Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 62

Power, Perlocution, and Performativity in Shakespeares Hamlet

Marta Belcher

Prof. David Landreth, Advisor

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the honors program in Rhetoric

University of California, Berkeley 2012

This thesis represents my own work in accordance with College of Letters & Science regulations.

_____________________________ Marta Belcher


Table of Contents Affirmation of Independent Work Acknowledgements Introduction Chapters Make It So An Overview of Speech Act Theory A Discourse Without Illocutionary Force Speech Acts in the Theater A Speech Act Play Royal Performatives Speaking Daggers Hamlets Language-Power Games Sayst Thou So? Substantiating the Ghost The Plays the Thing Metatheatricality in Hamlet All the Worlds a Stage Extending Theatrical Performatives Works Cited 54 48 38 26 19 13 7 2 ii iv 1



I would like to express my deep and sincere gratitude to my advisor, Professor David Landreth, for his guidance and insight; Professor Dr. Sabine Schlting for her advice and encouragement; and Professor Dale Carrrico for his thought-provoking ideas.


Introduction J.L. Austin, the founder of speech act theory, writes in his 1979 Philosophical Papers, the word performativeis a new word and an ugly word, and perhaps it does not mean anything very much. But at any rate there is one thing in its favour, it is not a profound word (Austin, Urmson, and Warnock 233). Postmodern critics disagree. In particular, poststructuralist thinkers have appropriated the concepts of performativity and speech act theory to probe past assumptions and deconstruct preexisting formations of institutions. The word performativity, writes Jacques Derrida, is now ineffaceable (Without Alibi 127). In the light of several decades of critical theory building on Austins concepts, Austins seminal works, in retrospect, seem resolutely conservative. In particular, Austin explicitly excludes on-stage utterances from speech act theory. While some critics have taken up Austins distinction to, for example, define literature as something that begins where speech act theory ends, other more recent theorists have problematized this separation. Likewise, Shakespeares Hamlet is a speech act play that consistently blurs the boundaries between performance and performativity. In Hamlet, the stage is not the place where speech acts come apart, but rather where speech acts unfold. That is, in play that is unequivocally preoccupied with speech acts, what happens on the stage is not only a performance it is itself performative. In Hamlet, this is the case at several levels of performance, the first of which is within the play itself. Far from being notable for his irresolution, passivity, and failure, Shakespeares eponymous protagonist is actively engaged in a language-power game through speech acts (Donaldson 30). Though for much of the play Hamlet does not undertake the physical action necessary to avenge his fathers death, Hamlet is by no means passive. Given the questionable nature of the Ghost, Hamlet must engage in linguistic battles with not only

Claudius, but also with the Ghost himself. Meanwhile, the play questions the very nature of words themselves. In his linguistic struggles with Claudius, Hamlet must come to terms with the tangibility of words effects as metaphorical weapons. Pairing his quintessentially performative monarchal powers with an insatiable appetite for information, Claudius wages his own battles almost entirely through words. Recognizing this, Hamlet feeds Claudius words without meaning. Hamlets linguistic struggles with the Ghost are equally active, setting the Ghosts linguistic powers in contrast with Claudiuss, as the Ghost is both a potential former king, and is substantiated by the very words he speaks. At another performative level, Hamlet navigates not only the possibilities of avenging his fathers death, but also his own metatheatrical position as a character in a clichd revenge plot. Ultimately, Hamlets self-awareness as a character threatens to unveil the insidious connection between speech acts and performance, extending performativity into the world of the audience, which, Shakespeare suggests, is substantiated by performance as much as the play itself.

Make It So Speech act theory first arises in Austins How to Do Things With Words (1962), and is built around the concept of the performative utterance. Austin sets out to classify the performative as a particular type of utterance, one in which to say something is to do something; or in which by saying or in saying something we are doing something (12, emphasis in original). That is, to utter the sentence (in, of course, the appropriate circumstances) is not to describe my doingor to state that I am doing it: it is to do it (6, emphasis in original). The quintessential example of a performative utterance is I now pronounce you husband and wife uttered by a priest during a wedding ceremony. In this example, the marriage comes into being

without any physical action taking place, simply by virtue of the officiator uttering the words themselves. With his or her pronouncement, the officiator does not describe the marriage, but performs it. For Austin, the furthest extension of the performative utterance is the Biblical description of creation God says, let there be light, and the words themselves bring about light (Genesis 1:3). A performative utterance creates a state of affairs that did not exist prior to that utterance simply by virtue of the utterance itself having occurred. While a marriage ceremony does not immediately enact physical changes in the same manner as creation, it does alter and indeed, create reality through its effects. A speech act, more broadly, acts like a performative but does not necessarily announce the act that it is performing within the utterance itself as a performative verb does. That is, a speech act may claim simply to be describing a state of affairs, but in doing so is still changing something. A speech act is composed of three facets: the locutionary utterance, the illocutionary act, and the perlocutionary effect. A locution is the simple utterance of words, at the most basic level of the bodily movements and physical events that create sound. That locution is also an illocutionary act if it is a speech act that is, if in saying, it is doing. Such an illocutionary act might also have perlocutionary effects; in the case of marriage, for example, the couple may be entitled to tax breaks or other rights that they did not previously have as unmarried individuals. Perlocutionary effects can also be viewed from the perspective of their effect on the listener, who might be for example persuaded, convinced, enlightened, advised, inspired, directed, or commanded by the speakers illocutionary act. According to Austin, the distinction between the three parts can be clarified by defining locution as the act of uttering words, illocution as an act performed in uttering words, and perlocution as the effects performed by uttering words.

However, for Austin, I now pronounce you husband and wife uttered in a play or on a playground would not produce the same results as that very same phrase uttered by an ordained priest during a wedding ceremony. In addition to the verbal procedure associated with speech acts, illocutions must adhere to what Austin calls felicitous circumstances. Rather than concerning himself with whether a statement is true or false, Austin discusses the circumstances that result in the happy functioning of a performative: that is, a performatives felicity or infelicity, or the doctrine of the things that can be and go wrong (9, 14, emphasis in original). Given inappropriate circumstances (such as an improper authority attempting to perform a wedding), the utterance might be what Austin calls a misfire, when the procedure which we purport to invoke is disallowed or is botched: and our act (marrying, &c.) is void or without effect (16). Austin notes, however, that without effect does not [necessarily] mean without consequences, results rather, an act is a misfire if it does not have the intended effect (17). Another potential obstacle to a felicitous speech act occurs when the speaker does not intend for the illocution to take place. Austin explains that the person uttering the [illocution] should have a certain intention (11). Without such intention, the utterance is not void but rather given in bad faith, which Austin names abuse (11). Similarly, Austin classifies uses of language that are in jest or part of a stage performance as parasitic to underscore the conditions necessary for performatives to operate successfully (22, emphasis in original). John Searle expands upon Austins notion of the performative with his Classification of Illocutionary Acts (1976), which revises Austins five tentative categories of speech acts (Austin 60). Searle argues that Austins categories are not classifications of illocutionary acts but of English illocutionary verbs (Classification 8). Instead, Searle himself focuses on the functional syntactical implications of each classification, and divides illocutions into five

categories: declarations, representatives, directives, commissives, and expressives. As the paradigmatic performative, a declaration brings about the change that it is itself referring to, simply by virtue of the success of the declaration (e.g. youre fired). Representatives claim to describe a state of affairs (e.g. it is raining), but in so doing are also doing. Directives are orders, commands and requests more broadly extending to utterances such as invitations. Commissives, at a basic level, are promises and pledges. Finally, expressives include speech acts such as apologizing, congratulating, thanking, and welcoming; according to Searle, expressives are distinguished in that the acts are syntactically performed for something rather than that something (e.g. I thank you for is grammatically correct in English whereas I thank you that is not). In addition to offering his own revised classification of speech acts, Searle adds to Austins ideas by distinguishing between direct and indirect speech acts as well as intentional and unintentional speech acts. In How Performatives Work (1989), Searle notes that speech acts and performatives are not synonymous rather, the latter is a subset of the former. For Searle, performative utterances are not indirect speech acts, in the sense in which an utterance of can you pass the salt? can be an indirect speech act of requesting the hearer to pass the salt (How Performatives Work 5). A speech act must be direct that is, self-referentially enacting the thing it claims enact in order to be classified as a performative or, in Austin, a performative verb (Austin 149). Furthermore, according to Searle, a performative has intentionality built-in: An essential constitutive feature of any illocutionary act is the intention to perform that act (How Performatives Work 12). For certain speech acts such as promising or ordering, the manifestation of the intention to perform the action, in an appropriate context, is sufficient for the performance of the action (How Performatives Work 16). Whether or not the action comes

to fruition is irrelevant here; if a promise is broken or the performative utterance I hereby fry an egg fails to yield a fried egg, for example, the speech act has still occurred simply because it was intended to occur. If unsuccessful, such a speech act has simply misfired. Having made such distinctions, Searle goes on to discuss Austins more general linguistic applications of speech act theory in Austin on Locutionary and Illocutionary Acts (1968). Over the course of the lectures that constitute How to Do Things With Words, Austin moves from what was supposed to be a distinction between utterances which are sayings and utterances which are doings to the realization that attempts to make the distinction precise along these lines only show that it collapses (Searle Austin on Illocutionary Acts 405). This leads Austin to a more general theory of speech acts (Searle Austin on Illocutionary Acts 405). Austin ultimately notes that, with Speech Act Theory, the real fun comes when we begin to apply it to philosophy to understand its implications and applications (Austin 169). Though Austin sets out in the beginning of How to Do Things With Words to describe a certain class of utterances that he calls performatives, he finds, ultimately, that all utterances are speech acts; every spoken word alters the very world that it claims to describe. Broadly speaking, speech act theory refers to this generalized, philosophical and revolutionary idea. Indeed, philosophers have taken up Austins speech act theory as the lens through which to analyze history and society. Jacques Derrida famously reads the Declaration of Independence using speech act theory, arguing that the we the people to which the Declaration refers does not exist, before this declaration (Declarations 10). This we, according to Derrida, gives birth to itself in a moment of fabulous retroactivity, as if the signature invents the signer (Declarations 10). In Bodies That Matter, Judith Butler argues that when a doctor proclaims a childs gender upon his or her birth, the constative (i.e. the descriptive) claim is always to some

degree performative (8). The speech act here purports to describe a fact, but in actuality in that naming the girl is girled (Butler Bodies 11). Butlers powerful claim, according to Elisabeth Bronfen, is that gender is engendered by regulatory forces which coerce us intoperforming subject positions that a given society deems to be appropriate. That is, in being called a girl, the girl becomes part of a set of expectations and enabling assumptions through which she is continually re-girled by acting according to the available scripts that confer girlishness (and, notably, somewhere in this lifelong script will most certainly exist the line I now pronounce you man and wife) (Carrico). Butlers theory goes beyond gender to include race and class distinctions, and more broadly to imply that, through performativity, all of us are the subjects of social construction. This is at once a constrictive and a liberating discussion of the wounding constraints imposed upon the subject by virtue of symbolic interpellation, as it implies a certain powerlessness in the face of performative institutions while at the same time offering the potential to shape ones own identity by understanding the nature of the performative (Bronfen). These post-structuralist readings extend speech act theory far beyond Austins original project of simply classifying a particular type of utterance that he called the performative. From a poststructuralist perspective, speech act theory is powerful and practical, in stark contrast with Austins own account. Even as post-structuralists challenge so much of Austins conservatism, however, they, too, have largely ignored the implications of speech act theory in literature and the theater, deferring to Austins original exclusion of the performative from performance.

