• Aristotelian Time, Ethics, and the Art of Persuasion in Shakespeare’s Henry V

    Author(s):
    Christopher Crosbie (see profile)
    Date:
    2023
    Group(s):
    Early Modern Theater, Renaissance / Early Modern Studies, Shakespeare
    Subject(s):
    Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616, Aristotle, European drama--Renaissance, English drama
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Aristotle, English Renaissance Drama, Henry V, Shakespeare
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/9y6b-kj59
    Abstract:
    In his response to the Dauphin, his threats before Harfleur’s walls, and his St. Crispin’s Day oration, Henry V deploys what we might call proleptic histories of the present as a means of rhetorical persuasion. Henry invites his audiences, that is, to imagine themselves in the future, understanding the present as part of their own history. Henry’s invocation of an imagined future that understands the present as a theoretical past betrays a surprising indebtedness to Aristotle’s notion of time as “a measure of change with respect to the before and after.” Drawing on Aristotle’s theory that time depends upon a perceiving mind and that those unconscious of change mistakenly “join up the latter ‘now’ to the former and make it one,” this essay argues that Henry succeeds in altering his auditors’ behavior, and thus generating the history he desires, by merging their shared, lived present with his own fictive temporalities. A mode of persuasion famous in its ethical ambivalence, Henry’s rhetoric reveals how the very ontological assumptions governing perceptions of time may be manipulated, for good or ill, amid audiences who fail to critically envisage their own counterbalancing, imaginative histories.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago
    License:
    Attribution

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