Shakespeare's Silvae: Mapping Shakespeare's Dramatic Arboreal Landscape
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SubjectDepartment of English, University of the South; Sewanee, Tennessee; Shakespeare; Trees; Arboreal; Nature; Titus Andronicus; A Midsummer Night's Dream; As You Like It; Renaissance Drama; Forest
AbstractMuch like Macbeth, Shakespeare was besieged by trees. His literary and theatrical fate was grafted with them. In Shakespeareâ€™s Judeo-Christian background, a tree marked both the foundation of Manâ€™s Fall and the beginning of His resurrection. He not only performed within the â€œwooden Oâ€ (H5 I.chorus.13 ) but also set many of his plays both in and on the outskirts of real and imagined forests â€“ including Arden, Windsor, Birnan, and Athens. Allusively, physically, dramatically, and structurally, Shakespeare encloses his work and himself in trees. How, then, does this arboreal envelopment inform his dramatic corpus? Shakespeare uses trees, both individually and collectively, as shifting paradoxical images: they are a place of protection and danger, noise and silence, structure and collapse, and freedom and entrapment.
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