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Shakespearean subjectivity : scenes of desire, scenes of writing Lewis, Alan 2002

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Shakespearean Subjectivity: Scenes of Desire, Scenes of Writing by Alan Lewis  B.A., The University of British Columbia, 1991 M.A., The Queen's University of Belfast, 1993  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of English, School of Arts  The University of British Columbia October, 2002 © Alan Lewis, 2002  UBC Rare Books and Special Collections - Thesis Authorisation Form  Page 1 of 1  In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements f o r an advanced d e g r e e a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I a g r e e t h a t t h e L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y . I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d b y t h e h e a d o f my department or by h i s o r her r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . It is understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n .  Department o f  f^NCrl^lft  The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h V a n c o u v e r , Canada  Date  DeC.  Columbia  3»cV>>0>  http://vvrvvw.library.ubc.ca/spcoll/thesauth.html  12/1/02  Dissertation Abstract: Shakespearean Subjectivity: Scenes of Desire, Scenes of Writing The dissertation explores Shakespearean representations of subjectivity. I investigate how Shakespeare's text anticipates contemporary discourses of the divided subject, divided in terms of gender and sexuality, a subject "cut off'fromhimself by the forms of castration and by the unconscious. Myfirsttwo chapters look at specific plays, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet, investigating how these dramas stage desire via the subject's shaping phantasies of the other, also considering the poetic subject's implication in this "other" at scenes of identification. My title also speaks to the idea that the Shakespearean text is a precursor to Freudian and Lacanian theories of the divided subject, providing an importantfieldof reference in which psychoanalysis will recognize and elaborate itself as theory. The use of psychoanalytic theory as a method for reading Shakespeare's text is complicated, then, by my claim that this Renaissance dramatist invents a type of literary subjectivity we can call "Shakespearean." One result is a deprivileging of psychoanalysis as a master discourse. Readfromthe position of Shakespearean drama, this discourse is implicated in its critical object by its shaping phantasies of gender puissance and its participation, willy nilly, in a punitive gender ideology. With Harold Bloom, Joel Fineman, and Marjorie Garber as among my critical precursors here, my argument fleshes out their contention that psychoanalysis, rather than being an ahistorical or anachronistic methodology for studying Renaissance texts, is a repetition and elaboration of the Shakespearean vision, a Shakespeare that "writes" Freud. Workingfromthe Shakespearean text outwards, this study of "Shakespearean subjectivity" investigates intersubjective relations between the dramatic characters, between the characters and audience, between the text and critic, and in the third chapter, imaginary relations between the author and his literary rival at a scene of writing, and between the phantasied author and the critic. Ifindin the Shakespearean text an exemplary theoretical understanding of desire and misrecognition operating in these relations, arguing that Shakespeare's text presents us with meditations on specular or theatrical, ideological and sacrificial misprision. By locating my critical methodology in the Shakespearean text (for example, when I look at desire or the spectator's misprision), meshing my object of inquiry with my methodology, I grant the inquiry a certain integrity while also negotiating for a "Shakespearean" authorization of my arguments. In thefirstpart of the dissertation, the Introduction and thefirsttwo chapters, I examine Shakespeare's allegories of desire in Dream and Romeo and Juliet, allegories involving Cupid's originary wounding of the lover and desire's consequent attachment to an imaginary castration and lack. The allegories are presented by Oberon and the drama's staging and language of desire in Dream, and by Mercutio in the mercurial poetic language of the "name of the rose" in Romeo and Juliet. I observe how these "psychoanalytic" allegories of desire are presented in translations of the religious language of the subject's union with the "other," focusing on how misrecognition of the other and violence subtend identity and the sacred respectively. I also investigate the specular - and speculative - constitution of gender, the role of phantasy in maintaining gender identity, and how the playwright's staging of masculinity revolves around the imaginary threat of castration in proto-psychoanalytic terms. The research makes original interpretations of individual plays while contributing to an