Abuse of power and banishment
From ‘effet de retour’ to unnaturalness
in Shakespeare and the denial of territory
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Chapter 2 examines the connection between abuse of power and banishment in King Richard II, King Lear and Coriolanus. Abuses of power that take the form of banishment can be interpreted as a direct consequence of parrhesia, insofar as parrhesia has been experienced by the interlocutor as speech abuse. Abusive banishment may thus be taken as an ‘effet de retour’ of abusive speech. Naturally, this abuse is not presented as such, as ‘wrong or improper use’, but is openly justified by (mis)interpreting free-spokenness as treason (political misinterpretation) and hubris (moral misinterpretation). A third party is also called for to support or side with the abuser – pagan gods in King Lear, the council in King Richard II and the people in Coriolanus. Yet abuses of power are perceptible in the shift from institutional justice to personal revenge betrayed by the motif of the wilfully deaf ear, by arbitrary decisions, and by the ‘catapulting force’ of affect (here ‘wrath’).

Shakespeare and the denial of territory

Banishment, abuse of power and strategies of resistance

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