intensity, or their unusual duration, become pathological nocturnal syndromes. [.] According to certain authors, [.] most incidental nocturnal syndromes are psycho-reactive of hysterical manifestations. The possibility of an epileptic origin of the non-convulsive incidental nocturnal phenomena is a matter much debated upon". The difference resides in the fact that this last text was written by a group of specialists and meant for other specialists, while the doctor in the play uses the medical jargon of his age addressing a poor worried woman, for the sake of a comical contrasting effect that the author thought of placing just before the dramatic moment when a sleep-walker makes her appearance. And behold, the Thane's wife slides in front of them like a ghost, holding a candle. Her thrilled waiting gentlewoman exclaims: "Gentlewoman: Lo you, here she comes! This is her very guise; and, upon my life, fast asleep. Observe her; stand close" (ibidem). Still, the doctor is suspicious, as should be a man of science (does he imagine, perchance, that Lady Macbeth plays lunatic in order to mock him?!): "Doctor: How came she by that light?" (ibidem). The answer cuts off his snorting impulse: "Gentlewoman: Why, it stood by her.”, but it also contributes an important element that the doctor misses, since he is no psychologist: " .she has light by her continually; 'tis her command" (ibidem). Hence, Lady Macbeth has formally requested that she should never be left in the dark - like a child frightened by his own imagination. The doctor seems less and less prepared for the experience he is about to witness (all the more so if we compare his reaction to the hyperlucidity of the Macbeth couple whenever they are not in a state of crisis), because he actually wonders, seeking an explanation that could make up for his lack of knowledge: "Doctor : You see, her eyes are open " ; his co-watcher, with her unrelentless common sense, explains: "Gentlewoman : Ay, but their sense is shut " (ibidem). Then does this monstrous humanoid puppet its first gesture that seems to pertain to a system of communication supposed, as it were, to carry some meaning. The doctor voices his surprise: "Doctor : What is it she does now? Look, how she rubs her hands" (ibidem). Historian of psychology Gardner Murphy recalled that many patients wash their hands, just like Lady Macbeth, in an effort to wipe off the feeling of guilt. Associationist H.L. Hollingworth took over Hartley's term "reintegration" and had it name the process working instead of a situation it used to be a part of; Gardner Murphy, in his turn, synthesized this phenomenon in a sentence of the highest importance to
anthropological stylistics: the part acts for the whole. But is that not the pattern of a possible concept, namely of a metonymical behavior, starting from the definition of metonymy as a figure of speech? Anthropological stylistics, as we have seen, conceives of the figures of speech as reflecting, each in its turn, first a particular capacity of understanding reality and then a similar capacity of manifestation; this latter capacity also comprises verbal communication, that is, the object of common stylistics. The aesthetic aspect is in strict complementarity with the stylistic manifestations; it is discovered and assigned rather than voluntary; it becomes voluntary, hence artificial only in the case of professionals, that is, of writers. In exchange, the stylistic understanding of reality and its effect, the corresponding stylistic manifestation coexist with the logical understanding and manifestation and cannot be separated from it without the individual's entire existence being amputated. An argument allowing for a stronger light to be shed upon these statements is that, in the case of metonymical behavior, we find support in the very organization of psychical life. According to Gardner Murphy, Hamilton taught that such is the process of perception that any of the simultaneously experimental elements is able, when making its appearance again later, to have the total experience recalled. Did Lady Macbeth display such metonymical behavior (the rubbing of one's hands replacing the circumstances of the crime entirely) only during her fits of sleep-walking? Her waiting gentlewoman denies it: " Gentlewoman: It is an accustomed action with her, to seem thus washing her hands: I have known her continue in this a quarter of an hour " (Macbeth - Act V, Scene I). The reader of the play knows this gesture only too well from everyday life. In the first scene of Act II, Macbeth, master of the Inverness castle in which he hosts his king, plans to murder the latter during the following night. In anticipation of this blood-shedding deed, he wanders along the dark corridors, listens carefully at the doors, puts out the torches that burn too bright, checks on everybody's sleep, examines, spies, takes all precautions. After a last meeting with Banquo and his son Fleance, who are also checking the security conditions of the glorious Duncan 's rest, Macbeth remains the sole chaser of solitude. Suddenly, his steps freeze, his thought is taken aback, his mouth feels heavier than lead. His gaze is the only thing still alive in him: "MACBETH: Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. "(Macbeth - Act II, Scene I). So the valiant (intended) murderer reaches out, shaking off the dread that has frozen his spine stiff. But his fingers clutch the thin air. Again he feels awkward, as if estranged from his own person. Again his voice plunges into the abyssal depths of dumbness. Then, with his eyes stuck to the shining edge of the steel blade, he gathers his inner being again in a slobbering and gasping effort and tries one last time to ponder: "MACBETH: I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible to feeling as to sight? Or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain? I see thee yet, in form as palpable as this which now I draw. [.] Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses." (ibidem). Drops of blood appear on the dagger's edge, so Macbeth finally understands the deed he is about to indulge in. The dagger is the substantialization in the form of a hallucination, of his despicable plans. "His energy springs from the anxiety and agitation of his mind", Hazlitt says in the last-hour terms of psychology's description of the asthenic. Then, ".Lady Macbeth, whose obdurate strength of will and masculine firmness give her the ascendancy over her husband's faultering virtue", comes in his path. In bitter whispering, the two recall the killing they have just
achieved. From the very beginning of the talk, Macbeth asks her: " MACBETH: [.] Who lies i' the second chamber?" (Macbeth - Act II, Scene II). Everything has been going on in pitch dark. She answers abruptly: "LADY MACBETH: Donalbain " (ibidem). Macbeth looks at his own hands, then says: "MACBETH: This is a sorry sight " (ibidem). He looks at his hands. He would grab with his fist the dagger whose apparition he saw earlier. Although he did not feel it in his palm, he wished it held up. Then the dagger was soaked in blood. So it was actually used. "These hands" - he seems to mutter - "my hands have held it in my thought, then drove it into the flesh that fought it ardently. The tip slid on the skin a little, then cut through the pale layer and blood spurted all around. The body writhed in agony. The blade had to be driven deeper, all the way, down to the heart, so every movement cease, so life ooze away, so the chest remain clean of all breath, like a chimney. With these hands. with my hands." His hallucination becomes more intense: it seems like he actually heard the cry: "MACBETH: [.] Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep. “ (ibidem). They keep whispering while moving away from the crime scene. Lady Macbeth looks at her husband and realizes he has taken along the blood-smeared weapons, the daggers he used to kill. She tells him to take them back and leave them within reach of the servants whom he must besmear with blood as well before they wake up: "LADY MACBETH: [.] Go get some water, and wash this filthy witness from your hand. “ (ibidem). Macbeth, however, takes one step back: "MACBETH: I'll go no more: I am afraid to think what I have done; look on't again I dare not" (ibidem). The woman then grabs the daggers and starts back, determined to defy his "childish" fear, as she labels it. But both halt in their tracks, with their hearts pounding like mad: there is someone knocking at the gate. Macbeth recovers from the shock first and asks in terror: "MACBETH: Whence is that knocking? How is't with me, when every noise appals me? What hands are here? Ha! They pluck out mine eyes. Will all great Neptune 's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas in incarnadine, making the green one red “(ibidem). Lady Macbeth, however, has had the time to fulfill her purpose. She is now back and finds her husband staring, horrified and disgusted by his own besmeared hands. He is not even aware of his wife's presence next to him and barely hears her voice say: "LADY MACBETH: My hands are of your color; but I shame to wear a heart so white" (ibidem). The knockings in the gate are heard again, so she goes on: " .retire we to our chamber; a little water clears us of this deed.” (ibidem). Let us now return to Lady Macbeth, observed by the doctor and her waiting gentlewoman. She mumbles: "LADY MACBETH: Yet here's a spot " ( Macbeth - Act V, Scene I). The doctor shivers from top to toes: "Doctor: Hark! she speaks. “(ibidem); then, suddenly, fervently, enthusiastically, his inquisitive spirit awakens: " I will set down what comes from her, to satisfy my remembrance the more strongly " (ibidem). And the truth is that he has plenty to write down, since the Lady's emotions turn into floods of words with the might of tremendous swells that rumble and tumble to and fro through the silence of that frightful night: "LADY MACBETH: Out, damned spot! Out, I say!. One: two: why, then, 'tis time to do't. Hell is murky!. Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him. - Doctor: Do you mark that? - LADY MACBETH: The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now? What, will these hands ne'er be clean? No more o' that, my lord, no more o' that: you mar all with this starting. - Doctor: Go to, go to; you have known what you should not. - Gentlewoman: She has spoken what she should not, I
am sure of that: heaven knows what she has known. - LADY MACBETH: Here's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh! - Doctor: What a sigh is there! The heart is sorely charged. - Gentlewoman: I would not have such a heart in my bosom for the dignity of the whole body. - Doctor: Well, well, well. - Gentlewoman: Pray God it be, sir. - Doctor: This disease is beyond my practise: yet I have known those which have walked in their sleep who have died holily in their beds. - LADY MACBETH: Wash your hands, put on your nightgown; look not so pale. I tell you yet again, Banquo's buried; he cannot come out on's grave. Doctor: Even so? - LADY MACBETH: To bed, to bed! There's knocking at the gate: come, come, come, come, give me your hand. What's done cannot be undone. To bed, to bed, to bed! (Exit.) Doctor: Will she go now to bed? - Gentlewoman: Directly “(ibidem). The doctor then summarizes: "DOCTOR: unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles."; he has realized that her disease is psychical in nature, due to a life out of the ordinary: " infected minds to their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. " (ibidem). Does William Shakespeare not illustrate, with the case of the Macbeth couple (we here have sketched only bits and pieces of their personalities), a phenomenon analyzed by Dr. Pierre Janet, Charcot's eminent disciple, as late as at the turn of the 20 th century under the name "dissociation of personality"? The latter conceived of personality as a relatively stable and constant integration of ideas and tendencies, and of hysteria as their imperfect integration, which may lead to a split of individual personality into two or even several alternate personalities. So the secrets of the English bard continue to stay a-waiting beside us, always ready to disturb our sleep. Professor I. Popoviciu and collaborators (Reader Dr. B. Asgian, Dr. I. Pascu, Dr. L. Szabo), Somnul normal si patologic ( Normal and Pathological Sleep ), Bucharest , Medical Publishing House, 1972. Gardner Murphy, op.cit. H.L. Hollingworth, The Psychology of Functional Neuroses (1920) and The Psychology of Thought (1926). Gardner Murphy, op.cit. William Hazlitt, op.cit. (excerpt taken from www.library.utoronto.ca ). Pierre Janet, The Mental State of Hystericals (1892) and The Major Symptoms of Hysteria (1907). Dr. Alexandru Olaru adds: "The manifestations of somnambulism, that P. Janet considers to be of a hysterical nature, spring, in my opinion, from the circumstances of a stuporous melancholy" ( op.cit. , p. 204).
