Shakespeare's Secret Schemers: The Study of an Early Modern Dramatic Device

Shakespeare's Secret Schemers: The Study of an Early Modern Dramatic Device

Shakespeare's Secret Schemers: The Study of an Early Modern Dramatic Device

Shakespeare's Secret Schemers: The Study of an Early Modern Dramatic Device

Synopsis

"Shakespeare's Secret Schemers establishes the existence of a dramatic device in Shakespeare and indicates its presence in the non-Shakespearean drama of the period as well. The secret scheming of the title is scheming formulated and executed by characters who never disclose it, either to the audience or to other characters, and which goes unremarked within the plays. The study identifies and interprets the function of several secret schemes important to the plays in which they are found, and also develops an argument about how an appreciation of secret scheming confirms the tendency of recent criticism to emphasize the pervasiveness of political issues in the drama. It shows that behind acts that appear apolitical or idealistic are often schemes based on self-interested or sectarian motives." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

If the characters of Shakespeare are … whole, and as it were original
… it may be fit to consider them rather as Historic than Dramatic
beings; and, when occasion requires, to account for their conduct from
the whole of character, from general principles, from latent motives,
and from policies not avowed.

—Maurice Morgann, Essay on the Dramatic
Character of Sir John Falstaff
(1777)

Secret scheming in the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries has rarely been identified as a recurrent device, though many isolated instances of such scheming have been noted. By secret scheming I mean scheming that is formulated and executed by characters who never disclose it either to the audience or to other characters and that goes unremarked within the plays. Maurice Morgann, in An Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff, imputed to Shakespeare's characters [policies not avowed.] His hint of a dramatic device was not developed by others, but through much of the nineteenth century and into the first decades of the twentieth many critics tacitly accepted the possibility of secret scheming and followed Morgann's prompting with regard to a key episode in King Henry IV, Part 1. Then, as we will see, principles of interpretation inimical to his gained sway, and secret scheming went into eclipse. Today, despite extensive investigation of the political aspects of early modern drama, secret scheming is widely ignored. Current writing on Tudor-Stuart spying and surveillance has not stimulated interest; even investigation of censorship and modes of evading it have not been enough to alert us. Yet secret schemes are frequent enough in the plays. In this book, I will not try to establish . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.