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Shakespeare s play creating sympathy for brutus

When Casca replies by asking him if he was there, Brutus tartly replies that had he been there, he would have no need to ask. Out of such patterns, which are subtly extended to the meta-dramatic level, the figure of the forgetful audience emerges. According to me, this figure constitutes a critique of the confident models of human memory found in the works of classical and humanist writers, and a means of exploring the role of the playhouse in the consolidation of the empirical memory.

I will then argue that audience forgetfulness functions as a trope for the elusive nature of experience, one that defies capture by the traditional arts of memory. Finally, I will turn to the remedies to faulty memory that the play does seem to offer.

Forgetful audiences as rhetorical strategy 2In Julius Caesar, spectatorship is marred by forgetfulness. Plebeians, in particular, seem to lack retentive powers. Later in the play, Mark Antony upbraids his plebeian audience for forgetting the will he mentioned only minutes before. Yet, audience forgetfulness is not restricted to the common people.

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Casca, too, it seems, has trouble recalling and reporting the scene he witnessed at the Lupercals. The scenes characters remember imperfectly are all ritualized and spectacular: By reactivating a theme he has already introduced, Antony gives it greater resonance and works the people up to the frenzy he has been aiming for.

Seven Tragedies Revisited, E. However, Julius Caesar is remarkable in that reactivation does not lead to hermeneutic closure, but to increased forgetfulness and confusion. The poetics of Julius Caesar involves a pattern of inviting the audience to think back to previous moments of the play, while muddying the waters, so that confusion results.

In all of these instances, the attention of the offstage audience is directed back to past events it has witnessed, and encouraged to reassess them in the light of new input. Instead, the play encourages the audience to look back while setting it up for a failure of recall. This can be demonstrated in the quarrel scene, which I will now turn to. You wrong me every way, you wrong me, Brutus, I said an elder soldier, not a better. Did I say better? By metalepsis, it could also be taken as an address to the audience, which is in the same position to answer it as the characters.

  • Here, as in the humanist classroom, the arts of memory are associated with the voices of authority, as opposed to those of experience;
  • Yet, audience forgetfulness is not restricted to the common people;
  • As to make the nose, the eyes, the forhead, the haire, the eares, and other partes to serue for places.

Probably, the memory will already be too hazy for recall. According to a 1959 study by L. From our vantage point as readers, however, we may now turn back a page or two and look up what was actually said, assuming the actor stuck to his part as it appears in the 1623 Folio, the sole authoritative text.

It is possible […] to use a mnemotechnics and, in general, a semiotics to confuse memories, even if not to forget. Let us consider several mechanisms in which a notion or expression is not forgotten but comes to be confused with other notions or other expressions.

To what extent do you sympathise with Brutus?

The confusion can arise both between expressions confusion caused by pseudosynonymy, as when I confuse the words paronomasia and antonomasia and between an expression and two signifieds, notions, or definitional contents as, for example, when one does not remember whether fraise means "blackberry" or "blueberry".

Generally, such patterns of pointing back and erasing create a longing for a lost past, and contribute to the overriding mood of regret at the end of the play. Another effect is that by thrusting the audience into the same cognitive space as the characters, such episodes of confusion about the past promote identification and sympathy.

In particular, sympathy for Cassius is generated in the quarrel scene, where his many memory lapses appear less contrived than if we had not partaken of some of them. The sense of a shared consciousness emerges, with the frailties of human memory binding characters and audience in a common state of uncertainty.

Shakespeare s play creating sympathy for brutus

In his Institutes, Quintilian advised his reader to focus on the troublesome parts when memorizing a text: This implied a model of memory largely based on memorization. Being a spectator can be considered as an experience which consists in a sequence of sense impressions. Jeffrey Dolven has remarked on the way Elizabethan schoolroom exercises tended to abolish the diachronic extension of what is remembered, by organizing knowledge spatially rather than temporally, and by compressing empirical time into eternal truths.

The limits of the classical arts of memory are more obviously illustrated in the scene between Brutus and his wife Portia, when Portia reminds Brutus of his churlish response to her requests for information on the previous night: I urged you further; then you scratched your head, And too impatiently stamped with your foot.

Yet I insisted; yet you answered not, But with an angry wafture of your hand Gave sign for me to leave you ii.

He did not follow Peter of Ravenna in using the bodies of beautiful women as memory places, but concentrated on the head of the interlocutor: As to make the nose, the eyes, the forhead, the haire, the eares, and other partes to serue for places.

Qui sommes-nous?

However, the odd little pantomime she describes strikes the audience as bizarre and artificial, underscoring instead how unlikely it would be for experience to present itself in such ready-made units.

Not only did the walk allow the speaker to recollect the text in its entirety, but from the Renaissance on, as Frances Yates explains in The Art of Memory, the images also signified in their own right, and constituted a symbolic representation of cosmological and metaphysical systems. Peter of Ravenna, for example, and Cosmus Rosselius after him, used churches and abbeys for their loci.

This memory walk puts Brutus in the position of an orator, rather than a spectator. Though such a position may appear to be a strong one, it bars him from using the materials of first-hand experience. Here, as in the humanist classroom, the arts of memory are associated with the voices of authority, as opposed to those of experience.

  • I will then argue that audience forgetfulness functions as a trope for the elusive nature of experience, one that defies capture by the traditional arts of memory;
  • Being a spectator can be considered as an experience which consists in a sequence of sense impressions;
  • From our vantage point as readers, however, we may now turn back a page or two and look up what was actually said, assuming the actor stuck to his part as it appears in the 1623 Folio, the sole authoritative text;
  • Here, as in the humanist classroom, the arts of memory are associated with the voices of authority, as opposed to those of experience;
  • I will then argue that audience forgetfulness functions as a trope for the elusive nature of experience, one that defies capture by the traditional arts of memory;
  • It is possible […] to use a mnemotechnics and, in general, a semiotics to confuse memories, even if not to forget.

Shakespeare, however, is less concerned with the relative virtues of shakespeare s play creating sympathy for brutus and experience, than with the possibility of making experience stick, so that it may be put to pragmatic use. On the side of authority is the commonplace that powerful men turn into tyrants.

Authority, on the other hand, comes in the vivid form of mnemonic images, with a profusion of snakes, suns, clouds, ladders, and emblematic imagery, all organized into a ready-made plot.

It is no surprise, then, that authority and murder should win the day. However, though classical mnemonics are shown to be inadequate to rein in the elusiveness of experience, the play suggests that such methods do exist. Note-taking proliferated, learned men quoted lines from plays they had attended in their letters, and spectators such as Simon Forman and John Manningham hurried home after performances to consign to paper their still fresh memories in diaries and commonplace books.

Remember therin Also howe. When, after the quarrel scene, Brutus leafs through the pages of the book he has nearly lost, the image is that of a playgoer going over his shorthand notes to check a line. This meta-dramatic interpretation is reinforced by the words Brutus speaks as he looks for his place in his book, the same words Hamlet will use when recalling a speech in a play he has witnessed: The playhouse then becomes invested with the epistemological and cognitive mission of the schoolroom, allowing the audience to both explore and exercize its memory.

This allows him to posit a pedagogical role for the playhouse. In its emphasis on empirical memory, the play points forward to the paradigm shift of the mid to late xviith century, when experience rather than authority became the subject matter of memory, and chronology rather than topography its organizational principle.