The Third Citizen

The Third Citizen

Shakespeare's Theater and the Early Modern House of Commons

eBook - 2007
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After reviewing some the debates around the Elizabethan and Jacobean House of Commons, Arnold (English, Princeton U.) explores the portrayal of political representation in the Rome of Shakespeare's plays. The topics include political representation, property, and rape in Titus Andronicus and The Rape of Lucrece; and from demos to electorate in Coriolanus. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Johns Hopkins University Press

The new practices and theories of parliamentary representation that emerged during Elizabeth's and James' reigns shattered the unity of human agency, redefined the nature of power, transformed the image of the body politic, and unsettled constructs and concepts as fundamental as the relation between presence and absence.

In The Third Citizen, Oliver Arnold argues that recovering the formation of political representation as an effective ideology should radically change our understanding of early modern political culture, Shakespeare's political art, and the way Anglo-American critics, for whom representative democracy is second nature, construe both. In magisterial readings ofTitus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Coriolanus, and the First Tetralogy, Arnold discovers a new Shakespeare who was neither a conservative apologist for monarchy nor a prescient, liberal champion of the House of Commons but instead a radical thinker and artist who demystified the ideology of political representation in the moment of its first flowering. Shakespeare believed that political representation produced (and required for its reproduction) a new kind of subject and a new kind of subjectivity, and he fashioned a new kind of tragedy to represent the loss of power, the fall from dignity, the false consciousness, and the grief peculiar to the experiences of representing and of being represented. Representationalism and its subject mark the beginning of political modernity; Shakespeare’s tragedies greet political representationalism with skepticism, bleakness, and despair.

Publisher: Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007
ISBN: 9780801893278
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xii, 308 pages, [6] pages of plates) : illustrations


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