assessment of Shakespeare's place in a literary history of imagining subjectivity. The third chapter makes an investigation of Shakespeare's negotiation of the literary influence of Christopher Marlowe at a "scene of writing," or how this has been theorized. The chapter initially engages Harold Bloom's work on the anxiety of influence and Shakespeare's exemplary invention of the human, reading Bloom for his investments - as inflected by gender ideology - in authorial puissance. I examine Bloom's work with that of some of his contemporaries to suggest that a transference to paternalist authority is at work in our idealizing versions of "Shakespeare." I show how Bloom participates in and speculates on this dynamic. I ask why the critics cast the playwright into a homoerotic scene negotiating the castration of influence, and how this scene might work rhetorically as a seduction within the contradictory logic of fetishism. In presenting my own uncannily repeating, Shakespearean scenes of writing, I make a contribution to the critical tradition of casting Marlovian influence into a metadramatic, originary scene, making the poet's writing an apotropaic defence and a cryptic testament of spiritual-sexual autobiography. However, I complicate the Bloomian narrative lines by playfully multiplying the sources of influence and the nature of authorial lack sustaining the scene of writing. I end by showing how Oscar Wilde's novella, "The Portrait of Mr W.H," theorizes through its titular portrait the type of interpretative misprision elaborated by Bloom in his theory of influence, oddly anticipating and "framing" Bloom's quasi-religious participation in Shakespeare's ideal authority.  iii  Table of Contents Shakespearean Subjectivity: Scenes of Desire, Scenes of Writing Abstract  ii  Table of Contents Introduction  iii-iv 1  I Gender Theory: Melancholic Identification  12  II Gender in Renaissance Terms and Shakespearean Texts  15  in Subjectivity (Sexuality)  25  The Mirror Doubles of Ideal Masculinity. Friendship and Sodomy IV Love, Desire, and Phantasy A Shakespearean Cupid Sigmund Freud on Dream and why he wants to be Puck, with Oberon's authority  Chapter One: A Midsummer Night's Dream: Shaping Phantasies of Gender and the Displacement of Mastery  30 36 47  53  "Shaping Fantasies" (5.1.5), Structuring Conflicts, and Theseus's Ideal Masculinity  56  The Shakespearean Subject's Misprision  62  The Chora and Lack: the Spectacular Nothing and Amending Pleasure  67  A Framing Bower of Flowers and Tears: Titania's Shaming, Oberon's Spectatorial Pleasure  77  A "Poetics of Sodomy": Negation, Reversal, and Bottom's Asinine 'Translations"  84  Sweet Puck's Staging of Desire: Preposterous Phantasies  103  "Pyramus and Thisby" and the Staging of Desire: Censorship and the Interpretation of Thesean Theatrical Pleasure  113  Chapter Two:  Romeo and Juliet: A Sublime Theater of Masochism  In the Name of the Rose: Staging Desire  131 133  The Name of the Rose, Juliet, and "Rosemary"  144  The Name of the Rose and the Letter's Trespass Sweetly Urged  149  Victimage and the Poetic Subjectivity of the Lovers Victhnage and Enjoying the Love-Death Embrace: "Poor sacrifices of our enmity!" (5.3.304)  153  154  iv From the "Love-Death Embrace" Oxymoron and the Erotic "Cross-Coupler," to Ambivalence and Masochistic Subjectivity  160  Epithalamium and Phantasies of "Death"  165  The Sparagmos of Blazoning and Scattered Verse  167  Mercutio Revenant: Mercutio's Death and Fratricidal Violence  171  Romeo's Final Dream and Beyond: the Pleasure Principle Reconciled to Redemption in Death  189  Love's Sacrifices: the Staging of Erotic Joy and .... Transcendence  198  Chapter Three: A Shakespearean "Scene of Writing" with Marlowe: A Reading of Bloom and a Bloomian Reading A Reading of Bloom's Theory of Poetic Influence: Rhetoric and Gender Matters  202 204  A Catastrophe Theory of Creation  208  The Poet's Perverse Refusal of Loss: Melancholic Identity, Melancholic Authority  210  The Seductive Pathos of the Murdered Father as Authoritative Origin  216  The Rejection of Falstaff: Bloom's Authoritative Misprision A "Scene of Writing" Between Shakespeare and Marlowe  219 248  A Scene Set in Arthur's Bosom  250  A Marlovian Phantom in Romeo and Juliet  254  A "Shake-scene" of Writing or a "School of Cats": No Tyger's Hart, and yet... "Morefierceand inexorable far/ Than empty tigers" (R&J, 5.3.39-40) Epilogue .  