Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 737

The Doubled Jaques and Constructions of Negation in As
You Like It

Illustration of PDF document

Download As You Like It Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Cynthia Marshall, Rhodes College

So thoroughly does Shakespeare's work encompass our sense of textual possibility that even his apparent missteps take on interest and meaning. The Fool's unexplained disappearance from King Lear, for instance, has famously come to serve as an emblem of Shakespeare's writerly economy—-a character, disappears when no further use exists for him—and has been formally linked with the king's own descent into a Foolish view of things.1 Yet, as psychoanalysis tells us, the structure of language itself has a capacity to open up crevices in a surface of meaning, to trick a wily practitioner into showing a hand he may not realize he holds, so that "mistakes" may serve as pathways to recesses within the text. Jacques Derrida has alerted us to the paradoxical way that a "trace" or "track in the text" both testifies to authorial presence and erases the writer's authority as point of origin.2

The particular "misstep" here begins with an issue most teachers of As You Like It have faced: the inclusion of two characters named Jaques in the dramatis personae. It is not entirely accurate to say that the two are "in the play," since only one, the melancholy Jaques who serves Duke Senior, is addressed by name in the course of the action. The other, Orlando and Oliver's brother Jaques de Boys, is identified in the Folio text as "Second Brother" when he appears in the closing moments of Act 5. But because Orlando has referred to "my brother Jaques" (1.1.5) in the opening speech, Jaques de Boys exists as a palpable source of confusion for readers and viewers, haunting the play as a kind of double for the melancholy Jaques.3 Or, as I will argue, it is more precisely the melancholy Jaques who serves as a double, standing in for the absent second son of Sir Rowland de Boys. In a play so intimately concerned with names and with substitutions, this elliptical blocking of an absent Jaques with a present one provides a signal instance, of the symbol's capacity to compensate for loss. But Jaques is not just any symbol, nor does he have just a garden variety of uncanny textual effect. Rather, the requirement of a melancholy Jaques, so crucial to the play's emotional equilibrium, testifies to an undertow of sadness in it that is brilliantly held at bay by a Shakespearean game of Fort/Da, and thus Jaques reveals how the carefully managed relation between melancholy affect and textual representation enables this comedy to function.

Psychoanalysis may seem extraneous in relation to so balanced a work as As You Like It, but the nature of textual equilibrium here and elsewhere is part of my interest. The Freudian Fort/Da has stood at the center of debates about the purpose and meaning of psychoanalysis—roughly speaking, about its status as either a structural or poststructural discourse. My essay situates itself on this divide, reading the constructions of negation in Shakespeare's comedy as evincing a compensatory principle that brings about a satisfying harmony and closure to the play, but also finding in the play's traces of melancholy a pathway that leads toward the eroding consequences of cultural repressions. Using the psychoanalytic concept of negation to probe the structure of As You Like It and some of its particular fixations, this essay will show that the unconstrained gender play in Arden (which has received a great deal of critical attention in recent years) as well as other sorts of liberty exhibited within the play are linked to the presence of the melancholy Jaques. But while my argument takes its cue from the doubleness of Jaques, I do not focus on him as a character; indeed because he wears a melancholic mask, I see him as largely unavailable in terms of characterological depth.4 My concern instead is with Jaques as the most obvious example of the structural and linguistic compensations the play repeatedly makes. I aim to extend the classic understanding of the compensatory nature of comedy by showing how language is imbricated in comic structure, using contemporary psychoanalytic theory to probe the connections in early modern texts between melancholia, gender, and language: In order to advance such a psychoanalytic reading, I propose that Jaques's doubled existence within the play and his ultimate departure from it serve as intratextual markers of theory's possible relation to the text.


Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1169

It has been suggested by Harold Jenkins that the two Jaqueses are the result of an uncorrected error of composition, that Shakespeare originally intended for the melancholy fellow encountered in the forest to be the second son of Sir Rowland de Boys.5 The suggestion makes a great deal of sense: the one thing we know about brother Jaques is that he has been away at school,. a site—as the nearly contemporaneous Hamlet witnesses—where melancholy appears to flourish. Though denying that his is "the scholar's melancholy" (4.1.10), Jaques expresses the easy disdain and the hunger for "matter" (5.4.184) of an educated person. Indeed a viewer watching the play or a reader encountering it for the first time has no way to know that the melancholy Jaques is not Jaques de Boys prior to Second Brother's late arrival in Arden. For most of the play, the two characters named Jaques are severed by a single fact: Orlando's failure to recognize the melancholy fellow in Arden as his brother.6 This failure, however, is not in itself indicative. Leaving aside the fact that the raillery between Orlando and Jaques seems not at all uncharacteristic of that between brothers, one is struck by Orlando's utter unreliability as a witness to the events and people around him. Orlando, after all, fails to recognize Rosalind, his proclaimed love, during their extensive interactions in Arden. Might he not also fail to recognize his brother, especially if that brother has been changed, translated, by melancholy?

A reader or viewer need not contemplate the exact logic of Orlando's failure; the point is that many will silently compound the one Jaques with the other, at least until Second Brother's appearance. Agnes Latham suggests that a difference in pronunciation may let Shakespeare off the hook: the name of melancholy Jaques, as several verse lines indicate, is disyllabic (Jake-is or Jack-is); the single mention of Jaques de Boys, however, might call for monosyllabic or "English" pronunciation, "in so far as prose rhythms are discernible."7 Although other editors similarly distinguish the two characters by pronunciation of the name, Latham herself seems rather dubious about the method's accuracy: "If this is so, it clears Shakespeare of a maladroit duplication of names. If, on the other hand, the names by some oversight were identical, there is little harm done."8

In fact, his name is not the only peculiar thing about the melancholy Jaques. As has frequently been observed, his exuberant spirits belie his nominal complaint. Harold Jenkins says his melancholy is "not the fatigue of spirits of the man who has found the world too much for him, but an active principle. . . . His misanthropy is a form of self-indulgence."9 Latham sees him as more misplaced than melancholic: "his railing against the wicked ways of the world keeps before us the truth that, outside the charmed circle, the ways of the world are wicked. It is only in Arden that his cynicism looks ridiculous. At Elsinore it would be a different matter."10 This is a character who pursues his desire aggressively: "More, I prithee more. I can suck melancholy out of a song, as a weasel sucks eggs. More, I prithee more" (2.5.11-13); who exults over his meeting with Touchstone by laughing, "sans intermission, / An hour by his dial" (2.7.32-33); who intrudes upon the intended mar-textual wedding of Touchstone and Audrey to counsel "a good priest that çan tell you what marriage is" (3.3.76-77). Claiming to love melancholy "better than laughing," he pridefully notes the particularity of his malady: "it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and indeed the sundry contemplation of my travels" (4.1.4, 15-18). Yet Jaques shows little sad or brooding affect: melancholy is for him rather a pose, a role, a set of prescribed behaviors. As the present absence of melancholy, Jaques serves as a kind of placeholder, standing in for the missing second brother, Jaques de Boys, but also, more importantly, standing in for the acknowledgment of loss and sadness missing in Arden's merry crew. He functions, that is, to forestall the threat of melancholia, but in (successfully) doing so, he also figures melancholia's threatening estrangement of self from self.

