Harold Bloom #2:  What exactly does he mean?

Shakespeare was the first writer to create characters who talk to themselves; his characters were the first to have complicated inner lives characterised by self-questioning, division, confusion, contradiction. Today, we think of this as just what people are. But in Shakespeare’s day, Bloom says, this was a radical new understanding of humanity; people simply did not experience life like that before Shakespeare.

More specifically, Shakespeare was the first writer to show characters changing as a result of talking to themselves. “Literary character before Shakespeare is relatively unchanging; women and men are represented as aging and dying, but not as changing because their relationship to themselves, rather than to the gods or God, has changed. In Shakespeare, characters develop rather than unfold, and they develop because they reconceive themselves. Sometimes this comes about because they overhear themselves talking, whether to themselves or to others. Self-overhearing is their royal road to individuation…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s