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Dramatic Representation

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Chapter Summary

The role of theatre and theatricality in Thomas Hobbes remains highly contested. This is worth stressing, if only because commentators have usually rushed to follow Hobbes in pursuing the concept of representation from theatre to law-court, and from law-court to state. This chapter examines a more overlooked aspect of Hobbes's account of human personhood, namely his use of the concept of persona in its basic sense, to mean an actor, or a player of social roles, who must engage in a kind of theatrical self-presentation, both simulative and dissimulative, to navigate the gap between private subjectivity and public performance. In his introduction to Leviathan, Hobbes tells us that man plays a dual role in the commonwealth. To use Hobbes's own words, man is both 'the Matter thereof, and the Artificer'. The chapter argues that Hobbes sees theatricality as an intrinsic feature of almost all human behaviour (social, political and aesthetic).

Keywords: dramatic representation; human behaviour; political stage; Thomas Hobbes



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