Dissembling and avoiding banishment
in Shakespeare and the denial of territory
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Chapter 7 concentrates on an indirect strategy of resistance that is the product of ruse, of ‘cunning intelligence’, or metis in Greek. The dynamic of frontal riposte gives way to the dynamic of deviation (the choice of Kent and Edgar in King Lear). This chapter examines how deviation paradoxically means staying here, in the homeland, instead of going away, elsewhere, and how this entails dissembling: changing one’s physical appearance, one’s behaviour and one’s voice, creating an unexpected persona to produce an effect of trompe l’oeil, temporarily renouncing one’s identity to assume the semblance of otherness, so that one’s former self can go unnoticed, as if imperceptible. In King Lear, Kent turns to service, and Edgar to Bedlam begging. Their becoming imperceptible paradoxically entails showing up in the most risky places, right before one’s banisher’s nose, for instance, or publicly undressing to exhibit a nearly naked body that can be scrutinised like a map. It is as if imposing one’s ostentatious persona were the best way to hide one’s genuine identity, and this is why this chapter also focuses on the dialectics of ostentation and dissimulation.

Shakespeare and the denial of territory

Banishment, abuse of power and strategies of resistance

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