Critical studies of the iconography—visual images and symbols—in Shakespeare's plays have led to a better understanding of his works. Late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century audiences had a shared knowledge of the traditional connection between visual images and their significance that modern readers and audiences do not possess. Commentators who have researched the implications of the visual symbolism in Shakespearean drama have identified motifs associated with, for example, a specific biblical or mythic figure, a particular kind of vegetation, material objects such as an hourglass or a human skull, and various kinds of birds, fish, and animals. Particularly important in the study of Shakespeare's iconography are Renaissance emblem books, in which symbolic pictures are accompanied by a motto and an explanatory verse. These were widely read, and playwrights of the period frequently drew inspiration from them for the visual effects in their dramas. The rich tradition of medieval and Renaissance paintings, engravings, woodcuts, and sculpture also served as an important source for Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The visual images and dramatic icons they employed were conveyed by stage properties, scenic backdrops, tableaux, hand props, gestures, and costumes, as well as by verbal allusions to conventional symbols.
An appreciation of Shakespeare's visual imagery in the context of Renaissance iconography may clarify for modern audiences the action of a dramatic text, bring thematic material into greater relief, and reveal nuances of characterization. For example, in an examination of Richard II's dual nature as both fallen man and semi-divine monarch, John Doebler (see Further Reading) explores Shakespeare's characterization of the king in terms of his association with religious iconography—in particular, the three biblical trees of Eden, Jesse, and Calvary. Doebler views these icons as a means of underscoring Richard's humanity and his resemblance to Christ. By contrast, Peggy Endel (1986) maintains that Shakespeare's depiction of Richard III seated on the throne of England while he hatches his schemes (Act IV, scene ii) recalls icons associated with lewdness and evil. In two essays on the iconography of the English history plays, Clayton G. MacKenzie is similarly concerned with visual images of good and evil. In “Emblems of an English Eden” (2000), MacKenzie argues that although allusions to the phoenix and other symbols of renewal in the Henry VI trilogy are intended to sustain the theme of a revived English heroism, the dramatic action demonstrates instead a “recycling of evils.” In “Iconic Monsters in Paradise” (2000), MacKenzie calls attention to references in the Henry IV plays to the struggle between Hercules and the many-headed Hydra, a traditional image in emblematic literature of the continuous rebirth of evil. The critic links these to what he views as the central issue of the play: Who is virtuous and who is monstrous in the contest for the English crown? He also discusses Henry V's association with the classical god Mars, who in Renaissance mythology was both the protector of domestic peace and an invincible warrior on foreign soil. In MacKenzie's judgment, Shakespeare's identification of Henry and Mars is deeply ironic.
Several commentators have explored the function of iconography in Shakespeare's major tragedies. Bridget Gellert (1970) focuses on the graveyard scene in Hamlet, with particular emphasis on Yorick's skull as an icon of the transitoriness of life and on allusions to Saturn, the planet most closely linked to melancholy. In a subsequent essay (1977), she considers the tableau—complete with gestures and book—that Polonius and Claudius contrive in Act III, scene i to present Ophelia as an image of female piety, remarking on the men's calculated manipulation of a traditional image to influence Hamlet's perception of Ophelia. In this essay, she also discusses the association of Ophelia with the mythical nymph Flora, who was represented in iconographic tradition as both an innocent maid and a deceptive courtesan. Bettie Anne Doebler (1967) similarly reads conflicting symbolism in the bed that is a central stage property in Act V, scene ii of Othello. She argues that along with other elements in this scene, the bed alludes to popular iconography and devotional literature that dealt with the art of dying well and that, by evoking this tradition, Shakespeare deepened the tragedy of the Moor's death. In an essay on King Lear, Clifford Davidson (1984) contrasts “the iconography of wicked femininity” with which Goneril and Regan are linked with that associated with Cordelia, who is presented, in his judgment, as “the Second Eve, the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Davidson also argues that the visual symbolism of Act V of Lear undermines the notion of redemption which the earlier dramatic action appeared to promise. Iconography in Shakespeare's Roman plays is the subject of essays by A. Robin Bowers (1984-86) and András Kiséry (2000). Bowers is particularly concerned with the verbal symbolism in Titus Andronicus and argues that the play's social and political ramifications are emphasized in extended speeches that serve as verbal emblems. Kiséry calls attention to the emblematic significance of wounds and scars in Coriolanus and Julius Caesar. As representations of the damage inflicted on the body politic, he argues, these marks of warfare and assassination have profound social and civic implications.
