Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 21 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines some of the techniques by which the early modern theatre invited its audiences into the shared production of stage space. It focuses in particular on the ways in which Shakespeare’s comedies ask spectators to see across, within, and through physical barriers, enabling the pleasurable transgression of both social and corporeal boundaries. Looking at early modern theories of visual perception, it provides a historical context for some of Shakespeare’s most compelling strategies for imagining comic space, including the ‘lock-out’ scene in The Comedy of Errors, the parodic use of a character to play ‘Wall’ in Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the use of a ‘dark house’ to imprison Malvolio in Twelfth Night. It concludes by analysing contemporary performances of the comedies against more recent notions of sight and spectatorship, suggesting that comedy tends to invert the visual regimes dominant in any given period.

Keywords: space, vision, comic pleasure, transgression, spectatorship, theatrical representation, theatrical presentation, visuality

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.