Pericles (two acts of which may have been written by George Wilkins), Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, and The Tempest朼re tragicomedies. They feature characters of tragic potential, but resemble comedy in that their conclusions are marked by a harmonious resolution achieved through magic, with all its divine, humanistic, and artistic implications.
Appeal and Influence
Since his death Shakespeare's plays have been almost continually performed, in non-English-speaking nations as well as those where English is the native tongue; they are quoted more than the works of any other single author. The plays have been subject to ongoing examination and evaluation by critics attempting to explain their perennial appeal, which does not appear to derive from any set of profound or explicitly formulated ideas. Indeed,
Shakespeare has sometimes been criticized for not consistently holding to any particular philosophy, religion, or ideology; for example, the subplot of A Midsummer Night's Dream includes a burlesque of the kind of tragic love that he idealizes in Romeo and Juliet.
The strength of Shakespeare's plays lies in the absorbing stories they tell, in their wealth of complex characters, and in the eloquent speech杤ivid, forceful, and at the same time lyric杢hat the playwright puts on his characters' lips. It has often been noted that Shakespeare's characters are neither wholly good nor wholly evil, and that it is their flawed, inconsistent nature that makes them memorable. Hamlet fascinates audiences with his ambivalence about revenge and the uncertainty over how much of his madness is feigned and how much genuine. Falstaff would not be beloved if, in addition to being genial, openhearted, and witty, he were not also boisterous, cowardly, and, ultimately, poignant. Finally, the plays are distinguished by an unparalleled use of language. Shakespeare had a tremendous vocabulary and a corresponding sensitivity to nuance, as well as a singular aptitude for coining neologisms and punning. Editions and Sources
The first collected edition of Shakespeare is the First Folio, published in 1623 and including all the plays except Pericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen (the latter play also generally not appearing in modern editions). Eighteen of the plays exist in earlier quarto editions, eight of which are extremely corrupt, possibly having been reconstructed from an actor's memory. The first edition of Shakespeare to divide the plays into acts and scenes and to mark exits and entrances is that of Nicholas Rowe in 1709. Other important early editions include those of Alexander Pope (1725), Lewis Theobald (1733), and Samuel Johnson (1765).
Among Shakespeare's most important sources, Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1587) is significant for the English history plays, although Shakespeare did not hesitate to transform a character when it suited his dramatic purposes. For his Roman tragedies he used Sir Thomas North's translation (1579) of Plutarch's Lives. Many times he rewrote old plays, and twice he turned English prose romances into drama (As You Like It and The Winter's Tale). He also used the works of contemporary European authors. For further information on Shakespeare's sources, see the table entitled Shakespeare's Play.
Shakespeare's first published works were two narrative poems, Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594). In 1599 a volume of poetry entitled The Passionate Pilgrim was published and attributed entirely to Shakespeare. However, only five of the poems are definitely considered his, two appearing in other versions in the Sonnets and three in Love's Labour's Lost. A love elegy, The Phoenix and the Turtle, was published in 1601. In the 1980s and 90s many Elizabethan scholars concluded that a poem published in 1612 entitled A Funeral Elegy and signed "W.S." exhibits many Shakespearean characteristics; it has not yet been definitely included in the canon.
Shakespeare's sonnets are by far his most important nondramatic poetry. They were first published in 1609, although many of them had certainly been circulated privately before this, and it is generally agreed that the poems were written sometime in the 1590s. Scholars have long debated the order of the poems and the degree of autobiographical content.
The first 126 of the 154 sonnets are addressed to a young man whose identity has long intrigued scholars. The publisher, Thomas Thorpe, wrote a dedication to the first edition in which he claimed that a person with the initials W. H. had inspired the sonnets. Some have
thought these letters to be the transposed initials of Henry Wriothesley, 3d earl of Southampton, to whom Shakespeare dedicated Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece; or they are possibly the initials of William Herbert, 3d earl of Pembroke, whose connection with Shakespeare is more tenuous. The identity of the dark lady addressed in sonnets 127?52 has also been the object of much conjecture but no proof. The sonnets are marked by the recurring themes of beauty, youthful beauty ravaged by time, and the ability of love and art to transcend time and even death.
There has been a great variety of critical approach to Shakespeare's work since his death. During the 17th and 18th cent., Shakespeare was both admired and condemned. Since then, much of the adverse criticism has not been considered relevant, although certain issues have continued to interest critics throughout the years. For instance, charges against his moral propriety were made by Samuel Johnson in the 18th cent. and by George Bernard Shaw in the 20th.
