Stratford to Dogberry: Studies in Shakespeare's Earlier Plays

Stratford to Dogberry: Studies in Shakespeare's Earlier Plays

Stratford to Dogberry: Studies in Shakespeare's Earlier Plays

Stratford to Dogberry: Studies in Shakespeare's Earlier Plays

Excerpt

Of the thirty papers collected in the present volume, many are revised from previous publication during the past twenty-five years. Since most of these have been widely scattered in philological and other periodicals in this country and in Europe, general convenience and the requests of sundry readers suggest that they be collected in a single volume. They treat a dozen of Shakespeare's earlier plays, before the composition of Twelfth Night and of Hamlet, on both of which the present critic has elsewhere had his say. The first six studies are general, and the rest chiefly concern The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, the Falstaff trilogy, As You Like It, and Much Ado.

The aspects discussed are rather diverse--such time-honored themes as source and date, and newer approaches that aim more directly at interpretation, for interpretation is the chief object of the scholar's task. Some of these newer approaches relate to Elizabethan social and economic life: the disintegration of feudalism and the feudal army, and the changing status of servants, children, and younger brothers. Some are scientific: astronomy is used to date a play, or astrology and Galenic medicine to interrelate and explain details of character, physique, or speech-tempo. These and other determinants make the plays what they are, and answer the basic questions: why did Shakespeare choose these subjects, just what significance did he mean to give them, and why did he treat them as he did?

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