A Discourse Without Illocutionary Force Austin makes explicit his exclusion of performance and literature from speech act theory, calling such language parasitic upon its normal use (22, emphasis in original). In terms of

performance, Austin says only that a performative utterance would be in a peculiar way hollow or void if said by an actor on the stage (22, emphasis in original). A staged wedding, for example, would not result in a marriage if performed as part of a play, even if the actor playing the priest is actually ordained as a priest outside of the play. For Austin, staged language does not simply misfire in the way that someone without a skillet misfires when he or she declares, I hereby fry an egg. The felicity conditions of the latter utterance have the potential to be met, if the utterance does indeed yield a fried egg. Austin implies that speech acts uttered in fictional circumstances do not even have the potential to be felicitous. For Austin, if an actor says I hereby fry an egg on the stage, and then proceeds to fry an egg, even this cannot be considered a successful speech act if performed as part of a play. Similarly, while written language can certainly contain speech acts (e.g. proclamations or marriage certificates), for Austin and Searle, such written acts are as hollow and void if contained in a work of literature as they might be if spoken on a stage. Searle justifies this exclusion through his understanding of literature as necessarily invoking the horizontal conventions that suspend the normal illocutionary commitments of the utterances (Fictional Discourse, 327). In the following decades, language philosophers take up the precise nature of this suspension. Drawing on Searle, Richard Ohmann attempts to find a conclusive definition of literature utilizing speech act theory in his Speech Acts and the Definition of Literature (1971). Ohmann comes to the unpalatable conclusion that literature is always encased in invisible quotation marks (13). Ultimately, Ohmann defines literature as a discourse without illocutionary force (13, emphasis in original). Literature, for Ohmann, is mimetic in that it purportedly imitates (or reports) a series of speech acts, which in fact have no other existence (14, emphasis in original). According to Ohmann, a reader of literature is called upon to decipher speech acts

within the text, but only actually participates in the speech act of mimesis (15). This separation from speech acts is not merely a characteristic of literature for Ohmann rather, it is the very thing that defines literature itself. Stanley Fish directly responds to Ohmann in How to Do Things with Austin and Searle (1976), which serves as both a reading of Shakespeares Coriolanus through the lens of speech act theory, and an examination of how such a reading might function. A speech act reading of a work of literature is possible, for Fish, simply by paying attention to the heros illocutionary behavior and then referring to the full dress accounts of the acts he performs (1001). However, while such analysis can produce an understanding of a work of literature, it cannot, for Fish, produce an understanding of literature in general. Fish argues that Ohmanns work is a troubling distortion of speech act theory that turns the major insight of the Speech Act philosophers on its head, precisely undoing what they have so carefully done (1009, 1011). Of utmost importance to Fish is Austins ultimate discovery that all utterances even the constatives that purport to simply describe a fact are doings in and of themselves (Fish 1011). The class of exceptions that Austin initially set out to identify thus swallows the supposedly normative class of utterances by the end of How to Do Things With Words (Fish 1011). Fish argues that this is the point Ohmann misses when Ohmann offers his definition of literature in relation to illocutionary acts (Fish 1011). In response, Fish offers an enumeration of all the things speech act theory cant do in order to illuminate what it can do (1023, emphasis in original). According to Fish, the limitations of speech act theory are that it cannot offer insight into the thoughts of the performer, be elaborated into narrative, reveal what happens after the speech act, or tell us the difference between literature and non-literature (1023). This is not to say, however, that speech act theory cannot be applied to literature; Fish concludes that one thing it can do is allow us to

talk with some precision about a Speech Act play (1024). A Speech Act play, for Fish, is about speech acts, the rules of their performance, the price one pays for obeying those rules, the impossibility of ignoring or refusing them and still remaining a member of the community (1024). Direct responses to Fish include James Marlows Fish Doing Things With Austin and Searle (1976). Marlow expresses concern with speech act theorys self-proclaimed transhistoricism, arguing that Fishs speech act analysis of Coriolanus is fundamentally entrenched in its own discourse, which supersedes the Shakespearian context (Marlow 1603). Furthermore, Marlow argues that a speech act analysis precludes the possibility that the play be allowed to function to its fullest extent as a tragic event (1603). For Marlow, reading through speech act theory is deeply problematic it disregards the texture that is produced through an analysis of a characters separation from, rather than interaction with, others; it commits the reader to one view of the nature of language while disallowing the suspension between alternatives; and it disassociates the text from its own discourse (1603-1604). In Marlows words, with one swipe of the performative, the humanity of hermits and heroes, in whatever discipline or epochis discountenanced (1604). Critical theorists, however, have continued to find a use for speech act theory in literature particularly in the realm of theater, and more specifically in Shakespeare. In Shakespeares Universe of Discourse (1984), Keir Elam advocates approaching a plays dialogue as a network of direct verbal deeds through which we may begin to come to terms with the dynamic discourse structure of the drama in its moment-by-moment unfolding (6-7). While Elam agrees with Michael Issacharoff that the stage, the area of fictional utterance, is a frame that disengages all speech acts, Elam finds a more fruitful concern with what comes actually to be


done with words in a given play (Issacharoff 9, Elam Shakespeare 7, emphasis in original). Rather than considering static characters represented by their diction, Elam is interested in interpersonal forces responsible for carrying forward the narrative dynamic (Shakespeare 7). Elam takes up the notion of the language-game (Sprachspiel) put forward in Ludwig Wittgensteins Brown Book (1935) and Philosophical Investigations (1953). For Wittgenstein, the term game is used in a special sense to indicate language that is subject to its own rules and behavioral context (Elam Shakespeare 10-11). For Elam, Wittgensteins language game adds levels of heterogeneity to Austins speech act theory that are particularly useful in Elams own analysis of Shakespeares linguistic games (Shakespeare 17). Yet, Elams analysis is deliberately constrained by a limited view of what speech act theory can do. He explains this view in his Language in the Theater (1977): What converts objects, people and action into signs on stage is the removal of the performance from praxis. This may seem self-evident and commonplace, but upon this simple act of severance rests the whole power of theatrical semiosis, indeed its very existence (Elam Language 144). That the theater involves a suspension of speech act theorys illocutionary force is taken as a given in Elam, but his own etymological analysis of theatrical language reveals that theatrics and speech acts are inherently intertwined. Elam points out that drama derives from the Greek dran, meaning to do, and pragmatics derives from the Greek pragma, meaning to act, which itself comes from prattein, meaning to do (Shakespeare 177). In English, too, acting and performing have dual connotations, meaning both doing in a broad sense and making believe in a theatrical sense (Estill). Indeed, Elam alludes to a potentially more complex view of speech acts in the theater, ultimately arguing that the main information conveyed by the [language] game to the audience is the playing itself (Shakespeare 19). If, as Austin argues,


even the constatives that purport to simply convey information are doings in and of themselves, Elam is perhaps alluding to the possibility that speech acts in the theater albeit here only metatheatrically might indeed actually stick (Austin 138). To this end, David Saltz in The Reality of Doing: Real Speech Acts in the Theatre argues against the virtually unanimous conclusion of speech act theoriststhat actors do not and cannot actually perform their characters speech acts (63). Saltz rejects the notion that fiction strips speech acts of illocutionary force and, inversely, that the suspension of speech acts illocutionary force defines and constitutes fiction (Real Speech Acts 67). To the contrary, Saltz presents a game model of dramatic action, wherein actors do not merely imitate actions as they would be performed off stage, but really do commit the illocutionary acts within the theatrical context (How to Do Things on Stage 63). According to Saltz, the point at which the illocutionary force of an utterance breaks down on stage is the moment of causation. Saltz considers the example of a speech act that is a request. Theater establishes a deviant causal chain whereby a request is made and the hearer might grant the request. However, on stage the cause of the granting the request is not the request itself; rather, the reason the request is granted is that the performance has been scripted and rehearsed (Real Speech Acts 68). For Saltz, this point is crucial, because it emphasizes that the fictional context of a stage performance does not in and of itself strip a performers utterances of illocutionary force (Real Speech Acts 69). For Saltz, then, staged speech acts function like any other illocutionary act, with the sole exception being that their conditions of satisfaction are determined with respect to borrowed Intentionality (Real Speech Acts 41). Saltz argues that this not enough to deem all staged speech acts hollow (Austin 22, emphasis in original). Indeed, it is possible that a request onstage will be denied, and Saltz argues that the ultimate test of whether a command functions as a speech act


is whether it can be unsuccessful (Real Speech Acts 73). Saltz considers the example of flicking a light switch onstage: under normal circumstances, the flicking would cause the physical events that would lead to the light turning on. However, in the case of a staged light switch, the actor would flick the light switch, signaling the lighting director to turn the light on, in a moment that transforms what would be offstage a simple, brute force, physical event into a speech act. This is the basis for Saltzs argument that far from being suspended on stage as Searle suggests, illocutionary force is often extended (Real Speech Acts 74, emphasis in original). Saltzs analysis brings staged speech acts into the realm of metatheatricality. What turns a written text into a series of speech acts, for Saltz, is the existence of a flesh-and-blood human being the actor at a specific place and time in the real world (Real Speech Acts 69). For Saltz, denying the real illocutionary force of these speech acts is to suppress the radically transformative potential of theatrical performance (Real Speech Acts 77). That performative potential actually derives from theaters ability to explore and expose and not merely to assert or signify the nature of what Saltz calls the games that structure our own lives as the audience and demonstrate ways we might change the rules (Real Speech Acts 77). That is to say, Saltzs game model takes Wittgensteins Sprachspiel and extends it to the realm of reality. When an actor engages in a language-power game with another character on stage, in Saltzs model, that language-power game extends to the audience as well.

A Speech Act Play Whether that transformative potential is actually realized in a given play, then, is dependent on the way in which that play engages with speech acts. What Saltz describes as the fullest expression of theatrical performativity is what Fish means when he argues that Coriolanus


is a speech act play. Fish specifies that a speech act play is not simply full of speech acts (since by definition this is true of any play) but rather that it is about what the theory is about: language and its power: the power to make the world rather than mirror it, to bring about states of affairs rather than report them, to constitute institutions rather than (or as well as) serve them (1023). For Hillaire Kallendorf, the same could be said of Hamlet, in which performative language is one of the primary themes of the work (69). Susanne Wofford notes that Shakespeares plays in general are filled with examples of moments when characters either lose or claim for the first time the capacity to perform certain speech acts, demonstrating a general preoccupation with performativity running throughout Shakespeares works (4). Indeed, the quintessential performative power is that of a king, and more than twenty-five kings appear in Shakespeares thirty-seven plays, including at least twelve eponymous royals. Hamlet is particularly preoccupied with the illocutionary powers of royalty, from the question of the legitimacy of speech acts performed by a kings Ghost, to the commands given by a king who is potentially a murderer, to the performatives and performances of Hamlet himself. As the ultimate performative figure and the main voice of Denmark, the kings words automatically become law, by definition altering the world to conform to his utterances (1.3.33). The entire social and legal structure surrounding the monarchy is one in which all performers in the script ensure that the kings illocutions are always successful in that they have the perlocutionary effects that he intends. In Shakespeares introduction of Claudius in 1.2, the entire court engages in an elaborate performance of courtly behavior determined by the system of social mores and operating around the central figure of the king. In this scene, Claudius compares Polonius to a handinstrumental to the mouth of Denmark, underscoring the complicity of a kings subjects in legitimating his power by enacting his commands (1.2.50).


