Artistic Self-Consciousness Comparison Essay by Mephisto

Artistic Self-Consciousness
A discussion on authorial self-consciousness in Philip Sidney's "Astrophil and Stella" and William Shakespeare's "The Rape of Lucrece".
# 57539 | 1,947 words | 0 sources | 2004 | GB

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This paper discusses the traces of Sidney's self-consciousness in "Astrophil and Stella" and the tension between his insistence on sincerity and his use of rhetorical and poetic figures. It then looks at Sidney's growing awareness and anxiety about poetry's capacity to persuade and manipulate and links this to the relationship between poetry and violence in Shakespeare's "The Rape of Lucrece".

From the Paper:

"Given his status as prominent courtier and self-styled defender of poetry, it is hardly surprising that artistic self-consciousness is so prominent in the work of Philip Sidney, particularly in the sonnet series Astrophil and Stella. Throughout the series, Sidney seems determined to prove the worth of English as a poetic language capable of revitalizing tired poetic conventions, and his self-conscious attention to style can be seen simply as the manifestation of this aim. However, in exploring poetry's nature both as a means of expression and a force particularly suited to teach and delight, Sidney also acknowledges its darker side, its potential as a vehicle for self-deception and manipulation. This too is illustrated in Astrophil and Stella, through Astrophil's decline into self-deluding attempts to make reality cohere with poetic vision and to shape himself into a courtly lover. The failure of such attempts amounts to an acknowledgment of the slippery relationship between poetry, self-fashioning and delusion, and Astrophil becomes an image of the poet simultaneously inspired and paralyzed by an awareness of this relationship."

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