Visual effects are particularly prominent in Shakespeare's late romances. A number of commentators have discussed the iconography of these plays, including Clifford Davidson (1981), Peggy Muñoz Simonds (1985 and 1995-96), Sara Hanna (1991), Rhonda Lemke Sanford (1998), and Frederick Kiefer (1999). Davidson surveys the implications of the series of emblematic episodes in The Winter's Tale, especially the sheep-shearing scene (Act IV, scene iv), in which Perdita illustrates the motif of the “rebirth of the green world.” Kiefer focuses on the choric figure of Time in this play, remarking that while most depictions of Time in Renaissance art emphasize its destructive effects, Shakespeare's personification also possesses the capacity to heal and restore. Hanna argues that in Pericles, the visual effects combine to form a unified subtext that helps structure the play's movement from death and tyranny in the opening scene to divine revelation at the close. In an essay devoted to The Tempest, Simonds (1995-96) relates the theme of governance to music in Renaissance emblems and pageantry. She is particularly concerned here with allusions in the play to the emblem tradition associated with Orpheus and to images of gardens. In a 1985 essay, Simonds explores Shakespeare's use of the emblematic tradition of the Wild Men in Cymbeline. She points out that while these figures were generally represented as uncivilized savages, Shakespeare drew Guiderius and Arviragus—the Wild Men of Cymbeline—as nature's noblemen, living a virtuous life in the mountains of Wales that is in stark contrast to the corruption of the court. Sanford focuses on the wager plot in Cymbeline, linking the iconography of Queen Elizabeth I to Shakespeare's portrayal of Imogen. Noting the conventional Renaissance association of territorial land with women's bodies, she contends that Iachimo's invasion of Imogen's bedchamber, together with his exploration of the room and her body, constitute a metaphorical rape and conquest.
Criticism: Overviews And General Studies
SOURCE: Davidson, Clifford. “Iconography and Some Problems of Terminology in the Study of the Drama and Theater of the Renaissance.” Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama 29 (1986-87): 7-14.
[In the following essay, Davidson proposes that in the context of the Elizabethan and Jacobean theater, the term iconography may pertain to every visual aspect of a stage production. He also maintains that whereas Protestant iconoclasts of the period deplored the potential deceptiveness of visual images, Shakespeare and his contemporaries exploited the visual images of the Renaissance to enrich their plays.]
Peter M. Daly, in an important essay entitled “Shakespeare and the Emblem: The Use of Evidence and Analogy in Establishing Iconographic and Emblematic Effects in the Plays,” which deserves to be much better known, has provided some intelligent cautions concerning the use of terms such as “iconographic,” “iconological,” “iconic,” and “emblematic” in the discussion of dramatic literature.1 While it is not entirely true that these terms have until recently been the province of the art historian alone, it is nevertheless useful, as Daly suggests, to keep in mind their precise meaning when applied to play texts and to theatrical production involving these texts: “Improper usage of terms leads to their debasement; our intellectual currency is devalued through inflationary...
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Criticism: Iconography In The History Plays
SOURCE: Endel, Peggy. “Profane Icon: The Throne Scene of Shakespeare's Richard III.” Comparative Drama 20, no. 2 (summer 1986): 115-23.
[In the following excerpt, Endel explicates the scatological, satanic, and melancholic associations evoked by the iconic stage image of the newly crowned Richard III meditating on his private schemes from the seat of majesty.]
Retentive—he's a very retentive king, a royal retainer. …
What are you playing at?
Words, words. They're all we have to go on.
—Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
The English drama critic John Trewin first began to review Shakespeare's plays on the London stage in 1930. In 1978, when he was seventy years old, this dean of theater critics looked back over a lifetime of what he called “going to Shakespeare” and recalled an extraordinary moment at the Old Vic in London in 1944. Remembering Laurence Olivier enthroned as Richard III in Act IV, scene ii, of Shakespeare's play, Trewin writes, “One must always judge [Olivier's] famous portrait from its first presentation with the Old Vic company, and not from the film. … Richard distilled his own darkness; and I cannot return to the play now without picturing Olivier, a cauldron-figure, crowned and sceptred, as he brooded...
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SOURCE: MacKenzie, Clayton G. “Emblems of an English Eden.” In Emblems of Mortality: Iconographic Experiments in Shakespeare's Theatre, pp. 15-38. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2000.
