Still Life? Anthropocentrism and the Fly in Titus Andronicus and Volpone

Scott, Charlotte. 2008. Still Life? Anthropocentrism and the Fly in Titus Andronicus and Volpone. Shakespeare Survey, 61, pp. 256-268. ISSN 0080-9152 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

When Titus Andronicus appeared in the first folio of Shakespeare’s plays in 1623 it included a ‘new’ scene, not present in the 1597 quarto and possibly not performed in Shakespeare’s lifetime. This scene comprises 86 lines and runs to approximately five minutes’ performance time; its inclusion bears little impact on the textual or performative length of the play, yet it remains one of the most powerful scenes of the drama. This extraordinary scene, known as the fly-scene, or mad scene, not only poses a significant problem to directors, actors and audiences of the theatre – how do you make a fly audible let alone visible? – but most importantly, 'What purpose serveth the Fly'? Some six years later at the Globe, Jonson turns this iniquitous insect into a consummate actor: the brilliant and vital force of Mosca.

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English and Comparative Literature
Research Office > REF2014


December 2008Published

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Date Deposited:

01 Oct 2010 12:42

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2017 10:18

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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