259 275  Wilde's "The Portrait of Mr W.H.": Against the Bloomian Sublime Works Cited  280 292  \  1  Shakespearean Subjectivity: Scenes of Desire, Scenes of Writing Introduction  The basic claim in what follows is that Shakespeare's representation of poetic subjectivity anticipates the Freudian and Lacanian discourses of the divided subject. In fact, I ask if Shakespeare's poetic subject might be the model of the divided subject of psychoanalysis. The playwright's text repeatedly bears witness to 1  how the poetic subject is "cut off" from himself. The chapters that follow variously flesh out this assertion about the divided subject, where Ihe subject is split along lines of sexuality and gender. I look especially at unconscious desire in poetic language and at "dramas" of gender identification. In thefirsttwo chapters, I read A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet, considering how the masculine poetic subject is staged as split, divided by what Freud calls the "stage of the unconscious" and by the subject's constitutive misrecognitions through identification with projected, inverted "mirror images" of himself. I track how the misrecognition of alterity at the stade du miroir is aligned with the poetic subject's fitful pursuit of stability and puissance through his misrecognition of dependence on his negated, constitutive others. That is, I 2  focus on the manner in which the masculine subject pursues self-presence and autonomy ("[a]s if a man were author of himself'  [Coriolanus, 5.3.36]) in gender identification and its various and often conflicting 3  scripts. This dissertation develops an account of how Shakespeare represents gender's ideal integrity as forged vis-a-vis the feared threat of effemiruzation posed by the levelling forces of desire and lack.  If in the Shakespearean text the desire for women and homoerotic desire both provoke the threat of efferninization or castration, I provide paths for understanding how the poetic subject pursues this  This somewhat overreaching point has been made, in different ways, by Joel Fineman and Harold Bloom. 1 review below their respective positions. By describing a "poetic subject" as the model for the divided subject of psychoanalysis, I refer to Fineman's argument that the lyric persona of Shakespeare's Sonnets is the model for consequent imaginings of literary subjectivity, while also locating, as he does, this "poetic subject" in the dramas. See Shakespeare's Perjured Eye: The Invention ofPoetic Subjectivity in the Sonnets (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986). Bloom's reading of a Freud whose corpus is isomorphic with Shakespeare's is presented in "Freud: A Shakespearean Reading," where he makes Freud a belated and anxious inheritor of a Shakespearean poetics of the subject. In The Western Canon: The Books and Schools ofthe Ages (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1994). 1  The familiar starting point here is Lacan's essay, "The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed by psychoanalytic experience," trans. Alan Sheridan, Ecrits: A Selection (New York: Norton, 1977). Citations of Shakespeare's text arefromthe Signet editions, general ed., Sylvan Barnet, and in some cases, the New Penguins, general ed., T.J.B. Spencer, with assoc. ed., Stanley Wells. 2  3  2 subversion in desire. My itinerary also extendsfromthe representation of the Shakespearean subject's subversion in desire through cleaving to ongoing meconnaissances, to theoretical articulations of the place of the divided spectator-subject in relation to this seductive spectacle. In the third chapter, I look at some critical reproductions of the author Shakespeare at a "scene of writing" where he negotiates influence, showing how these scenes position him as a transcendent phantasm of authority. 1 likewise investigate 4  how Shakespeare becomes a critical fetish of sorts. The analysis emphasizes the critical construction of, 5  and imaginary participation in, Shakespeare's authority, suggesting how gender ideology and phantasy inflect these readings.  Thefirsttwo chapters examine "dramas" of gender identification, investigating phantasy's role in the poetic subject's pursuit of a Active integrity and imaginary puissance in sexual difference; I explore the shaping phantasies that support and regulate the ideal gender identifications of the dramatis personae. The chapters also look at phantasy's staging of desire for the poetic subject, a desire for the other's desire that cleaves to the rem(a)inder of a lost primordial unity with the "object." Identifying allegories of desire 6  within the plays, I then track the playwright's staging of the masculine subject's revisitation of his split in desire and/or phantasy's attempted displacements of lack onto his others. Briefly, I ask if Shakespearean drama might be a literary precursor to psychoanalytic discourses of sexual difference (and the heterosexual  In my view of the author, the master capitalizes on the theater's staging of desire and imaginary identification's "misprision," the failure of imaginary puissance or an achieved, sovereign identification. "Shakespeare" thus tends to become an implied God figure in his absence. This is a common notion of the author or playwright, one that Shakespeare seems to entertain of himself for example, in The Comedy of Errors and The Tempest. Regarding the former drama, see the essay by Jonathan V. Crewe, "God or The Good Physician: The Rational Playwright in The Comedy ofErrors," Genre 15:1/2 (1982): 203-23, where he suggests that the "implied playwright" assumes his divinity