Foucault's Descending Individuation: The Unprivileged Under Panoptic Gaze in Shakespeare and Godwin

Ahmad Mohammed Bani Salameh


This paper presents new critical insights into two selected literary works from the English literature, Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and William Godwin's Caleb Williams, in light of Michel Foucault's "descending individuation" in Discipline and Punishment. Through the lens of this theory, this study illumines these writers' scathing critique of "descending individuation" in their cultures in which surveillance of individuals goes in an inverse relationship with their socio-economic statuses-namely, the lower one's social and economic station is, the more liable s/he becomes to panoptic gaze. This paper shows these authors' dissatisfaction with the flawed justice system of their culture, because surveillance, usually a disciplinary law-enforcement strategy, could backfire if enforced in a descending, prejudiced fashion.


Foucault, Descending, Individuation, Disciplinary, Surveillance, Godwin, Shakespeare

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