Danforth, Deanna Malvesti. “Shakespeare's Paragones”, Boston College, 2021. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:109205.
This project examines Shakespeare’s engagement with and refashioning of one of the primary aesthetic debates of his time known as the paragone, most often invoked in the English context by the Horatian maxim ut pictura poesis (“as painting, so poetry”). Sometimes a neutral comparison of the arts, at other times a rivalry, Shakespeare’s own paragones measure the representational capacities and constraints of narrative and lyric poetry against embodied drama, and simultaneously with regard to painting and sculpture. The primary way in which Shakespeare conducts these explorations, I argue, is by turning to rhetorical figures and tropes that can be translated across mediums, experimenting with how they function differently or the diverse ends to which they can be put. Thus, in each chapter, I pair one of Shakespeare’s freestanding works of poetry with one of his plays and examine the figure or trope that they have in common. Chapter 1 focuses on Venus and Adonis, Henry V, and deixis; Chapter 2 concentrates on Lucrece, Titus Andronicus, and ekphrasis; and Chapter 3 centers on the Sonnets, The Winter’s Tale, and the trope of poetry as monument. Reading Shakespeare’s major works of poetry alongside his plays in this way, I contend, challenges the long-held critical opinion that for Shakespeare, drama is the triumphant medium of representation. Rather, such an investigation reveals Shakespeare’s awareness of the inherent paradoxes that each medium holds as well as his desire to exploit their potentials to the fullest degree.