A World of Mice
How sweet it is to human haughtiness to instill into the young minds, from early childhood, the idea that the adults' generation comprises only perfect beings! Who would not be thrilled with joy upon hearing his own blood offspring speak of him in encomiastic terms? Everybody's self-esteem exults when the bourgeois "perfect education" is achieved (it actually began its triumphant march as early as Shakespeare's time), that can be synthesized in the simple statement: your parents are everything. The cult of the parents implies their worshipping by mitigation of any sense of criticism as to their nature. Mother cannot lie; father cannot be wrong; mother is fair and pure, devoid of meanness; father knows no fear, no stumbling, and no defeat. They are both beautiful, brave, intelligent, sensible, balanced, faultless. The universal chorus sang such praising in a crescendo that the older society brought to a triumph in the Victorian age (what a false note, however!). The words of the hymn were being dictated by the morals of family power: how holy are my parents! The Prince of Denmark, Hamlet, would so much have become the soloist of this general music before his mother's second wedding! And, as things go with any eulogistic chorus, the praises it piles up in adulation prove so ridiculous. The temptation of such an education is also the temptation of an unsuspected trap. The wish to be considered perfect implies being revealed as imperfect at some time or other, unless one submits to the painful trials imposed along the road to perfection, since we are all born anything but perfect; it is only by relentless personal effort that we strive for perfection. How many parents, out of their huge numbers that peopled the bourgeois centuries of Europe, actually felt a desire for self-perfection? And behold this crowd greedy of their offspring’s' praises fell into their own deception and lay exposed to the sarcasm of the same inheritors they would have seen submitted as before a God made in the image of the family head. What a sordid comedy must have been played in that Northern royal city, too, at the time when Hamlet was still playing under the table, on all (princely) four, and was not in the least prepared to become the hero of a tragedy: "Hamlet, your mother, the Queen, is a saint! Why do you upset her?" Or: "Hamlet, the King, your father, is a hero! Why do you yawn when he speaks?!" With such leading ideas did the young, plump Prince leave for school. Years later, when suddenly recalled by a different king who claimed he was his father, the Prince found his mother living almost in incest and his true father - a rather indolent father who was cuckolded even more than in Boccaccio's Decameron - slain by his own brother; there went to pieces another myth of Hamlet's boyhood, that of the worthy and noble uncle. Did they undergo such radical changes unexpectedly? - the young philosopher wonders. Of course not, he answers himself, well-inspired. What he sees today has long been there, in their character, as a would-be. But still, he goes on tormenting his soul, what I felt yesterday in my mother's words and behavior, what I have loved and admired all my life, why should all that have vanished? Why should motherhood be less lasting than immoral inclinations? A mother never stops being a mother unless you reveal her parricide face, which is the very thing Hamlet's father's ghost points to: "GHOST: [.] Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive against thy mother aught. " ( Hamlet - Act I, Scene V); or: "GHOST: [.] But, look, amazement on thy mother sits: o, step between her and her fighting soul." (Hamlet - Act III, Scene IV). And he entrusts her to the son's care. This is how the dichotomic-antonymical vision of reality finds its way into the thinking of the august Danish crown-prince. Likewise, Claudius enjoys the uncle aura and shows his fratricidal face. Not to mention Hamlet's father: the old King concentrates the entire Olympus in the skin of one man, as his own son heralds; but he is also a poor "old mole" (Hamlet - Act I, Scene V). He is a "mole" not
because he manages now, for fear of dawn or of "hell's punishment" to creep in no time under the face of the earth, but because he lived as one, with his eyes in the ground. Legendary him! - unaware of the exchanges of inviting eyes that took place above his absent-minded head. The shock of meeting his father's ghost and of being revealed the monstrous crime is far too terrible for Hamlet to mock the state of tormented spirit his father has reached; he only jokes bitterly referring to his father having been a "blind mole" of a husband, which led him to his tragical termination. The "mole" was to Claudius his" sleeping brother" (ibidem), whose confidence he took advantage of to reach his ambitious purpose. In their relationships to Hamlet before the demise of the old monarch, the Queen was a perfect mother, the King a perfect father, and Claudius a perfect uncle. After his death, Hamlet discovers their other faces, too, those pre-existing to the discovery itself and simultaneous to the ones he knew - the faces those other people showed one another in the relationships they entertained among them: the Queen was incestuous, the King - a cuckold, and Claudius - an incestuous future fratricide. The Prince is now aware of both faces of reality. He is on the verge of a crisis in his thinking. The crisis bursts out. Which does not mean that he went without noticing beforehand, however sporadically, the courtiers' ambivalent behavior. We are told about Hamlet that "his ruling passion is to think, not to act"; with his life divided between his academic studies and the Court, he had the opportunity to observe, on the one hand, fair natures such as Horatio's, and, on the other hand, personalities with a dichotomic-antonymical behavior which is unavoidable when it comes to intrigues that have brought Polonius, for instance, to the high position of counselor. Advice such as he gives Reynaldo, to spy on his own blood-relative Laertes, the meditation-prone Prince must have heard or guessed many times: "LORD POLONIUS: [.] and finding by this encompassment and drift of question that they do know my son [he refers to other Danes in Paris] , come you more nearer than your particular demands will touch it. Take you, as 'twere, some distant knowledge of him; as thus, 'I know his father and his friends, and in part him." (Hamlet - Act II, Scene I) a.s.o. Polonius ends up by recommending his method of slyness devoted to learning the truth. In modern times, this is called "challenging": he puts down all sorts of wrong-doings to his son, hoping to learn about the true ones. Such approaches did not yet embarrass Hamlet: they were the customary political tools of his age. He despised them perhaps, as a scholar, but they did not concern him in any way. When he sees that the persons closest to him live by the same standards, however, his inner balance is shattered. Shattered, yes, but not broken. Obviously, he cannot go on with his life as he has so far, for the world around him is no longer the same (as it used to be reflected by his conscience, anyway). The individuals cannot remain unconcerned with society. Whenever they feel different from it, they make their best to fit in. Alienation from society leads to self-alienation, since personality is, to a great extent, a social product. Self-alienation leads to alienation. What if society (the social group, in this case) estranges itself from its own essence? The individuals substantiate their connection with society by doing their best to set it again on its proper course. This is the case of all genuine heroes, martyrs, artists, thinkers, and scientists. But one cannot act as a stimulus of such a vital resetting when society feels one is a stranger to it. One should borrow its image and behavior. However, in Hamlet's mind, there is something going on that cannot be overlooked. The image and behavior of those around him are marked, in his eyes, with the stamp of madness because he feels that a consistent dichotomic-antonymical thinking (that is, a counterfactual one) would drive him, at least, to madness. And he reckons: the others are not different from me or, if you like, I am not different from the others; hence, if such a behavior that would make me conceal my true nature
would also drive me to madness, it would drive them as well; it follows that, to be like them, I have to pretend to be mad, in order to summon everybody back from this unanimous madness to humanity's normal way of thinking. This is the remote purpose, the reformer's purpose. It can be recognized in the bitterness of the famous meditation: "HAMLET: [.] So, oft it chances in particular men, that for some vicious mole of nature in them, as, in their birth - wherein they are not guilty, since nature cannot choose his origin - by the o'ergrowth of some complexion [.] , that these men, carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect, being nature's livery, or fortune's star - their virtues else be they as pure as grace, as infinite as man may undergo - shall in the general censure take corruption from that particular fault. " ( Hamlet - Act I, Scene IV). From this passage we may infer the situation of the individual who alienates himself from society because he remains either in his natural or in his exceptional state of being. And the no less famous observation: "HAMLET: [.] The time is out of joint; o cursed spite that ever I was born to set it right!" (Hamlet - Act I, Scene V) gives a verdict on the moment experienced by Hamlet's contemporary society. Upon corroborating his remark with Montaigne's aphorism saying that "Things taken off the hinges of habit seem to have been taken off the hinges of judgment, too", we reach the conclusion that Hamlet needs madness in order to be accepted by his contemporary society "taken off hinges". But Hamlet has another purpose as well: to check the truth concealed by the words of the ghost. He looks for proof, so he puts on the mask of madness, in accordance with the advice Polonius gives to the spy Reynaldo: he pretends not to know reality so he may know it better. We have covered this experiment elsewhere. Doctor Alexandru Olaru, from whom we have quoted