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Missing Fathers: Twelfth Night and the Reformation of Mourning

Missing Fathers: Twelfth Night and the Reformation of Mourning by Suzanne Penuel welfth Night(ca.1602)beginsandendswithreferencestodead fatherswhoselinktotheactionoftheplayisclearlysignificant andsignificantlyunclear.Aladyrichlyleftbyonefatheriseroticallyparalyzed.Anotherofslightlylowerstatus,alsofatherless,leaves thefamilyhome.Thefathersrevealthemselvesmerelyintraces:Olivia's ismentionedinanasidetellingusthathewas"acount/Thatdiedsome twelvemonth since," and Viola notes hers just in passing until act 5, whensheandSebastianverifyeachother'sidentities.Onemightassumethatthispaternalabsencewouldfreetheplotfrombeingthesort thatjonsoncrafted,withtheoldergenerationhoveringoverthelibidos oftheyoung.Afterall,thecasualapproximationof"sometwelvemonth since"suggeststhecount'sinsignificance,andthequantitativeplayon "count" and"account" underscoresthe imprecisionof thedatingand thewealthoftheestateleftOliviabyherfather.Butratherthancelebratingpost-adolescentfreedom,theplayreverberateswiththesense offamiliallossthataccompaniesentryintothesexualadultworld.That lossisasociallacuna,literalizedaspaternaldeath. LesssubtlethantheappearancesofthefatherswhosementionsbookendTwelfth Nightinacts1and5isTwelfth Night'stwinninganddoubling.TheshipwreckeddyadofViola-SebastianreplicatesViola'sdual identityasherselfandhertransvestitealteregoCesario;italsocopies the similarity of Viola's and Olivia's names and circumstances, with thetwoquasi-anagrammaticwomenmourningforbrothers.Eventhe doubled recounting of Olivia's circumstances, the mistaking of Feste William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, ed. Elizabeth Story Donno (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversityPress,1985),1.2.36­37.Allsubsequentreferencestotheplayareparenthetical. 74 ©2010TheUniversityofNorthCarolinaPress Suzanne Penuel forSirTopas,andMaria'shandwritingforOlivia'srepeatthetrope.The twinninginTwelfth Nightfunctionsasaresponsetodeath.Adoubleis mostobviouslyaformofspatialrepetition,withonepersonorimage duplicatedinanotherplace.However,itcanalsobechronologicalrepetition:someonefromthepastiscopiedintothepresent,asisthecase intheplay.ThisessaywilldiscussdoublinginTwelfth Night,itsconnectionstotheambivalentlylongedforfigureoftheearlymodernfather, andthemultipleimplicationsofthatlonging.Aresponsetoaspecificallypost-Reformationhunger,Iwillargue,thedoubletakesitsforce fromchangesinmourningritualsthataccompaniedthedeclineofEnglishCatholicism.Itservesasatestamenttothepowerofthefatherchildtieandultimatelyasafantasyofitsreplacement. D E AT H A N D T H E D O U BL E ThatTwelfth Nightconcernsitselfwithdeathisafamiliarobservation; mortalitymakesitsentranceinthefirstsceneevenwiththeevidently healthyyoungOrsino,whowishesformusicsothat"hisappetitemay sicken and so die" (1.1.3). "That strain again," he requests, "it had a dyingfall"(4).AswithHamlet,firstperformedaroundthesametime, dying is the alpha and omega of the play. But unlike Hamlet, Twelfth Nightconcludeswiththepromiseofmarriage.Italsoendsnotwiththe more typicallycomedic references to pregnancy but with a song that On doubling as an omen of death, see Karl Miller, Doubles: Studies in Literary History (New york: Oxford University Press, 1985), 416. For an analysis of the double as death-denying in nineteenth- and twentieth-century German literature, see Otto Rank, The Double: A Psychoanalytic Study,tr.HarryTucker,jr.(ChapelHill:UniversityofNorth CarolinaPress,1971),77­79.SigmundFreud,writingonthetopicfouryearsafterRank, concursthatthedoublefunctionsasadenialofdeath;henotesthat"probablythe`immortal'soulwasthefirst`double'ofthebody"("TheUncanny"[1919],inThe Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works,ed.andtrans.jamesStrachey,vol.17[London: Hogarth,1955],235). ThadjenkinsLogancountsthirty-sevenallusionstodeath("Twelfth Night:TheLimits ofFestivity," Studies in English Literature22[1982]:236).AnneBartonobservesthatthese http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Philology University of North Carolina Press

