Grotesque Encounters: Reading Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice along the Principles of the Sublime, Beautiful and Grotesque

Kathrin Bartha

Abstract


This article is an attempt to apply the basic principles of the aesthetic discourse on the sublime, beautiful and grotesque to William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Even though it is a discourse that only begins in the course of the eighteenth century, I will argue that the structure of the play parallels the model of the traditional sublime, as it deals with a subject-object binary and meditates on the relationship between the material (body) and the transcendental (mind). However, the play is also rich in disruptive — or grotesque — forces that unsettle this binary structure. The parallels between the play and the aesthetic discourse could not only help our understanding of postmodern criticism and rewriting of the sublime, but the sublime can also, in turn, shed light on the reception of the play.


Keywords


shakespeare; merchant; venice; grotesque; sublime; beautiful

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