Word, Body, Power: A Reading of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden
This essay explores figurations of the body as the focus of operations of writing aimed at staging effects of power “in action”. To this end, it concentrates on significant (though chronologically and culturally distant) works such as Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Ariel Dorfman’s La muerte y la doncella (Death and the Maiden) in order to highlight a range of relevant formal features, semiotic traits, ideological configurations and affective structures. These categories delineate a rhetorical practice in which verbal representations of the body result in an ostension of power as a nexus of gesture and voice, action and speech. In particular, the body functions as a conflict zone, since the two works under examination posit it as a locus of confrontation between effects of power such as coercion and resistance, the concealment and revelation of truth, or masculinity and femininity. Accordingly, these texts offer exemplary instances of how writing the body constitutes an affectively charged performance of the physical as the meeting point of verbal effects and a nucleus of ideological and political agency – a body, in other words, that is both the subject of history and the object of multiple rhetorical operations and negotiations.
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