[In the following excerpt, MacKenzie discusses different icons of life-in-death in Shakespeare's English history plays that support the themes of renewal and heroic succession. He calls particular attention to the phoenix allusions and the idea of England as a new Troy in the Henry VI trilogy and to symbols of the nation as a new Eden in the second tetralogy.]
The sixteenth century made much of the idea of “life in death,” one of its most popular visual metaphors being the phoenix, an exotic self-procreating bird which, as Pliny claimed, lived in Arabian spice trees.1 Paradin's emblem in Les Devises Heroiques (1551) reveals the bird emerging from the ashes of its own fiery death.2 Nicholas Reusner's Emblemata Nicolai Revsneri (1581), offering a similar image some thirty years later, summarizes a standard interpretation:
If men report true, death over again forms the Phoenix, To this bird both life and death the same funeral pile may prove. Onward, executioners! Of the saints burn ye the sainted bodies; For whom ye desire perdition, to them brings the flame new birth.(3)
Reusner's meaning is unambiguously religious, drawing on the...
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SOURCE: MacKenzie, Clayton G. “Iconic Monsters in Paradise.” In Emblems of Mortality: Iconographic Experiments in Shakespeare's Theatre, pp. 39-64. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2000.
[In the following excerpt, MacKenzie highlights the unconventional use of the mythic figures of Mars and the Hydra in 1 and 2 Henry IV and Henry V. He suggests that although the struggle between Hercules and the Hydra was traditionally represented as a moral contest between good and evil, allusions to the many-headed monster in the Henry IV plays confound the issue of who is virtuous and who is vicious in the competition for the throne. Similarly, MacKenzie views the references to Mars in Henry V as an interrogation of the idea of the continual regeneration of English heroism.]
Henry IV's reign was notable more for its shadowy internal wranglings than for its golden foreign achievements. Even his burial was shrouded in intrigue, with rumors that his body had been mysteriously “lost” when the barge carrying it capsized on its way to Canterbury Cathedral. Some four hundred years later, the Age of Reason did what they thought to be the sensible thing and opened the tomb. And there lay King Henry, with crown, gown and scepter. Bullingbrook may have struck a rather dashing and alluringly romantic figure to Shakespeare's age but, as King Henry IV, he was decidedly less...
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Criticism: Iconography In The Tragedies
SOURCE: Doebler, Bettie Anne. “Othello's Angels: The Ars Morendi.” ELH 34, no. 2 (June 1967): 156-72.
[In the following essay, Doebler examines Othello's last moments within the tradition of the art of dying well, with particular reference to popular iconography and devotional books. The critic asserts that by framing the Moor's precipitous death within this tradition, Shakespeare intensified the audience's sympathy for the despairing hero.]
The second scene of the last act of Othello invokes the ars moriendi tradition, a popular tradition of comfort for the dying which stands in ironic contrast to Othello's own violent and despairing death. The most familiar prop in the iconography of Renaissance death is the bed, and the bed is the dominant presentational image in this scene, a bed that should probably be both well downstage and as massive as possible while still capable of being rolled forward. In many of the woodcuts that accompany the ars moriendi tracts and in the sixteenth-century paintings of deathbed scenes, the bed is inclined to be massive and rectilinear, in contrast to the curvilinear voluptuous couch hung with tent-like draperies which appears in representations of amorous scenes.1 Supporting this dominant icon of the deathbed is a network of verbal images: especially those associated with angels and devils, the contestants for a dying man's...
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SOURCE: Gellert, Bridget. “The Iconography of Melancholy in the Graveyard Scene of Hamlet.” Studies in Philology 67, no. 1 (January 1970): 57-66.
[In the following essay, Gellert maintains that the first half of Act V, scene i of Hamlet, while the prince meditates on Yorick's skull and jests with the gravediggers, serves as an emblematic representation of melancholy as both a disorder and a sign of imaginative thinking.]
It is now increasingly recognized that several of Shakespeare's scenes have iconographic or symbolic significances in addition to, and sometimes more important than, their contributions to the development of action.1 These scenes establish tableaux that function as condensations or epitomes of central themes of the plays in which they occur. This device, it has been noted, is fairly common in the history plays.2 In Richard II, for example, the king's physical descent from the walls of Flint Castle is an elaborate visual rendering of the political, moral, and tragic implications of his situation. The same play also contains one of the most elaborately emblematic scenes in all Shakespeare, the gardener's scene (III, iv, 24 ff.), whose setting and characters embody the metaphoric connection between garden and commonwealth that is verbally established throughout the play. The device extends to comedy and tragedy also, and many examples could be...
