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Broken Symmetries

A Study of Agency in Shakespeare's Plays

Series:

John Freund

This important study makes a convincing case for its thesis that the dramatic form of Shakespeare's plays corresponds to that of a natural system evolving to a more complex state while undergoing symmetry breaking. Drawing upon such key concepts of chaos theory as global agency and self-similarity, the book constructs a methodology which illuminates many problematic aspects of agency in the selected comedies, tragedies, and histories it examines. Each of these genres is shown to reflect the paradoxical dynamics of a chaotic system. This fresh «systems perspective» offers a serious challenge to the structuralist assumptions underlying many current literary approaches.
Contents: Uses chaos theory to explore agency in Macbeth; then traces the dreamlike symmetry breaking of the comedies, the breaking of feudal symmetry in the histories, and the inner conflicts of the alienated heroes of the tragedies.