Shakespeare's Irrational Endings: The Problem Plays

Hardcover | August 21, 2012

byDavid Margolies

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Shakespeare's plays are too often analysed as if they existed in a vacuum. This book looks at the Problem Plays as designed to produce a response in the audience, and offers a vision of them quite different from conventional judgements. Extending the category from the traditional Troilus and Cressida, All's Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure to include The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing and Othello, the author closely examines the texts to argue that Shakespeare purposely disturbs his audience. The endings in particular reveal an intention to cause frustration by first creating expectations through the form and then contradicting them in the content. Thus, the marriages which seem to fulfil the expectations of a comedy's happy ending clash unresolvably with the audience's recognition of their doubts about the specific match. Shakespeare's cynicism feels surprisingly relevant today, while the plays' increasing skill and subtlety continue to offer real pleasure.

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From the Publisher

Shakespeare's plays are too often analysed as if they existed in a vacuum. This book looks at the Problem Plays as designed to produce a response in the audience, and offers a vision of them quite different from conventional judgements. Extending the category from the traditional Troilus and Cressida, All's Well That Ends Well and Meas...

DAVID MARGOLIES Emeritus Professor of English at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. He has published widely on Shakespeare and popular culture, notably Novel and Society in Elizabethan England and Monsters of the Deep: Social Dissolution in Shakespeare's Tragedies.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:192 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.5 inPublished:August 21, 2012Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230277616

ISBN - 13:9780230277618

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
1. All's Well That Ends Well
2. Much Ado about Nothing
3. Measure for Measure
4. The Merchant of Venice
5. Troilus and Cressida
6. Othello
Conclusion
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

"Margolies's insistence upon the importance of emotional response contributes usefully to a renewed critical interest in aesthetics and performance in early modern studies." - New Theatre Quarterly