before, expresses an original point of view in this respect: "No one has made use, the Shakespeare has in his work, of such procedures of psycho-therapy as psycho-drama and socio-drama. Whoever intends to master them has to address incessantly Shakespeare the psycho-therapist", whom he later calls "an infallible psychiatrist" (p. 363). Referring to the said techniques initiated by "the American psychiatrist of Romanian origin J.L. Moreno" (p. 342), the shakespearologist doctor discovers them applied in detail in every play-within-play scene, in fragments of plays and, in certain cases, in entire plays. There is no place here to repeat Dr. Olaru's convincing analyses that the reader may find in his book Shakespeare and Dramatic Psychiatry , but, given what has been discussed so far, we find it necessary to add the opinion he voices in connection with the scene we are concerned with: "It is a psycho-drama that, beside his (that is, Hamlet's) inferring of the factual truth, frees him of psychic tension, strengthens his delirious conviction and thus brings him to a sort of euphoria-dominated catharsis. Does the madness of the Danish crown-prince bear no more significance in the play? Discussing the writings of Lewinter and Groddeck, the French thinker Roland Jaccard pointed out that the disease, in the case of a great many patients (who are "proud" of it) is "a creation, like a work of art, more often than not the only one the individual proves capable of in his alienation". Another couple of authors inform us that psychoanalysis and psychosomatics manipulate the concept of "withdrawal into the disease": "Does the very fact of recognizing the efficiency of psychotherapy not mean, implicitly, that we admit a 'psychogenesis' of the disease? - they wonder, then add: "In those sectors of pathology dealing with conflicts and complex psychic adjustment to a complex environment, the disease acquires - up to a point - the features of a historical fact and leaves behind the features of a natural, recurring, and reproducible fact. Sahleanu and Popescu-Sibiu quote the following authors as supporting these opinions: P. Cristian, V.V. Gebsattel, R. Siebeck, A.
Mitscherlich, R.S. Lazarus, and G.L. Engel. Stress is the word of the day: it weakens the body's capacity to defend itself, but it can also represent a method of escaping a hopeless situation, it can be a reaction of hostility towards the environment, of seeking affection, of proving one's manhood through suffering, of avoiding effort a.s.o. Indeed, in the light of these results of contemporary medicine and psychology, for Hamlet, who is being denied the love of his relatives by their deceitful behavior (which means he is being denied the certainty of survival, given the political rivalry opposing him to Claudius), the choice of pseudomadness is not only a way of adjusting to society, not only a mask useful in discovering the truth, but a last resort whence he may state his freedom. He now depends entirely on the King, his uncle. He wants to return to the university, but is not allowed (unlike Laertes who receives permission to leave for France); he is being ordered to leave for England, which he must do. Hamlet seems to have become a puppet stringed by Claudius, so he finds a solution to avoid acting the way his strings are being pulled. He chooses freedom under the mask of madness. Doctor Sri Swami Sivananda, founder of the Indian ashram of Rikhikesh, claimed that the persons who worry often find refuge in some imaginary disease when they meet with difficulties, that they suffer from migraines or their stomachs give them pain without cause, that they eventually go see a doctor who finds no objective disorder, that such persons may often recover if they become interested in life in general or in the living things around them in particular. Hamlet, for one, is overwhelmed by concerns. He does not go so far as to perversely call forth his own disease, as we may suspect King Lear or Don Quixote do, because they prove unable to adjust their new experiences to the old ones. But the disease he fakes certainly helps reduce some of his suffering and supplies a diversion to his burdened soul. The face of madness has another point, too: it helps Hamlet avoid another trap set before him by the sequence of events from his past, namely Ophelia's love for him. This love would definitely turn him into a slave of Polonius' counter-intelligence service. Marrying Ophelia or even making public his love for her would mean throwing himself willingly into the wolf's den. Because then talking to Polonius would no longer mean talking to a vassal, but listening to the father of his own beloved. As in the case of any permanent decision, Hamlet must free himself of any ballast that may keep him trapped by his former concerns, in order to create the necessary distance - that is, lucidity whence he intends to evaluate his mother and uncle. How can he detach himself of Ophelia's love (because, under the new conditions, she becomes an extra ballast)? He cannot blame her for anything: she is candid and disinterested in her love for him. Madness, however, would make him unfit and unworthy of her pure love. Hence, madness is the solution to regain his freedom. Each and every motivation above chooses madness as a unique provider of freedom. Since we have mentioned the word "trap", let us stress the role of this image in the tragedy. A "trap" is a situational dichotomic-antonymical structure. It can be an object as well as a situation conceived in such a way as to either attract the presumable victim, or to feign indifference to it, while its other aspect represents a threat to the victim's life or freedom. It is, obviously, on the fiercest concoctions of dichotomic-antonymical thinking. There are traps of many sorts. In this here play, Shakespeare refers to the mouse-trap: " KING CLAUDIUS: What do you call the play? - HAMLET: The Mouse-trap. “(Hamlet - Act III, Scene II), because Hamlet is disgusted with the world that
surrounds him, as if it were a world of mice. And because he hopes that the play-within-play may help him catch the big mouse whose deeds have made the kingdom of Denmark all but collapse - it does that in the last scene, when Fortinbras takes the power in his hands - just like the other, lesser mice around him have gnawed at the very foundations of Danish honor and dignity. Let us analyze the text. The play begins with a hint: "BERNARDO: Have you had quiet guard? FRANCISCO: Not a mouse stirring " ( Hamlet - Act I, Scene I). There is absolute peace in the kingdom. These cues are exchanged on the terrace of one of the watch-towers. So down there, inside the castle, no mouse has stirred. There is peace in a mouse-trap as long as it does not function, that is, as long as no mouse stirs. The castle itself is a huge mouse-trap. As the reader remembers, the Ghost of Hamlet's father is soon apprehended with the words "old mole", because the former king himself had fallen into the trap. When he identifies his fate with his father's, Hamlet also gets caught in one: "HAMLET: [.] .to me it [Denmark] is a prison " ( Hamlet - Act II, Scene II). In the end of the same scene, while setting the trap in which he, too, means to catch Claudius, the Prince explains: " .the play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king". In the monologue in which he ponders over suicide, the object of his fear is death's trap, that may also come in the guise of sleep: "HAMLET: [.] To die, to sleep; to sleep: perchance to dream. “(Hamlet - Act III, Scene I). In the following scene, he feels oppressed again by the danger of the trap, after having been turned, like his father before him, into a mouse by a world of mice: " HAMLET: [.] Were you not sent for? [.] You were sent for; and there is a kind of confession in your looks. I know the good king and queen have sent for you" (Hamlet - Act II, Scene II), he tells Guildenstern and Rosenkrantz. The behavioral and situational antonymical dychotomy is crystal-clear: the mice are being hunted, the mice themselves hunt. There are traps set for Hamlet, but he himself sets traps. Claudius sets traps, but there are also traps set for him and he is the first to fall victim of the trap set by his adversary. The Prince rejoices, for he is summoned by his mother. He goes up. They have an embarrassing conversation. The Queen exclaims: "QUEEN GERTRUDE: What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me? Help, help, ho! “(Hamlet - Act III, Scene IV). The curtain in the royal bedroom moves, so Hamlet imagines Claudius is hiding behind it. If Francisco were there in his stead, he would shout: "A mouse has stirred!" The movement of that mouse blows up the peace of the realm. The conflict that has been smoldering since the beginning of the play now breaks loose. Polonius - for he was the one hiding - panics: "LORD POLONIUS: [Behind] What, ho! help, help, help! “(ibidem). And Hamlet the revenger triumphs. He draws his sword, dashes upon the velvet folds that let somebody be guessed behind them, and cries out his victory: "HAMLET: [Drawing] How now! a rat?. “(ibidem). He thought it was the great rat, the head, the new Cain. The tension of the murder is difficult to appease. Hamlet's mind is still seething. When he addresses Gertrude, he comes back to the key-word: "HAMLET: [.] Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed; pinch wanton on your cheek; call you his mouse." (ibidem). A "mouse", then; and further on: "HAMLET: [.] For who, that's but a queen, fair, sober, wise, would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib, such dear concernings hide?" (ibidem). In one and the same cue, the King is being named both "bat" and "gib" - that is, an old male-cat. Only a while before, Hamlet felt he was the male-cat chasing mice, now he feels again he is the hunted mouse himself: "HAMLET: I must to England; you know that? - QUEEN GERTRUDE: Alack, I had forgot: 'tis so concluded on. - HAMLET: There's letters seal'd: and my two schoolfellows, whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd, they bear the mandate; they must sweep my way, and marshal me to knavery.“(ibidem). But, in his turn, Claudius the "gib" is bound to feel a "rat" again: QUEEN GERTRUDE: [.] .in his lawless fit, behind the arras hearing something stir, whips out his rapier, cries, 'A rat, a rat!' and, in this brainish apprehension, kills the
