The Cambridge Introduction to Shakespeare's Tragedies

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, Mar 8, 2007 - Literary Criticism
Macbeth clutches an imaginary dagger; Hamlet holds up Yorick's skull; Lear enters with Cordelia in his arms. Do these memorable and iconic moments have anything to tell us about the definition of Shakespearean tragedy? Is it in fact helpful to talk about 'Shakespearean tragedy' as a concept, or are there only Shakespearean tragedies? What kind of figure is the tragic hero? Is there always such a figure? What makes some plays more tragic than others? Beginning with a discussion of tragedy before Shakespeare and considering Shakespeare's tragedies chronologically one by one, this 2007 book seeks to investigate such questions in a way that highlights both the distinctiveness and shared concerns of each play within the broad trajectory of Shakespeare's developing exploration of tragic form.

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Contents

Tragedy before Shakespeare
7
Titus Andronicus
25
Romeo and Juliet
40
Julius Caesar
52
Hamlet
65
Othello
77
Timon of Athens
91
King Lear
103
Macbeth
114
Antony and Cleopatra
126
Coriolanus
140

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Page 112 - I'll kneel down, And ask of thee forgiveness. So we'll live, And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues Talk of court news ; and we'll talk with them too, Who loses,- and who wins ; who's in, who's out ; And take upon's the mystery of things, As if we were God's spies...
Page 42 - A glooming peace this morning with it brings : The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head...
Page 71 - Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay, Might stop a hole to keep the wind away : O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe, Should patch a wall to expel the winter's flaw ! But soft ! but soft ! aside : here comes the king.
Page 63 - Cowards die many times before their deaths ; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear ; Seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come, when it will come.
Page 125 - I have lived long enough : my way of life Is fall'n into the sear, the yellow leaf ; And that which should accompany old age, As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends, I must not look to have...
Page 138 - tis most certain, Iras. Saucy lictors Will catch at us, like strumpets ; and scald rhymers Ballad us out o' tune : the quick comedians Extemporally will stage us, and present Our Alexandrian revels : Antony Shall be brought drunken forth, and I shall see Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness I
Page 139 - Take up her bed; And bear her women from the monument. She shall be buried by her Antony: No grave upon the earth shall clip in it A pair so famous. High events as these Strike those that make them; and their story is No less in pity than his glory which Brought them to be lamented.
Page 57 - Between the acting of a dreadful thing And the first motion, all the interim is Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream: The genius, and the mortal instruments, Are then in council; and the state of man, Like to a little kingdom, suffers then The nature of an insurrection.
Page 73 - What's Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba That he should weep for her? What would he do Had he the motive and the cue for passion That I have?

About the author (2007)

Janette Dillon is Professor of Drama at the School of English, University of Nottingham.

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