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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers a reading of some of Shakespeare’s verse that brings the newer methodologies of cognitive poetics into conversation with the discourse of classical rhetoric. It explores how we understand those moments in Shakespeare’s poems and plays that seem to make sense straight away, but get more difficult the closer we look: the intricate quick-thinking, often characterized by punning and wordplay, that dramatizes thought in language. The chapter starts with a glance at Macbeth, before moving on to the Sonnets; it attempts to demonstrate that the difficulties we find in Shakespeare’s verse are not an obstruction to our understanding, but rather an important method of meaning. It argues that rhetorical obscurity helps us to experience the emotional complexity that gives rise to it.

Keywords: Shakespeare, sonnets, rhetoric, poetics, cognition, wordplay

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