『ソネット集』における嗅覚 : 『ソネット集』と五感研究への試論 <論文>
Sense of Smell in The Sonnets : An Essay on the Study of The Sonnets and the Five Senses
English and American literature
Since the appearance of Alain Corbin's The Foul and The Fragrant, many studies on the history of senses have been published. Some Shakespearean scholars have just begun to learn from these studies and apply their achievements to the interdisciplinary studies of Shakespeare, along with the study of the topos, the "banquet of sense" in Elizabethan poetry. This essay first glimpses Francois Quiviger's point that "smell was considered an intermediary sense between the corporeal world of taste and touch and the spatial universe of sight and hearing," and that the smell gradually comes to be associated with the brain, which improved its status in the hierarchy of the five senses. As for the importance of sight in the Age of Enlightenment, the essay also mentions Constance Classen's study of the shift in the use of roses from the material of perfumes to the objects of visual appreciation. It never forgets to remind us of Stuart Clark's remark that the sixteenth century English poetry was the rich source of suspicions about the eyes." Owing much to these historians' points, this essay focuses on the representations of the sense of smell in William Shakespeare's The Sonnets and tries to show how this sense functions within the poetry.
Next, this essay analyses many sonnets designed to praise the beautiful appearance and virtues of the young man through the sense of sight in The Sonnets. Despite the numerous admirations of him, the poet similarly expresses his anxiety of failing to understand the young man's heart and his disgust at the excessive ornaments and luxurious clothes that take away from the young man's natural beauty. These are the cases, this paper maintains, that prove the poet's disbeliefs in sight.
Given this, the essay goes on to suggest that the poet is very confident in what he perceives not through the eyes but through smell throughout the work. For the poet, the young man is the example of the smell by which he can judge everything according to whatever odour it emits. In terms of the advantages of the smell in The Sonnets, this essay chooses the topic of distillation as a typical instance of the poet's distinguishing genuine nobleness from vulgar fellows. We can extract the essence of, say, roses, by distillation. The poet is keenly aware of the mysterious process of the art and makes the most of it to emphasise the difference of the noble nature of the young man compared with others. He also employs the theme as a strategy for running counter to Time' s destruction.
Following the discussions about the young man, the paper shifts its focus from him to the dark mistress, the other love of the poet. It calls our attention to the surprising fact that the poet never praises the dark mistress' smell throughout The Sonnets. Although the poet attempts to use the topos of a "banquet of sense" in order to represent her, he later declines it, saying that no senses "desire to be invited / To any sensual feast with thee alone." ('Sonnet 141' 8) Taking that fact into account, this essay argues that it is true that no senses including the sense of smell fascinate the poet, but that 'Sonnet 141' is dramatically successful in completely subverting the poet's evaluation of the dark mistress by making him confess honestly, "But my five wits nor my five senses can / Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee..." (Sonnet 141' 9-10)
Besides the examples that deal with sight and smell, the paper points out that representations of taste and touch in The Sonnets are mainly concerned with the dark mistress, not the young man, and that in those sonnets dedicated to her, the poet does not hesitate to openly express his carnal desire or hopes to touch her while he merely worships or fears the betrayal of the young man in the other sonnets of the work.
In conclusion, the essay maintains that sense of smell makes the most of its "intermediary" nature classified just between the high sensorium such as seeing and hearing and the low sensorium like taste and touching and supplements the defects of sight that often fails to perceive the young man's heart. It is true that the poet may oscillate between the high and the low sensoria which the two main masks in The Sonnets, the young man and the dark lady, respectively correspond to. However, he firmly believes in the power of sense of smell in that he can intuitively sense through it what the essence and truth is represented in the form of the young man.
Hiroshima studies in English language and literature
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Departmental Bulletin Paper
Departmental Bulletin Papers
Graduate School of Letters
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