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Shakespeare's Dilemmas


Richard Horwich

The dilemma-torn hero – paralyzed between alternatives so precisely balanced that no rational basis can be found for choosing one or the other – dates back to Homer and forward to Joseph Heller. Of the dozens of writers who created such figures, none employed dilemmas more extensively or more variously than William Shakespeare; Hamlet, pondering whether «To be, or not to be,» is only the best-known of many characters in the plays who find themselves in that peculiar predicament. Horwich shows how Shakespeare's dilemmas, which he calls the classic predicament of an age suffused with philosophical subjectivity and emotional ambivalence, cut across the boundaries of dramatic genre and subject matter, illuminating such disparate works as the problem comedies, the Roman plays, and the great political and romantic tragedies.
Contents: Shakespeare's Dilemmas is a study of the role played by dilemmas – viewed as rhetorical tropes and logical paradoxes, but primarily as psychological predicaments – in several of Shakespeare's major plays and poems.