by analogy through his transcendence (with his audience)fromthe created scene, and by his poetic vision of order and its superiority to his erring precursor of the Menaechmi (see esp. 203-09). The Tempest has been read by a continuing Romantic tradition as such a testament of spiritual autobiography. See Howard Felperin, "The Tempest in Our Time," in The Uses of the Canon: Elizabethan Literature and Contemporary Theory (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990), for a review of the manner in which postcolonial and new historical critiques have effectively rewritten 77K Tempest, while still contributing to its continued place in the canon. Marjorie Garber provides a far-ranging discussion of the question of "Shakespeare as Fetish," in Shakespeare Quarterly 41:2 (1990): 242-50. See Bruce Fink, The Lacanian Subject: Between Language and Jouissance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), for an account of the subject and the other's desire (object a), esp. 59-61. 4  5  6  3 matrix) which revolve around the staging and restaging of an imaginary, threatened castration. In the 7  fourth section of the Introduction, "Love, Desire and Phantasy: A Shakespearean Cupid," I provide a preview of this Shakespearean poetic subjectivity in Dream and Romeo and Juliet. In the chapters, I foreground how these dramas articulate a critique of gender ideology, while, on the other hand, the texts also provide for imaginary participation in these punitive dramas of desire and gender identification, as one witnesses in the critical literature. For instance, the third chapter locates these dynamics at an authorial scene of writing, following and critiquing Harold Bloom's well known theory of literary influence and his recent book on Shakespeare - Shakespeare: The Invention ofthe Human?  Thefirsttwo chapters show how the divided poetic subject pursues the abjection of his constitutive others in desire, and further, how his castration and splitting is staged as (the repetition of) a "sublime" masochistic excitation. I conceive of the Shakespearean subject's erotic attachment to lack, his pursuit of his own dissolution in desire, as his repetition of the trauma of a "castration"; of course, Freud views this castration as splitting up the subject. Such an economy of desire thus follows the "structure of the fetish" where the poetic subject's castration is both disavowed and affirmed through the other, the other of desire who resembles the substitute of the fetish. In this allegory, desire is presented as taking its cue from 9  "love's wound" (MND, 2.1.167), where an undecidable castration or lack is misrecognized in, and displaced in phantasy onto, the other of desire, while simultaneously present as the lover's fundamental condition. This discourse juggles two definitions of the subject's (relations to) "castration." First, as in Freud's article on fetishism, I refer to the male child's disavowal of the "reality" of the mother's castration, 1 owe my language of theorizing gender identification here, and throughout the dissertation, to Judith Butler's work. Her essential reading of the "heterosexual matrix" governing gender identification occurs in Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion ofIdentity (New York: Routledge, 1990), 35-78. The third chapter's discussion of Bloom's theory of poetic influence begins with The Anxiety ofInfluence: A Theory ofPoetry (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), preparing for my antithetical reading of Bloom's reading of Shakespeare's influence by Christopher Marlowe in Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (New York: Riverhead Books, 1998). See Sigmund Freud, "The Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Defence," in On Metapsychology: The Theory ofPsychoanalysis, vol. 11 of the Penguin Freud Library, trans. James Strachey, ed. Angela Richards (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1991), 461-64, for the account of the ego's splitting as a defence against recognizing castration. See also 'Tetishism," in On Sexuality: Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality and Other Works, vol. 7 of the Penguin Freud Library, trans. James Strachey, ed. Angela Richards (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1991), 351-57. All further references to Freud's primary works are from the Penguin Freud Library. They are given in parentheses in the body of my text by title, vol. number, and page numbers. 7  8  9  4  the traumatic sighting that occasions the splitting of the ego and the formation of the fetish: the objects of narcissistic preservation in this anxious disavowal (of castration) are the subject's sense of phallic integrity and that of his substitute object of desire via the fetish. Crucially, castration in this scenario also functions as a literalizing male phantasy securing difference and a punitive ideological narrative dictatingfeminine lack. And second, castration is understood as the subject's lack entailed by Lacan's stack  du miroir, where  "[fjhe ego isfirstand foremost a bodily ego; it is not merely a surface entity, but is the projection of a surface" (The Ego and the Id, 11, 364), a projection that anticipates Lacan's observations regarding the Ts precipitation in the subject's anticipation of unity and "alienating destination" through projecting himself into this statue. 