TELLING A PICTURE OF RAPE: THE VISUAL AND THE VERBAL IN SHAKESPEARE'S "LUCRECE"
Balikov, Molly Elizabeth
Wheekock, Jr., Arthur K
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In 1594 William Shakespeare first published his narrative poem "Lucrece," which retells the historic-mythic tale of Lucretia's rape and the resulting conversion of Rome to a republic. This thesis offers a new interpretation of the poem's interdisciplinary significance by examining Shakespeare's election of Lucretia's story as a vehicle for expositing his philosophy of art, recoverable in visual and verbal elements woven throughout his poem. This philosophical subtext, I argue, advocates a complimentary understanding and use of visual and verbal modes of description, and explores painting's ability to aid the viewer's understanding of reality. After establishing "Lucrece"'s subtext, I examine Shakespeare's likely sources: written accounts by Livy, Ovid, and Chaucer, and a range of Renaissance pictorial depictions. Additionally, I consider Shakespeare's engagement with the theory of "ut pictura poesis" and the British ekphrastic poetic tradition. In conclusion, I share some thoughts on "Lucrece"'s impact on the arts and Shakespeare's own work.