The logic at work here is that of negation, a subject's method of striking a balance with otherwise disruptive or even destructive energies. Negation, Freud writes, provides "a way of taking cognizance of what is repressed," permitting "the content of a repressed image or idea" to become conscious "on condition that it is negated." The result is an "intellectual acceptance of the repressed, while at the same time what is essential to the repression persists."11 Where true repression threatens to crack under the weight it must bear in order to maintain psychic equilibrium, negation affords a healthy-seeming acknowledgment of what has been repressed. The censor allows troubling material to pass, masking it with a negative judgment. Negation is a trick of comedic function—in fact it seems central to the functioning of comedy—and it bears a close resemblance, as we will see, to the mastery of loss Freud found emblematized in the Fort/Da game. Yet where the game commemorates an acknowledged loss, negation remains poised on a gulf of repression: it is a process that fails to deliver mastery of what is repressed, so that the subject must appeal to language in order to trick herself. The trick, however, is a productive one, enabling not only a patina of psychic order but an enriched functioning: "With the help of the symbol of negation, thinking frees itself from the restrictions of repression and enriches itself with material that is indispensable for its proper functioning."12 Freud stakes no less than the proper functioning of thought itself on the "symbol of negation." Without the ability to have things two ways at once, to confirm through denial, thinking would remain brittle, univalent, impoverished, gripped by repression.13 For many the concept of negation has had a bad rap recently, having been reduced to Freud's masterful refusal to hear his patients when they said "no." Certainly his brag, that "there is no stronger evidence that we have been successful in our effort to uncover the unconscious than when the patient reacts to it with the words 'I didn't think that,' or 'I didn't (ever) think of that,'" is a chilling document of clinical practice.14 Yet an ideological distrust of Freud should not blind us to his brilliant analysis of linguistic symbol-making, especially as his insights into speech and language have been further elucidated by Jacques Lacan. The central ideas on which my essay relies are available in Lacan's "The agency of the letter in the unconscious or reason since Freud," although the function of the linguistic signifier is basic to all Lacan's work, as evidenced by his familiar reference to "the unconscious . . . structured like a language."15 Before turning to the specific content— melancholia—that demands repression in As You Like It, I need to consider in more detail the linguistic and characterological techniques of disguise and substitution.


Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 3082

The melancholy Jaques makes his living, we might say, by cheerfully lampooning what he could be but is not. The linguistic principle he practices is by no means particular to him. The very nature of language, as Lacan and others have unfolded it, is to cloak a meaning that may or may not exist. Building on the work of Ferdinand de Saussure, Lacan refers to the "incessant sliding of the signified under the signifier" as an effect creating a "chain of discourse." The chainlike structure of language in turn allows the possibility "to use it in order to signify something quite other than what it says."16 Or, in Joan Copjec's words, "Since signifiers are not transparent they cannot demonstrate that they are not hiding something behind what they saythey cannot prove that they do not lie. Language can only present itself to the subject as a veil that cuts off from view a reality that is other than what we are allowed to see."17 For Lacan, language acquisition introduces a split within the subject; as "the discourse of the Other," the unconscious functions linguistically but inaccessibly.18As You Like It returns again and again to the ability or propensity of language, and in particular of names, to veil an inaccessible zone, a "reality that is other than what we are allowed to see" and is taken for reality precisely because we are unable to see it.

Consider, for instance, the "new news at the new court" in Act 1, which is nothing "but the old news," specifically that "the old Duke is banished by his younger brother the new Duke" (1.1.96-100). The wordplay unsettles the political structure whose machinations it documents: there is a certain obvious equivalency between old and new news, between old and new dukes, but the placement of Duke Senior away from court, outside of power, underlines his authority as the "real" duke. The keen nostalgia that inspires Charles's comparison of the old duke to "the old Robin Hood of England," fleeting the time "as they did in the golden world" (1.1.116, 118-19), furthers the image of an authoritative, originary, but utterly inaccessible reality. The play's world becomes one of substitutions, where duke replaces duke, brother challenges brother, cousin threatens to unseat cousin, fool topples oaf in the affections of Audrey, Ganymede supplants Silvius in those of Phebe; in the midst of all this, the old duke's namelessness testifies to his unique place outside the linguistic chain of replacements. That he, moreover, embraces pain for its capacity to "feelingly persuade me what I am" (2.1.11) seems to indicate further that he is one character (and the only one, it seems to me, other than Touchstone and the melancholy Jaques) not at least intermittently in the grip of repression.

In contrast to the duke's placement outside the linguistic turnstile, Rosalind fully occupies it. Ganymede's success at standing in for Rosalind is the showpiece of the play's set of substitutions. "Nay, you must call me Rosalind" (3.2.422): what is the love-cure but a glorification of the symbol's substitutive power, an intoxicating revelry in the capacity of language to construct a character, a relationship, a love affair? Ganymede's reiterated claim "And I am your Rosalind" (4.1.62) is accepted on a linguistic basis by Orlando: "I take some joy to say you are, because I would be talking of her" (11. 85-86). But the claim underscores a sense that Ganymede's Rosalind is only a creation of words. In contrast to Rosalind's transformation into Ganymede, which requires a costume and altered behavior, Ganymede adopts the Rosalind role simply and only through conversation with Orlando. Such a demonstration of the character's purely linguistic reality is gravely taxing to theatrical mimesis. In the face of the dissolution threatened by Ganymede as reminder that all the characters are but verbal artifice, the play emphasizes instead the gendered frisson, the apparently stubborn presence of the male Ganymede rather than the female Rosalind enacting amorous play with Orlando. Ganymede indeed protests too much that "he" is really "she," highlighting for viewers the gendered gap between Orlando's actual and virtual love partners. Even Orlando's late signal that he is weary of the game—"I can live no longer by thinking" (5.2.50)—offers no certain escape from the dilemma of equivocal gender: where, and how, might one live without thinking? How can he opt out of the social arrangements born of cognitive ordering? If Orlando's comment does suggest a preference for the physical reality of Rosalind over that of Ganymede, and if the wedding with which the play closes seems to grant his wish, the theatrical condition of the original performance by an all-male cast nevertheless works to undermine this heterosexual ordering.

