This ground-breaking new book uncovers the way Shakespeare draws upon the available literature and visual representations of the hand to inform his drama.
Providing an analysis of gesture, touch, skill and dismemberment in a range of Shakespeare's works, it shows how the hand was perceived in Shakespeare's time as an indicator of human agency, emotion, social and personal identity. It demonstrates how the hand and its activities are described and embedded in Shakespeare's texts and about its role on the Shakespearean stage: as part of the actor's body, in the language as metaphor, and as a morbid stage-prop. Understanding the cultural signifiers that lie behind the early modern understanding of the hand and gesture, opens up new and sometimes disturbing ways of reading and seeing Shakespeare's plays.
Table of Contents
Introduction Chapter One: The Idea of the Hand in Shakespeare's World Chapter Two: Manners and Beauty: The Social Hand Chapter Three: 'Lively Action': Gesture in Early Modern Performance Chapter Four: Gesture and Shakespeare's Narrative Art Chapter Five: 'Let Lips do what Hands do': Shakespeare's Sense of Touch Chapter Six: Amputation: The Spectacle of Dismemberment in Shakespeare's Theatres Epilogue -- Fingers Notes Index