Claudius fully understands the structures that undergird his performative utterances, and uses them to maintain strict control over the subjects who, he realizes, must remain complicit in order to ensure that his own perlocutions have the intended effects that is, in order to retain legitimate power (deBoer). One of Claudiuss first speech acts in the play is to grant Laertes leave and favour to return to France, exercising control over the very movements of the members of his court as if they were pieces in a game of chess (1.2.54). In stark contrast, only a few lines later Claudius denies Hamlets request for leave to return to school, both exercising his power to control Hamlets body through words, and protecting that very power by keeping Hamlet in close physical proximity so that he can continue to control Hamlets movements (1.2.119-23). Of this, Hamlet, too, is very much aware. Despite his displeasure at being too much i the sun as far as his new stepfather is concerned, Hamlet recognizes his subjecthood, which leads him to lament, but break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue (1.2.70, 1.2.163). Hamlet is not literally silenced in this moment; no one actually holds his tongue. Indeed, he is often vocal about his scorn against Claudius, Gertrude and the court in general throughout the early acts, if not blatantly rude (Danner 43). Hamlet is, however, silenced in the sense that his illocutions do not have the perlocutionary effects that he intends. With Claudius as king, Hamlets illocutions misfire, despite his royal status. Linguistically speaking, Claudius is infallible, and Hamlets only option is to obey (1.2.124). Though the social script that confers power upon Claudius and relegates Hamlet to subjecthood is not predeterminitive, straying too far from it has very real consequences. Claudius is able to literally alter reality to conform to his utterances, which Hamlet underscores when he points to the metaphorically physical effects of Claudiuss words on his broken heart and halted tongue.


For Hamlet, Claudiuss abuse of language is partly what makes Claudius so abhorrent. In 1.2, Hamlet has not yet encountered the Ghost, and his only stated reason for feeling less than kind toward Claudius is his marriage to Gertrude (1.2.68, 1.2.155-57). The perlocutionary effects of this wedding are precisely what endow Claudius with the ultimate illocutionary powers of the king. For Hamlet, Claudius has abused the quintessential performative of the wedding itself, thereby rendering marriage vows / As false as dicers oaths (3.4.53-54) and undermining the entire institution. For Claudius as for Austin the truth or falsehood of language is irrelevant; what matters for Claudius, rather, are the tangible perlocutionary effects of words. Elsinore, under the rule of Claudius, is an information machine that runs on words in the same way that the human body runs on food (Landreth). Claudius places value on words like objects according to their function and effects, in contrast with Hamlets willingness to soliloquize for the sake of postulation, without a predetermined perlocutionary end. Claudius treats pieces of information as if they were physical objects that he adds to a physical collection. Gertrude, who according to James Black is functionally interchangeable with Claudius, demands from the court more matter, with less art (42, 2.2.106). Claudius demands words that constitute a reality that is, substantial, useful news and information just as he demands that the words that he speaks be instantly transformed into reality. Yet Claudius himself uses the art of rhetoric almost constantly (2.2.106). If words were coins, Claudius would never find that his purse is empty or that his golden words are spent, unlike his vapid flunky Osric (5.2.110). As king, he is linguistically and literally the wealthiest man in Denmark, as his collection of information never ceases, and his rhetoric never fails. In response to Claudiuss mounting arsenal of words, Hamlet deprives Claudius of the information that Claudius so desperately seeks, feeding Claudius instead a stream of meaningless


words constituting nothing more than useless static (Landreth). In Hamlet: A Document of Madness, Alison Findlay argues that madness is verbally constructed, and words are themselves mad in that they carry a plurality of meanings, an excess of interpretations (189). When Polonius, as one of Claudiuss self-proclaimed information-gathering agents, asks Hamlet what he is reading, Hamlets reply is, words, words, words (2.2.198-200). In this moment, several things related to verbally constructed madness occur. First, Hamlet points to the tangibility of the words themselves on the page, drawing attention to the physicality of the very words that Polonius hopes to take back to Claudius. Second, through his wit, Hamlet refuses to give Polonius any real words at all. If, as Findlay argues, madness produces and is produced by a fragmentation of discourse, in uttering these words in this context, Hamlet points to both the cause and result of his madness (189). That is, Hamlet must become mad in order to evade Claudiuss word-gathering machine, and he expresses this madness through words themselves. At the same time that Hamlet points to the tangibility of words, he also uses this moment to point out the inherent disconnect between words and the world. Hamlet says that though he most powerfully and potently believes the words that he is reading, he hold[s] it not honest to have it thus set down (2.2.204-207). In these lines, Hamlet points out that though words can be tangible in terms of their effects on the world and their presence on paper in ink, words are still fundamentally disconnected from what they signify. Even if the words Hamlet reads are true, having it set down in words automatically creates a disconnect between the words and the reality they claim to describe. Just as Polonius advises Reynaldo that a bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth, Hamlet realizes that words however true, false, tangible, or intangible they are to start with can indeed have very tangible perlocutionary effects (2.1.69). These effects are certainly tangible perhaps as tangible as catching a carp but the tangibility of the perlocutionary effects


does not imply that the words themselves are tangible, or truthful, to start with. Similarly, when Hamlet says, there is nothing / either good or bad, but thinking makes it so, he emphasizes that the world in its infinite subjectivity cannot be truthfully described using words, but all words do affect reality by acting upon the perception of the listeners (2.2.232-33). Hamlets implied distinction between the honesty of words and the truth of their physical effects is important to speech act theory. Austin deliberately refers to speech acts as felicitous or happy rather than true or false (9). In speech acts theory, a speech act occurs with every utterance. I promise is still the speech act of promising regardless of whether the promise is kept or even given in good faith. Under such circumstances, the speech act can misfire, but even misfires have recognizable effects on the world. For both Hamlet and Austin, reality is constituted by words that are themselves only real because of the reality they create. As such, Hamlet refuses to utter any words that could have the perlocutionary effect of providing Claudius the occasion to act against him. Claudius, unable to understand Hamlet as he tries to extract information, snaps I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet; these words / are not mine (3.2.60). Claudius phrases this as if he expects that words will be presented to him in the form of a physical gift. However, because Hamlets answer is nonsense, Claudius cannot have Hamlets words. They cannot be collected and put into Claudiuss arsenal of information. Hamlets response is that the words are neither Claudiuss nor [Hamlets] now as if in putting them out into the world, he loses control of them (3.2.61). Hamlet agrees in this moment that words are tangible, but by giving out only static, Hamlet ensures that Claudius cannot garner anything useful from Hamlet. Hamlet uses this tactic to not only undermine Claudiuss information-gathering, but also to infuriate Claudius. Addressing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who operate as information-gathering agents for Claudius, Hamlet says that though there is


excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot you make it speak (3.2.267). That is, though Claudius can prevent Hamlets words from having the perlocutionary effects he desires thereby silencing Hamlet what Claudius cannot do is force Hamlet to speak in a manner benefiting Claudiuss aims. Though the performative powers of the king may silence him, Hamlet cannot be played like an instrument. Instead, Hamlet can simply refuse to emit the sounds Claudius desires, feeding Claudius instead only meaningless static that Claudius cannot have.

Speaking Daggers What could be perceived as Hamlets passivity in the first several acts is, then, actually an active engagement in a series of illocutionary language-power games with Claudius, which serves to bide time while Hamlet attempts to confirm the Ghosts authenticity as well as the accuracy of its story (Danner 37). In saying that he will speak daggersbut use none against Gertrude, Hamlet juxtaposes words and action, finding the connection between the two to be the possibility of violence (3.2.259). Indeed, Hamlet does use words as weapons in lieu of physical violence, in the same way that Claudius uses words against him. For Hamlet, words can certainly bring about physical violence as a perlocutionary effect, but more importantly, words can inflict harm in and of themselves through symbolic violence, a term coined by Pierre Bourdieu. The linguistic distinction between these two types of violence lies in the difference between perlocution and illocution. While off with his head might bring about physical violence as a perlocutionary effect, the violence of the performative has a time lag something that Jacques Derrida observes in Limited Inc. This time lag occurs between the utterance itself and the realization of the perlocutionary effect. An act of symbolic violence, on the other hand, need not have a time lag, because the violence occurs in uttering the words themselves (not because of the


utterance, as with physical violence). As Judith Butler argues in Excitable Speech, illocutionary speech acts produce effects without any lapse of timethe saying itself is the doingthey are one another simultaneously (17). This instantaneity renders symbolic violence infinitely more reliable in its affectivity than perlocutionary physical violence. The time lag of the latter means that its performative force, that is, to make something happen by way of the words...is destined to err and wander, even though it may sometimes, by a happy accident, reach the destination...intended for it (Miller 33). That is, an utterance intended to bring about physical violence may or may not bring about harm. Like all performative utterances, such an illocution (e.g. off with his head) would certainly have perlocutionary effects but those effects need not be the effects intended. In the time lag, the performative force might wander and manifest in an entirely unintended but equally tangible perlocutionary effect. Symbolic violence, on the other hand, occurs at the very moment of the illocution itself; it is built into the utterance. It is precisely for this reason that Hamlet and Claudius are at a stalemate in terms of perlocutionary physical violence. Claudius is at an obvious perlocutionary advantage given his quintessentially performative position as king, but he is constrained in his ability to physically harm or kill Hamlet through his mere commands at least in Denmark because of Hamlets royal status. However, Claudius can and does control Hamlets physical movements to serve his own ends for example, by denying Hamlets request to return to school in Wittenberg, sending Hamlet to England, and often calling for Hamlets presence. In these cases, Claudius utilizes illocutionary commands, so that it is not just that Claudiuss perlocutionary effects often do match his intentions, but also that the command itself does a kind of symbolic violence to Hamlet at the very moment of its utterance (regardless of what perlocutions follow). Hamlet, in turn, cannot use his royal status to inflict state-sanctioned violence on Claudius, but he is keenly


aware that his words are still powerful weapons of symbolic violence. Hamlet thus preoccupies himself with language that can inflict symbolic violence on Claudius immediately what Butler calls injurious speech (Excitable Speech 2). At the same time, Hamlet attempts to find ways to physically harm Claudius through perlocutionary effects, using only words. For Bruce Danner, Hamlets is able to speak daggers only by sacrificing theaction that he ardently craves (32). That is, for Danner, utilizing illocutionary symbolic violence undermines Hamlets ultimate goal by satisfying his desire to harm Claudius without requiring physical force. Danner argues that Hamlet, obligated to revenge his fathers death, fantasizes instead about applying the brute authority of virtuous action to his speech (42). To the contrary, however, while Hamlet does situate violence utterly within the structure and effect of language, speaking daggers does not render him passive, nor does it preclude actual violence from taking place (Danner 43). By using words as weapons in a kind of linguistic symbolic violence, Hamlet is very much an active player in the language-power games that take place throughout the play (Danner 32). Hamlet does not need to inflict bloodshed in order to give [his words] seals (3.2.390). Through speech acts, Hamlets words can inflict symbolic violence that indeed physically manipulates the world around him without ever risking real violence (Danner 42). Indeed, Gertrude confirms the success of Hamlets illocutionary attack, describing her conversation with Hamlet in terms of a physical assault: these words like daggers enter in mine ears (3.4.105). Gertrude points to the proverbial metaphor of violent speech as sharptongued or cutting, but, importantly, she uses a noun (daggers) rather than an adjective (cutting) just moments after Hamlet uses the same language (Danner 41). Hamlets words, then, do not simply resemble something that might point to or describe violence; they perform violence in the same way a dagger does.


