The "brute" part in 'Hamlet' and 'Julius Caesar' refigured--regally

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Date: Summer 2002
From: Papers on Language & Literature(Vol. 38, Issue 3)
Publisher: Southern Illinois University
Document Type: Critical essay
Length: 978 words

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Was Shakespeare indebted at all to the likes of Malory if he meant by Antony's reference to "the most unkindest cut of all" (Julius Caesar 3.2.183) (1) to have had Brutus go so far as to sever his dictator's genitals vindictively for having brought him into the world out of wedlock? The main point here is that a king, Arthur, at least according to the standard medieval tradition, was likewise killed by his upstart, namely by his own illegitimate son; moreover, at one point in the tales, a removal of sexual organs also happened to occur, though in this case the father himself, Arthur, happened to be the one responsible, the removal of the testicles being adventitious. (2) Nonetheless, somewhat disparate though these two events were, a couple of such curiously similar severances, though originally not directly linked, might somehow have grouped themselves together half-consciously in the broad creative psyche of the leading Elizabethan dramatist. In point of collaborative fact, some modern scholarship declares that valid evidence exists to suggest that the playwright revealed some effective use of Malory elsewhere. (3)

In assessing this oblique relation, one is obliged also to recall the suggestion that Brutus was born out of wedlock, that historically it was no more than a rumor; still, even though such a matter is not specifically alluded to in Julius Caesar itself, Shakespeare at least does call attention to it elsewhere (2 Henry VI, 4.1.137-38). So it could also have thereby...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A92233502