The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0514 Thursday, 9 August 2007
From: Bruce Young <
Date: Wednesday, 8 Aug 2007 11:06:18 -0600
Subject: 18.0506 Just My Imagination
Comment: RE: SHK 18.0506 Just My Imagination
I just thought of another character afflicted with excessive
imagination: Orsino in Twelfth Night, who starts the play indulging a
"fancy" (=love? imagination? a fusion of the two) that seems to him
insatiable and "full of shapes" (compare the word "shapes" in Theseus's
speech on imagination). One way of reading the play is to see Orsino's
imagination tamed by the end and put under the governorship of Viola
("But when in other habits you are seen, / Orsino's mistress, and his
fancy's queen" [5.1.387-88]).
In the same play, Sebastian willingly yields to experiences he's not
sure are real: "Or I am mad, or else this is a dream. / Let fancy still
my sense in Lethe steep; / If it be thus to dream, still let me sleep!"
(4.1.61-63). Maybe this is a more benign case than Orsino's.
I have a feeling the plays often connect love with imagination, the
connection partly hinging on the ambiguity of the word "fancy."
Then there's Orlando in As You Like It and his imaginary mistress. But
finally he says, "I can no longer live by thinking."
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