chapter  III
3 Pages

III.2 Drama


Drama is, unlike any other genre, acutely interested, perhaps even chiefly interested, in the communication of emotional states. At times, early modern drama might even be considered meta-emotional, preoccupied not only with exploring specific emotions but also with understanding their very nature. Hamlet is exceptionally, but not uniquely, exemplary of these emotional and meta-emotional concerns. ‘I have that within which passeth show’, the visibly melancholy Prince Hamlet tells his recently widowed and freshly married mother in the second scene of Hamlet, contrasting Gertrude’s apparent cheerfulness with the ‘trappings, and the suits of woe’ that he wears as an outward manifestation of his grief.1 Their interaction here is complex, suggesting both that Hamlet believes clothing and behaviour are not reliable guides to emotions and also that in this instance his own ‘inky cloak’ reflects his inner state.2