Myth, Emblem, and Music in Shakespeare's "Cymbeline": An Iconographic Reconstruction

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Overview

Winner of the University of Delaware Press Award for the best manuscript in Shakespearean Studies, this study clarifies and revitalizes Shakespeare's Cymbeline for the modern reader through a rediscovery of the poet's artistic use of Renaissance myths, symbols, and emblematic topoi that give meaning to the play. Although mainly concerned with the rich classical and Christian iconography of Cymbeline, the book also rages widely over Shakespeare's dramatic and nondramatic works and beyond to the work of his contemporaries in Renaissance poetry, drama, art, theology, philosophy, emblems, and myths to show parallels between the mysteries of this tragicomedy and other examples of Renaissance thought and expression. It uncovers actual representations in the visual arts of parallels to the play's descriptive and theatrical moments. These iconographic parallels are lavishly illustrated in the book through photographs of Renaissance plaster work, embroidery, metalwork, oil paintings, and sculpture, but primarily through woodcuts and engravings from English and Continental emblem books of the period. The visual imagery is carefully related to an intellectual explanation of Cymbeline's complex Neoplatonic and Reformation themes. The author begins with a extended definition of the genre of Renaissance tragicomedy, a form developed for Christian artistic purposes in Italy by Tasso and Guarini. Aside from the obviously similar characteristics of a happy ending and the presence of an oracle, Cymbeline shares nine other artistic aspects with the pioneer Italian tragicomedies Aminta and Il pastor fido, including the celebration of an Orphic ritual of death and resurrection. After a discussion of the Neoplatonic and Ovidian mythology embedded in the play, the book considers in detail the iconography of Imogen's elaborately decorated bedroom as a reconciliation of opposites, the iconography of primitivism and Wild Men versus courtier as a satire of the British court, and the icon
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874134292
  • Publisher: University of Delaware Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1992
  • Pages: 400

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 9
Introduction 13
1 Cymbeline as a Renaissance Tragicomedy 29
2 Myths, Explicit and Implicit, in Cymbeline 66
3 The Iconography of Imogen's Bedchamber 95
4 The Iconography of Primitivism in Cymbeline 136
5 Anti-Courtier Imagery in Cymbeline 170
6 The Iconography of Birds in Cymbeline 198
7 The Iconography of Vegetation 241
8 Animals, Minerals, and Rituals 272
9 The Five Senses and the Limits of Perception 300
10 Conclusion: The Tempered Music of Orpheus 334
Select Bibliography 364
Index 379
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