Daggers of the Mind: Perceiving Shakespeare's Theatre

Sue Sachon

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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My research explores the intimate relationship between object, language and perception in Shakespeare’s plays. Using an analytical approach inspired by basic principles of phenomenology, I consider how Shakespeare’s language influences our perception of real and non-present stage properties and set: how he imbues imaginary objects with an almost palpable sense of presence, and engineers our perception of onstage objects, subtly shaping and augmenting visual stimuli with verbal imagery.

Through close reading centred on five plays, I explore how Shakespeare’s fusion of word and object is engineered to evince a vividly visceral response to what we see, hear and imagine. My research poses the following questions: how does Shakespeare prepare the mind of a watching and listening audience to perceive more than may actually appear on stage? How far can illusion, created by language and imagination, supplement what an audience might see? How is language used to blur the boundaries between subject and object, transcending the mere exchange of characteristics?
Textual examples have been selected from Shakespeare’s tragedies and histories. My study does not encompass Shakespeare’s comedies, for − though they offer rich opportunity for analysis − such work would require a separate approach, geared to this very different genre.

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Carson, Christie, Supervisor
Award date1 Mar 2013
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013


  • Shakespeare, Perception, Objects, Performance

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