Shakespeare's Tragic Skepticism

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Yale University Press, 2002 - Drama - 283 pages
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Readers of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies have long noted the absence of readily explainable motivations for some of Shakespeare's greatest characters: Why does Hamlet delay his revenge for so long? Why does King Lear choose to renounce his power? Why is Othello so vulnerable to Iago's malice? But while many critics have chosen to overlook these omissions or explain them away, Millicent Bell demonstrates that they are essential elements of Shakespeare's philosophy of doubt. Examining Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra, Millicent Bell reveals the persistent strain of philosophical skepticism that runs throughout Shakespeare's plays. Like his contemporary Montaigne, Shakespeare repeatedly calls attention to the essential unknowability of our world.

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Shakespeare's tragic skepticism

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Although chiefly a specialist in American literature who has authored books on J.P. Marquand and Henry James and has edited the Library of America edition of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novels, Bell ... Read full review

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Hamlet Revenge
Othellos Jealousy
Unaccommodated Lear
Macbeths Deeds
The Roman Frame
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About the author (2002)

Millicent Bell is professor emertia of English literature at Boston University.

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