LECTURE VII
ROMANTIC TRAGEDY: SHAKESPEARE

WE pass now from the classical to the romantic drama; from one great type of tragedy to its opposite. It is true that classical tragedy had undergone many modifications since it left the hands of Æschylus and Sophocles. It is true that many of what may fairly be called romantic elements had been introduced by Euripides and Seneca; that they hold their own, to some degree, even in so convinced a classicist as Racine. It is true, on the other side, that the influence of Seneca was a great, perhaps the dominant, influence upon the romantic predecessors of Shakespeare, and indeed upon Shakespeare himself, no less than on their classical rivals. But, for all that, it cannot be denied that the difference between the romantic and the classical type proclaims itself at the first glance; and that in no two writers is that contrast more strongly marked than it is between Racine and Shakespeare.

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