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SOURCE: Lyons, Bridget Gellert. “The Iconography of Ophelia.” ELH 44, no. 1 (spring 1977): 60-74.
[In the following essay, Lyons discusses two emblematic episodes in Hamlet that feature Ophelia: her distribution of flowers (IV.v) and the scene where the prince encounters her as she walks about reading a book (III.i). In the first instance she is closely associated with the mythical nymph Flora, the critic points out, and in the second with figures of female piety—including the Virgin Mary—yet on both occasions the iconographic associations are deeply ambivalent and support conflicting interpretations of her character.]
When Polonius arranges Ophelia's meeting with Hamlet in the third act of the play, he assigns gestures to her and provides her with a prop, deliberately fashioning her into an image intended to convey an easily readable meaning:
Ophelia, walk you here. … Read on this book; That show of such an exercise may colour Your loneliness.—We are oft to blame in this: 'Tis too much prov'd, that with devotion's visage And pious action we do sugar o'er The devil himself.
Significantly, Ophelia is not coached in what to say to Hamlet. Rather, she is supposed to communicate an impression by her...
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SOURCE: Bowers, A. Robin. “Emblem and Rape in Shakespeare's Lucrece and Titus Andronicus.” Studies in Iconography 10 (1984-86): 79-96.
[In the following excerpt, Bowers examines the structure and style of Lucrece and Titus Andronicus, and notes that in both Lucrece and Titus the social and political ramifications are emphasized in extended speeches that serve as verbal emblems.]
From the beginning of his career, Shakespeare seems to have been fully aware of the poetic and dramatic potential of the emblem. While we are indebted to Rosemary Freeman and Henry Green for reviving our modern interest in Renaissance emblem books, questions about the nature and extent of their influence on the technical aspects of Shakespeare's works require further exploration and analysis. On the one hand, emblem books made sophisticated use of iconology inherited from the previous centuries to produce complex visual picturae combined with a verbal explanation of the picture, resulting in a reference book which applied both to personal conduct and to moral philosophy. On the other hand, these books represented a mode of thought common to the period, in which the visual and the verbal continually complemented each other in the theory and practice of artistic communication. The Elizabethan theater proved an ideal medium through which the techniques found in the emblem books...
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SOURCE: Davidson, Clifford. “The Iconography of Wisdom and Folly in King Lear.” In Shakespeare and the Emblem: Studies in Renaissance Iconography and Iconology, edited by Tibor Fabiny, pp. 189-214. Szeged, Hungary: Department of English, Attila Jozsef University, 1984.
[In the following excerpt, Davidson calls attention to the way symbolic associations underscore the motif of reversals and inversions of order in King Lear. He argues that although the first four acts may be read as a traditional Christian presentation of the operation of divine providence, the iconography of Act V appears to question the wisdom of relying on moral or religious certainties.]
Sometimes individual plays in the Shakespeare canon take on particularly strong significance in the light of events which we see taking place in the world around us. While it is unwise to see Shakespeare as a great sage, comparable perhaps to Socrates, the immediacy of some events in one or another of his stage plays will strike us particularly strongly from time to time. At this juncture in history, I am thus struck by the events of King Lear, which I find to challenge us in our complacent notions about the stability of the social order and the inherent goodness of men. In this sense the play perhaps will not teach so very much more than we could learn from surveying the dislocations and the terrible events of our own century....
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SOURCE: Kiséry, András. “Emblems of the Polity: The Wounds of Rhetoric and of the Body Politic in Shakespeare's Rome.” In The Iconography of Power: Ideas and Images of Rulership on the English Renaissance Stage, edited by György E. Szönyi and Rowland Wymer, pp. 161-79. Szeged, Hungary: Institute of English and American Studies, University of Szeged, 2000.
[In the following essay, Kiséry contrasts the emblematic use of wounded bodies for political purposes in Coriolanus and Julius Caesar.]
When at the end of Titus Andronicus, Lucius is requested to tell the tragic story of the Andronici to an audience apparently dumb-struck by the weird consecution of four on-stage killings within the span of something like 20 lines, he sums up his part in the events just about as precipitately, dwelling on his heroic struggle to preserve Rome, and then, as if realising the vulnerability of his claims, rather anxiously adds:
Alas, you know I am no vaunter, I. My scars can witness, dumb although they are, That my report is just and full of truth. But soft, methinks I do digress too much, Citing my worthless praise. O, pardon me, For when no friends are by, men praise themselves.