unseen good old man. - KING CLAUDIUS: O heavy deed! It had been so with us, had we been there. " ( Hamlet - Act IV, Scene I). So Hamlet sets the trap of his play-within-play for Claudius, who sets for Hamlet the trap of leaving for England, that the latter turns into a trap for his deathbearing travel companions, so it is again Claudius' turn to set for Hamlet one last trap, devised in complicity with Laertes: the poison sword and cup. During the fight, however, after he wounds the Prince, Laertes is himself wounded by the same weapon that eventually stabs even King Claudius. The son of Polonius admits, when asked by Osric: "OSRIC: How is't, Laertes? - LAERTES: Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric; I am justly kill'd with mine own treachery " ( Hamlet Act V, Scene II). As a conclusion of the whole tragedy, Horatio summarizes the despicable traps in which the concocters themselves were caught by telling Fortinbras and the English ambassadors: "HORATIO: [.] .in this upshot, purposes mistook fall'n on the inventors' heads." (ibidem). While Horatio naturally fears that the ghost might affect the Prince's judgment: "HORATIO: What if it might deprive your sovereignty of reason and draw you into madness?" (Hamlet - Act I, Scene IV), Hamlet is ready and willing to tread on the slippery turf of a well-defined psychological programming: "HAMLET: [.] Remember thee! Yea, from the table of my memory I'll wipe away all trivial fond records, all saws of books, all forms, all pressures past, that youth and observation copied there; and thy commandment all alone shall live within the book and volume of my brain. " ( Hamlet - Act I, Scene V). But his henceforth dominant feature has grown deep roots in his conscience, so he presently plans his madness-to-be: "HAMLET: [.] Here, as before, never, so help you mercy, how strange or odd soe'er I bear myself, as I perchance hereafter shall think meet swear" (ibidem). So there is no doubt that his madness, far from being genuine, is a metaphorical dichotomic-antonymical behaviour, well-known to the world surrounding him and bound to help him stick to his unmasking plan all the way. Hamlet manages to prove his own madness consciously and willingly, and also to avoid its trap that he has feared so much, as if it meant his own death. William Hazlitt, op.cit. (excerpt taken from www.library.utoronto.ca ). Michel de Montaigne, op.cit. , I, 23, p. 107. Alexandru Olaru, op.cit. , p. 362. Roland Jaccard, "Georg Groddeck: la voie royale de la maladie", in Le Monde , December 6 th , 1974 . Victor Sahleanu, Ion Popescu-Sibiu, Introducere critica la psihanaliza (A Critical Introduction to Psychoanalysis ), Cluj-Napoca, Dacia Publishing House, 1972, pp. 282-283. Sri Swami Sivananda, "Comment vaincre les soucis", in Yoga , Bruxelles, 2 nd year, February 15 th, 1965.
The Sword of Peace
"BENVOLIO: Part, fools! Put up your swords; you know not what you do " ( Romeo and Juliet Act I, Scene I), cries the young sage Benvolio, trying to separate a handful of the Capulets' servants who, mimicking their masters and eager to earn their good will, have charged, like a pack of ironteethed hounds, another handful, of the Montagues' ones. So much dirt has been stirred in the street that one cannot see one's own feet, and the brawlers' shoutings are so loud as to affect one's hearing for a month. The truth is no sparks jump from their lethal blades, nor does any blood gush from their wounds. Maybe here and there some button loosely sewn falls off or some handcuff stitch ends up torn. The newly-arrived does not actually fear anyone may get as much as a scratch. But he knows that this "rivalry" game can turn in no time, before one can cry "fire", into a life-and-death fight between their masters, the true sword-happy rascals who have a history of corpses behind them, who have slain the cream of the city youths in the name of a vendetta whose origin has been all but forgotten, although it still terrifies the other burgh-people's nights. So Benvolio draws his sword to scare the troublemakers away. At that very moment, Tybalt happens to pass by, a nephew of the foe-family, an adolescent whose mind does not transcend the blade of his sword, with boiling blood, devoured by who-knows-what physiological nightmares that have marked his bony cheeks with swelling ulcerations, one who hates all living things, all beauty, and all freedom, the most hideous of them all. Tybalt mistakes his honor for the only thing he has learned abroad: the right of the faster and mightier to kill anyone for anything, anywhere, at any time. Simple-minded, as usual, he hastens to spit out his coarseness, grinds a perfunctory question between his teeth, then threatens: "TYBALT: What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds? Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death" (ibidem). Benvolio is unable to comprehend angry men such as Tybalt. As any decent human being, he thinks it is everybody's duty to intervene in the name of peace. Hence, he calls on his unexpected rival to join him in trying to separate the howling packs: "BENVOLIO: I do but keep the peace: put up thy sword, or manage it to part these men with me" (ibidem). His opponent growls, insensitive to reason. He is obsessed with accusing everybody else; as all the likes of him, he needs to find someone to blame, so he may warm up his blade in that someone's belly. Born to be the advocate of death, only his hot-headedness and disregard for discipline have prevented him from becoming a legal whip. We know only too well, from many other plays, the weathercock-type who pretends not to hear the arguments of common sense and the voice of truth, who relentlessly accuses his fellow-men of being liars and sons of liars, of being immoral, decomposed, parasitical, implying that he himself is the son of justice and the only one who deserves to enjoy the light of day. Unless one complies with his command, he is always ready to enforce it with his fists. Hence, Tybalt says: "TYBALT: What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word." (ibidem). How simple and beastly is the mechanism of his thinking: "Reality does not suit me? I call it a lie and turn it upside down!" Reality, however, means people. "Well - claim the delirious Tybalts -, then we skin it off and turn it inside out as it suits us." How nice it would be if the others at least, the victims, were upright men. But this does not happen in the world Shakespeare guides us into. The same Benvolio, the peace-maker, the just and honest Benvolio dances according to a tune we know only too well; it is the same tune Polonius, Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern went by when they imitated art; it is the theme of the spy employed by the mightiest. Romeo is sad, his father - worried. "BENVOLIO: My noble uncle, do you know the cause?" (ibidem) inquires the nephew. The other waves his hand vaguely, as if saying: "There are so many causes. These youngsters." Benvolio urges him with
a question, almost as skillfully as a expert: "BENVOLIO: Have you importuned him by any means?" (ibidem). He has. How could he not? He has tried every possible way. Montague knows how to raise his son. But Romeo is very much to be blamed, in his father's eyes (just like Hamlet). His father accuses him of not trusting any other counselor, except himself, that he is " so secret and so close " ( ibidem ). Worse even, Romeo is frightened. How could he not be? He lives in a world of hatred. To whom is he going to unburden his soul if his own father is one of the two blood-thirsty tyrants of the world he lives in, the head of a faction determined to win irrespective of the city's fate and life. Benvolio cannot forget that his own material status depends on this faction head. Upon seeing his cousin approach, he pleads: "BENVOLIO: See, where he comes: so please you, step aside; I'll know his grievance, or be much denied " (ibidem). How could the playwright not analyze this dichotomic-antonymical behavior, if he stumbles against it everywhere? Even the most delicate feelings become a doublefold chaos in Romeo's own words: "ROMEO: [.] Here's much to do with hate, but more with love. Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate! O any thing, of nothing first create! O heavy lightness! serious vanity! Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms! Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health! Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is! This love feel I, that feel no love in this. Dost thou not laugh? - BENVOLIO: No, coz, I rather weep. [.] - ROMEO: Why, such is love's transgression. Griefs of mine own lie heavy in my breast, which thou wilt propagate, to have it prest with more of thine: this love that thou hast shown doth add more grief to too much of mine own. Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs; being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes; being vex'd a sea nourish'd with lovers' tears. What is it else? A madness most discreet, a choking gall and a preserving sweet. " ( ibidem ). Any comment is superfluous. All we want to stress is the essential definition offered here: one is and is not - this is love. Because he is in love, Romeo reaches this conclusion: "ROMEO: I have lost myself; I am not here; this is not Romeo, he's some other where " ( ibidem ). No wonder, then, that he is not himself, when love is not love and his beloved is not herself: "ROMEO: [.] she is rich in beauty, only poor." (ibidem). When he becomes aware of the above-mentioned contradictions, Romeo suffers, he is confused. Benvolio, who is more experienced, suggests that contradiction may itself be used, as a means, to overcome suffering. They are both right, because the feelings of each are in accordance with his specific nature. So this is Benvolio's solution: "ROMEO: [.] Turn giddy, and be holp by backward turning." (Romeo and Juliet - Act I, Scene II). He thus presents the young dreamer in love with a motivation that should suffice him for trying to redirect his love towards someone else. The jolly gang of Romeo's friends and relatives try their fortune blindly. They rush head on towards the Capulets' masked ball, where Romeo is about to meet his lady Juliet. She is the first to grasp the burden of their parents' politics. After the ball, she hurriedly dispatches her nurse to find out the identity of the handsome stranger. When the old woman exits, Juliet words without respite the genuine abyss that her destiny has placed before her: "JULIET: Go ask his name if he be married. My grave is like to be my wedding bed" (Romeo and Juliet - Act I, Scene V). She has, however, misunderstood the disaster secretly awaiting her, that her nurse's answer throws the becoming light upon: "