Ganymede's masquerade as Rosalind opens up the equivocacy of Orlando's desire: it is apparent during the loveplay in Arden that Orlando desires both of them. The compression of male and female personae into one character functions like the symbol of negation, allowing Orlando to acknowledge a repressed idea—"I desire him"—on condition that the idea is negated—"I desire her, not him." Orlando's increased vividness testifies to his enrichment through this symbol of negation. Whereas his first encounter with Rosalind at Duke Frederick's court strikes him dumb, Orlando's interaction with Ganymede/Rosalind shows how, to quote Freud again, his "thinking frees itself from the restrictions of repression and enriches itself with material that is indispensable." But, perhaps because of the arrival of Oliver and his immediate assertion of a heterosexual claim on Celia, Orlando quails from continued "thinking" of this free and enriched sort. His demand of a settled arrangement of heterosexual coupling reinstates the repression of his desire for Ganymede.19

Desire, as Freud was well aware, involves identificatory wishes as well as possessive ones; it can take the form of wishing to be the object or wishing to have it. Not only are Orlando and those readers or viewers who primarily identify with him allowed to acknowledge the titillating possibility of a boy lover, but Rosalind and those who identify with her are likewise allowed the fantasy of being male. This wish seems, to most viewers, not at all surprising: in a masculinist society, who wouldn't choose to be male? Yet I think it's not enough to read the politics of gendered privilege in the Ganymede disguise; we also need to see how erotic play is pressured and manipulated. Rosalind's decision to maintain the Ganymede persona in her interactions with Orlando suggests that she does not wish to participate only as a female in a heterosexual couple. She also wishes to be a boy interacting with Orlando; perhaps she wishes to be, or at least to be like, Orlando himself. Recognizing this erotic tendency allows us to see desire as something other than lack. The Ganymede disguise, once again, lifts the barrier of repression, allowing temporary acknowledgment of illicit erotic desires that are safely veiled by the symbol of negation: not Rosalind but Ganymede; not Ganymede but the pretended Rosalind; and, most encompassingly, not us but Shakespeare's fiction.

In spite of the contrast between Rosalind and her father, between her subordination to linguistic order and her father's placement outside it, there is a sense that what is banished in both their cases takes on greater reality. The old duke is the real duke, and the disguised Rosalind is, or more precisely becomes, the real Rosalind. Rosalind's low spirits in the opening act of the play, that is, make her seem less "herself—the exuberant, inventive character whom viewers cherish—when she appears before us as a girl than during her lengthy period in drag. Celia's pleading tones suggest that her cousin's gloom is uncharacteristic: "I pray thee Rosalind, sweet my coz, be merry" (1.2.1); "my sweet Rose, my dear Rose, be merry" (11. 21-22). Melancholy has displaced Rosalind from herself. By means of her banishment and subsequent disguise, she recovers her spirits. The trip to Arden and the entry into male dress constitute an adventure, of course, but we should also notice that disguise and substitution—veiling her identity—allow Rosalind's return to happiness. Viewers, along with Orlando, know Rosalind better when she is hidden beneath Ganymede than when she appears as herself. Displacement is shown to be the key to characterological recognition, even though all such recognition is bracketed: the tantalizing promise of a reality hidden by the veiling signifier cannot be confirmed; the signifier cannot prove that it does not lie.

This bracketing of linguistically constructed reality means that banishments, displacements, and disguises are never totally realized in As You Like It. Inevitably some trace of what they repress remains behind. I here use trace as both noun and verb, as a suggestive bit left behind and as the action of following the outline or shape of something. Understanding the emotional logic of As You Like It requires attending to such traces, because the play achieves its much-admired balance by covering up with one hand what it reveals with the other. Thus Rosalind's first-act sadness re-emerges momentarily when as Ganymede she sighs that "men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them, but not for love" (4.1.101-3). While she is disguised, her feminine excitability comes to the fore during private exchange with Celia (3.2.215-220; 3.4.1-35; 4.1.195-207). By the same token, Ganymede's ambivalent gender and rhetorical cleverness re-emerge in the Epilogue. As You Like It is unlike a lighter comedy such as A Midsummer Night's Dream, which simply banishes melancholy ("Turn melancholy forth to funerals: / The pale companion is not for our pomp" [1.1.14-15]), and unlike a heavier one such as Measure for Measure, which takes account of the cost of repression on both individual and societal levels. As You Like It achieves its vaunted balance by admitting troubling ideas but cloaking them so as to limit their impact. Joseph Westlund says the play "is sane and wonderful, and it makes us feel that we are too."20 This complexly satisfying effect may suggest a triumphalist plot in which evil is overcome, but As You Like It is not a heavily plotted play. As Jenkins observes, it contains a "minimum of action" and most of it occurs in the first act.21 Instead, what As You Like It offers are symbolic conversions of troubling material. The process starts early, with the mutation of Orlando's fratricidal anger into the recreational rhythm of the wrestling match.22 It includes Duke Senior's conversion of exile into sabbatical and Rosalind's interpretation of banishment as adventure. Repeatedly, painful events are mastered through their symbolic reorganization. As Touchstone says, "when I was at home I was in a better place, but travellers must be content" (2.4.13-14).

Most important to note, the rhythm at work in these repeated instances of painful emotion converted to positive gain is that of the Freudian Fort/Da. Observing his grandson cast a toy away (Fort ["gone"]) only to drag it back (Da ["there"]) by an attached string, Freud found an emblem of the compensatory psyche.23 He partially answered the problem of why the child would repeat a painful experience of loss by noting the mastery achieved in the game and hence, by implication, over the painful departures of his mother that the game supposedly symbolized. But the triumphant ego is ultimately less significant in Freud's analysis of the game than the vexing fact of repetition; and by the end of "Beyond the Pleasure Principle," Freud is led to propose both a death instinct and primary masochism.24

The problem with Freud's Fort/Da formulation, as Lacan allows us to see, is that he overlooks the step of converting actual loss (the mother's departure) into symbolic loss (casting away the toy and assigning words to the enactment). Reading the two as equivalent, Freud proposes a mechanical repetition of emotions on the part of the little boy. Lacan, however, places the crucial step in the process of symbolizing loss, for the positions of absence and presence are reversed through "the introduction of the symbol." "[D]on't forget," Lacan writes, "when he says Fort, it is because the object is here, and when he says Da the object is absent." Language thus effects not a simple repetition but an inversion, so that "absence is evoked in presence, and presence in absence." Far from understanding this as accident or coincidence, Lacan labels it the essence of human discourse; the introduction of the symbol "opens up the world of negativity, which constitutes both the discourse of the human subject and the reality of his world in so far as it is human."25 Where a mechanistic reading of the Fort/Da scenario finds only compulsion to repeat and master, Lacan sees a symbolic conversion that opens up a world of negativity, a linguistic reality in which "the thing" accords imperfectly with "the symbol." If under this order nothing is ever quite what it seems, if reality is displaced by language, a world is nevertheless opened up by the symbolic process. As Lacan puts it, the "subject does not just in this master his privation . . . but he also raises his desire to a second power. "26

Lacan goes on to link the "primal masochism" Freud had mentioned in "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" with "this initial negativation . . . this original murder of the thing."27 Freud found masochism an intensely troubling concept because it contradicted his fundamental premise of an essentially self-protective (and pre-linguistic) psychic economy; over the course of his career he changed his mind several times about the existence and status of primary masochism.28 Lacan's recognition of language as a fundamental third term of psychic reality complicates the idea of primary masochism. Rather than simply implying self-destructiveness, Lacan's sense of an "initial negativation" founded in the symbol develops, and takes us back to, Freud's recognition that "the symbol of negation" proves "indispensable" for thinking. Lacan views the Fort/Da episode, I am suggesting, not in terms of mastery but as an instance of Freudian negation. The synchronic structure of language complicates the diachronic order of events.

