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The Mind’s Construction: An Introduction to Mindreading in Shakespeare

  • Nicholas R. Helms
Chapter
Part of the Cognitive Studies in Literature and Performance book series (CSLP)

Abstract

Helms presents cognitive theories of mindreading as a set of tools with which literary critics can analyze Shakespeare’s characters. Mindreading is the human ability to attribute mental states to others: emotions, beliefs, and plans of action. Beginning with “the art to find the mind’s construction in the face” from Macbeth, Helms tracks inference and imagination in Shakespeare, using the language of mindreading to analyze moments of misreading. Shakespeare manipulates these mechanics of misreading to cultivate an early modern audience for his plays, an audience that can track the fictional minds of his character and that continues to contemplate the moral ramifications of such characters even after leaving the playhouse. Misreading fuels Shakespeare’s popular appeal and the enduring effect his works have had upon modern and early modern culture.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas R. Helms
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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