Nurse: His name is Romeo, and a Montague; the only son of your great enemy. JULIET: My only love sprung from my only hate! Too early seen unknown, and known too late! Prodigious birth of love it is to me, that I must love a loathed enemy" (ibidem). The Prologue of Act II defines the situation as clearly as daylight: "CHORUS: Now Romeo is beloved and loves again [.] Being held a foe, he may not have access to breathe such vows as lovers use to swear“ (Romeo and Juliet - Act II, Prologue). Juliet torments herself in trying to solve the situation, to find a way for their pursuit of happiness, and resorts to her female, wide-awake practical spirit when analyzing the hopeless confusion in which the two of them have got entangled. She finally foresees a loop hole, but it is an impossible deadlock: "JULIET: O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name; or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I'll no longer be a Capulet" (Romeo and Juliet - Act II, Scene II). Whatever he may do, Romeo will never be recognized by society except as his parents' son. Moreover, he is not the man who would deny an older love and former duties for the sake of others more recent; it is like trying to determine a coin to give up its head for the sake of its tail, or the other way round, and still remain a coin. Such a dichotomic-antonymical situation goes beyond the classical concept of conflict (which can be appeased), into the realm of logical impossibilities that are not, however, less typically human or less frequent sources of tragedies known well enough to mankind, even if faded into anonymity. We refer here to the love stories between a man and a woman belonging to two different worlds (opposed socially, economically, culturally, ethnically, or religiously), or the status of their children - that hopeless cancer of the morals of older times, that persist in the obsolete ways of the modern ones and have been so honestly and impartially fought against by the Romanian philosopher of culture P.P. Negulescu. Striving to escape from this trap is tantamount to stepping out of life itself. Even Juliet, who complains about the furnace of this feud, in which her soul burns alive, has manifestations and feelings shaped according to the same pattern: "JULIET: [.] I should kill thee with much cherishing." (ibidem). Oscar Wilde took over and developed such outbursts in the Ballad of Reading Gaol . Finally, to make us well aware that this particular play does not submit to our attention the individual dichotomic-antonymical thinking, its behavioral patterns, and the situations it engenders, but a whole dichotomic-antonymical view of the world, Laurence, the hermit, meditates upon life in this sense: "FRIAR LAURENCE: [.] The earth that's nature's mother is her tomb; what is her burying grave that is her womb. [.] For nought so vile that on the earth doth live but to the earth some special good doth give, nor aught so good but strain'd from that fair use revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse. Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied; and vice sometimes by action dignified. Within the infant rind of this small flower poison hath residence and medicine power. For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part; being tasted, slays all senses with the heart." (Romeo and Juliet - Act II, Scene III). He adds other variations on the same theme on the occasion of the young couple's wedding: "FRIAR LAURENCE: These violent delights have violent ends and in their triumph die, like fire and powder, which as they kiss consume: the sweetest honey is loathsome in his own deliciousness and in the taste confounds the appetite. Therefore love moderately; long love doth so; too swift arrives as tardy as too slow" (Romeo and Juliet - Act II, Scene VI). From his definition we may infer not only the outlook of a naturalist and observer (this is the most well-balanced
character in all of Shakespeare's plays), but also the natural circumstances in which the flower of Romeo and Juliet's love is about to grow. Juliet herself asks to hear a lie from the nurse she has dispatched as a messenger to Romeo, for fear the old woman might lie anyway, since her parents and the manners of the "highlife" she has been raised in have accustomed her to concealing the truth: "JULIET: Now, good sweet nurse. O Lord, why look'st thou sad? Though news be sad, yet tell them merrily; if good, thou shamest the music of sweet news by playing it to me with so sour a face" (Romeo and Juliet - Act II, Scene V). Even Tybalt, the ruffian, when trying to show a sense of humor, discovers his own capacity of talking along the same lines: "TYBALT: Romeo, the hate I bear thee can afford no better term than this - thou art a villain " (Romeo and Juliet - Act III, Scene I). He does not even realize where he stands or how appropriately he pinpoints the general atmosphere of the events. Romeo is the one who stresses their tragicality: "ROMEO: [.] my reputation stain'd with Tybalt's slander - Tybalt, that an hour hath been my kinsman!" (ibidem). Tybalt's death gives way, rolling out through his gracious cousin's lips, to an avalanche of structures similar to the ones we seek: "JULIET: O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face! Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave? Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical! Dove-feather'd raven! wolvish-ravening lamb! Despised substance of divinest show! Just opposite to what thou justly seem'st, a damned saint, an honorable villain! O nature, what hadst thou to do in hell, when thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend in moral paradise of such sweet flesh? Was ever book containing such vile matter so fairly bound? O that deceit should dwell in such a gorgeous palace!" (Romeo and Juliet - Act III, Scene II). But her anger (her angry love) dissipates, so she exclaims: "JULIET: [.] But I, a maid, die maiden-widowed." (ibidem). Even the way Romeo faces the imminent disaster is considered to be a double-faced behavior. Friar Laurence treats him harshly, in order to prevent a worse wrong-doing: "FRIAR LAURENCE: Hold thy desperate hand. Art thou a man? Thy form cries out thou art. Thy tears are womanish; thy wild acts denote the unreasonable fury of a beast. Unseemly woman in a seeming man! Or ill-beseeming beast in seeming both! Thou hast amazed me." (Romeo and Juliet - Act III, Scene III). Juliet dreams of a fairy-tale wedding. Her parents dream, too, of a fairy-tale wedding and almost push their daughter, without her or themselves being aware, into bigamy. The keyimage of the play is supplied by Capulet, who refers to the precise time of night when he talks to Paris about the wedding: "CAPULET: [.] it is so very, very late, that we may call it early." (Romeo and Juliet - Act III, Scene IV). His words express the essence of his daughter's marital status, of the link (or rupture) between the two opposing families, of the life and death of the young couple, of all the existences to be found in the tragedy. When talking to her mother, Juliet sets straight all these meanings: "JULIET: [.] I will not marry yet." (Romeo and Juliet Act III, Scene V), although she is actually married, body and soul. While her father speaks the words above, the two young lovers express the very same thing: "JULIET: Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day: it was the nightingale, and not the lark." (ibidem); then: "JULIET: It is, it is: hie hence, be gone, away! It is the lark that sings so out of tune." (ibidem). Not even their love manages to sprout from the midst of so much deadly hatred, so it may be said that its time
has not yet come. The couple breathe the very air of contradiction: "JULIET: O, now be gone; more light and light it grows. - ROMEO: More light and light; more dark and dark our woes!" (ibidem). They have already begun to feel like some living dead; Friar Laurence, deeply moved, grieves over Juliet's hypostasis: "FRIAR LAURENCE: Poor living corpse, closed in a dead man's tomb!" (Romeo and Juliet - Act V, Scene II). Soon, after having slain Paris, Romeo utters similar statements about himself: "ROMEO [.] Death, lie thou there, by a dead man interr'd" (Romeo and Juliet - Act V, Scene III). Friar Laurence is the one who levels antonymical dychotomy up to the essence of the structure of life; he is the one again who speaks on behalf of humanity, like an ancient chorus, before the last judgment: "FRIAR LAURENCE: [.] And here I stand, both to impeach and purge myself condemned and myself excused" (ibidem). He thus brings before the judgment of culture the society of passionate rivalries whose implied witness he has been. The love between Romeo and Juliet brings the hatred and bloodsheds to an end. It makes the swords remain in their sheaths, the invectives stick to the lips, it calls for fraternization over the corpses of so many innocent relatives, for the denial of the past torn by vendettas, for the ordaining of universal friendship. The two lovers can see the dazzling light of love in the depths of their souls, but it cannot actually hide out the numberless worthy youths, relatives and friends of both of them, lying in pools of blood; they can also hear their fathers utter tremendous fighting cries, their mothers and aunts mourn bitterly, the servants cursing their fates. Romeo and Juliet's love is a monument because it goes hand in hand with their desire of peace, expressing the secret hope of all the poor bastards drawn into those fierce confrontations; the very beings of Romeo and Juliet turn into pawns of the peace to come. We readers admire the two shakespearean characters precisely for the ideal they represent.
