Of discourse and dialogue : the representation of power relationships in selected plays by Shakespeare

Du Toit, Seugnet (2004-04)

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2004.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In this thesis I will look at the way in which power relationships are presented in Shakespeare's dramas, with specific reference to the so-called ''Henriad'', Measure for Measure and The Tempest. Each play consists of a network of power relationships in which different forms of power interact on different levels. Different characters in the above-mentioned plays have access to different forms of power according to their position within these networks. The way in which the characters interact could also cause or be influenced by shifts and changes in the networks of power relationships that occur in the course of the action. I will use Michel Foucault's theories on the relationship between power, knowledge and discourse as a guide to my analysis of Measure for Measure. I will also use selected aspects of Mikhail Bakhtin's theories on language and literature, with specific references to the concepts of "dialogism" and "heteroglossia" or "manyvoicedness", as well as his concept of carnival, which implies a temporary inversion in power relationships in an unofficial festive context, as a guide to my analysis of the Henriad. I will use a combination of the theories of Foucault and Bakhtin in my analysis of The Tempest. I have chosen the terms "discourse" and "dialogue" as key terms in the title of this thesis not only because they play an important role in the theories of Foucault and Bakhtin respectively, but also because they play an important role in the analysis and representation of power relationships. According to Robert Young, Foucault relates ''the organisation of discourse ...to the exercise of power" (10). One could also say that the power relationships in a society are reflected in the portrayal of a dialogue between different voices representing different sections of or classes in that society as in Bakhtin's principles of dialogism. I will explain the overall importance of these terms in more detail in the Introduction and the other relevant chapters. In the introductory chapter I will first provide a theoretical background for the thesis as a whole. Then I will look at the specific theoretical principles that are relevant to each chapter. In the chapter on the Henriad I will look at the way in which an alternative perspective on power relations and the role of the king are created by looking at them from the perspective of Bakhtin's concept of carnival. In the next chapter, I will show how Measure for Measure presents us with an evaluation of different strategies of power, which I will look at from the perspective of Foucault's theories on power, knowledge and discourse. In my chapter on The Tempest I will combine aspects of both theories in my analysis of a play that presents us with a complex analysis of power relationships as a social phenomenon. In the concluding chapter I will look at the different perspectives on power relationships that emerged from my previous chapters and attempt to see what its implications are for the representation of power relationships in Shakespeare's work and perhaps as a social phenomenon.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In hierdie tesis gaan ek kyk na die wyse waarop magsverhoudinge uit gebeeld word in Shakespeare se dramas, met spesifieke verwysing na die sogenaamde "Henriad", Measure for Measure en The Tempest. Elke drama bestaan uit 'n netwerk van magsverhoudinge waarin verskillende vorme van mag op verskillende vlakke wisselwerking uitoefen. Verskillende karakters in bogenoemde dramas het toegang tot verskillende vorme van mag volgens hul posisie in die netwerke. Die manier waarop die wisselwerking tussen die verskillende karakters plaasvind kan ook verskuiwings en veranderinge in die netwerk van magsverhoudinge in die loop van die aksie veroorsaak, of daar deur beïnvloedword. Ek gaan Michel Foucault se teorieë oor die verhouding tussen mag, kennis en diskoers as 'n gids tot my analise van Measure for Measure gebruik. Ek gaan ook uitgesoekte aspekte van Mikhail Bakhtin se teorieë oor taal en literatuur, met spesifieke verwysing na die konsepte van "dialogisme" en "heteroglossia" of "meerstemmigheid", sowel as sy konsep van karnaval, wat 'n tydelike ommekeer in magsverhoudinge in 'n onoffisiële feestelike konteks impliseer, as 'n gids tot my analise van die Henriad gebruik. Ek sal 'n kombinasie van die teorieë van Foucault en Bakhtin gebruik in my analise van The Tempest. Ek het die terme "discourse" en "dialogue" as sleutel terme in die titel van hierdie tesis gebruik, nie net omdat hulle 'n belangrike rol in die teorieë van Foucault en Bakhtin onderskeidelik speel nie, maar ook omdat hulle 'n belangrike rol in die analise en uitbeelding van magsverhoudinge speel. Volgens Robert Young verbind Foucault die manier waarop diskoers georganiseer word met die uitoefening van mag (10). Mens kan ook sê dat die magsverhoudinge in 'n gemeenskap gereflekteer word in die uitbeelding van 'n dialoog tussen verskillende stemme wat verskillende dele van of klasse in die gemeenskap verteenwoordig soos in Bakhtin se beginsel van dialogisme. Ek sal die algehele belang van hierdie terme in meer besonderhede bespreek in die inleidingen die ander relevante hoofstukke verduidelik. In die inleidende hoofstuk gaan ek eers 'n teoretiese agtergrond vir die tesis as geheel verskaf Dan sal ek kyk na die spesifieke teoretiese beginsels wat relevant is tot elke hoofstuk. In die hoofstuk oor die Henriad gaan ek kyk hoe 'n alternatiewe perspektief op magsverhoudinge en die rol van die koning geskep word deur hulle te beskou van uit die perspektief van Bakhtin se konsep van karnaval. In die volgende hoofstuk sal ek kyk hoe Measure for Measure 'n evaluasie van verskillende magsstrategieë aan ons voorlê, waarna ek gaan kyk van uit die perspektief van Foucault se teorieë oor mag, kennis en diskoers. In my hoofstuk oor The Tempest gaan ek aspekte van albei die teorieë kombineer in 'n drama wat 'n komplekse analise van magsverhoudinge as 'n sosiale verskynsel aan ons voorln sosiale verskynsel aan ons voorlê. In die laaste hoofstuk gaan ek kyk na die verskillende perspektiewe op magsverhoudinge wat voortspruit uit die voorafgaande hoofstukke en kyk wat die implikasie daarvan vir die uitbeelding van magsverhoudinge in Shakespeare se werk en as 'n sosiale verskynsel is.

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