Echoic language and tragic identity (Hamlet)
This observation by Alice Jardine defines the task of feminist theory as an undoing of those intellectual bonds which have constrained our ideas of nature in the modern era. But how could nature ‘speak’? What would be the distinguishing marks of such a discourse or, more plausibly, of such a resonance? Would a resonance of or in nature effect a differing of previous conceptions of nature, or physis, in the performance of what Jacques Derrida has described as ‘physis in différance’? And would this communicative ‘difference’ have a close affinity with the degraded category of woman, to whom nature has so often been compared, or would it precisely work to undo the perceived binary opposition between the sexes? This chapter argues that an obscure elemental vocality reverberates throughout Shakespearean tragedy: a tragic resonance in or through nature and the body which some of the recent concerns of deconstruction and feminist theory can usefully elucidate.