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Gothic RenaissanceA reassessment$
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Elisabeth Bronfen and Beate Neumeier

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719088636

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719088636.001.0001

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Beyond reason: Hamlet and early modern stage ghosts

Beyond reason: Hamlet and early modern stage ghosts

Chapter:
(p.32) 2 Beyond reason: Hamlet and early modern stage ghosts
Source:
Gothic Renaissance
Author(s):

Catherine Belsey

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719088636.003.0003

Catherine Belsey uses a historical approach to explore Shakespeare’s introduction of ‘mystery, uncertainty, equivocation (the components of the uncanny)’ to the Renaissance stage through an integration of ‘the popular tradition of fireside ghost stories’ in the intertextual web of his plays. Taking up key terms of the Gothic such as the macabre, terror, equivocation and the uncanny, Belsey explores Shakespeare’s use of ghostly apparitions for a ‘blending of existing conventions to change the parameters for fiction’, addressing uncertainties about the relation between spirit and matter, about the reliability of the senses. Belsey locates the difference of Shakespearean ghosts from earlier stage ghosts rooted in the classical tradition in their direct interaction with the world of the living, in the evocation of terror shared by the onstage characters, and in the persistence of uncertainty and equivocation.

Keywords:   ghosts, ghost stories, uncanny, equivocation, macabre, terror

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