The English Renaissance is neither an age of origins nor of originality, and yet issues of authenticity have played a prominent role in criticism. While the poststructuralist dismantling of an essentialist idea of presence has made both categories problematic, a search for the authentic Shakespeare has fostered ever new researches in the fields of authorship, performance, and inwardness. New ideas on the subject’s contradictoriness and indeterminacy have replaced old constructionist/transcendentalist dichotomies and new room has been made for explorations of the self in an intersubjective dialectic, inviting a focus on how the probing of one’s inner intentions may bring about mutual discovery. Self-discovery as a locus of origin in a nosce te ipsum vein, however, has remained rooted to a belated humanist perspective asking for reassessment beyond traditional introspective practices. To what extent is self-knowledge mediated by contemporary discourses and received models? Does Shakespeare’s interrogation of the self’s self-probing nurture a parallel investigation of one’s inner origin as a locus of negotiation and dialectic? Can inwardness be looked at in etiological terms? The article examines how the staging of female self-address in Romeo and Juliet (Q1 and Q2) raises questions on how the self may be discursively fashioned according to competitive models of selfhood and otherness, as well as through strategies of assimilation and contestation of cultural stances on gender issues.
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