RHETORIC AND PICTURE IN VENUS AND ADONIS Robert J. Bauer The University of Oklahoma, Norman Like so many of his successful plays, Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis is dominated by a spellbinder. The eloquence of a gifted speaker, in this case Venus herself, accounts for much of our fascination for his art. Of this poem's 199 stanzas, 89-almost half-are given to the oratory of the goddess. Consideration of this fact invites us to reckon with a problem: why does Venus' rhetoric, for all its brilliance and charm, fail to seduce the handsome young hunter? If the art of persuasion recapitulates aesthetically a paradigm of seduction in its every act,l then how is it that Venus' orations, set pieces of Renaissance persuasion par excllence, can sound so alluring to us and yet leave Adonis so resistant to her voluptuous embraces? Consider these lines: Sometime she shakes her head, and then his hand, Now gazeth she on him, now on the ground; Sometime her armes infold him like a band, She would, he will not in her armes be bound: And when from thence he struggles to be gone, She locks her lillie fingers one in one. Fondling, she saith, since
Explorations in Renaissance Culture – Brill
Published: Dec 2, 1974
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