The article explores how Shakespeare’s drama often undergoes a process of metatheatrical and metanarrative dissection involving the continuous mirroring of showing and telling in the exploration of different territories of representation. The effect is to expose the performative power of possible worlds in inducing reflection upon the inevitable partiality of knowledge. It examines not only how the off-stage impacts on the on-stage, producing epistemological disturbances related to the potential unreliability of narratives, but also how the on-stage undergoes processes of focalization typical of narrative discourse, turning what is presented as the actual world within the story world into an alternative, possible one. In particular, it discusses how point of view is introduced by way of internal and external framing narratives, distorting the characters’ and the audience’s perception of the action on stage. It also considers how this brings the audience to experience the pitfalls of both diegetic and mimetic truth as well as the power of narratives to guide our response in relation to ‘seen’ and ‘unseen’ scenes.
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