1 also employ, in a less rigorous manner, Lacan's notions of the subject castrated by his 10  subjection to language and his assumption of prohibition.  In thefirsttwo chapters, the dissertation is largely about these scenes of desire that repeat for the Shakespearean subject. In giving critical readings of Dream and Romeo and Juliet, I tend to focus on dramatic scenes that stage the masculine subject's imaginary constitution via his others, though particularly on the manner in which the dramas stage the poetic subject's erotic ^constitution in desire. As in the playwright's presentation of "Pyramus and Thisby," I propose that the Thesean spectator-subject's own negated lack and his "phantasmatic gender" are coordinates thatframespectatorial participation and pleasure. Thefirsttwo chapters on the Shakespearean staging of desire and phantasmatic gender suggest 11  how such an ideal masculine gender identification for the dramatis personae is haunted by its constitutive others, the woman and the sodomite. The dissertation's bias in focusing on phantasmatic gender is a deconstructive strategy of reading for the masculine subject's instability, reading for how his hegemonic difference is confounded through phantom identifications made with those diacritical others. I track how  Lacan, "The mirror stage," 2. By "phantasmatic gender" I mean the failure of the "assumption" of heterosexual masculinity due to this gender's specular, melancholic structure and its performative status. Such a masculinity's repeated staging of the repudiation of its others (sustaining its imaginary puissance) testifies to gender's phantasmatic status, as it also testifies to its tacit identification with its abjected spectres. I use the term "phantasmatic" to indicate gender's specular, melancholic structure as well as to indicate the structuring action of unconscious phantasy in the performance of gender, referring finally to the manner in which shaping phantasies of gender can dominate the subject's entire life. Regarding the term "phantasmatic," see the entry for "phantasy" in The Language ofPsychoanalysis, by Jean Laplanche and J.-B. Pontalis, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (London: Karnac, 1973), 314-19, where it is briefly discussed (317). Regarding gender's specular, melancholic structure, see Butler, as cited above, and the first section of my introduction below. 1 0  11  5  the poetic subjects in these dramas repeatedly negate a castrating desire or identification, bearing witness in the language of negation to precisely these (sustaining) repressions: Thus the content of a repressed image or idea can make its way into consciousness, on the condition that it is negated. Negation is a way of taking cognizance of what is repressed; indeed, it is already a lifting of the repression, though not, of course, an acceptance of what is repressed. We can see in this how the intellectual function is separatedfromthe affective process. ("Negation," 11, 438) Negation is a category of phantasy and defence in which the subject names the repressed that is being disavowed, a repudiation that Freud links particularly to the function of the "original pleasure-ego" and its relations to outside objects, their status in relation to the incorporative ego outside or (taken) inside, ie., the regulating abjections supporting this ego's sense of boundaries ("Negation," 11,439). I argue in these chapters that the playwright stages negations that are designed to trace, often playfully or comically, the masculine poetic subject's self-division in the pleasurable "lifting of repression," especially via his phantom identification with a negated other.  In the chapters on Dream and Romeo and Juliet, my arguments further situate the dramas of phantasmatic gender in the liminal space of alterity, the theater, a marginal spacefromwhich they might 12  interrogate while being the purveyor of Renaissance culture's gender ideologies. Within that misogynist and intermittently "homophobic" culture generally, desire was a harbinger of death, degradation, emasculation and castration. The subdued note of fear and anxiety regarding sexual union in both the dramas speaks to this staged threat of nondifference in desire. Desire and sexuality are infused with a 13  sacred violence in these dramas, where phantasy supports the vision of difference in sexual union and its catastrophic inversion - the "[t]wo distincts, division none" of opposition without difference that wefindin "The Phoenix and the Turtle" (line 27). In tragedy, gender and sexual difference tend to be sacred  For the notion of the stage as a liminal and "other" space, see, for