The Backgrounds of Shakespeare's Plays

By Karl J. Holzknecht | Go to book overview
on the rack of this tough world until he knows not what he says; Macbeth tired and musing on what might have been, but resolving to die with harness on his back; Othello realizing that, like the base Indian, he has thrown a pearl away richer than all his tribe; Coriolanus remembering how

like an eagle in a dove cote, I Flutter'd your Volscians in Corioli; Alone I did it -- all die well.

At its best, the peculiar calm at the close of a Shakespearean tragedy is akin to the exaltation described by Wordsworth:

In which the burthen of the mystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight Of all this unintelligible world, Is lightened: -- that serene and blessed mood, In which the affections gently lead us on, -- Until, the breath of this corporeal frame And even the motion of our human blood Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become a living soul. (Lines, Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, 1798.)

SUGGESTED REFERENCES
BRADBROOK M. C. Themes and Conventions of Elizabethan Tragedy. Cambridge University Press, 1935.
BRADLEY A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy. Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth. London, Macmillan, 1904. One of the great classics of Shakespeare criticism.
BOWERS FREDSON THAYER. Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy, 1587- 1642. Princeton University Press, 1940.
CAMPBELI LILY B. Shakespeare's Tragic Heroes, Slaves of Passion. Cambridge University Press, 1930. A study of Shakespeare's tragedies in relation to the philosophy of his day concerning the nature of the emotions.
CHARLTON H. B. Shakespearian Tragedy. Cambridge University Press, 1949. A series of lectures on Shakespeare major tragedies in a companion volume to the same author's Shakespearian Comedy.
FARNHAM WILLARD. The Medieval Heritage of Elizabethan Tragedy. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1936. The dramatic and non-dramatic background of tragedy as Shakespeare's contemporaries conceived of it.
LUCAS F. L. Seneca and Elizabethan Tragedy. Cambridge University Press, 1922.

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The Backgrounds of Shakespeare's Plays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vii
  • 1 - Shakespeare's Life in Fact and Tradition 1
  • Suggested References 32
  • 2 - Shakespeare's England 33
  • Suggested References 61
  • 3 - The Drama Before Shakespeare 63
  • Suggested References 89
  • 4 - Elizabethan Theatrical Companies 92
  • Suggested References 114
  • 5 - The Elizabethan Public Playhouse 115
  • Suggested References 144
  • 6 - The Influence of Theatrical Conditions on Shakespeare 146
  • Suggested References 166
  • 7 - Shakespeare's Audience 167
  • Suggested References 185
  • 8 - Shakespeare's English 186
  • Suggested References 219
  • 9 - The Sources of Shakespeare's Play 220
  • Suggested References 245
  • 10 - Some General Aspects Of Shakespeare's Dramatic Art 247
  • Suggested References 265
  • 11 - Shakespearean Comedy 268
  • Suggested References 291
  • 12 - Shakespeare's History Plays 293
  • Suggested References 320
  • 13 - Shakespearean Tragedy 322
  • Suggested References 341
  • 14 - Shakespeare in Print 343
  • Suggested References 371
  • 15 - Shakespeare's Reputation 374
  • Suggested References 404
  • 16 - Shakespeare on the Stage 407
  • Suggested References 437
  • 17 - Shakespearean Scenes and Characters 439
  • Index 471
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