‘LOVE WILL SET YOU FREE’: ROMEO AND JULIET AND BADIOU

ABSTRACT

This essay consists of a reading of Shakespeare’s tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, using French philosopher Alain Badiou’s ‘Theory of the Subject’ as a framework, in order to assess the practicality of his theory of emancipation. Badiou asserts that human beings are not born into a natural subjectivity, but rather, may encounter an event in the domain of love, politics, science or art which, by rupturing the stability of their previous situation, enables them to re-construct themselves as emancipated subjects. The focus on the condition of love entails an examination of the actions undertaken and decisions made by Romeo and Juliet during the construction of their subjectivity, as well as a general critique of Alain Badiou’s controversial ‘ethics of the truth’. This discussion also incorporates an examination of wider philosophical and psychoanalytical theories on love which contradict and complement Alain Badiou’s theory, in order to ascertain his position relative to theorists and philosophers of the past and present. An analysis of Badiou’s more polemical writings is also provided through which an attempt is made to form a judgement on the twenty-first century’s notion of revolutionary love and the potential for revolutionary change.

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