Danner points out that this moment of doing violence to Gertrudes ear is a curious sublimation of the revenge plays original cause that is, Claudiuss murder of the sleeping King Hamlet, which was ostensibly committed by pouring poison into the kings ear (43). The image of speech doing physical violence to the ear appears multiple times throughout the play: Hamlet says he will not allow Horatio to do [Hamlets] ear that violence of hearing Horatios selfdeprecating humor, the Ghost warns Hamlet that the whole ear of Denmark / isrankly abused by Claudius, and Hamlet laments that the players cleave the general ear with horrid speech even without an emotional attachment to the subject matter (1.2.377, 1.5.36-38, 2.2.562). The ear is particularly vulnerable in Hamlet. As an orifice, it is a site of entrance, though not one often associated with ingesting poison outside of Shakespeare. What the ear does absorb is language. This exposure to words is what puts the ear in peril throughout the play, cleaving it, abusing it, and doing violence to it. King Hamlets murder is the literalization of the violence that language is capable of committing. The poison enters the ear in the same manner that words might, doing something to the recipient. In Hamlet, as in speech act theory, saying is doing. For words to be weapon-like in the way Claudius utilizes them is for that utilization to be as potent as poison. The ear, as the site of vulnerability, becomes also a site of preoccupation for those who are vulnerable to Claudiuss verbal poison, and those who attempt to undermine his linguistic power. Indeed, King Hamlets murder remains the sole instance of physical violence in the plot for three acts and the murder itself happens before the action of the play. The possibility space of Hamlet is, for Danner, a world where all things convey their value through the lens of representation, [thus] even the sword must rely on the intermediary of the pen (62). This is most apparent in Hamlets first resolution to finally enact his revenge, And now Ill dot, which


results in an illocutionary misfire (3.3.81). For Danner, this is an example of Hamlet conflating the violence he is called on to perform with the language by which he names it (62). That is, it is easy enough for Hamlet to declare his act of revenge in this moment, but the illocution itself is not what Austin calls a performative verb. For Danner, to say I kill you is not necessarily to kill in the same way that to say I marry you is to marry someone. Yet, Danner fails to take into account the perlocutionary effects of Hamlets utterance only a few lines later in the following scene, when Hamlet kills Polonius, whom Hamlet has mistaken for Claudius. Perhaps, then, the speech act And now Ill dot is not a misfire, but rather a moment of Hamlet constituting his identity, in the poststructuralist sense, as an active avenger through this speech act. If the sword relies on the intermediary of words, as Danner suggests, it is precisely because words so often shape, constitute, and substantiate physical action in the play. In fact, the very reason Hamlets illocutionary act initially misfires is the potential perlocutionary effects of language. In this moment, words quite literally give Hamlet the opportunity to take action, as Claudius is speaking in prayer, making him vulnerable to a physical assault. Yet Hamlet fears that enacting his revenge on Claudius while he is praying will have the effect that Claudius will be absolved of guilt and eligible to enter heaven (3.3.80-81). Although Hamlet would be revengd by killing Claudius, even in prayer, Hamlet is wary that Claudius may be doing something with his own words that would have a powerful effect, just as Hamlets own resolution to act ultimately leads to very tangible perlocutionary results, albeit upon Polonius (3.3.81). Yet, just as Hamlets proclamation of action misfires in this moment, so too does Claudiuss prayer, thus offering the counterpoint to Hamlets internal struggle about the potential perlocutionary effects of prayer. Claudius confesses that while his words fly up, [his] thoughts remain below, going on to say that words without thoughts never to heaven go (3.3.105-6).


This is, for deBoer, a perfect example of an infelicity or unhappy performative act (16). Here, Claudiuss intention to pray is defeatedby his particular understanding of what convention requires in a successful prayer act (deBoer 16). More than that, Claudius points out that prayer is a particular kind of speech act, distinct from others in its requirements for success. For the intended perlocutionary effect of expressing grief to occur, for example, grief need not be felt, only performed something that preoccupies Hamlet upon witnessing the players ability to conjure emotion without cause (2.2.383-89). Unlike grief, however, Claudius points out that praying is a special case, as the intended audience is an omniscient God and oneself both of whom know the intentions of the speaker. A successful prayer, therefore, must be backed by genuine intentions. Yet, at the same time, the performance of prayer kneeling with hands pressed together also has an outside audience that is unable to confirm the genuineness of the act. Claudiuss speech act, then, need not be felicitous in order for it to have very real perlocutionary effects even though Claudius thinks it has had no effect at all. In this particular moment, Claudiuss prayer has the perlocutionary effect of convincing Hamlet to refrain from taking his revenge. Speech acts spare Claudius in this scene for two reasons: first, because Claudiuss performance is sufficient to make Hamlet believe him to be performing a genuine illocution, and second, because Hamlet is aware that words uttered in prayer might actually have very tangible perlocutionary effects. The plays action is indeed negotiated with words acting as an intermediary, as Danner asserts, but if a conflation exists, it is only because of the inherent interconnectedness of action and words in the play (Danner 62). The moment of Claudiuss prayer is particularly tense given the context of the recurring themes of suicide and dead monarchs across Shakespeares plays. Suicide occurs thirteen times in Shakespeares thirty-seven works, and at least half of Shakespeares twenty-five kings perish


before the final curtain (Langley). Hamlet opens with a dead king already in play, and the central plot point revolves around the imminent death of the current king. Indeed, the plot cannot be resolved (or, at least, the Ghost cannot rest) until Claudius dies. In the prayer scene, the entire plot is at stake on multiple levels: first and most obviously, the scene raises the question of whether Hamlet can move beyond words to bring about Claudiuss death and resolve the play. However, there is another question at stake here, and indeed another way to resolve the play. If Claudius were to commit suicide out of guilt, this would at once affirm the Ghosts story for Hamlet and resolve the plot. If Hamlet were able to use his words to drive Claudius to suicide, he would be in the ideal position that Danner describes that is, truly acting through words. However, such action requires not illocutionary symbolic violence but perlocutionary effects. Hamlet cannot kill Claudius at the moment of his utterance (though he can and does enact symbolic violence upon him), but he can use these moments of symbolic violence to affect Claudius, and hope that this will lead to the intended perlocutionary effect of driving Claudius to suicide. However, the time lag implicit in perlocution means that enacting the physical violence always falls to Claudius. Claudiuss monologue emphasizes the possibility of a guilt that may drive him to self-slaughter, at which point Hamlet enters. At this moment, Hamlet could kill Claudius, but if Claudius indeed is in such a wretched state, with a bosom black as death, such physical violence on Hamlets part may actually be unnecessary (3.3.70). Indeed, it is precisely this perlocutionary effect through speech acts rather than physical acts that Hamlet seeks through the play-within-the-play. Hamlet states his hope that the cunning of the scene will render Claudius struck so to the soul that presently / [he will proclaim his] malefactions (2.2.593-94). For Claudius to buckle under his guilt and even just proclaim his deed would presumably be a death-sentence, and thus tantamount to suicide. Yet, Claudius seems to


undermine this potential plot resolution at the end of the prayer scene with his rhyming couplet by bringing into doubt the sincerity of his own guilt. Hamlets ideal perlocutionary effect of bringing about physical violence through words thus seems destined to wander and dissolve in Derridas time lag. Sayst Thou So? Hamlet, then, is a prince caught between a living king and a dead king. Though the Ghost is dead, linguistically speaking he still very much affects the living world, and indeed refuses to leave Hamlet alone just as Claudius refuses his own self-slaughter. Claudius inflicts symbolic violence on Hamlet by controlling both Hamlets physical movements and his familial status in 1.2. Hamlet appears to feel just as violated by Claudiuss insistence on calling Hamlet my son as he is by Claudiuss refusal to allow Hamlet to leave the cheer and comfort of [his] eye, rendering Hamlet at once an object of surveillance and a manipulable piece in Claudiuss game (1.2.64, 1.2.319). In the same way, the Ghost, too, inflicts symbolic violence on Hamlet by controlling Hamlets physical movements and redefining Hamlets familial relations, which in turn reshapes Hamlets own identity. By insisting that he is Hamlets fathers spirit regardless of whether this is true the Ghost does something to Hamlet at the very moment of this illocution. The full title of the play, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, makes it clear that Hamlet is defined by his monarchical status, which comes from his familial line. With family ties being so essential to the structure of the monarchy, redefining a family does symbolic violence not only to each member of that family, but also to the structure of the monarchy itself. It makes sense, then, that Hamlet is so disturbed by Claudiuss marriage to his mother, since it at once presumably upsets the continuity of the monarchical line and turns Hamlet into his uncles son. The Ghosts presence, however, is equally upsetting. Hamlets father has not simply


(apparently) returned from the dead; he has returned as a spirit (and, indeed, as a cheap special effect), displacing Hamlets Herculean image of his father. At the same time that the Ghost is not quite Hamlets father, he insists that Hamlet respect and obey him as if he were still the king. In the same way, Claudius (who is also not quite Hamlets father) insists on Hamlets obedience and respect because of his patriarchal status as the head of Denmark and the head of Hamlets family. Furthermore, the Ghost has a very specific set of physical actions that he requires of Hamlet in order to enact vengeance, and the Ghost goes beyond physical manipulation in his attempt to control Hamlets emotions and self-identity. The Ghost is clear about his intentions to give Hamlet no choice but to revenge, when [Hamlet] shalt hear his story, rendering Hamlet an agent of vengeance in a clichd plot (1.5.13). Hamlet thus emerges with two fathers and two kings neither one completely legitimate both of whom inflict symbolic violence on Hamlet through their speech acts. In response, Hamlet engages in a language-power game as much with the Ghost as with Claudius. From the first line of the play, the Ghosts interactions with the sentinels and later Hamlet represent the first moves in this language-power game, introducing the stakes of speaking with successful illocutionary force. Though performativity has often been discussed as a theme for Hamlet, according to Hilaire Kallendorf, few have interpreted the Ghost in light of this same performativity theme an essential element of the play as a whole (69, 80). Kallendorf asserts that the diabolical linguistic registerexpands the performative potential of the ghost, making him an ideal subject for a performative reading of the play (69). Critics like Neil Rhodes have agreed, noting that the Ghosts scenes constitute an exchange of imperatives or, in the terms of speech act theory, an exchange of performative utterances: speak/revenge/remember (Rhodes 32). Notably, Rhodes points to an exchange of performatives; Hamlet is not simply a passive


recipient of the Ghosts imperatives, but rather an active player in a language-power game with the Ghost, just as he engages actively with Claudius through his speech acts. Indeed, Hamlet and the Ghost are adversaries in this language-power game, in a manner similar to the adversarial, pseudo-paternal relationship of Hamlet and Claudius. Hamlet and the Ghost are set against each other, first, because Hamlet cannot make up [his mind] unequivocally about the nature of the ghost (Black 39). Indeed, Horatio expresses concerns that the ghost might tempt [Hamlet] toward the flood / Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff (1.4.69-70). This uncertainty makes Hamlet reluctant to behave according to a familial relationship secured by paternal bonds. Second, as Nigel Alexander writes, the Ghost exists to create Hamlets problems, not to solve them (31). The Ghost wants something from Hamlet. Hamlet does not simply hear the Ghosts story and leap into action; rather, a promise [is] extracted from him (Black 35). James Black argues that in the first few scenes, a pattern of social and familial reflexes is set: deference to authority and experience, obedience to parents yet at the same time, Shakespeare also emphasizes the difference between the older generation that expects compliance and exacts promises and the younger generation, which struggles with these commands (35). For the Ghost to exercise parental authority over Hamlet, then, is not simply to evoke the Fifth Commandment as interpreted by St. Paul children, obey your parents (Ephesians VI: 1-3 qtd. Black 35). Given the questionable nature of the Ghosts parental authority in the first place, such an exercise of power must draw from linguistic positioning rather than automatic authority. Thus, the Ghost engages Hamlet in a language-power game in order to achieve his own ends. As Rhodes puts it, Hamlets father may be dead, but he can still do things with words (32).


