Metaphor in Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis

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Telios Ioannis


My purpose in this essay is to discuss the notion of metaphor, and relate it to a specific meaning, which, I will argue, articulates Sara Kane’s play 4.48 Psychosis (hereafter, 4.48). For that reason, the paper is divided in two parts: In the first part, I set out with Aristotle’s definition of metaphor, and then I move to its comparison with Turner and Lakkof’s account. Their theory of metaphor as the mapping of terms onto similar conceptual domains, gives rise to two problems: (1) matching of terms from divergent conceptual domains is impossible when a criterion of correspondence is missing; and (2) the construction of indefinite concepts by abstraction from language registering empirical stimuli. This construction attempts to solve the first problem. However, if the premise of empiricism, on which it hinges, changes, then the account fails. How can metaphor exist between undetermined and determined conceptual domains, if the former is something in its own right, and not merely an abstraction from the latter? The suggested answers are drawn by medieval theories of analogy. The latter provide concepts that add up to an ontological theory of metaphor, which can also operate as an interpretive scheme for the play in question. In the second part of this paper, I turn upon the play itself, and try to interpret it under the aforementioned stipulation. I attempt to back up my interpretation by adducing excerpts from 4.48 Psychosis, biographical information about the author, and several of her theoretical reflections on her life and work.

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Ioannis, T. (2015). Metaphor in Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis. S O C R A T E S, 3(3), 62-80. Retrieved from


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