Now, As You Like If s Arden, that impossible realm of pastoral possibility, is itself "a world of negativity." This "golden world," with its "tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, / Sermons in stones, and good in everything" (2.1.16-17), is the universe of discourse opened up by symbolic conversion.29 Here language in its various forms proliferates: Corin counsels Silvius and debates with Touchstone; Orlando becomes a poet, "character[ing]" his thoughts in the bark of trees; Jaques orates his view of the "seven ages of man"; and Rosalind/Ganymede uses verbal pretense to engage in courtship with Orlando. All this is predicated on an initial Lacanian "murder of the thing," a willingness to sacrifice a sure reality for the linguistic If whose powers Touchstone documents late in the play (5.4.102). I have discussed already the erotic expansion and possibility enabled by the replacement of Rosalind with Ganymede's personified "Rosalind." The border-crossing "conversion" of Oliver from villain to lover is another signal instance of symbolic inversion. Viewers complain that Oliver's transformation is unrealistic because unmotivated, but his is only the most abrupt of a sheaf of similar changes. He, moreover, narrates his own alteration:

CELIA Was't you that did so oft contrive to kill him?
OLIVER 'Twas I. But 'tis not I. I do not shame
To tell you what I was, since my conversion
So sweetly tastes, being the thing I am.


The point is not that Oliver's essence has been miraculously altered, any more than Rosalind's feminine nature has been replaced by Ganymede's boyish one. Instead it is a matter in each case of new symbolic or linguistic possibilities being opened up through the process of negation: " 'Twas I. But 'tis not I."

What of the part of the melancholy Jaques in this world of negativity? I am arguing that Jaques, even more than Ganymede's Rosalind, exemplifies the power of a symbol to hold at bay a repressed and troubling idea. The melancholy affect of Rosalind is overdetermined in Act 1 : her father's banishment has left her unable and unwilling "to remember any extraordinary pleasure" (1.2.5-6); her sudden passion for Orlando produces "burs .. . in [her] heart" (1.3.16-17); the duke banishes her, on pain of death, for the simply stated reason "that 1 trust thee not" (1.3.51)., Orlando, too, grieves for multiple causes; not only has he been barred from "the place of a brother" (1.1.19), but his successful wrestling is "misconster[ed]" by the duke (1.2.255) and Oliver treacherously plots to kill him. All this, together with the old duke's banishment in Arden, constitutes a weighty burden of gloom at the play's start, a weight that must somehow be acknowledged despite the changed conditions of Orlando and Rosalind when they reappear in Arden. The absent Jaques de Boys becomes the emblem of the severing of family that troubles both Orlando and Rosalind, merging with the melancholy Jaques, who thereby takes on the melancholic burden set down by the other characters upon their entry into Arden.

Freed from the weight of melancholy, both Rosalind and Orlando become extremely verbose. Although Orlando seemed to have no difficulty expressing dismay to Adam or outrage to Oliver, eros then struck him dumb: on first meeting Rosalind, Orlando feels his passion hangs "weights upon [his] tongue," rendering him mute, "a mere lifeless block" (1.2.247, 241). In Arden, however, passionate verses drip from his pen, and he "carve[s] on every tree" (3.2.9) the notation of his love. The samples provided of his poetry indicate that writer's block is not his problem. Rosalind, too, appears somewhat reticent at the start of the play; at one point Celia chides, "Cupid have mercy, not a word?" and Rosalind replies, "Not one to throw at a dog" (1.3.1-3). Although Rosalind acquits herself well enough linguistically during Act 1, she demonstrates none of the loquaciousness that characterizes the Ganymede persona. Arden, we can say, affords a lightening of spirits that brings increased verbal facility. How then can we account for the fact that in the closing moments of the play—specifically, with the arrival of Hymen—Rosalind silences herself? To determine the significance of her movement into and back out of verbal expressiveness, the cultural assumptions linking melancholia, speech, and gender must be investigated. Exploring these connections reveals the stubborn survival of material that resists the censorship of negation, the troubling remnants of cultural prohibitions on maternal connection and on same-sex desires. This emotional debris proves so destabilizing that contemporary theorists maintain that it causes melancholy, and at momentary junctures it unsettles the happy construction of As You Like It. Jaques, once again, enables our investigation.


Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 5144

As I mentioned earlier, Jaques makes a point of carefully defining his melancholy:

I have neither the scholar's melancholy, which is emulation; nor the musician's, which is fantastical; nor the courtier's, which is proud; nor the soldier's, which is ambitious; nor the lawyer's, which is politic; nor the lady's, which is nice; nor the lover's, which is all these; but it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and indeed the sundry contemplation of my travels, in which my often rumination wraps me in a most humorous sadness.


The method of his self-diagnosis reveals as much about early modern notions of melancholia as it does about the character: the malady, in its various forms specified here, seems ubiquitous. Jaques's confidence that his melancholy is distinctively individualistic yields to our sense that the complaint is endemic within the culture. How particularized can its manifestations be? And, to anticipate the conclusion of As You Like It, what happens when the self-assigned keeper of melancholia departs? How could he carry away all traces of a melancholia so various and so widespread?

In his encyclopedic Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Robert Burton echoes Jaques in attempting to define and describe versions of the complaint. Burton generally associates melancholy with mental frenzy, leading to prophecy, speech in strange languages, and proliferating discourse (such as his own book). Burton marks many distinctions in how the affliction affects its sufferers. For one thing, men and women display different symptoms. In contrast to the typical male melancholiac's verbosity, female melancholiacs are described as confused and complaining, "so stupified and distracted" in their suffering that "many of them cannot tell how to expresse themselves in wordes, or how it holds them, what ailes them; you cannot understand them, or well tell what to make of their sayings."30 With this distinction Burton participates in the Renaissance "gendering of melancholia" that Juliana Schiesari has recently analyzed.31 Yet, as Burton himself acknowledges, melancholy can call into question firm differentiation by gender: love-melancholy, he says, "turns a man into a woman."32 The anatomist's efforts to segregate male and female melancholy are subverted by the malady's own disintegrative powers.