The first move in this language-power game involves no words at all. The play opens with the Ghost refusing to speak to the guards, though he has chosen to appear before them. Through this refusal, the Ghost sets the terms for his interactions with Hamlet, placing himself in the position of power by being able to withhold his speech even when Hamlet and the guards demand it of him. Presumably, the Ghost is able to appear wherever and to whomever he chooses, since he appears to Hamlet in 3.4 but Gertrude sees nothing at all (3.4.150). Yet, despite the fact that in the opening scene the Ghost has a message for Hamlet, he silently parades in front of the guards rather than going directly to Hamlet (1.5.161). The Ghost ignites the conflict of the play, but does not even speak in the opening scene. Instead, Shakespeare introduces not only the plot, but also the set of illocutionary acts that will serve as the primary negotiation of the plays conflicts. The linguistic battles in Hamlet start with the guards illocutionary failure to illicit the perlocutionary effect of a simple locution from the Ghost. Despite their use of a variety of tactics such as their plea for the Ghost to speak if thou hast any sound, or use of voice / If there be any good thing to be done / If thou art privy to thy countrys fate the guards are unsuccessful in having any effect on the Ghost at all (1.1.14551). Indeed, as Hamlet, Horatio, and the officers wait for the Ghost, what they get instead is [a] flourish of trumpets, and ordnance shot off within interrupting the scene (1.4.10, emphasis in original). This is the sound of the kings carousal, as the king [k]eeps wassail (Burke 38, 1.4.13). That is, Claudius has revived the custom of firing a cannon every time the king drinks which, for Hamlet, is petty and vainglorious, and a custom / More honourd in the breach than the observance (Black 35, 1.4.21-22). What is so remarkable and very strange about the Ghost, then, is not necessarily its existence, but rather that answer [makes] it none (1.2.232,


1.2.226). In Elsinore, where a cannon sounds every time Claudius drinks, such silence is unimaginably odd behavior. The Ghosts silence arguably problematizes the notion that he is substantiated by his words, since indeed the Ghost has a profound effect on the guards without uttering even a sound. In this sense, however, the Ghosts silence is itself a speech act. In the post-structuralist sense, even inanimate objects make speech acts. The question in these cases just becomes who exactly is speaking. It is the answer to this question that affirms the agency (and existence) of the Ghost. It is presumably the Ghosts own intentions that bring him to the guards in 1.1, and this act at once implies an agency and an effect. Indeed, the Ghosts encounter with the guards in the opening scene has powerful perlocutionary effects, ensuring that the Ghost starts with the upper hand in his language-power game with Hamlet. By withholding his own speech, refusing to go to Hamlet directly, and making Hamlet seek him out instead, the Ghost puts his own illocutions in a more powerful starting position. Because the Ghost cannot kill Claudius himself, he must manipulate Hamlet into doing it for him. To do so, he must ensure that his illocutionary commands have the perlocutionary effects he intends that is, that Hamlet ultimately does kill Claudius. To this end, the Ghost puts himself in the position of illocutionary power and ensures that his utterances are valued by refusing to speak except on his own terms. This refusal constitutes both a speech act and a power move despite the silence of the performance. Hamlet, though, proves a worthy adversary in the language-power game that the Ghost himself initiates. In line with Horatios prediction that This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to [Hamlet], the Ghosts interactions with Hamlet differ completely from the Ghosts interactions with the guards (1.1.191). Hamlet enters the exchange with the obvious advantage that he, unlike the Ghost, is alive and therefore has the agency to carry out the Ghosts wishes. However, the


Ghosts obvious advantage is that he appears to be Hamlets beloved father and though Hamlet is immediately on his guard because the Ghost comest in such a questionable shape, he is still immediately willing to call [the Ghost] Hamlet, / King, father, royal Dane (1.4.49-51). The Ghost utilizes his position as the image of Hamlets father as leverage to get Hamlet to avenge him; the line If thou didst ever thy dear father love mirrors Claudiuss tactic in 4.7 to spur Hamlets foil, Laertes, to avenge his own father, Polonius (1.5.29). Assuming the Ghost actually is Hamlets father and the former king, the Ghost would have previously had the unquestioned performative power of a sovereign. In his present state, however, he must engage in linguistic games in order to gain the upper hand. Unlike the Ghost, Hamlet is still alive and still a prince, and thus demonstrates an expectation that the Ghost will obey Hamlets own royal commands. It is his frustration that the Ghost will not speak that prompts Hamlets decision to follow it (1.4.71). In this moment, the Ghost is presumably gesturing to Hamlet, leading Hamlet to say, Still am I calld (1.4.95). The Ghosts commands are successful even in their wordlessness. This too could be said to be part of the Ghosts game. In order to follow the Ghost, Hamlet must assert his own illocutionary powers over the sentinels, commanding them to unhand him (1.4.95). However, because the servants believe that tis not fit thus to obey him, Hamlets command misfires and he has to threaten them with physical violence, declaring, Ill make a Ghost of him that lets me (1.4.99, 1.4.96). Though Hamlet, as prince, feels entitled to the royal powers of performativity, in this moment his intended perlocution fails. This in itself is a move in the Ghosts language-power game. By leading Hamlet away from the sentinels, which prompts Hamlets guards to disobey him, the Ghost ensures (intentionally or not) that Hamlet experiences an unsuccessful illocution,


thereby reminding Hamlet that Hamlet does not have the royal performative capabilities that a king (such as the Ghosts former self) might. Yet Hamlet ultimately sets his own terms for speaking with Ghost. At this point in the scene, the internal stage directions tell us that the ghost walks away (Kallendorf 75). Hamlet turns the encounter in the moment when he says, speak; Ill go no further (1.5.3). This move is risky, because, as Reginald Scot writes, [n]o man is lord ouer a spirit, to reteine a spirit at his pleasure (516). The Ghost has not spoken up to this point, and Hamlets refusal to continue following him opens up the possibility that the Ghost could simply leave. However, Hamlets illocution has the intended perlocutionary effect, and the Ghost yields. In this moment, he successfully commands the person who could very well be the former King of Denmark, and his father. This move is the fulfillment of what Kenneth Burke argues the audience has been anticipating: Program: a speech from Hamlet. Hamlet must confront the ghostthe flood-gates are unloosed (39). Just as the Ghost begins the language-power game with a refusal to speak, Hamlets own opening move is a refusal (to continue following the Ghost). This refusal is both powerful and successful, which underscores the importance of Hamlets other major abstention in his parallel language-power game with Claudius. Just as Hamlet is very much an active player by refusing to follow the Ghost, Hamlets strategy of declining to provide Claudius the words he wants is very much combative. These opening moves emphasize the idea that not speaking can still very much be a speech act, and, similarly, not doing can be a powerful action. Rather than rendering Hamlet passive, these evasions constitute Hamlets action against Claudius and the Ghost. Though by speaking, the Ghost relents to Hamlets command, the Ghosts reply (his first utterance) is equally forceful: Mark me (1.5.4). This demand refers to itself; the Ghost


commands Hamlet to take his commands seriously. The language-power game continues when Hamlet, in return, commands the Ghost, Speak; I am bound to hear (1.5.12). In saying that he is bound to hear, Hamlet asserts that his illocutionary command has already set into motion a chain of events that is bound to lead to the successful perlocutionary effect that the Ghost will speak (1.5.12). The Ghosts reply is equally forceful: So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear (1.5.13). The Ghost implies that just as Hamlet has commanded him (and indeed, bound him) to speak, so too will the Ghost bind Hamlet to action with the Ghosts own illocution this very illocution that Hamlet demanded in the first place. With his own command, Hamlet actively binds the Ghost, who in return binds Hamlet with that very same metaphorical rope. The Ghost expects, then, that his story will enact a symbolic violence on Hamlet powerful enough to ensure the fulfillment of his own intended perlocutionary effects. However, he also utilizes a refusal to tell these stories as a kind of symbolic violence. In refusing to tell the secrets of [his] prison-house, the Ghost also asserts that he could a tale unfold whose lightest word / Would harrow up [Hamlets] soul, [and] freeze [his] young blood (1.5.20-22). This statement at once underscores the Ghosts unique position as a supernatural being, and serves as a kind of linguistic threat. The Ghost implies that the perlocutionary effects of describing his own existence would be so powerful as to have not only the physical (albeit metaphorical) effect of freezing Hamlets blood, but also metaphysical effects on Hamlets soul (1.5.22). The Ghost is using occultatio in this moment by emphasizing the very thing that he claims not to discuss. He does not even need to utter the words themselves in order to make his power-move just telling Hamlet of the potential effects of such a tale is the equivalent of claiming to be in possession of an unlimited linguistic arsenal (1.5.21). In this moment, the Ghost also takes Hamlets implied advantage that Hamlet is indeed alive and able to perform


physical acts that the Ghost presumably cannot and turning it so that Hamlets aliveness actually functions as a disadvantage. The Ghost says that this eternal blazon must not be / To ears of flesh and blood, which reminds Hamlet that in being alive, Hamlet is made of vulnerable flesh and blood, as opposed to the Ghost, who is immortal and infallible (1.5.27-28). Kallendorfs interpretation is that this passage is an indirect boast of the demonic powers to which [the Ghost] has access, which further emphasizes for Hamlet the vulnerability of his own mortal state (75). For many critics, Hamlet does agree to undertake the Ghosts charge when Hamlet promises that the Ghosts commandment all alone shall live / Within the book and volume of [his] brain (1.5.110-11). Black argues that this moment is the climax to an act which has presented a series of obedient gestures, the most profound of which has been Hamlets solemn undertaking to perform an act of revenge (38). To the contrary, however, it is not simply that Hamlets hatred of cynicism and betrayal [makes it] an easy task for the Ghost to indenture his son to a bond (Black 36). The Ghost scene is not simply a series of obedient gestures performed by a son for his dead father; Hamlet is very much engaging in the same performative moves as the ghost, including during what Black calls the climax of the scene (38). Reading closely, what Hamlet is referring to when he says, I have swornt is to remember the Ghost and his command not necessarily to follow through with it (1.5.119-20). On the other hand, Hamlet does ask the Ghost for the details of the murder so that he may sweep to [his] revenge, and in the following scenes he seems to seems to think that he has agreed to kill Claudius. It is not that Hamlet is averse to this course of action indeed, the Ghosts story seems to have a particularly trenchant effect on Hamlet. However, Hamlets utterances in this scene do not


constitute a vow to act in revenge but rather simply to remember the Ghost and his tale (1.5.37). Hamlet actually emphasizes the felicity conditions necessary for an oath to constitute a successful performative utterance in this same scene. Horatio and Marcellus explicitly state that they will not make known what they have seen, and further assert, In faith, / My lord, not I (1.5.163-66). For them, this is enough to constitute a promise, demonstrated by their statement that they have swornalready (1.5.168). Hamlet, however, insists that they follow a particular ritual in order to render the illocutionary act of vowing successful. Hamlet must propose the oath, and the others must swear by [his] sword in order for the vow to hold (1.5.74-76). This particular oath emphasizes the tangibility that is intertwined with language, as Hamlet is adamant that a sword a physical object must be part of the swearing ritual. This literalizes the tangibility of the perlocutionary effects of the oath, as well as the tangible results of breaking it. Perhaps in saying Indeed, upon my sword, indeed, Hamlet points to the act that is, the deed that occurs through swearing on a tangible object (1.5.169). The implication is that these conditions and not the conditions under which Hamlet speaks to the Ghost constitute what Hamlet considers to be a binding promise. Hamlet, then, does not promise to obey the Ghosts command but even so, the Ghosts illocutionary act of commanding has very real perlocutionary effects on Hamlet. Hamlet says that the Ghosts commandment as opposed to the story of the murder itself will live on in his mind (1.5.110). Here, Hamlet implies that the story alone without the Ghosts accompanying illocutionary command would not necessarily be enough to leave a lasting imprint. Hamlet follows this up by writing, which literalizes the idea of his brain as a book and volume as if he truly creates a blank tablet unmixd with baser matter on which to inscribe his now-only


