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LOVE'S PHILOSOPHY IN SHAKESPEAREAN TRAGEDY
- LOVE'S PHILOSOPHY IN SHAKESPEAREAN TRAGEDY
- SHIN, CHONG OCK
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- 대학원 영어영문학과
- 이화여자대학교 대학원
- When we take a backward look at the whole developement of Shakespeare's philosophy it is found that period, he wrote the profound tragedies, seems to bear the traces of more intense moral struggles, larger and less joyous views of human life, more troubled, complex, and profound conception and emotion. All the tragedies like "Macbeth", "Hamlet", "Othello", "King Lear", and "Antony and Cleopatra", embody the great issue of life, and the grand theme is love.
There is evidence growth in the conceptions of love. It is natural that as his experience widens and his powers mature, his view of love should be changed. He began in his poems and early plays mainly with love as a physical passions: he ends with love as a complete and spiritualized union. The early lovers drawn by Shakespeare are usually not happy in the opening scenes of the plays, but they end so, or else they die triumphant in love. The course of their love does not run smooth and pleasant, though its ending is victorious, whether in life or death.
Love can be hardly designated as a cosmic principle in Shakespeare. There is no indication that love is at the heart of the universe, or that love is the universal energy of the world. Similarly, there is no characterization of love as an immortal quality of the undying soul of man. "The rest is silence," says Hamlet. Antony paints a lovely imagination of his reunion with Cleopatra after death. Yet the imaginative picture is not classical or Christian in its aspect, but pectic. It suggest, however, the naturalness of the longing for more of the satisfaction of living and loving. We part from "Othello" and "Macbeth" with the shuddering feeling that excessive jealousy and ambition take the meaning of life away from humanbeings. Love overmastered by bitter jealousy or vaulting ambition becomes the death of life in the soul of man. After all we have studied through his tragic loves, we will not get the impression that in Shakespeare's philosophy of love all goes as merry as a jingle bell. On the contrary, "the course of true love never did run smooth".
Then the note of mysticism is not struck in Shakespeare's philosophy of love. The union of the lovers is net likened to the union of the mystic ad his deity. God is not presented as the sole object of love, in whom all things else are lovable. Love appears as an irrational, though not altogether blind, attraction. It is an emotional binding. It sees whither it tends, but the seeing is not directive. It is not the servant of understanding.
There is nothing pessimistic in Shakespeare's account of love. Love does not appear as error, as it does with Schopenhouer. Despite their folly, frailty, faults, and lacrimosity, woman are loved and lovable. There are indeed pain and trouble ahead for lovers, but there is no suggestion that all love is a mistake. All the sorrows of lovers end either in a glorious clarification or else in a tragic consummation. The art of Shakespeare does not leave one soured or embittered against the world.
There is nothing in Shakespeare to suggest the Nietzchen view that to love a woman is to desire a child by her. The lovers of Shakespeare do not have children; they have each other, or else resign life together. It is common that lovers should want a child or children, but this aspect of love dose not appear in Shakespeare. In fact, he, who is believed to have left his own children in Stratford with their mother when he went to London to earn living, seems not to have been fond of children very much.
Shakespeare doe not accept the ascetic view of love anu more than he accepts the pessimistic one. His lovers do not renounce, they affirm. They do not withdraw from life, they are in love with life.
Nor is Shakespeare a strict upholder of the view of Stendhal that love changes with latitude. His lovers are fundamentally alike, whether on sea or land; whether in Egypt, Greece, Italy or Denmark. As a class they are all warm, Passionate, devoted, easily made jealous, emotional, forceful. Yet it is true individual vary with theur locale, whether it be the Nile, North Sea, Thames or Mediterranean. Cleopatra, Ophelia and Juliet are all in love, but with characteristics in their character. It is not imaginable expansive Cleopatra on the North Sea or restrained Ophelia on the Nile. Yet the differences between the intellectual and moral Portia and passionate and imaginative Juliet can not be wholly explained by the differences between Belmont and Verona; the problem of character and of personality goes much deeper than that.
To sum up, in seeing love with Shakespeare one has seen life through discerning eyes. Not all of life, indeed, and perhaps not the very finest of life, but a full, rich, venturesome, rollicking, gusty life. There are fair scenes and quite nice harbours enough, but the real life presented by Shakespeare is not a calm sea but tempestuous. Here his lovers all say, "While we loved, we lived."
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