In Jaques's self-diagnosis and in Burton's Anatomy, melancholy paradoxically both inscribes difference and testifies to universality. Like the concept of the autonomous subject to which melancholy bears a close (and in some ways mutually-constituting) relation, the affliction isolates its victim; yet the marks of this isolation closely resemble those suffered by other victims. Like subjectivity, melancholy separates into sameness, marking individual boundaries without reliably guaranteeing individuality. Perceiving a connection between melancholia and the development of subjectivity, post-Lacanian theorists—notably Julia Kristeva and Judith Butler—have posited the continuing impact of early experiences of attachment and loss. Both theorists build on Lacan's concept of the split subject, which can be usefully illustrated here by a further Lacanian comment on Freud's Fort/Da episode. Lacan observes that the toy that is cast away and retrieved "is not the mother reduced to a little ball. .. . it is a small part of the subject that detaches itself from him while still remaining his, still retained."33 This reading suggests, briefly, how radically the subject may invest itself in others and how divided its emotional life may be. In their investigations of the split subject in relation to melancholia, Kristeva and Butler have different agendas: Kristeva pursues the link between overpowering emotion, speech, and loss of the mother, while Butler is interested in the formation of gender, which she argues is a melancholic formation. Both connections are relevant to As You Like It. Neither theorist denies the shaping influence of cultural valuations in determining perceived differences between, for instance, men's and women's melancholia, but both seek a psychological motivation for the evolved cultural scenario.

Kristeva, like Burton, follows tradition in valorizing melancholia's proximity to aesthetic creativity. But what Burton wants to see as the specifically female type of melancholia becomes the norm in Kristeva's analysis. She observes that the speech of melancholiacs tends to be repetitive and monotonous, and she maintains that, in its extreme forms, melancholy is linked with aphasia or asymbolia. Kristeva sees this breakdown of linguistic function as specific and meaningful. Language proceeds from the process of negation: a symbol replaces a lost or absent object, so that negativity is "coextensive with the speaking being's psychic activity." Melancholiacs, however, "disavow" negation. Rather than allowing the absent object to be replaced with a sign, they "nostalgically fall back on the real object .. . of their loss, which is just what they do not manage to lose, to which they remain painfully riveted."34 Melancholic artists are able to bypass or even capitalize on their symbolic collapse by creating semiotic representations of their experience, but for ordinary sufferers the condition is painfully disintegrative.

Kristeva's analysis suggests that Orlando's and Rosalind's verbal ease in Arden exhibits, once again, the success of negation. With the melancholy Jaques serving as the symbol for melancholia, the other characters are freed to practice the proliferating substitutions of happy linguistic function. Yet Jaques will eventually depart, and as if in preparation for his exit, Rosalind, with her final words in the play, gives herself to the duke ("I'll have no father, if you be not he") and to Orlando ("I'll have no husband, if you be not he") and announces to Phebe that she will "ne'er wed woman, if you be not she" (5.4.121-23). Positioning herself in relation to father and husband, Rosalind enters the culturally mandated silence of femininity. The line with which she bars herself from ever "wed[ding] woman" is ordinarily played with a comic turn, but it signals that the descent of prescribed gender roles entails prohibition as well as partnership. The easy erotic attractions that proliferate earlier in the play cease with the movement into organized, marriageable couples. The presiding figure for this nuptial ceremony is Hymen, god of marriage and hence of conjunction, but also, through irreducible linguistic association, evoking virginity and hence obstacle or limit. Marriage involves loss as well as gain, and "virginity" names only part of what is lost; Rosalind also leaves behind the Ganymede persona, the affiliated habit of linguistic ease, and the possibility of a primary bond with a(nother) woman. Thus the arrival of Hymen confirms not only heterosexual coupling,35 but also the correspondent movement away from parents and in particular from mothers.

Why mothers? Rosalind's rejection of Phebe closes down the possibility of an intimate relationship with another woman. In terms of the plot, of course, Rosalind's close female friend is Celia not Phebe, but Phebe's erotic attraction has raised the specter of union between two women. Such a union would recapitulate an early bond with a mother. Part of the "confusion" that Hymen "bar[s]" (1. 124), in other words, is the confusion of identities threatened by even this remote suggestion of a maternal bond. Hymen's descent thus points, elliptically, to the profound absence of mothers from As You Like It.36 In her important article "Where Are the Mothers in Shakespeare? Options for Gender Representation in the English Renaissance," Mary Beth Rose argues that Shakespeare's romantic comedies eliminate mothers in their dedication to an "oedipal plot" whereby separation from the mother is the crucial "enabling condition" for satisfactory adulthood.37 Where the maternal role does find its way into Shakespearean drama, it proves distinctly problematic. For Rose, Rosalind's giving of herself to Orlando signals her "voluntary future subordination" as wife and mother, "clarif[ying] a basic structural principle underlying Shakespeare's comic interpretation of marriage and the family: the harmonious, stable, wished-for society is based upon the sacrifice of the mother's desire."38 This picture of the basic outline of Shakespeare's romantic comedies is indisputable, although pursuing the threads of melancholy in the text suggests to me that mothers have been banished only imperfectly from As You Like It. Even this happy comedy reveals the cultural and individual costs of repressing early attachments.

Although the trope of the absent mother is familiar in Shakespearean drama, it is striking to find, in the words of Mario DiGangi, only one "mention of a mother [3.5.35-37] in a play that continually returns to fathers."39 I suspect that disavowed mourning for the mothers whose acknowledgment is forcefully effaced from the play drives the need for a melancholic safeguard who can hold at bay any recognition of emotional loss. The idea that a child's relationship to its nurse can be a precipitating cause of melancholy goes back to Burton: "From a child's Nativity, the first ill accident that can likely befall him, in this kinde is a bad Nurse, by whose meanes alone hee may bee tainted with this malady from his cradle."40 Kristeva gives the idea modern expression, claiming in Black Sun that melancholia is fundamentally linked with the subject's loss of the mother; it is "impossible mourning for the maternal object."41 Indeed in her view, language itself proceeds from such a loss:

"I have lost an essential object that happens to be, in the final analysis, my mother," is what the speaking being seems to be saying. But . . . since I consent to lose her I have not lost her (that is the negation), I can recover her in language.42

This is a troubling crux in Kristeva's thought: having equated melancholia with inadequate movement into the symbolic realm and having traced that failure to unsuccessful separation from the mother, she suggests the necessity of "matricide" as the "sine-quanon condition of our individuation."43 Schiesari argues that Kristeva's "murderous rhetoric of violence against women" reproduces the misogyny of masculine tradition.44 Certainly Kristeva's miming of a nostalgic voice (" 'I have lost . . .' ") can imply a regressive fixation on the lost mother. But reading Kristeva as more closely aligned with Lacan renders a different emphasis: that mothers are lost because the primal bond with them occurs prior to linguistic acquisition. Thus where Schiesari finds Black Sun evincing Kristeva's "own ambivalence, if not hatred, toward women,"45 Lynn Enterline suggests that the text contains a more technical error, Kristeva's apparent ascription of maternal identity to a connection that both logically and developmentally must precede any such notation of identity. She observes that in other texts Kristeva, following Lacan, presents the link between melancholia and the entry into the symbolic in recursive terms, since the mother becomes intelligible only within the symbolic order.46 It seems Kristeva may intentionally ambiguate her argument, since to claim full command of the signifier would, according to her theory, enact the abjection of maternal flesh.