thought (1.5.111-12, emphasis in original). In this moment, Shakespeare specifies with stage directions that Hamlet actually writes (presumably on a tablet), literalizing the tangibility of words (1.5.120). In promising to remember the Ghost, Hamlet actually does something in the sense of illocutionary action, but also literally through a physical act. If the effects of language are as tangible as the words Hamlet writes down, it is not surprising for Hamlet to question the very existence of a Ghost who, on the one hand, is unable to affect the world through physical acts such as writing, but on the other hand, is certainly able to have measurable effects on the world through speech acts. When Hamlet asks, art thou there, true-penny? he is doubting the Ghosts very existence but immediately before proposing this question of being, Hamlet asks, sayst thou so? (1.5.171). This illustrates the connection that exists, for Hamlet, between the Ghosts physicality and its ability to speak. Indeed, with the nature of the Ghosts existence in doubt, one of the first questions that Hamlet asks Horatio when trying to navigate the concept of his dead fathers return is, Did you not speak to it? as if the answer to this question could corroborate what Horatio claims to have seen (1.2.224). The Ghosts existence, however, is only in doubt until it speaks, at which point the question shifts from whether the Ghost is but [a] fantasy to whether the Ghost is the devil [in] a pleasing shape (1.1.30, 2.2.436). Once the Ghost utters words, the question is no longer whether the Ghost even exists, but rather what kind of Ghost it is. The Ghost, before it speaks, could simply be an illusion, since it has not had any measurable, tangible effects on the physical world beyond those that a visible illusion might have on onlookers (1.1.145). However, as soon as the Ghost engages in a language-power game with Hamlet, the Ghost mobilizes illocutionary forces that affect the very world that the Ghost claims to have left.


The reason that Hamlet comes to accept the Ghosts existence is that, just as one must exist in order to speak words, so too do words themselves have the ability to substantiate the very existence of the speaker. This is underscored by Gertrudes assertion that, words be made of breath, / And breath of life (3.4.218-19). Gertrudes understanding of words is, like Hamlets, very literal. For Gertrude, as for Hamlet, words can be measured by the effects they have on the physical world through their mere utterance. However, it is the physical effects of a simple locution, rather than the perlocutionary effects of an illocution, that preoccupy Gertrude in this moment: the physical movement of air with breath, as opposed to words that are tangible through their effects on the listener. The idea that words are physically observable as breath or on paper introduces the concept that words are indeed things that must always be produced by something real. To think of words as simple noises or marks, even taking into account their effects, is incomplete. Words are in themselves objects, they have effects, and, indeed, they always have a source. Something tangible must actively create words, and therefore the very existence of the words themselves implies the reality of the speaker. Furthermore, if, as Gertrude asserts, breath [is made] of life, the implication is that without life, one cannot breathe and therefore cannot speak; the existence of words actually implies the existence of the speaker (3.4.219). This presents problems when coping with a dead but animate Ghost, and is what Danner refers to as a curious and unresolved doubleness, a state neither truly real in the material sense nor mere fantasy (Danner 43). The question Hamlet faces is how something dead can speak, if speaking so profoundly affects the world of the living. The answer may be found in the nature of words themselves. Because words are, for Hamlet, substantial, they themselves can actually substantiate the speaker. Perhaps it is not simply that breath is made of life, but also that life is made of breath the same breath that Gertrude


connects with the tangibility of words. This explains why, once the Ghost has spoken, Hamlet can no longer deny its existence, since he can no longer deny the Ghosts ability to have tangible, substantive perlocutionary effects on the living world. While this certainly does not render the Ghost alive, it does make him an agent in the living world. However, though the Ghosts affect is undeniable for Hamlet in this moment, Hamlet still questions how it is that this insubstantial thing has come to have a substantial effect on the world and to that end, Hamlet turns to the nature of performance itself. Indeed, it is the substance of physical words that makes up the play itself, and the breath of the actors that brings the performance to life or, rather, brings it to the space of the living world. Like the Ghost, actors have substantive effects on the world through speech acts, and in doing so they also substantiate themselves as characters. The indeterminate nature of the Ghost, then, becomes something of a metaphor for the indeterminate nature of the stage.

The Plays the Thing Thus, while Danner argues that Hamlet employs theatricality as a vehicle for clarifying the Ghosts indeterminate nature, Hamlet actually turns to metatheatricality. Hamlet notably draws attention to the fellow in the cellarage, whom he addresses as old mole, presumably pointing out the special effect of an actor under the stage (in the cellarage), yelling swear (1.5.172, 1.5.184, Landreth). Shakespeare even specifies multiple times that the sound of the Ghost yelling swear must come from Beneath (1.5.170). Considering the specificity of this stage direction and the selectivity with which Shakespeare uses stage directions at all, it is clear that exactly where the sound comes from is vitally important; that is, if the sound were to come from anywhere but beneath, Hamlets moment of metatheatricality would not function. When


Hamlet says, Come on you hear this fellow in the cellarage, the you he is addressing is not only Horatio and the guards, but also the audience pulling them out of the imaginary setting of the play and into the reality of sitting (or standing) in a theater (1.5.172). In asking the audience if it can hear the special effect, Hamlet is comparing his own experience to that of an actor listening to another actor yell swear from under the stage. He is also pointing out that the audience can indeed hear the words and something real is creating them. Later in the play, Gertrude can neither see / norhear the Ghost, though Hamlet can (3.4.150-51). In this scene in the third act, the ghost is also visible to the audience, just as the audience can hear the Ghost yell swear in act one. Hamlet is pointing out that the Ghost is indeed real, if only because the Ghost is really just an actor on a stage. For Danner, Hamlet employs theatricality as a vehicle for clarifying the Ghosts indeterminate nature, but in so doing, he succeeds in exposing the theater as similarly dubious (37). Through metatheatricality, Hamlet draws a parallel between his own relationship to the Ghost and the audiences relationship to the performance. Just as Hamlet questions the reality of the Ghost standing before him, so too does the audience, prompted by Hamlets metatheatricality, question the reality of the play. In both cases, the existence of the object in question relies on the performative power of words. In the same way that speech acts substantiate the Ghost, words, too, make up the substance of the play. While the physical space and bodies of the actors exist in front of the audience, what Elam calls the founding principle of dramatic [fiction] is that it is not so much narrated as conversed (15). That is, the plot of the play[unfolds] as a series of direct speech acts (Elam 15). This is true in Hamlet through spoken language on stage, and the written lines of the play, but is complicated by the dumb show. The dumb show, too, is a dramatic fiction, but it is arguably wordless. Hamlet himself


reconciles this when he complains that the groundlings / are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise, (3.2.11-12). For a dumb show to be explicable, it, too, must suit the action to the word (3.2.16). That is, a dumb show is as much substantiated by speech acts as a spoken play, even if words are not spoken but implied. The Ghost exists for Hamlet once the Ghost is substantiated by the perlocutionary effects of speech acts. In parallel, the play itself exists as a series of speech acts that have effects on hearers both within the play and in the audience. These effects, arising from a play that explicitly claims its own illocutionary nature, are the perlocutionary results of the speech acts that substantiate the play rendering the play, too, a part of reality. Indeed, Hamlet is a pervasively metatheatrical character who appears to be removed from the very performance in which he is engaged. The metatheatricality of the play is complicated by the possibility that another play also named Hamlet appeared on the London stage as early as 1589. This work is sometimes attributed to Thomas Kyd, and was dubbed UrHamlet by Frederick Samuel Boas, utilizing the German prefix ur, which means original (Owens). The Ur-Hamlet if it indeed existed and was not simply an early version of Shakespeares work has been lost, but references to it appear in multiple historical documents, including the diary of Thomas Lodge, who describes a Ghost which cried so miserably at the theatreHamlet, revenge! (Jenkins 83). This suggests that the Ur-Hamlet was a revenge tragedy with a similar premise to Shakespeares version, opening the possibility that Shakespeares work was a remake of the earlier play. This same plotline appears in Hamlets play-within-a-play, The Murder of Gonzago, which requires minimal changes to be an exact reenactment of the murder scene described by the Ghost: He poisons him i the garden for s estate[and] the murderer gets the love of


Gonzagos wife (3.2.200). The theatrical device of the dumb-show is so old-fashioned that Ophelia does not recognize it, demonstrated by her realization, belike this show imports the argument of the play (3.2.89, Landreth). The stilted rhymes of the plays text are entirely unlike the sophisticated poetry of the Hecuba speech that Hamlet so admires (Landreth). Hamlet mocks both The Murder of Gonzago and revenge tragedy in general when he cites a line from a third-rate revenge play entitled The True Tragedy of Richard III: the croaking raven doth bellow for revenge, taken from a speech which has the word revenge fifteen times in sixteen lines. (Gottschalk 150, 3.2.193). Summarizing David Landreths argument, it is apparent that in this moment, Hamlet finds not only The Murder of Gonzago, but also revenge tragedy in general, clichd. As a student and a scholar, Hamlet is particularly well versed in the theater. This is apparent through his familiarity with the Players, whom he welcomes as good friends, as well as his citations of speeches such as neas tale to Dido (2.2.66, 2.2.303). As someone who gives constant direction to the players asking them to speak the speechas I pronounced it to / you Hamlet considers himself more sophisticated as an audience than The Murder of Gonzago is as a performance (3.2.1-2, Landreth). At the same time, he realizes that this is the very same revenge that he himself has been called upon to perform a task Hamlet laments in the line, what an ass am I (2.2.417). Hamlet has seen this plot before the revenge tragedy that rehashes tired clichs about murder and revenge (Landreth). In addition to mocking it, he says that watching this kind of bad acting running around yelling revenge offends [him] to the soul, and he certainly does not want to participate in his own performance of it (3.2.6). This is the kind of acting that Laertes engages in when he makes his vows, to the blackest devil that he will be revengd / Most thoroughly for [his] father (4.5.129-34). By opening up the


potential of metatheatricality, Shakespeare implies that Hamlet knows that he is too good for the play in which he is performing indeed, the play in which he is the eponymous protagonist. Hamlets greatest affliction, passion, hell itself is being a character in a clich revenge play that, despite his self-awareness, he nonetheless cannot escape (4.5.159, Landreth). Hamlets interactions with the Ghost in this moment of metatheatricality underscore his disappointment with not only the revenge tragedy plot, but also his fathers return as a cheap special effect (Landreth). Hamlet does not need the Ghost in order to to see his father; he tells Horatio that he sees his father in [his] minds eye before he ever meets the Ghost (1.2.192, Landreth). In Hamlets memory, his father is superhuman, evidenced by his comparison of his father to Hercules (1.2.157). Here, Danner finds it ironic that the ghostly image of historical antiquity becomes far truer than reality referring both to the reality of the false and insubstantial contenders to the Danish throne, and the reality of the ghosts return (46). When the Ghost commands Hamlet to remember [him], it is redundant. Hamlet not only remembered the ghost before this comment, but he also remembered his father better before the appearance of the Ghost (1.5.99, Landreth). This remembrance, for Hamlet, substantiated his father in a way that was actually more real than the Ghost standing before him. Mieke Bal argues in Travelling Concepts that memory itself is, by definition, a re-enactment, and in that sense, performative (176). Just as speech acts substantiate the Ghost, the performativity of memory substantiates King Hamlet in Hamlets mind. It is through this performativity of remembrance that Hamlet is able to prefer the memory of the dead King to the Kings return to the living world. Hamlets disappointment with his fathers return as a cheap special effect in a clichd revenge play is apparent first when he bitterly breaks the effect by drawing attention to the actor yelling swear under the stage, and second, in the disrespect with which he addresses the Ghost:


