This study argues compellingly that the wish to confront and master death is a key shaping force of individual plays, of Shakespeare's genres, and of his work as a whole. Focusing on
Richard II, Henry IV Part One and
Part Two, and
Henry V, the book shows how these plays of the 1590's reflect the transition from a feudal to an early modern society. New cultural conditions necessitated new psychological and theatrical strategies for dealing with death, strategies enacted by characters within plays, by whole plays, and by genre itself.
Love's Labor's Lost and
Romeo and Juliet illustrate key strategies operative throughout Shakespeare's comedies and tragedies. This book offers fresh insight into individual plays. It also casts new light on the nature and function of Shakespearean genre, and on the development of the canon as a whole.
New York, San Francisco, Bern, Baltimore, Frankfurt/M., Berlin, Wien, Paris, 1993. VIII, 250 pp.
Contents: How the need to deal with death shapes Shakespeare's history, comedy and tragedy. Material covered includes Richard
II, Henry IV Part One and Part Two, Henry V, Love's Labor's Lost, Romeo and Juliet, cultural and historical change
in Elizabethan England, and English medieval and Tudor drama.