The Plays of Shakespeare: A Thematic Guide
Touching viewers and readers with his presentation of social, moral, and political issues, Shakespeare holds ageless and unequaled appeal primarily because of the universal themes at the heart of his dramatic works. Shakespeare scholar Victor Cahn takes a unique approach to exploring the plays by identifying and explicating the themes that recur throughout the canon. Written in lively language, each of the 35 essays explores a core theme or topic and discusses its implications in several key plays in which it figures prominently. This user-friendly guide not only allows readers to better understand the significance of concepts such as power, politics, marriage or money; the organization by theme also helps users to compare and contrast these important topics across relevant plays. Cahn draws vivid connections between related works of Shakespeare, but just as importantly, enlightens readers as to the pertinence of these themes in contemporary life.
While this thematic guide examines all of Shakespeare's plays, particular attention is devoted to those works most often read by students; the tragedies such as Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and Macbeth, the comedies including A Midsummer Night's Dream and Merchant of Venice, as well as the historical plays like Richard II, and the romantic works such as The Tempest. Students who wish to investigate a particular play in greater depth can refer to this book's title index to identify all citations of that work. This valuable literary resource serves myriad uses, enabling students to trace the thread of a theme, to compare its treatment in several plays, and to understand better a play, its characters, plot and language, by examining Shakespeare's central themes.
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The bitterest fool in Shakespeare's plays is Apemantus of Timon of Athens. He
uses his wit to expose everyone's foibles, including those of Timon and the Poet,
who pretends to admire the King so as to gain funds from him: "He that loves to
In Timon of Athens, the title character generously dispenses money to all suitors,
but when he bankrupts himself, and his creditors demand payment, an outraged
Timon deserts mankind: Burn house! sink Athens! henceforth hated be Of Timon
(I, ii, 100-103) These lines reveal Timon's ego, for he delights in giving. Why
should he do so? Because his beneficence keeps the recipients subordinate to
him, and the more generous he is, the more superior he feels. In addition, why
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The plays of Shakespeare: a thematic guideUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Cahn (English, Skidmore Coll.; Shakespeare the Playwright) discusses 35 recurring motifs in Shakespeare's plays, each in a different chapter and illustrated by examples from eight to ten plays ... Read full review