Department of English: Shakespeare and the Fear of Mockery
“Shakespeare and the Fear of Mockery”
Dr Peter Kishore Saval
At certain difficult moments in Shakespeare’s plays a character demands that others not mock or laugh at him. Leontes in The Winter’s Tale stands before the statue of Hermione and says, “let no man mock me, /For I will kiss her” (5.3. 98-99). King Lear before his daughter Cordelia says, “Do not laugh at me / For as I am a man, I think this lady /To be my child, Cordelia” (4.7.69-72). Why would these characters mention mockery or laughter at moments that are manifestly not laughable, and that few would find deserving of mockery? Our answer to these questions will require acknowledging the power of Shakespeare’s art to impinge upon and challenge our desire for emotional self-protection.
Seminar Room S226
John Woolley Building A20
University of Sydney