King Lear offers the opportunity to notice the passage from a simple dichotomical structure to a dichotomic-antonymical one. Let us recall that dichotomy is a process of "dividing certain stems into bifurcated branches". This definition perfectly matches the statements from the two first cues of the tragedy: " KENT : I thought the king had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall . - GLOUCESTER: It did always seem so to us: but now, in the division of the kingdom, it appears not which of the dukes he values most; for equalities are so weighed, that curiosity in neither can make choice of either's moiety" (King Lear - Act I, Scene I). Let us also point out that, although the kingdom should be divided into three - and so it is intended to be -, when the curtain is raised, all we learn about is a bifurcation of power. The third cue introduces the second simple dichotomy of the play, that also goes all the way to the end, alongside the main plot, like an echo and, at times, like a herald of it: "KENT: Is not this your son, my lord? - GLOUCESTER : His breeding, sir, hath been at my charge. [.] But I have, sir, a son by order of law, some year elder than this, who yet is no dearer in my account" (ibidem). That is to say that Gloucester has two sons he loves as much - one born out of, the other after wedlock. It is due to this very similitude (the
double-fruited love) that the author has Gloucester and his son Edmund dispatched to welcome the King of France and the Duke of Burgundy, equal suitors (for the time being) of the love of the youngest daughter, Cordelia. The tragedy progresses in stages. The realm of England is hence divided into two, but in two different ways, as shown: on the one hand, between Albany and Cornwall; on the other hand, given the new circumstances, between Cordelia and the pair Regan-Goneril, her sisters. Consequently, there comes a moment when Cordelia, too, announces the simple dichotomy that her marriage is bound to produce: "CORDELIA: [.] Haply, when I shall wed, that lord whose hand must take my plight shall carry half my love with him, half my care and duty." (ibidem). Once this expository part concluded, the simple dichotomies blow up one by one, turning into antonymical dichotomies; in other words, an antagonism occurs between the two branches of the bifurcation. Such antagonisms within unities overflow the stage and suffocate the kingdom of England . Let us check out the subtle differentiation that occurs between the two older, most beloved sisters. Goneril loves her father Lear: "GONERIL: [.] Beyond all manner of so much." (ibidem); then, it is Regan's turn to speak: "REGAN: [.] I am made of the self-same metal that my sister is, and prize me at her worth. In my true heart I find she names my very deed of love; only she comes too short." (ibidem). We know only too well that this "only she comes too short" is bound to place the two sisters (one as like the other as two peas) on opposite stands. The dichotomic-antonymical structure arising can be worded like this: I love father as you do and unlike you. The bifurcated unity of France and Burgundy becomes antonymical in the words of the old King: "KING LEAR: [.] The vines of France and milk of Burgundy . " ( ibidem ). The King of France clarifies the dichotomic-antonymical situation hovering like an unknown poison in the throne hall: he addresses his rival suggesting that he is too much tempted by the princess' dowry and too little by her noble being: "KING OF FRANCE: [.] Love's not love." (ibidem). Cordelia follows in his steps and reveals her sisters' attitude: "CORDELIA: [.] I know you what you are. [.] Time shall unfold what plaited cunning hides." (ibidem). She actually accuses the two faces they juggle with, that is, their use of masks that conceal the truth. The time has come for a new outburst - that of the simple dichotomy represented by the inheritance: "GONERIL: [.] If our father carry authority with such dispositions as he bears, this last surrender of his will but offend us " (ibidem). In no other shakespearian tragedy does the unitary world evolve so gradually towards a dichotomic-antonymical one. We first witness the bifurcation of the unity, then the two resulting aspects become antonymical, without, however, separating (which would make them elements on an antithesis): they remain two simultaneously opposed aspects of one and the same identity. This last process can be best observed in the presentation of the basic situational dichotomic-antonymical structure, which is an element of the play architecture: "KING LEAR: [.] Here I disclaim all my paternal care, propinquity and property of blood, and as a stranger to my heart and me hold thee, from this, for ever.
"(ibidem); Goneril takes the motif further by explaining its other aspect: "GONERIL: [.] he always loved our sister most." (ibidem). It is obvious that Lear stands for both a father and an enemy. Three scenes later, the Fool reveals the other aspect of this structure: "FOOL: [.] why, this fellow has banished two on's daughters, and did the third a blessing against his will." (King Lear - Act I, Scene IV). Even the frail connection still existing between the retired King and the newly-appointed mistresses of England, Regan and Goneril, is being undermined by the same logical impossibility. Cornwall gives his messenger the following answer: " CORNWALL : [.] .he cannot flatter, he, an honest mind and plain, he must speak truth! An they will take it, so; if not, he's plain. These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness harbour more craft and more corrupter ends than twenty silly ducking observants." (King Lear - Act II, Scene II). We remember that one of the simple dichotomies we have come across was represented by the bifurcated unity between Albany and Cornwall . From the quotation above, we may see Cornwall evolving towards a lack of principle. Here is Albany 's new image now, that dichotomizes the inheritance antonymically. It is most interesting that the very terms of the portrait present a double-faced man. And yet, it is not the truth: the terms in which the portrait is being drawn are due to the fact that its author - namely the adventurous Oswald - reflects his own personality in it: "OSWALD: [.] but never man so changed. I told him of the army that was landed: he smiled at it; I told him you were coming: his answer was 'The worse'; of Gloucester's treachery, and of the loyal service of his son, when I inform'd him, then he call'd me sot, and told me I had turn'd the wrong side out. What most he should dislike seems pleasant to him; what like, offensive" (King Lear - Act IV, Scene II). Without further insisting on other tedious details, let us only say that the novelty brought about by the analysis of King Lear, compared to the earlier ones, is the possibility that whatever is being defined today as parity between two parts divided from one common body should prove tomorrow to be an inner antithetical disparity, the possibility of equality to mean inequality as well, the possibility that a fair distribution should contain the seed of genuine unfairness. In Lear's case, the origin of dichotomic-antonymical thinking resides in a confusion. The old King makes a comment on Cordelia's statement: "KING LEAR: So young, and so untender?" (King Lear - Act I, Scene I). But, while saying the word "young", he thinks: whatever is young is good; hence, he means "so good and yet so bad". So, by uttering this sentence, he defines his own daughter through a dichotomic-antonymical structure - her of all people, who is just the type of person she claims to be: "CORDELIA: So young, my lord, and true" (ibidem). Such a mislabeling is due, on the one hand, to his hesitation between the rational and the emotional levels and, on the other hand, to his incapacity to tell a lie from truth. At an even deeper level, what might be the underlining motivation of this unstable complex of the King's judgment, unless it is the dichotomic-antonymical thinking he always carries within himself, as a resilient disturber of his sane judgment? He does not experience the dichotomic-antonymical situation in the same way as Edmund does. The latter infers and induces it to his own advantage, coldly, building up a two-
sided world so he may better sneak in between them towards his despicable political purpose, so much like Iago's; does he not tell his brother: "EDMUND: .I am no honest man if there be any good meaning towards you. " ( King Lear - Act I, Scene II), just like that other maniac of power who manages to destroy the Moor while crying out and loud to whomever stops to listen to him that he is honest? The social circumstances in which Edmund displays his dichotomic-antonymical behaviour are these: "EDMUND: A credulous father! And a brother noble, whose nature is so far from doing harms, that he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty my practices ride easy!" (ibidem). The first suggestion pertaining to dichotomic-antonymical thinking that Edmund makes to his father is apparently harmless and has to do with language. He holds the fabricated epistle and waves it in Gloucester 's face: "EDMUND: I shall offend, either to detain or give it." (ibidem). So his technique is to have the victim's mind accustomed to the possible existence of a dichotomic-antonymical behavior. To this end, he lets the above-mentioned figure of speech slip, as if by chance, into the logical sequence of the talk. Now that Gloucester has been unknowingly initiated to it, Edmund makes the following step: "EDMUND: I hope, for my brother's justification, he wrote this but as an essay or taste of my virtue" (ibidem). As one may see, he accuses Edgar of deceitfulness, but does so in a favorable context, because the nightshade tastes badly and his father's palate has not yet grown accustomed to it. What we obviously deal with here is a concealing of its own deceitfulness. The lesson is an elementary one: charge your victim with your own sins and you will be considered virtuous. One of the cleverest concoctions of dichotomic-antonymical thinking is the theory of chainspying, analyzed in connection with Montaigne's essays. Let us now see how it works in this tragedy: "EDMUND: If your honor judge it meet, I will place you where you shall hear us confer of this, and by an auricular assurance have your satisfaction." (King Lear - Act I, Scene II). So Edmund acts as a provoker to spy on Edgar and Gloucester spies on both of them. The gullible father has no way of knowing, unfortunately, the passage in Montaigne's Essays that says: "The one for whom you betray another while being of use to him as much as you used to be to that other, does he not know that you are bound to do the same to him? [.] For the twofaced men may be useful for what they bring you, but you must make sure that they take away from you as little as possible". Indeed, Edmund first puts on a behavioral mask - "EDMUND: [.] my cue is villainous melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o' Bedlam." (ibidem) -, then meets his brother with the very same proposition: "EDMUND: [.] I will fitly bring you to hear my lord speak." (ibidem), that is, he suggests that he should spy on Gloucester as a provoker and Edgar should spy on the both of them. The twofold dichotomic-antonymical aspect of this spying situation cannot go unnoticed. In Othello, the Provoker (Iago) talks to Victim no. 2 (Cassio). They are being spied upon by Victim no. 1 (Othello). The Provoker is the brain of the whole action. In Hamlet, in the play-within-play, Victim no. 1 (Hamlet), who is both Provoker and brain of the action, spies on Victim no. 2 (Claudius); in the scene of the dialogue between Hamlet and Ophelia, Polonius is the Provoker and brain of the action spying on Victim no. 1 in complicity with Victim no. 2.
