Metaphor and Shakespearean Drama, Unchaste Signification by Maria Fahey
Maria’s first chapter, an examination of the literature on metaphor from Aristotle on down, impresses with its thorough scholarship as she explores the nature of metaphor and the cross-contamination that occurs between the two entities equated. In her analyses of six Shakespeare plays in the subsequent chapters, these coupled items, as she convincingly shows, form an underlying network of meaning, this despite the multitude of voices in a play. Her essays on the plays, though probably meant for academics, are lively and accessible enough to benefit any Shakespeare buff who simply wants new insight. Theater-goers wishing to enrich their experience at an enactment of one of the plays can stop to examine in detail the use of heraldry in Othello or of equivocation in Macbeth. I particularly enjoyed Maria’s pursuit of the fish imagery in The Tempest. When Trinculo encounters Caliban and says, “What have we here, a man or a fish?” it is as though a performance freezes in time, and we, the spectators, get to walk around the scene, watching Maria pull down words to examine and reflect on, showing us how men eating fish and fish eating men are woven into the play’s texture.