In a central episode in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the hero defines to a group of visiting actors the ‘purpose’ of drama: ‘…whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold as ’twere the mirror up to nature’ This is the central theme of the play, which abounds in dualities (I count three… Continue reading Dualisms in Shakespeare’s Hamlet
It’s not so long since we last did a work by William Shakespeare (we did Shakespeare’s Sonnets back at the beginning of the year), but you can never have enough Shakespeare, right? We’re back at him, and this time it’s Hamlet, one of his best known works for the theatre and the single most highly… Continue reading Culture Club: Theme for August – November 2010
My English teacher at school once told me: ‘Shakespeare is a greater poet than he is a dramatist.’ This isn’t meant to mean that Shakespeare wrote better poems than plays, which is clearly not the case. Rather it means that the poetry in his plays is what drives the drama, and it is in his… Continue reading Is Shakespeare a Greater Poet or a Greater Dramatist?
I’m just reading Helen Vendler’s The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Amazon affiliate link). I think she is my favourite interpreter of poetry, and this might be her greatest work. Every page is revelatory. One of her major themes is that a consideration of ‘form’ in lyric poetry is vital for a full understanding of the… Continue reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Form and Meaning in Lyric Poetry
The following links offer useful and free online resources for the study and analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Full text Shakespeare: Sonnets – easy access to all 154 sonnets The amazing web site of Shakespeare’s Sonnets – this site is a little clumsy to navigate, but does feature the complete texts plus useful commentaries and sonnets… Continue reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Essays, Resources and Links
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is surely the most musical of Shakespeare’s plays. In its verse, its rhythm and even its structure, it is never far from musical forms of expression. One of history’s greatest Shakespearean interpreters and critics, Harley Granville Barker said of this piece, ‘it is less a play… than a musical symphony’, and… Continue reading The Musical Structure of A Midsummer Night’s Dream