Lucius' speech, rather than merely providing a clarifying narrative at the end of a catastrophe, establishes him as the warrior who from...
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Criticism: Iconography In The Romances
SOURCE: Davidson, Clifford. “The Iconography of Illusion and Truth in The Winter's Tale.” In Shakespeare and the Arts, edited by Cecile Williamson Cary and Henry S. Limouze, pp. 73-91. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1982.
[In the following excerpt, originally delivered as a lecture at the Ohio Shakespeare Conference in Dayton, 1981, Davidson discusses the symbolic significance of visual effects in a series of episodes in The Winter's Tale, including the display of male friendship, the onset of Leontes's jealousy, the trial scene, the storm on the shore of Bohemia, the sheep-shearing scene, and the transformation of Hermione.]
The spectacle of Shakespeare's drama on stage in his own time made use of scenes which carefully balanced meanings and mirrored human actions or frailties in a theater which was, as Glynne Wickham has suggested, “emblematic” rather than illusionistic in the sense of “seeming to stimulate actuality.”1 To be sure, the term emblematic as used here perhaps needs careful definition, since stage actions are not always to be identified with either the precise form or function of the emblem in the Renaissance emblem book. The latter is often reductive in its interpretation of visual details; as Francis Bacon defined the genre, “Emblems reduce [italics mine] intellectual conceptions to sensible images, and that which is...
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SOURCE: Simonds, Peggy Muñoz. “The Iconography of Primitivism in Cymbeline.” Renaissance Drama 16 (1985): 95-120.
[In the following excerpt, Simonds links Belarius, Guiderius, and Arviragus to the medieval myth and emblem tradition of Wild Men. The innate virtue of these three is in stark contrast to the villainy of Cymbeline's court, she contends, and they are integral to the restoration of a purified Britain.]
In his recent article “The Pastoral Reckoning in ‘Cymbeline,’” Michael Taylor follows a long line of Cymbeline critics in mistaking a primitive setting in the Welsh mountains for a pastoral setting, and he finds Imogen's scene with the beheaded corpse of Cloten astonishingly “grotesque” within this ideal if “hard” pastoral world.1 Although Shakespeare does indeed use pastoralism in a number of his plays, sheep and shepherds are notably lacking in Cymbeline, to the despair of the heroine herself. Imogen yearns for the innocence and security of a pastoral world when she laments in Act I, “Would I were / A neat-herd's daughter, and my Leonatus / Our neighbour-shepherd's son!”2 Instead, the dramatist presents her with a cave and three self-proclaimed savages, or Wild Men, to contrast with the corrupt and superficially civilized world of the king and his courtiers, who use the pastoral song genre primarily as a means to seduce...
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SOURCE: Hanna, Sara. “Christian Vision and Iconography in Pericles.” Upstart Crow 11 (1991): 92-116.
[In the following excerpt, Hanna traces Pericles's spiritual evolution in terms of his increasing awareness of good and evil and his eventual understanding of what may be gained by patience and perseverance. She finds in the play a coherent system of emblems and spectacles developed from Christian and biblical sources that mark the hero's progress from darkness to light.]
Vision is an especially complex subject in Pericles, very closely bound up with the play's medieval dimension. To some extent the very heroism of Pericles can be defined through the progress of his vision. Pericles appears as a chivalric hero, a young knight on a quest. While he is much more than an allegorical figure, we may see him in the medieval and Spenserian tradition as a knight of patience who must learn the virtue in question through severe trials.1 Scholars have associated him with the Everyman protagonist of the morality plays and with the trials, sufferings, and miraculous recoveries of saints in legends and miracle plays. Influence from the medieval religious plays also appears in the parabolic qualities of language and events throughout the play and in the overall Christian scheme of patient suffering leading to ultimate spiritual reconciliation.2 Whether we see Pericles as knight,...
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SOURCE: Simonds, Peggy Muñoz. “‘Sweet Power of Music’: The Political Magic of ‘the Miraculous Harp’ in Shakespeare's The Tempest.” Comparative Drama 29, no. 1 (spring 1995-96): 61-90.
[In the following excerpt, Simonds focuses on analogies between Prospero and Orpheus, the mythical demigod who employed music and eloquence to civilize brutish men and induce harmony in his kingdom.]
