Shakespeare's Romances: A Study of Some Ways of the Imagination

Shakespeare's Romances: A Study of Some Ways of the Imagination

Shakespeare's Romances: A Study of Some Ways of the Imagination

Shakespeare's Romances: A Study of Some Ways of the Imagination

Excerpt

The term "Romances" is sometimes applied to those plays Shakespeare wrote at the end of his career which are neither histories nor tragedies and can be called comedies only if one uses the broad classification adopted by Shakespeare's first editors, Heminges and Condell, in the Polio of 1623.SUPSUP SUPSUPThese plays include Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest and The Two Noble Kinsmen; of these the first and last are thought to be partly by somebody other than Shakespeare. It is generally conceded that these five plays as a group have elements in common, and that as a group they differ in significant ways from Shakespeare's earlier work. The reasons alleged for this difference are various: some have thought that the influence of the younger playwrights for the King's Men, Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, pulled Shakespeare in a new direction, but there is no proof that the experiments of the collaborators antedated Shakespeare's first venture in this kind of drama. Others have thought that Shakespeare, at the age of forty-four, having written thirty-two plays in the past sixteen years, was tired and simply wrote these plays to help his company, without really putting his heart into it. They point out that he does seem to be living in Stratford rather than London in 1610, and that it would not be unreasonable to picture him as a retired successful man, enjoying the financial rewards of his two decades in the theater in London, and basking in the company of his daughter Susanna, her husband, Dr. John Hall, and their daughter Elizabeth. Others maintain that the special character of Shakespeare's romances is to be explained by external theatrical conditions rather than by anything personal to the poet himself. In 1608 Shakespeare's company acquired the Blackfriars theater, where boys had been acting for a dozen years; after some delay due to the plague the King's Men played there in the . . .

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