Although questions remain about the degree to which Kristeva valorizes, diagnoses, or participates in hatred of the mother, As You Like It exhibits clear traces of misogyny, which make it difficult to believe that in the creation of this fiction mothers were simply forgotten. At certain moments the misogyny in As You Like It resembles that in Black Sun, however one chooses to explain Kristeva's position. Ganymede, for complex reasons, voices numerous negative remarks about Rosalind, inspiring Celia's charge "You have simply misused our sex in your love-prate" (4.1.191-92). Ganymede also attacks Phebe in distinctly gendered terms ("Who might be your mother .. . ?" "'Tis such fools as you / That makes the world full of ill-favour'd childen" [3.5.35, 52-53]). Jaques exhibits profoundly homosocial habits, refraining from ever addressing a female character, although he addresses the "pretty youth" Ganymede (4.1.1).47 So while the presence of Jaques blocks melancholia in Arden and opens up a certain degree of gendered freedom for Rosalind/Ganymede and Orlando, the absence of mothers suggests, in line with Rose's argument, something closer to repression—an attempt to hide the troubling effort to resist maternal entanglement by keeping mothers altogether out of the picture.48 The presence of melancholy Jaques, figuring the fact of loss without its eroding consequence, forestalls acknowledgment of the ongoing presence of certain desires that cannot be claimed or expressed, but the play does not thereby create an ideal site of gendered or psychological equality.49 Its design and its accommodations are imperfect as well as temporary.

Anne Barton observes that Jaques's "withdrawal at the end impoverishes the comic society. . . . Like a ship which has suddenly jettisoned its ballast, the play no longer rides quite evenly in the waves."50 Certainly I agree that Jaques's presence is crucial to the balance of the play, but I see his departure as disruptive because of what he leaves behind rather than what he takes away with him. Before his departure Jaques announces an inheritance to each of the male characters on stage: his "former honour" to the duke, "love" to Orlando and Oliver, "a long and well-deserved bed" to Silvius, "wrangling" to Touchstone (5.4.185-90). Jaques's bequest here returns the play to the issues of inheritance with which it began but does so within a more overtly gendered arrangement, since four of the five inheritors stand as part of a newly married couple. It is an odd speech, not only because "considerations of rank ought to have assigned" it to the duke,51 but because it is difficult to know what Jaques could have to "bequeath" (1. 185)—other than his melancholy. Melancholy is what I understand him to be redistributing over the four couples, in the strongly prescribed gender formations in which Hymen has left them.

Why should melancholy return at this point, as experiential fact rather than as name? An association seems to exist between marriage and melancholy, although the issue that induces sadness seems less marriage per se and more the shutting-down of gender play. As I have suggested, Rosalind gives up the freedoms and possibilities of Ganymede in order to marry Orlando: she strongly embraces femininity as a limit. Rosalind's final appearance as the Epilogue, whose words unsettle the relationships between boy actor, Ganymede, and Rosalind, testifies to the diminution effected by Rosalind's marriage. Characteristically, the play gives back in the Epilogue part of what has been taken away by the nuptial resolution. The Epilogue's careful separation of viewers into men and women, however, maintains the gender opposition ordained by Hymen.

For many viewers a sense of loss pervades the closing moments of the play, sadness that a joyous romp is over but more specifically, I think, sadness that Arden's fluid erotic arrangements have yielded to a traditional, fixed structure. We might gain insight into this response through the link Judith Butler has suggested between gender and melancholia. Furthering Freud's concept of identification as a way of preserving a loved object, Butler understands gender to result from disavowed grief. Indeed, in Butler's strong interpretation gender itself is a melancholy construction. An object that is prohibited—typically in our culture the same-sex object—is incorporated into the ego and thus consolidated as "masculinity" or "femininity."52 Butler is most interested in how same-sex desire escapes recognition in a heterosexual culture. Following this line of thought, it is possible to argue that Ganymede/Rosalind permits into consciousness the recognition of same-sex desire, desire both to have and to be, as I have suggested above. As far as male subjects go, Butler's concern with the heterosexual imperative does not accord perfectly with the culture in which As You Like It was written. In the patriarchal, masculinist world of early seventeenth-century England, "marriage did not necessarily curtail homoerotic desire," for men at least, because "the constitution of the early modern household and the absence of a distinct ideology of heterosexuality" opened the door to a variety of sexual practices.53 However, in this world an emotional attachment to the mother would have been disavowed by young men at their breeching and later at school, leading us back to Kristeva's sense of melancholia as "impossible mourning for the maternal object. " As Gail Kern Paster shows, the image of melancholia resulting from disrupted early attachment is present in Jaques's reference to the infant "Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms" (2.7.144); acutely noting that the nurse, not the mother, holds this infant, Paster suggests that the image implies the "extended gastrointestinal trauma," with its accompanying psychological consequences, experienced by babies who were wet-nursed.54 For women the cultural picture with regard to maternal connection is somewhat more ambiguous than for men, although within the play we have noted that Rosalind's movement into marriage involves assigning herself to her husband and father, barring herself from "wed[ding] woman," and embracing silence. Both Kristeva's and Butler's theories of melancholy appear relevant in Rosalind's case, and thus both melancholic foreclosure of the mother's loss and melancholic gender formation are inscribed within the play.

