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Power and passion in shakespeare's pronouns: interrogating "you" and "thou"

Hope, J. (2008) Power and passion in shakespeare's pronouns: interrogating "you" and "thou". [Review]

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Abstract

The knottiest problems to do with Shakespeare's language are often those we are least aware of. Who would guess, for example, that Cressida's ''I love you'' to Troilus (142) is a highly unusual collocation, likely to have unsettled its Renaissance audience with its paradoxical mixture of profession of love and formal pronoun? Far more usual is Petruchio's ''I love thee'' (48)-although, as Penelope Freedman points out, the surface conventionality of Petruchio's choice cannot mask darker, more manipulative connotations. Scholars have long known about the options in pronoun form that Early Modern English offered its speakers, but until now, detailed consideration has been largely confined to those with a specialist linguistic interest. Freedman is a theater director, as well as a scholar, and the particular promise of this book is a consideration of pronoun choice in the light of the possibilities of performance. If the book does not entirely fulfill this promise, it is none the less studded with insights and written without recourse to overly technical jargon (either literary or linguistic).