Silence, Rape and Politics in 'Measure for Measure': Close Readings in Theatre History.
Johns Hopkins University Press
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Awaiting publisher permission
Ever since John Barton, in 1970, deliberately gave Measure for Measure an ‘open’ ending, the indeterminacy of the play’s conclusion has been widely recognised. It forms the crucial problem investigated by Philip McGuire’s chapter on the play in Speechless Dialect: Shakespeare’s Open Silences (1984), in which he analysed the six distinct ‘open silences’ that punctuate the last Act. This article revisists McGuire’s work in the light of more recent developments in theatre history and performance studies and investigates the relationship between rape, silence and politics in Act Five of Measure for Measure. Combining a reappraisal of Isabella’s silences in the light of Tiffany Stern’s work on actors’ parts with a theoretically self-conscious application of close reading techniques to archival records of a range of RSC performances (reviews, promptbooks, photographs, archival video recordings, actors’ and directors’ comments), I show how Isabella’s silent body in performance generates political meanings that can only be decoded through detailed attention to the performance text and its relation to its historical context.
Post print version of article deposited in accordance with SHERPA RoMEO guidelines. Copyright © 2008, Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in Shakespeare Bulletin Vol.27 pp 1-23. Reprinted with permission by The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Vol. 27, pp. 1 - 23
Place of publication