“Singularities” in and as “the world”: What Happens in Shakespeare
Two possible interpretations of the notion of a “Shakespearean world” are considered; one for which the phrase connotes facts, processes and judgements which are taken by speakers to be provisional, unstable, morally “biassed”, yet in some sense “realistic”; another for which a “singular” character, a character-type or a particular experience is perceived as not only coherent and intensive in itself but as, potentially or actually, the source of a larger coherence and intelligibility. A number of citations display the different features salient to each of these two lines of interpretation. It is argued that, for some “singularities”, which take themselves and their powers and properties to be self-sufficient and self-legitimating, exposure to the “world” is in practice morally reductive or destructive. In other “singular” cases, such exposure amounts to, and offers an understanding of, Shakespearean versions of protagonism, heroism, and empathetic charm.