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"The Rack Dislimns": Schema and Metaphorical Pattern in Antony and Cleopatra

Donald C. Freeman
Poetics Today
Vol. 20, No. 3, Metaphor and Beyond: New Cognitive Developments (Autumn, 1999), pp. 443-460
Published by: Duke University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1773274
Page Count: 18
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"The Rack Dislimns": Schema and Metaphorical Pattern in Antony and Cleopatra
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Abstract

Virtually all previous commentary on the figurative language of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra has been rather general, and has provided, at best, a disconnected account of the play's rich figuration. The theory of cognitive metaphor, which constructs metaphor as mental projection from a schematized representation of bodily or enculturated experience into abstractions, provides a principled basis for a unified account of the play's imagery, major plot devices, and much of its stage (and offstage) business. This analysis characterizes within a single analytical framework Antony's oft-remarked dissolution, Cleopatra's transcendence, and the sharp outline that is the play's idea of Rome. This theory leads us to read the play as a richly blended amalgam of the CONTAINER, LINKS, and PATH image schemas. Projection from these schemas into Antony and Cleopatra's imagery, plot, and other elements structures the play's progress from Antony's distinctly profiled Roman and military persona through the shapeless liquid of the lovers' passion through evanescent cloud formations to Cleopatra's final sublimation from her physical body into the ether of her nobler elements.

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