The purpose of dichotomic-antonymical thinking may be summarized as being the overthrowing of unanimously accepted values in favor of certain personal or group interests. This ideal can be achieved by spreading confusion as to what the unanimously accepted values are. Confusion may be spread through all the means used by dichotomic-antonymical thinking to tamper with reality. The means differ from one situation to another. In the case of the tragedy analyzed, the means is "parents should obey their children": "EDMUND: .I have heard him oft maintain it to be fit, that, sons at perfect age, and fathers declining, the father should be as ward to the son, and the son manage his revenue" (ibidem), says Edmund speaking of his brother but stating, in fact, his own ideal. Gloucester acknowledges that ideal through his own bitter observations: " GLOUCESTER : [.] there's son against father: the king falls from bias of nature; there's father against child. We have seen the best of our time: machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders, follow us disquietly to our graves." (ibidem). He thus rounds up the dichotomic-antonymical situation by providing its lacking reverse; moreover, he describes the outlook of a society dominated by the dichotomic-antonymical behavior. Goneril introduces that ideal into the main architectural structure, referring to her father Lear: "GONERIL: [.] Old fools are babes again; and must be used with cheques as flatteries - when they are seen abused." (King Lear - Act I, Scene III). This is the purpose the two sisters are actually after. Regan, too, contributes her own view: "REGAN: O, sir, you are old. Nature in you stands on the very verge of her confine: you should be ruled and led by some discretion that discerns your state better than you yourself." (King Lear - Act II, Scene IV). It is interesting to notice that not long after Shakespeare, in the second science-fiction novel in the history of world literature, produced across the Channel and entitled The Comic History of the States and Empires in the Moon and the Sun , Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655) undertakes a profound satire of the above-mentioned ideal, arguing that the parents' obeying of their children was a sort of day-dreaming widely spread at that time, that had produced a mass dichotomic-antonymical crisis and was still being ridiculed by the next generation of writers. Defining the ideals of dichotomic-antonymical thinking and noticing their reemergence is a first stage in the prevention of the dichotomic-antonymical crisis, be it an individual or a mass one. A man facing dichotomic-antonymical thinking is a man in a world of traps. He constantly runs the risk of either falling a victim to it or being contaminated by it. In the first scene of the tragedy, Kent notices the King's dichotomic-antonymical thinking, since he exclaims: " KENT: [.] Lear is mad majesty stoops to folly." (King Lear - Act I, Scene I) but is immediately contaminated and he, too, starts speaking of own and the same person by using two conflicting labels: " KENT: Royal Lear. What wilt thou do, old man?" (ibidem). As it seems, one cannot live in a dichotomic-antonymical world unless one takes up a likewise behavior (we have already discussed this in our comments on Hamlet's madness). This is why Kent decides to disguise himself: " KENT: If but as well I other accents borrow, that can my speech defuse, my good intent may carry through itself to that full issue for which I razed my likeness." (King Lear - Act I, Scene IV). And yet, when Lear meets him disguised and asks: "KING LEAR: What dost thou profess? What wouldst thou with us?" (ibidem), he readily answers, forgetting all about the role he plays: " KENT: I do profess to be no less than I seem." (ibidem).
All those surrounding the characters implied in such situations that are likely to be given two conflicting interpretations join in the game. For instance, among others: " Fool : I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are: they'll have me whipped for speaking true, thou'lt have me whipped for lying." (ibidem). Or, likewise, Albany, whose wife Goneril confesses that she does not blame him for his obliging kindness and politeness, but that they are not proof of intelligence (see Act I, Scene V). Precisely to avoid running such risks, a man who wants to survive and see his plans achieved ends up by defeating his own self and take on masks, no matter how his inner being tries to resist. We have witnessed Kent's torments; we remember Cornwall accusing him of deceitfulness; here he is trying to voice deceitful flatteries, but doing it so clumsily: "KENT: Sir, in good sooth, in sincere verity, under the allowance of your great aspect, whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire on flickering Phoebus' front. CORNWALL: What mean'st by this? - KENT: To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer." (King Lear - Act II, Scene II). This is not an attempt to assume a dichotomic-antonymical behaviour for the sake of its own redemption, but a useful means (the only way, in fact) of revealing the truth. In mathematics, such a method would be called reductio ad absurdum . The play's general richness of human characters also supplies an example of dichotomic-antonymical behavior meant to protect one's own person. For instance, Edgar cannot find the redemption of his life except by indulging in disguise and pretending to be mad. Society forces him to accept humiliation rather than flattery. He refuses to join the side of the deceitful. Even the low accompany him along the way of blood-stained dignity. The second servant is ready to rush into the arms of evil-doing, provided Regan and her husband remain on the side of good (see Act III, Scene VII). How could one not feel like losing one's mind?" GLOUCESTER: 'Tis the times' plague, when madmen lead the blind." (King Lear - Act IV, Scene I): parents forget about their natural love for the children who have come out of their own entrails; children forget about theirs for their parents; brothers end up by hating each other, wives by wishing their husbands' death. All love is being desecrated. In this tragedy, in which all the elements combine into a flawless use of all the forms generated by dichotomic-antonymical thinking, the need is felt to have a proof of its creator's awareness as to this method of acquiring knowledge. Indeed, the required proof meets us halfway. We come across an artificial dichotomic-antonymical structure - a linguistic structure, to be more precise - containing both the notion it stands for and its denial in one and the same word. Shakespeare coins the word nuncle ( n + uncle ) that we have analyzed earlier in this essay. This both artificial and, more than any other, deliberate dichotomic-antonymical structure entitles us to state that the analyses we have undertaken illustrate a very important area of the shakespearian creation, one that has remained virtually unexplored so far. Although it is mentioned towards the end of the essay, it is the foundation stone of the researches undertaken and the basis of truth. See the article quoted above: Mihai Radulescu, "Stilistica antropologica. O aplicatie: Gândirea dihotomic-antonimica" (Anthropological Stylistics. An Application: Dichotomic-Antonymical Thinking), in Revista de istorie si teorie literara ( Journal of Literary History and Theory ), vol. 24, no. 4, 1975. Les Essais de Montaigne , 4 vols., Paris, Ernest Flammarion Éditeur, [no date], III, 1.