Evidently something about the bleeding edges of melancholia as a construction make it difficult to limit. Both Kristeva's and Butler's theories of melancholy present a problem of adducing limits. Kristeva indicates a particularized condition when she diagnoses mourning for the maternal object, but when she links language itself to this cause, the particularity evaporates and one can less easily charge her with a pathological misogyny. Butler, on the other hand, sees melancholia as ubiquitous in a gendered culture, but the problem becomes in application a slightly more particular one of disavowed attachment to the same-sex object within heterosexist culture. This is not simply a problem with postmodern theories of melancholy: similar slippage characterizes early seventeenth-century discussions. Jacques Ferrand's Treatise on Lovesickness (1610, 1623) manages to avoid clearly differentiating between the particular excesses of erotic mania and a more general view of love as a disease or disruptive force. When Ferrand cites, for instance, the power of passionate love to transform women into men, the condition would seem particularized; but his recitation of surgical, pharmaceutical, and empirical cures for love suggests that the condition is endemic.55 As a practicing physician, he may have intended his book to build his clientele, and he was no doubt documenting the suffering caused by sexual repression in early modern society. Burton's monumental Anatomy is even more precariously perched on the divide between generality and specificity. Burton begins by distinguishing between melancholy as a "Disposition," part of the mixed and various experience of human life and "in this sense .. . the Character of mortalitie," and the more settled, intrinsic "habit" of melancholy as "a Chronicke or continuate disease."56 Yet the distinction quickly crumbles, since the passing disposition of individuals is traced to the very condition of mortality and hence can scarcely be escaped. Promising in the title to explain "what it is, with all the kinds, causes, symptomes, prognostickes & severall cures of it," Burton's book proliferates details to such an extent that the condition becomes universalized. As Schiesari notes, his "systematizing reason is contradicted by Burton's key assertion that 'all the world' is mad from melancholy."57

In Kristeva, Butler, Ferrand, and Burton the repeated movement between the particular and the universal supports a sense that melancholia is not just difficult to define but that it is intrinsically linked with language, that the concept itself is part of the process of symbolic substitution. The particular is replaced by another particular: thus the deferral of the signifier accounts for absence through language. Lacan, as we recall, found "primal masochism" in the subject's willingness to engage in symbolic substitution. Permitting or even inviting loss in order to taste the complex pleasure of sweet sorrow, a lovesick swain such as Silvius or Orlando falls under the spell of poetry. The sort of masochism Lacan speaks of is distinctly purposeful: it yields pleasure. So, too, the melancholic lover of the Renaissance engaged in suffering as a means of refining his spirit; it was "a quest of the spirit that passe[d] through the dangers of psychic decomposition in an act of ultimate self-affirmation."58 To see masochism simply as pain that is sought, or melancholy as pain that is welcomed, avoids both the full complexity of these acts of psychic compensation and, evidently, their full reward. The rich wordplay of As You Like It illustrates how successfully (though never completely) language can substitute for lost objects and repressed desires.

At the end of As You Like It, then, when Orlando has tired of "thinking" (both in his own sense and in the one Freud indicates as a benefit öf negation) and invited the reassertion of gendered order and heterosexual coupling, the melancholic truth of gender emerges with Ganymede's disappearance and Hymen's arrival. Both Orlando and Rosalind must disavow an aspect of desire that has emerged in Arden so that a proper marriage can occur. Significantly, the melancholy Jaques here departs, replaced by the Second Brother, who appears as through a revolving door. We miss the point if we suppose that the melancholy Jaques leaves because he finds the concluding happiness inimical to his interests. The doubling of the two Jaqueses should make us suspicious of just such an emphasis on character at the expense of symbolic patterning. Rather, by serving as the placeholder for melancholy, the melancholy Jaques has helped to keep gender questions open; more broadly, he has allowed an opening-up of discourse, an enriched thinking, By enabling the function of negation, he has made the play a comedy.

The arrival of Jaques de Boys with news from abroad that spurs the departure of the melancholy Jaques also reveals the relation of Arden to the "real" world of the court. If Arden, the place of banishment, is Fort, the arrival of the Second Brother would seem to announce Da, the completion of the pattern, the return to reality, and the end of the play. The doubling of the two Jaqueses partially unsettles, however, any closure the pattern might promise, for it is difficult to know which Jaques we should consider prior—the first we hear of? the first we see?—so that Fort and Da, absence and presence, tend to reverse themselves, according to the Lacanian linguistic structure I have noted. The logic of negation is double, not linear.

Since, as Derrida claims, "the writing of a fort/da is always a fort/da,"59 this demonstration of the pattern's relevance to As You Like It might deliver a sense of closure and mastery—at least until we remember that Freud, by the time he finished writing about the Fort/ Da, came to doubt his own insistence on the pleasure principle and reached the conclusion that, in Derrida's words, "instead of one unknown, now we have two."60 However it might have seemed to Freud, for later generations the Fort/Da's completed pattern and its promise of mastery hold less significance (and, perhaps, less satisfaction) than the discursive opportunity it presents. So, too, at the end of As You Like It any number of unsettling questions remain about the disposition of the characters toward one another and toward themselves, about the connection between Ardenic freedom and a return to court, about the desirability of gendered ordering—in the most encompassing sense, about the degree of closure the play attains. As the figure whose presence opens up, sustains, modifies, and partially replaces the narrative and symbolic logic of the play, Jaques functions like "theory": he appears inexplicably within the text but is finally extruded from it. He doubles or supplements another figure with a more legitimate link to the play's fiction, a figure who claims the authority of the real world when he appears late in the play. Like theory or like a construction of negation, Jaques's melancholic presence does not so much explain the play as enrich our thinking about it.


This essay originated in a seminar at the 1997 meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America; it was revised with support from the Rhodes College Faculty Development Endowment. I appreciate the helpful comments of Bob Byer, Jennifer Brady, Christy Desmet, Richard Finkelstein, Martha Ronk, Chris Stroffolino, and especially Amy Hollywood and Shakespeare Quarterly's editors and anonymous readers.

1 See, for instance, William Hazlitt, Characters of Shakespeare's Plays (London: C. H. Reynell, 1817), 158-59; Jan Kott, Shakespeare Our Contemporary, trans. Boleslaw Taborski (New York: W. W. Norton, 1966), 168.

2 Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1976), 61.

3 Quotations from As You Like It follow the Arden edition by Agnes Latham (New York: Methuen, 1975). Quotations from other Shakespeare plays follow The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974).

4 Cf. Juliana Schiesari's comment that "melancholia, as a cultural category .. . if not as a medical category, is essentially theatrical" (The Gendering of Melancholia: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Symbolics of Loss in Renaissance Literature [Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1992], 236).

5 See Harold Jenkins, "As You Like It," Shakespeare Survey 8 (1955): 40-51, esp. 42.

6 At the beginning of 5.4, Oliver also confronts the melancholy Jaques with no apparent sign of recognition, but the plots are winding down by this point.

7 Latham, ed., lxviii.

8 Latham, ed., lxviii. See also The Norton Shakespeare, ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996), 1612n: and Evans, ed., 376n.

9 Jenkins, 45

10 Latham, ed., lxxvi.

11 Sigmund Freud, "Negation" in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, trans. James Strachey, 24 vols. (London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1961), 19:233-39, esp. 235-36.

12 Freud, "Negation," 236.

13 Cf. Martha Ronk Lifson's emphasis on the play's use of lies, "which open up possibilities to minds which might otherwise be enclosed, narcissistic, narrow" ("Learning By Talking: Conversation in As You Like It," SS 40 [1987]: 91-105, esp. 92). I agree with Ronk about the play's affirmation of pretence and complex truths, but I see the characters as subject to language and its effects rather than as masters of their conversational fates.

