By Harold C. Goddard
In brilliant and authoritative volumes, Harold C. Goddard takes readers on a journey in the course of the works of William Shakespeare, celebrating his incomparable performs and unsurpassed literary genius.
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Additional resources for The Meaning of Shakespeare, Volume 1 (Phoenix Books)
In proportion as they master them, men grow skeptical of their own professions. When they come to know them, they see through them. Shakespeare lived to see through the theater. He subdued it to himself rather than let it subdue him to itself. There is one clear sign, even in The Cornedy of Errors, that its author was not going to rest content with mere theatrical effect achieved by the mechanically made coincidences on \vhich all farce relies. The characters of the play, in the face of the strange occurrences with which they are continually being confronted, keep declaring that they must be dreaming, that things are bewitched, that some sorcerer must be at work behind the scenes.
Back in the first act, in a situation seldom surpassed for sheer audacity, Richard woos for his wife the widovl of a man he has just murdered, choosing for the occasion of that wooing the funeral of her father-inlaw, whonl he has also killed. The more impossible the task, the more it THE MEANING OF SHAKESPEARE appeals to Richard's gigantic pride. And he carries it off successfully. Now, at the end of the play, he attempts something even more incredible. He asks his brother's widow, Queen Elizabeth, mother of the two boys he has just had put out of the way, to give him their sister, her daughter, as his bride.
And there are what look like premonitions of specific lines and phrases that occur in the poet's later works. Of these Jast the most striking is the memorable couplet: , 33 r THE MEANING OF SHAKESPEARE Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods? Draw near them, then, in being merciful, advice which almost no one in the play, including the speaker, ever follows. How came the young Shakespeare to indulge in such an orgy of atrocity as the plot of this piece is? The obvious answer is that he probably inherited much of it from an earlier play.