well said, old mole! canst work i the earth so fast? which Horatio finds wondrous strange (1.5.84, 1.5.186). This metatheatricality undermines the premise upon which the theater relies: that the audience leaves their sense of reality behind. This is particularly true of the Renaissance, when plays were performed in broad daylight with relatively few props, and the audience only knew the time and setting of a given scene because of the tone that the actors set (Landreth). Indeed, Hamlet denies the audience one of the few special effects available in the play the actor who plays the Ghost yelling swear from the cellarage. Hamlets thus points to the inadequacy not only of the tired revenge tragedy plot and its clich characters, but also the stage itself which he nevertheless cannot escape. Grappling with his theatrical entrapment, Hamlet attempts to use the stage as a vehicle for escaping his own revenge plot. Critics have picked up on comparisons between Hamlets increased distraction from his revenge and the metadramatic elements of Shakespeares art, which points to the uses of metadrama as an escape from Hamlets task (Danner 29). Yet metadrama serves not only as a mental escape for Hamlet, but also as a stand-in for his revenge without risking real violence (Danner 42). In the play-within-a-play, Hamlet represents the murderer Lucianus as nephew to the king rather than brother to the king, thus conflating Claudiuss murder of King Hamlet with the revenge that the prince intends to exact for it (3.2.188, Danner 32). Hamlet relies on the stage as a tool of his revenge not only by using it to catch the conscience of the King, but also to stand in for the action required of him by the revenge tragedy plot (Danner 37, 2.2.601). Danner argues that through the play-within-a-play, Hamlets notion of the theater as a worlddevelops into a conception of theater as the world, a mirror of historical event, a lens for determining guilt or innocence, and, ultimately, an agent for conducting worldly action (Danner 37). For Danner, this is perilous for Hamlet, since this


instance of symbolic violence satisfies his desire to harm Claudius without requiring him to give [his words] seals (Danner 32, 3.2.390). Yet Danner assumes it is action that [Hamlet so ardently craves and sacrifices by speak[ing] daggers rather than using them (Danner 32). Perhaps what Hamlet actually craves is an escape from his own endless performances both within the revenge tragedy plot, and as a performer of conventional social roles: Hamlet the mourning son, Hamlet the student, Hamlet the heir to the throne, [and] even Hamlet the avenger (deBoer 15). Hamlet thus problematizes not only stage performance, but also the roles that are put on during everyday experience. According to Danner, Hamlets harping remarks on his mothers use of seems in 1.2 typify how the problems of representation and theatricality are linked to his tragic paralysis (30). In this moment, Hamlet is deeply offended by his mothers implication that his grief is a performance. When he says of his grief, Nay it is; I know not seems, Hamlet expresses his frustration that customary suits of solemn black and a river in the eye are sufficient to express grief, when they are simply actions that a man might play (1.2.80-84). In contrast, Hamlet says that he himself has that within which passeth show, implying that his genuine experience of grief is entirely distinguishable from an experience that merely seems to be grief-stricken (1.2.80). At the same time, Hamlet recognizes that though performance cannot in itself substantiate genuine grief, genuine grief is not in itself enough to have [the] illocutionary force of having mourned in an exteriorized sense (deBoer 8). That is, experiencing grief internally without also putting on the external forms, modes, [and] shows of grief is insufficient to have perlocutionary effects on the outside world (1.2.86). In this moment, Hamlet points to the paradox of performativity that authenticity without performance is insufficient to affect the world, but inversely, a performance without authenticity is indeed enough to enact


perlocutionary effects. Performatives (and performance itself) need not be genuine in order to affect reality. This is precisely why Austin entirely disregards the concept of truth in speech acts and focuses instead on happy performatives (Austin 9). The tangibility of an utterances effects does not imply that the illocution is in any way true, but it does render the illocution substantive. However, though successful illocutions need not be true, they do ultimately affect the world through perlocutionary effects. It is the performative space, then, and not any kind of truth, that creates the space of reality. Hamlet underscores the hollowness of performativity in his soliloquy about the players, who are able to produce all the effects of grief for a public audience while Hamlet, who has a real cause for grief, cannot replicate the performance. Hamlet finds it monstrous that this player here, / But in a fiction / Could force his soul so to his own conceit / and all for nothing! (2.2.383-89). Hamlet harps on the performance that he imagines the player would give had he the motive for revenge that Hamlet has (2.2.393). Hamlet believes that such a display would actually have physical effects on the audience, such as to cleave the general ear with horrid speech, and make mad the guilty and appall the free, / Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed / The very faculties of eyes and ears (2.2.395-97). Here, the image of the ear returns, bringing with it the idea of the tangibility of perlocution. Notably, Hamlet does not lament that the players, given a genuine cause, would actually act, but rather that they would speak in such a way as to have measurable perlocutionary effects. Hamlet imagines that the perlocutionary effects of combining true passion with a truly convincing performance would be physical and, potentially, dangerous. While Hamlet recognizes that the performance of grief alone is enough to achieve perlocutionary effects, he fantasizes that the performances effectiveness would increase exponentially if given a cue for passion (2.2.393). Just as Hamlet conflates staged murder with


real revenge in the play-within-a-play, here Hamlet once again situate[s] violence utterly within the structure and effect of language (Danner 43). This is what Danner calls an essentialist, almost nave conception of theatrical performance (29). However, Hamlet is aware that enacting his revenge through words alone is merely a fantasy, given the nature of the clich revenge plot in which he finds himself. Knowing that it is possible to have tangible effects on the world through performance without passion, but not vice versa, Hamlet is unsure how to proceed. While he has genuine passion for his cause, the specifics of the performance elude him. Talking is not enough, as Hamlet suggests when he laments, that he [m]ust, like a whore, unpack [his] heart with words, / And fall a-cursing (2.2.419-20). To have intended perlocutionary effects on the world, it is not enough to soliloquize without an audience. Hamlet finds himself stuck a-cursing without action that is, failing to perform the perlocutionary effects of revenge that his words can only have in fantasy (2.2.420). Still, The Murder of Gonzago performs a symbolic violence, having very real effects on Claudius, and thus serves as Hamlets first vengeful action. By intertwining action and performance, Shakespeare literalizes Hamlets switch from passive passion to performative effectiveness. Hamlet hopes that this literal performance in addition to performing an illocutionary symbolic violence will have the perlocutionary effect of revealing Claudiuss guilt, as he has heard that guilty creatures sitting in a play / presently have claimed their malefactions (2.2.423-27). Indeed, it is clear that speech itself is enough to have the effect of drawing out Claudiuss guilty conscience. Polonius does so accidentally, when he says, with devotions visage / And pious action we do sugar o'er / The devil himself (3.1.55-57). This leads to Claudiuss aside: how smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience (3.1.59). Even


speech not intended to catch Claudiuss conscience does have that symbolically violent effect. As Claudius describes it, Poloniuss speech has effects that feel as physical as a lash. For Claudius, painted word[s] are comparable to the plastering art of a whores makeup in that they cover up Claudiuss deed (3.1.60-62). If words are all that Claudius uses to cover his deed, then, words are perhaps sufficient also to uncover it. While it is not enough for Hamlet to use only words to avenge his father, it is at least enough for him to use performance to force Claudius to reveal his guilt. Through performance, Hamlet hopes to catch Claudiuss conscience, thereby breaking Claudiuss performative front. Indeed, despite Hamlets derision of The Murder of Gonzago, the play is still effective. If only momentarily, Hamlet does catch the conscience of the king, and that small crack in Claudiuss plaster is all Hamlet needs to confirm the ghosts nature and story (1.2.440, 3.1.60). The play-within-a-play puts Claudius in the position of having illocution turned against him, forcing Claudius to act and giving Hamlet the occasion to finally react. By performing this symbolic violence against Claudius, Hamlet puts himself in a position of knowing having enough information to move forward in the revenge tragedy plot. That is, Hamlets many wandering speech acts finally manifest in his intended perlocutionary effect to affect Claudius, which simultaneously confirms Claudiuss guilt and forces Claudius to act. This is not quite Hamlets linguistic bliss as described by Danner; Hamlet ultimately must employ physical violence to resolve his revenge plot. For Hamlet, words do not quite do that much. The physical violence, however, is delayed for at least three acts by the many instances of symbolic violence that stand in its place. The question becomes whether the physical violence in the end is a perlocutionary effect of the various performances of illocutionary violence throughout the play, or whether those illocutionary acts might have forestalled the tragic ending were it not


providence (5.2.202). While symbolic violence has physical perlocutionary effects and is thus tantamount to a kind of physical violence, Hamlets final words the rest is silence make it clear that the reverse is not necessarily the case (5.2.323). That is, while words do violence, violence does not do words. In fact, physical violence serves as a kind of silencing. Physical violence does not simply replace words in the same way words often stand in for violence, but rather renders them unspeakable and unheard. In the process, physical violence erases the speech acts that would otherwise wander in a chaotic and complex world that world that so fascinates Hamlet and his audiences. One might imagine that it is no surprise that the Ur-Hamlet, in its insistence on violence rather than speech, is lost to us today. Meanwhile, Shakespeares Hamlet, who fights his battles through speech acts, has come to stand for the essence of culture.

All the Worlds a Stage Given this preoccupation with speech acts, then, it is arguable that Hamlets climax is the moment at which the perlocutionary effects of the play-within-a-play elicit a physical response from Claudius, just as any enactment also appeals affectively to its audience [and] prompts a visceral response (Bronfen). Thus, just as the play-within-a-play has physical effects on Claudius, so too, Shakespeare implies, does Hamlet have real, tangible effects on its own audience. While Austin classifies theatrical language as non-serious and parasitic, excepting it from speech act theory, Wofford sees this exclusion as problematic and ideologically constrained, particularly when taking into account the kind of language at issue in a Shakespearean play (4). Hamlet, like Fishs Coriolanus, is a Speech Act Play, and what Austin, Searle, and Ohmann fail to take into account is the extent to which performance itself takes on performative power (Wofford 5). Saltz argues that far from being suspended on stage, speech


acts are actually extended. Saltzs argument relies on, first, the normal functioning of speech acts on stage with the caveat that the utterances are pre-rehearsed and have borrowed intentionality, and second, the actors movements and words cuing the crew to change the lighting or engage special effects. These are two ways that performance is performative among those on stage (and behind the scenes), but the argument that speech acts do indeed function in the theater can be furthered using the same shift that Burke advocates in Psychology and Form: focusing not [on] the psychology of the hero, but [rather on] the psychology of the audience (40). In the same way that post-structuralist thinkers argue that all language acts performatively upon the listener and the speaker indeed, shaping culture and identity the action of the theater lies as much in shaping the audience as in shaping the plot. For Bronfen, every play is a kind of letter; a text addressed privately to each of us that is at the same time enacted publicly. To say that representations engender their own cultural effect and their own effects is to extend the post-structuralist argument onto the stage (Bronfen). It is to recognize that all utterances, and perhaps especially those that are part of the theater, make a claim that has an effect on the listener. Such a claim is rarely explicitly part of the utterance; in fact, these claims draw their power from their invisibility. To say, for example, I now pronounce you man and wife, is not simply to perform a marriage. This utterance, regardless of whether it is successful, also includes an assortment of assumptions what Stephen Toulmin calls warrants in The Uses of Argument about the institution of marriage, the participants in the wedding, and even those witnessing the event. Even (or especially) utterances that claim to merely describe a state of affairs actually serve to performatively create reality. Through the assumptions underlying our every utterance and every act, we together substantiate a social script, a culture, each other, and ourselves.