The Face of Man
Before closing, it seems proper to approach for a moment two characters in the English playwright's world very much debated upon. Shakespeare placed between them hundreds of faces whose individuality accompanies us anywhere and anytime in our lives. In a dialogue occurring between Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, the former makes a casual description of Cassius, trying to clarify his own feelings rather than addressing his lieutenant (see Julius Caesar - Act I, Scene II). Caesar wishes to have around him only fat men, men not eaten up by dreams or ambitions, men driven by the fruits of joy and wellbeing away from any manly questions, by gluttons and effeminate epicureans who are not tormented by the temptation of any possible better or righter, who doze off like angels in day-time and sleep like logs at night. Yet Cassius has "a lean and hungry look; he thinks too much". The leader of men suddenly generalizes: "such men are dangerous". Mark Antony avoids the worded truth (with its false claim at universality and its subjective bias that sees danger in a man of progress) and defends Cassius by imperceptibly pushing him away from the ranks of the intellectuals, who are considered to be a menace to Caesar's dictatorship. The latter clings to his simple remark that proves so rich in implications: "would he were fatter!" Although he claims not to fear Cassius, there is something that urges him to make up his mind why he feels that Cassius should be feared. Cassius lives a leisurely life, hence he reads too much, possesses an exceptional sense of observation and, moreover, he even puts it to use, that is, he does not confine himself to reading history and philosophy, but also reads between the lines about the actions of the high-and-mighty. He dislikes shows and music, because he is obsessed with what happens around him; he is a fanatic of social realities. He seldom smiles. And, which is even stranger, whenever he does it is as if he were laughing at himself. If the man is capable of mocking himself, what on earth could prevent him from laughing at the others? One laughs at faults. Whoever sees his own faults (which is so difficult and so unusual) sees the others' so much better and feels the ones of his superiors as being so much more serious. So, when one learns about being led by questionable people, how can one still enjoy the moment? The heart then knows no more rest. By drawing such a portrait, Caesar attempts to explain Mark Antony "what is to be fear'd", not what frightens him - so he claims - and adds: "for always I am Caesar", hiding his growing dread behind the shield of a passing fame. Here is the portrait of the all-ages revolutionary: a man worried by all sorts of questions, aware of reality, and determined to find a way of changing that reality, who looks for it day and night in the past, in the present, in the dialectics of life itself.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona (a Fragment)
LAUNCE: [.] (Pulling out a paper) Here is the cate-log of her condition. 'Imprimis: She can fetch and carry'. Why, a horse can do no more: nay, a horse cannot fetch, but only carry; therefore is she better than a jade. 'Item: She can milk'; look you, a sweet virtue in a maid with clean hands. [.] - SPEED: (Reads) 'Imprimis: She can milk'. - LAUNCE: Ay, that she can. - SPEED: 'Item: She brews good ale'. - LAUNCE: And thereof comes the proverb: 'Blessing of your heart, you brew good ale'. - SPEED: 'Item: She can sew'. LAUNCE: That's as much as to say, can she so? - SPEED: 'Item: She can knit'. LAUNCE: What need a man care for a stock with a wench, when she can knit him a stock? - SPEED: 'Item: She can wash and scour'. - LAUNCE: A special virtue: for then she need not be washed and scoured. - SPEED: 'Item: She can spin'. - LAUNCE: Then may I set the world on wheels, when she can spin for her living. - SPEED: 'Item: She hath many nameless virtues'. - LAUNCE: That's as much as to say, bastard virtues; that, indeed, know not their fathers and therefore have no names. - SPEED: Here follow her vices. - LAUNCE: Close at the heels of her virtues. - SPEED: 'Item: She is not to be kissed fasting in respect of her breath'. - LAUNCE: Well, that fault may be mended with a breakfast. Read on. - SPEED: 'Item: She hath a sweet mouth'. - LAUNCE: That makes amends for her sour breath. - SPEED: 'Item: She doth talk in her sleep'. - LAUNCE: It's no matter for that, so she sleep not in her talk. - SPEED: 'Item: She is slow in words'. LAUNCE: O villain, that set this down among her vices! To be slow in words is a woman's only virtue: I pray thee, out with't, and place it for her chief virtue. - SPEED: 'Item: She is proud'. - LAUNCE: Out with that too; it was Eve's legacy, and cannot be ta'en from her. - SPEED: 'Item: She hath no teeth'. - LAUNCE: I care not for that neither, because I love crusts. - SPEED: 'Item: She is curst'. - LAUNCE: Well, the best is, she hath no teeth to bite. - SPEED: 'Item: She will often praise her liquor'. LAUNCE: If her liquor be good, she shall: if she will not, I will; for good things should be praised. - SPEED: 'Item: She is too liberal'. - LAUNCE: Of her tongue she cannot, for that's writ down she is slow of; of her purse she shall not, for that I'll keep shut: now, of another thing she may, and that cannot I help. Well, proceed. - SPEED: 'Item: She hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults'. - LAUNCE: Stop there; I'll have her: she was mine, and not mine, twice or thrice in that last article. Rehearse that once more. - SPEED: 'Item: She hath more hair than wit'. - LAUNCE: More hair than wit? It may be; I'll prove it. The cover of the salt hides the salt, and therefore it is more than the salt; the hair that covers the wit is more than the wit, for the greater hides the less. What's next? - SPEED: 'And more faults than hairs'. - LAUNCE: That's monstrous: O, that that were out! - SPEED: 'And more wealth than faults'. LAUNCE: Why, that word makes the faults gracious. Well, I'll have her. ( The Two Gentlemen of Verona - Act III, Scene I) * Drawing such a long string of qualities and shortcomings of a subject, including the compulsory heading "Observations", represents a basic purpose of a psychologist's work, especially of a school psychologist's (it is called psycho-pedagogical chart). It is also an entertainment of generation after generation of secondary-school pupils who call it "Oracle", thus playing psychological characterization. So why not this pre-marital chart advanced by William Shakespeare?
The object of this book is far too simple to require extra explanations. It has been our purpose to demonstrate that Shakespeare's work offers a multitude of happenings and characters that threw light in advance over most concepts, matters, and methods of modern psychology in all their variety. There are, of course, as many other passages left out, that are worthy of being confronted with the data of recent psychology, but reviewing them all would have produced a book too specialized, while ours was meant to be an easily readable essay whereby the readers of William Shakespeare's theatre could see for themselves how he illustrates a phrase often used, but barely understood in its scientific sense. However, we could not help inform our readers about the results of some of our own researches, published in magazines that are less available or just occasionally resorted to, because such results are bound, in our opinion, to open a new way towards the understanding of the human being. Although it was our intention to avoid using too spurious a vocabulary, even if imposed by the progress of investigation (and we do not think that the limits of a graceful patience have been trespassed), if we have still intruded upon the good nature of those who have honored our pages by reading them, we most sincerely and regretfully ask their forgiveness and draw their attention and understanding to the contents, irrespective of its many repetitions of new and difficult nouns. Once again, these analyses of "dichotomicantonymical thinking" are meant to throw light upon (or, at this time, to mark the limits of, as in map-drawing) man's despicable capacity to wear masks, that is, to lie. Such a purpose justifies the means. And it so happens that the English bard was the most brilliant observer of the lie that creeps like a venomous lizard among the ruins of noble thoughts, pushing aside the plaster and whitewash that Renaissance men used to conceal their eagerness to prevail. Understanding that Shakespeare was a great psychologist is within everybody's reach. Stating it is now commonplace. Proving it is a game - a pleasant one, indeed, but still a game. Shakespeare's reading implies more. His characters' world is our world. Understanding his heroes means understanding ourselves. Understanding ourselves means understanding our fellow human beings, it means understanding the whole world, it means coming closer to one another, it means recognizing, both in our friend and our foe, the same human principle that underlines and melts together Hamlet and Falstaff, Julius Caesar, Desdemona, Timon, Viola, Richard III and so many other make and female characters. For the individuals carry both good and evil within themselves and will is their gardener, as Iago might put it. William Shakespeare's work , if read with the eyes of reason and of the soul, not seeking entertainment (what a barbarism!), represents one of the most important roads towards the integration in this general equilibrium. Understanding, choicemaking, experiencing are key-words for the secret contact with the shakespearian writings. And endless pondering, in the dynamic and transformational meaning of the term; an illumination, an inner communion with the truth stripped of the apparels of parable; a descent to the ever-fresh sources of reality, of the striving for genuineness, of mistake, of
the thirst for quietness, and of the urge towards singularity and monstrousness - this is what a reading of Shakespeare is all about. His playwriting is the bridge we have to cross in order to solve the problems tormenting us. It is the key of leisure, of delight, of knowledge, and of the act (the first three being but aspects of the fourth). At a time when exoticism triumphed both in fact and in the letters, when his contemporaries indulged in the dreams of Tamerlane's titanic adventures or in the real and ruthless escapes via the ocean waves towards the recently discovered Western horizon, to William Shakespeare exoticism meant the place of exile of the noble Prospero, that had to be rationalized at any costs; the same was compulsory for the less educated Robinson Crusoe or Somerset Maugham's bureaucrat hero, identified by the moralist Nicolae Steinhardt, a passionate lover of inner freedom, with the novelist-doctor himself ("Exoticism worked against the grain for him: the distances helped refresh the starting-point, and strengthen it. But is it not true for Ulysses as well? Is wandering always meant to end up circularly?" The English playwright is not interested in geography; in Italy, however, he is - not as a country among others, but as a province of a human space that bred the Renaissance, as a noble native place of the greatest secular and Western experts in the human soul. Denmark? A neighbor of England’s. On the other hand, when it comes to the geography of the human psychic - what a delight! This is what the magus in The Tempest was striving to master. The rest was an unfortunate mishappening that interrupted his studies, just like the one that made Kant leave his home town only once during his lifetime. Shakespeare left us with a profound, scholarly message, displayed on a stunningly vertical plane: he deals not with the adventure, but with its echoes and significance. Shakespeare is the peak whence we may embrace the distances. He is the secret place where we come across ourselves. N. Steinhardt, Între viata si carti (Between Life and Books), Bucharest, Cartea Româneasca Publishing House, 1976.