example, Louis Adrian Montrose, "The Purpose of Playing: Reflections on a Shakespearean Anthropology," Helios 1 (1980), 53-74. In Desire and Anxiety: Circulations ofsexuality in Shakespearean drama (New York: Routledge, 1991), Valerie Traub presents an ideological critique of the linking of anxiety to desire in Shakespeare's drama, a linking that she views as problematic in terms of gender ideology (3). I agree with Traub's view that Shakespeare mounts masculinist phantasies and anxieties in his representations of sexuality. The linking of anxiety with the staging of desire in the Shakespearean text often appears as a dramatic technique of engagement. At any rate, it is an influential pairing for psychoanalysis and for Bloom's theory of the travails of poetic influence. 1 2  1 3  6  placeholders of difference that threaten to dissolve with desire, where the poet often highlights the instability of such differences in the drama's representation of sacrificial crisis.  14  I show how Dream and Romeo and Juliet both display dynamics where the violence of desire, a desire appropriating the other's "being," is misrecognized and projected into a transcendental sacred. While the victimage mechanism or sacrificial surrogation can be viewed as working through projection and misrecognition on Shakespeare's stage ("What do you see? You see an ass-head of your own, do you?'  [MND, 3.1.117-18]), this is also a matter of meconnaissance undergirding the poetic subject's relations to alterity in gender identification and desire, suggesting that such originary misrecognitions contribute to the formation of the unconscious and the divided subject. That is, the dramatic texts under study move between an anthropological or social perspective on violence and the sacred, bridging this vision with another, more psychoanalytic perspective on sacrificial gender ideology and erotic desire. For example, the playlet "Pyramus and Thisby" substitutes for other "sports" (5.1.42) on the menu, scenes of collective violence or victimage, the staging of transgressive desire and erotic self-sacrifice that is subject to misrecognition. As is often noted, the playlet is the comic version or even a parody of the erotic plot of "young affection" (2  nd  Prologue, 2) in Romeo and Juliet} While I argue that Shakespeare as a dramatist nearly inevitably 5  speculates on the audience's participation in his stagings of illicit phantasy and the violence of desire, the playwright also frames the nonrecognition of this violence of desire, mounting a critique of the sacrificial dimension to gender identification and gender ideologies neglected in Rene Girard's analyses of cultural order and the Shakespearean text.  See Rene Girard's chapter on Dionysus in Violence and the Sacred, trans. Patrick Gregory (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1977). The reading of The Bacchae is uncharacteristic in his attending to gender difference. Girard locates the sacrificial crisis in terms of "the loss of sexual differentiation" (141), without putting this feared indifference in relation to the blurred relations of man to beast and god in Euripides' drama. See Girard's chapters on MND in his A Theater ofEnvy: Shakespeare (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), and his early article that makes a brief comparison of MND and R&J, "Levi-Strauss, Frye, Derrida and Shakespearean Criticism," in Diacritics 3:3 (1973): 34-38 (37). I note the importance of Girard's reading ofMND to mine in thefirstchapter. I elaborate on his readings of Puck's function as a sacrificial surrogate, Bottom's embodiment of a phantastic mimetic desire in the theatrical enterprise, and the notion of a theater derivedfroma sacrifice now in its "margins" (239-40). 1 4  15  7  Thefirstchapter investigates phantasy's function of staging desire and regulating masculine identity in Dream. I suggest ways in which the drama covertly upstages an ideal Thesean masculinity and foregrounds Oberon's punitive staging of desire, subjecting these censoring visions to a displacement of their mastery. If the failure of the subject's phantasied projection of integrity and an imaginary puissance founds the divided subject, this puissance remains a lure governing the subject's participation in shaping phantasies of gender's form. The opening sections of the chapter study masculinity's imaginary implication in what it is not as the dramatic background to the masculine subject's repeated performances that attempt to consolidate its hegemonic difference. Where the instability of masculine difference is due in part to specular desire and to phantasy's incorporation of the prohibited-lost other, this subject stages its difference-in-unity with the other in phantasies that structure the dramatic action.  The staging of an illusory puissance in phantasies of sodomy and defloration suggests how the spectatorsubject's anxious pleasure might be bound up with his own unstable differencefromthe feminine, an anxiety that appears to be erotic. My analysis