The theater, then, is not exempt from speech act theory it is, as Saltz argues, a space where the performative is actually extended. Going to the theater is often spoken of as a cultural experience, where audience members are rendered cultured by their mere presence. To say that members of the audience are cultured, however, need not imply an inherent or preexisting state of culturedness. Rather, the theater cultures its observers, who become both passive recipients of and active participants in the culture that the theater imparts. For Wofford, the audience is the addressee of the serious second-order performative at issue in the case of ritual or of theater (5). The second-order performative indeed refers to illocutions that occur on stage, but is concerned not with how these speech acts affect the performers or the performance, but rather their perlocutionary effects on the audience. Bronfen describes the experience of the audience at a play: we wake up from having entered into a fictional world to take note that we have been sharing [in]this poignant cultural moment. On one hand, the theater engenders its own cultural effects on the audience through an act that makes its claimon us, on our present and our future, and once a performative rhetorics is involved, the reader can no longer withdraw from the claim this text makes on her or him (Bronfen). That is, the audience absorbs the culture that the theater creates. On the other hand, however, each individual becomes a participant in the culture that the theater performs (Bronfen). This participation in the substantiation of culture operates in the same way as Foucaults model of institutional power, in which each individual is complicit in the power exercised upon him or her. A nebulous formation of society does not simply diffuse culture to spectators at a show, though every act of staging embod[ies] certain ideas, values, or retrieved knowledge that the audience certainly experiences (Bronfen). However, by receiving, understanding, accepting, applauding, or rejecting the assumptions and claims of a theatrical performance, the audience


participates in this cultural formation, even while the act of cultural commemoration transforms us as well (Bronfen). For Bronfen, the performative lies in the affective force of this two-way transmission. Hamlet as a play and Hamlet as a character are both deeply preoccupied with this stageto-audience transmission. The play-within-a-play is designed to affect Claudius by evoking, through the stage, a double of Claudius. It reflects reality in order to affect reality. For Hamlet, Danner argues, the double or ghost [is Hamlets] own environment in theatrical performance (Danner 37). Hamlet is his own double or rather, through Hamlets meta-dramatic selfconsciousness, Hamlet the character is the double of the actor playing the role of Hamlet. What unites these two doubles is the indivisibility of performance and performativity. The reason becomes clear in Peter Hughess description of performativity as a spectacular technique that breaks up the action[and] endlessly threatens (or promises) to revert to its theatrical origins, to collapse into theatricality" (118). Here, Hughes points to the connection between everyday performative language (that is, all utterances since Austin ultimately concludes that all words do something) and performance. In speaking performatively, we are always performing in the post-structuralist sense. Hamlets metatheatricality marks this same overlap. By insistently call[ing] attention to itself as a play, Hamlet both encourage[s] and discourage[s] belief (Danner 40, Miola 62). The question becomes how exactly metatheatricality which functions precisely to pull the audience out of the action could possibly encourage the very belief that it consistently undermines. The answer lies in the possibility that Hamlet makes a disruptive cultural statement: that all performatives are staged, pronounced by multiple or troped selves (Wofford 13). Hamlet is an actor in every sense of the word, with multiple doubles: he is an actor on a stage playing the character of Hamlet, he is a


self-aware character in a clich revenge tragedy plot, and he like all of us puts on a performance with every utterance he makes. That is, the double-remove of metatheatricality implies a further level: that the audience, too, is subject to the same performative space as Hamlet. Like Hamlet, we are all trapped in our own plot, which we collectively substantiate. That is, every member of the audience is affected by Hamlet as a play in the same way that each individual affects others through their own daily performances. The connection between performance and performativity is precisely what Hamlet points out, again and again, through metatheatricality. Hamlet is, retrospectively, a post-structuralist project. As an art form, the theater can do more than just pass on culture through performatives with conventional force (Wofford 5). Wofford argues that the reason Austins exclusion of theatrical language is so problematic is because it necessarily marginalizes those moments in which cultural conventions and social expectations are being challenged or reshaped (5). The cultural space of the theater, for Wofford, is also a place where challenges are stated and changes are given palpable form (5). This is precisely what Bal means when she asserts that theater [is] a form that, by virtue of its artificiality, is the most authentic one possible, and thus the site of a paradoxically Utopian cultural agency (201). This potential for the subversion of the same culture in which it participates is precisely what makes Hamlet a dramatic staple. Through metadrama, Shakespeare present[s] us with the duplicitous but richly complex experience of Hamlets world caught in the perspective of theatrical art (Calderwood 191). Hamlet has come to stand for the culture of the theater, yet, perhaps ironically, it consistently undermines both culture and theater as self-supporting concepts. Despite the sense of cultural and theatrical subversion that runs throughout the play, however, Hamlet itself does not collapse. Perhaps this is the answer to the question of how metadrama can possibly encourage, rather than


simply discourage, belief. Danner suggests, the metadramaticevents have not simply distanced the prince from his unknowable theatrical audiences but have also bound him inexorably to them throughout the centuries (39). Ultimately, this bond between Hamlet and his many audiences is made possible by performativitys potential to render all of us, on and off stage, actors.


Works Cited Alexander, Nigel. Poison, Play and Duel: A Study in Hamlet. London: Routledge and K. Paul, 1971. Print. Austin, J. L. How to Do Things With Words. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1962. Print. Austin, J. L., J. O. Urmson, and G. J. Warnock. Philosophical Papers. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1979. Print. Bal, Mieke. Travelling Concepts in the Humanities: A Rough Guide. Toronto: University of Toronto, 2002. Print. Black, James. "Hamlet's Vows." Renaissance and Reformation 14.1 (1978): 33-48. University of Toronto Journal Publishing Services. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. Bourdieu, Pierre, and John B. Thompson. Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1991. Print. Bronfen, Elisabeth. "Still Harping on Performativity." Speech. Universitt Konstanz. 14 Aug. 2011. Bronfen.info. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. Burke, Kenneth. "Psychology and Form." Counter-Statement. Los Altos, CA: Hermes Publications, 1953. 38-57. Print. Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" London: Routledge, 1993. Print. Butler, Judith. Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. New York: Routledge, 1997. Print. Calderwood, James L. Metadrama in Shakespeare's Henriad: Richard II to Henry V. Berkeley: University of California, 1979. Print.


Carrico, Dale. Class Lecture. Rhetoric 20: On Violence. University of California, Berkeley. 04 Dec. 2008. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Coleridge's Criticism of Shakespeare. Ed. R. A. Foakes. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1989. Print. Craig, W.J., ed. Hamlet. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. London: Oxford University Press: 1914; Bartleby.com, 2000. Web. 1. Feb 2011. Danner, Bruce. "Speaking Daggers." Shakespeare Quarterly 54.1 (2003): 29-62. JSTOR. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. deBoer, Fredrik. The Performative Utterance in William Shakespeares Hamlet. Purdue.Academia.edu. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. Derrida, Jacques. "Declarations of Independence." New Political Science 15 (1986): 7-15. Print. Derrida, Jacques. Limited Inc. Evanston, IL: Northwestern UP, 1988. Print. Derrida, Jacques, and Peggy Kamuf. Without Alibi. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2002. Print. Donaldson, Peter. "Olivier, Hamlet, and Freud." Cinema Journal 26.4 (1987): 22-48. JSTOR. Web. 01 Feb. 2011. Elam, Keir. Shakespeare's Universe of Discourse: Language-games in the Comedies. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1984. Print. Estill, Laura. "Performative Language in Renaissance Performance." University of Toronto Computing in the Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS), 2006. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. Findlay, Alison. "Hamlet: A Document in Madness." New Essays on Hamlet. Ed. Mark Thornton Burnett and John Manning. New York: AMS, 1994. Print. Fish, Stanley E. "How to Do Things with Austin and Searle: Speech Act Theory and Literary Criticism." MLN 91.5 (1976). JSTOR. Web. 22 Oct. 2011.


Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Pantheon, 1977. Print. Gottschalk, Paul. "Hamlet and the Scanning of Revenge." Shakespeare Quarterly 24.2 (1973): 155-70. JSTOR. Web. 1 Feb. 2011. Hughes, Peter. "'Playing with Grief': Hamlet and the Rituals of Mourning." Comparative Criticism 9 (1987): 118. Print. Jenkins, Harold, ed (1982). Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. The Arden Shakespeare. London, England: Methuen. Kallendorf, Hilaire. "Intertextual Madness in Hamlet: The Ghost's Fragmented Performativity." Renaissance and Reformation 22.4 (1998): 69-87. University of Toronto Journal Publishing Services. Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies. Web. 22 Oct. 2012. Landreth, David. Class Lecture. Shakespeare After 1600. University of California, Berkeley. 25 Feb. 2009. Langley, Eric Francis. Narcissism and Suicide in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. Print. Marlow, James. "Fish Doing Things with Austin and Searle." MLN 91.6 (1976): 1603-612. JSTOR. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. Miller, Joseph Hillis. For Derrida. New York: Fordham UP, 2009. Print. Miola, Robert S. Shakespeare and Classical Comedy: The Influence of Plautus and Terence. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994. Ohmann, Richard. "Speech Acts and the Definition of Literature." Philosophy & Rhetoric 4.1 (1971): 1-19. JSTOR. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. Owens, Rebkah. "Ur-Hamlet." Literary Encyclopedia. 28 Feb. 2008. Web. 01 Feb. 2011.


Saltz, David Z. "How to Do Things on Stage." The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 49.1 (1991): 31-45. JSTOR. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. Saltz, David Z. The Reality of Doing: Speech Acts in the Theatre, Method Acting Reconsidered, ed. David Krasner, St. Martins Press, 2000. Scot, Reginald. The Discouerie of Witchcraft. With a Discourse upon divels and spirits, and first of philosophers opinions, also the manner of their reasoning hereupon; and the same confuted. London: William Brome, 1584. Print. Searle, John R. "A Classification of Illocutionary Acts." Language in Society 5.1 (1976): 1-23. JSTOR. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. Searle, John R. "Austin on Locutionary and Illocutionary Acts." The Philosophical Review 77.4 (1968): 405-24. JSTOR. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. Searle, John R. "How Performatives Work." Linguistics and Philosophy 12 (1989): 535-58. Print. Searle, John R. "The Logical Status of Fictional Discourse." New Literary History 6.2 (1975): 319-32. JSTOR. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. Terry, Reta A. "'Vows to the Blackest Devil': Hamlet and the Evolving Code of Honor in Early Modern England." Renaissance Quarterly 52.4 (1999): 1070-086. JSTOR. Web. 22 Oct. 2011. Toulmin, Stephen E. The Uses of Argument. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1953. Print. Wenzel, Peter. Word and Action in the Mad Scenes of Shakespeare's Tragedies. Word and Action in Drama: Studies in Honour of Hans-Jrgen Diller on the Occasion of His 60th Birthday. Ed. Gnther Ahrends. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher, 1994. 65-80.


Wofford, Susanne L. To you I give myself, for I am yours: Erotic Performance and Theatrical Performatives in As You Like It. Shakespeare Reread: The Texts in New Contexts. Ed. Russ McDonald. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1994. 147-169.