Missing Fathers: Twelfth Night and the Reformation of Mourning

Studies in Philology , Volume 107 (1) – Jan 13, 2009

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Abstract

by Suzanne Penuel welfth Night(ca.1602)beginsandendswithreferencestodead fatherswhoselinktotheactionoftheplayisclearlysignificant andsignificantlyunclear.Aladyrichlyleftbyonefatheriseroticallyparalyzed.Anotherofslightlylowerstatus,alsofatherless,leaves thefamilyhome.Thefathersrevealthemselvesmerelyintraces:Olivia's ismentionedinanasidetellingusthathewas"acount/Thatdiedsome twelvemonth since," and Viola notes hers just in passing until act 5, whensheandSebastianverifyeachother'sidentities.Onemightassumethatthispaternalabsencewouldfreetheplotfrombeingthesort thatjonsoncrafted,withtheoldergenerationhoveringoverthelibidos oftheyoung.Afterall,thecasualapproximationof"sometwelvemonth since"suggeststhecount'sinsignificance,andthequantitativeplayon "count" and"account" underscoresthe imprecisionof thedatingand thewealthoftheestateleftOliviabyherfather.Butratherthancelebratingpost-adolescentfreedom,theplayreverberateswiththesense offamiliallossthataccompaniesentryintothesexualadultworld.That lossisasociallacuna,literalizedaspaternaldeath. LesssubtlethantheappearancesofthefatherswhosementionsbookendTwelfth Nightinacts1and5isTwelfth Night'stwinninganddoubling.TheshipwreckeddyadofViola-SebastianreplicatesViola'sdual identityasherselfandhertransvestitealteregoCesario;italsocopies the similarity of Viola's and Olivia's names and circumstances, with thetwoquasi-anagrammaticwomenmourningforbrothers.Eventhe doubled recounting of Olivia's circumstances, the mistaking of Feste William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, ed. Elizabeth Story Donno (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversityPress,1985),1.2.36­37.Allsubsequentreferencestotheplayareparenthetical. 74 ©2010TheUniversityofNorthCarolinaPress Suzanne Penuel forSirTopas,andMaria'shandwritingforOlivia'srepeatthetrope.The twinninginTwelfth Nightfunctionsasaresponsetodeath.Adoubleis mostobviouslyaformofspatialrepetition,withonepersonorimage duplicatedinanotherplace.However,itcanalsobechronologicalrepetition:someonefromthepastiscopiedintothepresent,asisthecase intheplay.ThisessaywilldiscussdoublinginTwelfth Night,itsconnectionstotheambivalentlylongedforfigureoftheearlymodernfather, andthemultipleimplicationsofthatlonging.Aresponsetoaspecificallypost-Reformationhunger,Iwillargue,thedoubletakesitsforce fromchangesinmourningritualsthataccompaniedthedeclineofEnglishCatholicism.Itservesasatestamenttothepowerofthefatherchildtieandultimatelyasafantasyofitsreplacement. D E AT H A N D T H E D O U BL E ThatTwelfth Nightconcernsitselfwithdeathisafamiliarobservation; mortalitymakesitsentranceinthefirstsceneevenwiththeevidently healthyyoungOrsino,whowishesformusicsothat"hisappetitemay sicken and so die" (1.1.3). "That strain again," he requests, "it had a dyingfall"(4).AswithHamlet,firstperformedaroundthesametime, dying is the alpha and omega of the play. But unlike Hamlet, Twelfth Nightconcludeswiththepromiseofmarriage.Italsoendsnotwiththe more typicallycomedic references to pregnancy but with a song that On doubling as an omen of death, see Karl Miller, Doubles: Studies in Literary History (New york: Oxford University Press, 1985), 416. For an analysis of the double as death-denying in nineteenth- and twentieth-century German literature, see Otto Rank, The Double: A Psychoanalytic Study,tr.HarryTucker,jr.(ChapelHill:UniversityofNorth CarolinaPress,1971),77­79.SigmundFreud,writingonthetopicfouryearsafterRank, concursthatthedoublefunctionsasadenialofdeath;henotesthat"probablythe`immortal'soulwasthefirst`double'ofthebody"("TheUncanny"[1919],inThe Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works,ed.andtrans.jamesStrachey,vol.17[London: Hogarth,1955],235). ThadjenkinsLogancountsthirty-sevenallusionstodeath("Twelfth Night:TheLimits ofFestivity," Studies in English Literature22[1982]:236).AnneBartonobservesthatthese

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Studies in PhilologyUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jan 13, 2009

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