Spenser and Shakespeare

Thirteen writers have comprehensively explained the Renaissance scheme of physiology-psychology used for nosce teipsum, to ‘know oneself’, and other scholars have analysed key features like humours, bodily spirits, passions, reason, inner wits, soul and spirit, mystic apprehension. Only poets with epic scope, like Spenser and Shakespeare, depict human nature holistically, yet these finest poets have radically distinct psychologies. Spenser’s Christianised Platonism prioritises the soul, his art mirroring divine Creation as dogmatically and encyclopedically conceived. He looks to the past, collating classical and medieval authorities in memory-devices like the figurative house, nobly ordered in triadic mystic numerical hierarchy to reform the ruins of time. Shakespeare’s sophisticated Aristoteleanism prioritises the body, highlighting physical processes and dynamic feelings of immediate experience, and subjecting them to intense, skeptical consciousness. He points to the future, using the witty ironies of popular stage productions to test and deconstruct prior authority, opening the unconscious to psychoanalysis. This polarity of psychologies is radical and profound, resembling the complementary theories of physics, structuring reality either (like Spenser) in the neatly-contained form of particle theory, or (like Shakespeare) in the rhythmic cycles of wave theory. How do we explain these distinct concepts, and how are they related? These poets’ contrary artistry appears in strikingly different versions of a ‘fairy queen’, of humour-based passions (notably the primal passion of self-love), of intellection (divergent modes of temptation and of moral resolution), of immortal soul and spirit, of holistic plot design, and of readiness for final judgment.

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Rationale, scope and key concepts
Joe Larragy

-­case holistic design; b) single-­ case embedded design; c) multiple-­case holistic design; and d) multiple-­case embedded design. Table 4.1  Typology of case studies Holistic (single unit of analysis) Embedded (multiple units of analysis) Single-­case designs Multiple-­case designs a) single-­case holistic design (one case in its context) b) single-­case embedded design (several units in a shared case context) c) multiple-­case holistic design (several cases each in its own context) d) multiple-­case embedded design (several contexts each with multiple units) In these

in Asymmetric engagement
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Final vistas of Spenser and Shakespeare
Robert Lanier Reid

three-level, bifurcated sequence to the Christian-Platonic pattern of Richard of St Victor’s The Mystical Ark and of Bonaventure’s The Soul’s Journey into God – a pattern epitomized by the six-winged seraph in Isaiah’s temple vision of God. 75 Nor do Crossett and Stump observe that Spenser’s patterning of the sins matches the holistic design of The Faerie Queene , the

in Renaissance psychologies
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Robert Lanier Reid

multilevel meanings of spirit as a continual warfare between bodily and heavenly referents: ‘the expense of spirit in a waste of shame …’. Part II: Holistic design Building on this radical divergence in the two poets’ depictions of psychology, the final three chapters explain how Spenserian psychology shapes the holistic design of his epic, and how Shakespearean psychology shapes the

in Renaissance psychologies
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Robert Lanier Reid

powers before final judgment. Most challenging of all is to envision how these distinctive views of the human body, of psychic management, and of providential rescue, inform the holistic design of each poet’s work. Spenser’s numbered access to the mystic body The key to Spenser’s artistry and conception of psychology lies in his use of ancient

in Renaissance psychologies
Robert Lanier Reid

reappear in the three pairs of complementary legends is a touchstone for comprehending the poem’s holistic design: its ideational form, its political purpose, and ultimately its mystic vision. 148 Three faces of Duessa The Faerie Queene ’s descent through three stages of allegory (Books 1–2, 3–4, 5–6) is evident in

in Renaissance psychologies
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Robert Lanier Reid

3–4 (chastity, friendship) and the sensate virtues of Books 5–6 (justice, courtesy)? 1 . Spenser’s thematic art, drawing from the immense reserves of past authorities and using a mystically-numbered holistic design, has an intellectual advantage over Shakespeare , but, constricted by social and aesthetic principles, it does not

in Renaissance psychologies
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‘Experience, though noon auctoritee’
Robert Lanier Reid

chiastic arrangement gives an uncanny sense of ‘perfection’ to an outcome initiated by the protagonist. Growth to self-knowledge is implicit in Shakespeare’s holistic design: three cycles (Acts 1–2, Act 3, Acts 4–5) form a powerful passional chiasmus – a stark contrast to Spenser’s intellectual chiasmus of hierarchic descent and

in Renaissance psychologies