14 Freud, "Negation," 239.

15 Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: W. W. Norton, 1981), 20. Lacan's "The agency of the letter" appears in Écrits: A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: W. W. Norton, 1977), 146-78. See also Jacques Lacan, Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis, trans. Anthony Wilden (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins UP, 1968). For an accessible explanation of Lacanian theory, see Bruce Fink, The Lacanian Subject: Between Language and Jouissance (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1995).

16 Lacan, Écrits, 154 and 155.

17 Joan Copjec, Read My Desire: Lacan against the Historicists (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994), 54.

18 Lacan, Écrits, 172.

19 For discussion of how the play's acknowledgment of multiple and shifting erotic desires works against the concluding image of heterosexual marriage, see Valerie Traub, Desire and Anxiety: Circulations of Sexuality in Shakespearean Drama (New York: Routledge, 1992), 122-30, esp. 123. For the argument that Rosalind/ Ganymede's doubled gender is necessary for the play's happy ending, see Susanne L. Wofford, " 'To You I Give Myself, For I Am Yours': Erotic Performance and Theatrical Performatives in As You Like It" in Shakespeare Reread: The Texts in New Contexts, Russ McDonald, ed. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1994), 147-69.

20 Joseph Westlund. Shakespeare's Reparative Comedies: A Psychoanalytic View of the Middle Plays (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1984), 69.

21 Jenkins, 42 and 41. Anne Barton similarly observes that "the play's plot barely exists" (" 'As You Like It' and Twelfth Night': Shakespeare's Sense of an Ending" in Shakespearian Comedy, David Palmer and Malcom Bradbury, eds. [London: Edward Arnold, 1972], 160-80, esp. 162).

22 See Cynthia Marshall, "Wrestling as Play and Game in As You Like It" Studies in English Literature 33 (1993): 265-87.

23 Freud, "Beyond the Pleasure Principle," Standard Edition, 18:1-64, esp. 15.

24 Freud, "Beyond the Pleasure Principle," Standard Edition, 18:38 and 54-55.

25 Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book I: Freud's Papers on Technique 1953-1954, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. John Forrester (New York: W. W. Norton, 1988), 173-74.

26 Lacan, Seminar I, 173.

27 Lacan, Seminar I, MA.

28 In "Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality" (1905) Freud views sadism and masochism as congruent; in "Instincts and Their Vicissitudes" (1915) he questions the existence of primary masochism, but his claim that sadists identify with their victims essentially posits a hidden masochism; in "The Economic Problem of Masochism" (1924) Freud theorizes that a conjunction of the death instinct with the libido.produces the various forms of masochism.

29 William Kerrigan similarly observes that "Arden is a text.... a forest of literacy, teeming with heteroglossia" ("Female Friends and Fraternal Enemies in As You Like It" in Desire in the Renaissance: Psychoanalysis and Literature, Valeria Finucci and Regina Schwartz, eds. [Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1994], 184-203, esp. 194).

30 Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, ed. Thomas C. Faulkner, Nicolas K. Keissling, and Rhonda L. Blair, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989-94), 1:415.

31 See Schiesari, 243-56.

32 Burton, 3:142. See also Schiesari, 252.

33 Lacan, Four Fundamental Concepts, 62.

34 Julia Kristeva, Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia, trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia UP, 1989), 45 and 43-44.

35 See Traub, 127.

36 Interestingly, Derrida reads the bedclothes into which young Ernst Freud threw his spool as "the hymen of the fort:da," the marker of loss and distance while also the marker of the mother whose absence first inspired his game. Although many readers assume the child himself is in the bed, Derrida points out that the child must be located outside the bed in order to throw the toy through the curtains into the bed; thus "the bed . .. is fort" (The Postcard: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond, trans. Alan Bass [Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987], 316 and 315).

37 Mary Beth Rose, "Where Are the Mothers in Shakespeare? Options for Gender Representation in the English Renaissance," Shakespeare Quarterly 42 (1991): 291-314, esp. 301.

38 Rose, 302 and 303.

39 Mario DiGangi, "Queering the Shakespearean Family," SQ 47 (1996): 269-90, esp. 284.

40 Burton, 1:328. Burton goes on to describe bad nurses in some detail, furthering his misogynistic agenda. By contrast, Kristeva's focus is on the relationship between child and mother rather than on the latter's overt deficiencies.

41 Kristeva, 9.

42 Kristeva, 43.

43 Kristeva, 27 and 28.

44 Schiesari, 80.

45 Schiesari, 91.

46 See Lynn Enterline, The Tears of Narcissus: Melancholia and Masculimity in Early Modern Writing (Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1995), 32-38.

47 I owe this point to Chris Stroffolino.

48 This sense of the play draws on Janet Adelman's observation that in Shakespeare's plays written before Hamlet, "masculine identity is constructed in and through the absence of the maternal" (Suffocating Mothers: Fantasies of Maternal Origin in Shakespeare's Plays, Hamlet to The Tempest [New York: Routledge, 1992], 10). Kerrigan has also recently argued thatAs You Like It deals with "maternal menace." In his Kleinian reading, Arden corresponds to "the mother of infancy," specifically to Shakespeare's mother (Mary Arden) and Shakespeare's infant experience of "being displaced at the breast" by his brother Gilbert (194-97, esp. 195 and 196).

49 Lynn Hunt makes the important point that the tendency to idealize the Renaissance, and in particular to idealize it as a site of "polymorphous eroticisms and loosely constructed gender boundaries," needs to be resisted and countered by a realistic attention to "connections between sexuality and power" ("Afterword" in Queering the Renaissance, Jonathan Goldberg, ed. [Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1994], 359-77, esp. 373).

50 Barton, 171.

51 Barton, 166.

52 See Judith Butler, "Melancholy Gender / Refused Identification" in Constructing Masculinity, Maurice Berger, Brian Wallis, and Simon Watson, eds. (New York: Routledge, 1995), 21-36; see also the earlier version of the argument in Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990), 57-65.

53 DiGangi, 289.

54 Gail Kern Paster, The Body Embarrassed: Drama and the Disciplines of Shame in Early Modern England (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1993), 218.

55 See Jacques Ferrand, A Treatise on Lovesickness, ed. and trans. Donald A. Beecher and Massimo Ciavolella (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse UP, 1990), 230.

56 Burton, 1:136 and 139.

57 Schiesari, 247.

58 Beecher and Ciavolella, eds., 157.

59 Derrida, Postcard, 321.

60 Derrida, Postcard, 22.

Source: "The Doubled Jaques and Constructions of Negation in As You Like It," in Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 49, No. 4, Winter, 1998, pp. 375-92.

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-hour free trial

Reification and Utopia in As You Like It: Desire and Textuality in the Green World


The Political Conscious of Shakespeare's As You Like It

Explore Study Guides