Shakespeare and the Problem Play: Complex Forms, Crossed Genres and Moral Quandaries

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McFarland, Oct 8, 2012 - Performing Arts - 232 pages
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Shakespeare's plays provide a rich source of genre variation as well as moral or ethical issues that invite deep study. The genre issue often proves the very moral crux where Shakespeare raises the most complex questions. He aimed to build good plays, not simple fulfillments of genre demands. To him "good plays" meant leaving his audience with problems to consider. This book begins with those works most commonly appearing in studies of problem plays, The Merchant of Venice, Troilus and Cressida, All's Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure; moves to some comedic problem plays, Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Twelfth Night; and then to tragic problem plays, Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear. It concludes with some problems in the history and romance genres for the issues they raise in love, adventure, and governance: Henry IV, Part 1, Henry V, Cymbeline, The Tempest, and Love's Labor's Lost.
 

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Contents

The Idea of the Problem Play
1
Does Anybody Know the Quality of Mercy?
15
2 Troilus and Cressida and the Consummate AntiGenre
42
Not Really
66
Measure for Measure
90
5 Comedic Problem Plays
113
6 Tragic Problem Plays
144
Problems of Love Adventure and Language
177
Chapter Notes
205
Bibliography
219
Index
221
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About the author (2012)

E.L. Risden is a professor of English at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. He has published books and essays on medieval and Renaissance studies as well as poetry and fiction.

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