In a recent paper critical of the logical discrepancies between “new historicist” theory and practice, Robin Headlam Wells argues that a true historical approach to The Tempest would focus on the mythological topos of Orpheus as the conventional prototype of Prospero rather than on modern views of colonialism and demonized otherness.1 In response to this important suggestion, I shall discuss here the conflation of two such traditional topoi in Shakespeare's tragicomedy: (1) the benevolent and thus successful ruler as Orpheus, a magician in control of Nature and the poetic civilizer of barbaric peoples, and (2) the ideal commonwealth as a melodious and fruitful garden. Since my iconographic materials will be taken from the political discourses of the Renaissance itself, and not from Foucault or Greenblatt, they will help to historicize Shakespeare's tragicomedy rather than theorize it in the usual postmodern fashion. Moreover, I reject the fallacious either-or logic of Foucault who...
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SOURCE: Sanford, Rhonda Lemke. “A Room Not One's Own: Feminine Geography in Cymbeline.” In Playing the Globe: Genre and Geography in English Renaissance Drama, edited by John Gillies and Virginia Mason Vaughan, pp. 63-85. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1998.
[In the following excerpt, Sanford links the Renaissance connection between women's bodies and geography—evident in the iconography of Elizabeth I—to the wager plot in Cymbeline. She compares Iachimo's cataloguing of Imogen's bedchamber and the mark on her breast (II.ii) to the work of a mapmaker and likens his improvisational report of what he observed (II.iv) to a tale told by a traveler returned from distant lands.]
In the literature of travel and exploration, the language of desire is frequently used to advertise new discoveries enticingly. Columbus described the New World alluringly as “a land to be desired, and, seen, it is never to be left.”1 Similarly, Sir Walter Raleigh described Guiana invitingly as “a Countrey that hath yet her Maidenhead, neuer sackt, turned, nor wrought.”2 These short excerpts reflect the abundance of sexual references in the literature of exploration, where the land is frequently figured as a woman to be ravished and the pun on the word country to refer to women's genitals (as in Hamlet's “country matters”...
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SOURCE: Kiefer, Frederick. “The Iconography of Time in The Winter's Tale.” Renaissance and Reformation/Renaissance et Reforme 23, no. 3 (summer 1999): 49-64.
[In the following excerpt, Kiefer emphasizes Time's restorative powers as well as its destructive ones in The Winter's Tale. Time's dual nature, the critic suggests, is symbolized by the hourglass he carries, for its inversion signals a dramatic movement from catastrophe to consolation.]
Probably no personification was more familiar to Jacobean playgoers than the figure whom Shakespeare brings to the stage in The Winter's Tale: Time. His presence is in keeping with the special attention Shakespeare gives to visual effects in the late plays, when he increasingly creates characters out of mythological figures, and when his company has available the resources of the indoor Blackfriars theater as well as the Globe. Father Time is not unfamiliar to modern audiences accustomed to seeing his image at New Year's celebrations. But we have largely lost the visual language of Shakespeare's culture, the symbolism that was the common property of his contemporaries. As a result, a modern playgoer is almost certainly unaware of the specifics of Time's appearance and of the contexts in which Time typically appeared in Elizabethan England. Fortunately, we have at hand sufficient materials to reconstruct what playgoers saw when Time walked...
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Bowers, A. Robin. “Iconography and Rhetoric in Shakespeare's Lucrece.” Shakespeare Studies 14 (1981): 1-21.
Maintains that Shakespeare's depiction of Lucrece reflects the Renaissance view of her as an icon of virtue and a pitiful symbol of chastity destroyed by violence.
Cary, Cecile Williamson. “‘It Circumscribes Us Here’: Hell on the Renaissance Stage.” In The Iconography of Hell, edited by Clifford Davidson and Thomas H. Seiler, pp. 187-207. Kalamazoo, Mich.: Medieval Institute Publications, 1992.
An overview of the metaphorical depiction of hell in Reformation drama, with considerable attention to the plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe. Following the Reformation, Cary points out, the iconography of hell and the Last Judgment in medieval drama was replaced by indirect representations, because Protestant theology forbade religious images on the stage.
Daly, Peter M. “Of Macbeth, Martlets and Other ‘Fowles of Heauen.’” Mosaic 12, no. 1 (fall 1978): 23-46.
Considers the symbolic meanings and implications of Banquo's reference to the “temple-haunting martlet” in Act I, scene iv of Macbeth. Daly also discusses the multiple verbal images of birds evoked by other characters in this tragedy and provides an extensive review of the significance of the martlet in...
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