This book makes several important contributions to our knowledge of Shakespeare and the Renaissance. First, Bentley's close and thorough analysis of the references to syphilis in
Troilus andCressida, Measure for Measure, and
Timon of Athens illustrates how Shakespeare not only transforms a medical topic into imaginative literature, but more specifically it demonstrates how Shakespeare employs this «image cluster» to define and reveal major themes in the plays - sexual commercialism, slander, and usury, respectively. Second, Bentley's investigation of the imagery and themes in these plays provides evidence about their generic identity: rather than view these plays as traditional comedies or even problem plays, they should be looked at as comic or tragic satires.