Mise-en-abyme

(294 words)
  • Editors

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

A French term derived from the heraldic device of inserting a small shield within a larger shield bearing the same device, and related to “composition en abyme”, a play-within-a-play, as so brilliantly in Shakespeare's Hamlet where the play within the play alludes to and explicates the plot of the larger play within which it is staged. In the visual arts, one may also think of the convex mirrors in the paintings of the Flemish Renaissance, notably at the back of the Arnolfini Betrothal by Jan Van Eyck in which appears the mirror image of the room we are looking, including the painter himself and a small figure who is entering the room. English and American readers may also wish to consider the traditional Quaker …

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Citation:
Editors. "Mise-en-abyme". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 22 April 2006
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=729, accessed 25 November 2014.]