Early criticism was directed primarily at questions of form. Shakespeare was criticized for mixing comedy and tragedy and failing to observe the unities of time and place prescribed by the rules of classical drama. Dryden and Johnson were among the critics claiming that he had corrupted the language with false wit, puns, and ambiguity. While some of his early plays might justly be charged with a frivolous use of such devices, 20th-century criticism has tended to praise their use in later plays as adding depth and resonance of meaning.
Generally critics of the 17th and 18th cent. accused Shakespeare of a want of artistic restraint while praising him for a fecund imagination. Samuel Johnson, while agreeing with many earlier criticisms, defended Shakespeare on the question of classical rules. On the issue of unity of time and place he argued that no one considers the stage play to be real life anyway. Johnson inaugurated the criticism of Shakespeare's characters that reached its culmination in the late 19th cent. with the work of A. C. Bradley. The German critics Gotthold Lessing and Augustus Wilhelm von Schlegel saw Shakespeare as a romantic, different in type from the classical poets, but on equal footing. Schlegel first elucidated the structural unity of Shakespeare's plays, a concept of unity that is developed much more completely by the English poet and critic Samuel Coleridge.
While Schlegel and Coleridge were establishing Shakespeare's plays as artistic, organic unities, such 19th-century critics as the German Georg Gervinus and the Irishman Edward Dowden were trying to see positive moral tendencies in the plays. The 19th-century English critic William Hazlitt, who continued the development of character analysis begun by Johnson, considered each Shakespearean character to be unique, but found a unity through analogy and gradation of characterization. While A. C. Bradley marks the culmination of romantic 19th-century character study, he also suggested that the plays had unifying imagistic atmospheres, an idea that was further developed in the 20th cent.
The tendency in 20th-century criticism has been to abandon both the study of character as independent personality and the assumption that moral considerations can be separated from their dramatic and aesthetic context. The plays have been increasingly viewed in terms of the unity of image, metaphor, and tone. Caroline Spurgeon began the careful classification of Shakespeare's imagery, and although her attempts were later felt to be somewhat naive and morally biased, her work is a landmark in Shakespearean criticism. Other important trends in
20th-century criticism include the Freudian approach, such as Ernest Jones's Oedipal interpretation of Hamlet; the study of Shakespeare in terms of the Elizabethan world view and Elizabethan stage conventions; and the study of the plays in mythic terms.
See also biographies by E. K. Chambers (2 vol., 1930), G. E. Bentley (1961), S. Schoenbaum (1970 and 1975), S. Wells (1974), R. Fraser (2 vol., 1988), P. Levi (1988, repr. 1995), E. Sams (1995), P. Honan (1998), A. Holden (1999), and I. L. Matus (1999); bibliographies ed. by G. R. Smith (1963) and E. Quinn et al. (1973); A. Nicoll, Shakespeare: An Introduction (1952); G. Bullough, ed., Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare (8 vol., 1957?5); O. J. Campbell and E. G. Quinn, ed., The Reader's Encyclopedia of Shakespeare (1966); M. R. Martin and R. C. Harrier, The Concise Encyclopedic Guide to Shakespeare (1972); M. Spevack, A Complete and Systematic Concordance to the Works of Shakespeare (6 vol., 1970); The Harvard Concordance to Shakespeare (1973); S. Wells, ed., Current Approaches to Shakespeare: Language, Text, Theatre, and Ideology (1988); G. Taylor, Reinventing Shakespeare (1989); J. Bate, The Genius of Shakespeare (1997); H. Vendler, The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets (1997); H. Bloom, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (1998); D. S. Kastan, ed., A Companion to Shakespeare (1999); S. Orgel, Imagining Shakespeare: A History of Texts and Visions (2003); B. Vickers, Shakespeare, Co-Author (2003); S. Wells, Shakespeare for All Time (2003); S. Greenblatt, Will in the World (2004).
Francis Bacon was the son of Nicolas Bacon, the Lord Keeper of the Seal of Elisabeth I. He entered Trinity College Cambridge at age 12. Bacon later described his tutors as "Men of sharp wits, shut up in their cells of a few authors, chiefly Aristotle, their Dictator." This is likely the beginning of Bacon's rejection of Aristotelianism and Scholasticism and the new Renaissance Humanism.
His father died when he was 18, and being the youngest son this left him virtually penniless. He turned to the law and at 23 he was already in the House of Commons. His rich relatives did little to advance his career and Elisabeth apparently distrusted him. It was not until James I became King that Bacon's career advanced. He rose to become Baron Verulam, Viscount St. Albans and Lord Chancellor of England. His fall came about in the course of a struggle between King and Parliament. He was accused of having taken a bribe while a judge, tried and found guilty. He thus lost his personal honour, his fortune and his place at court.
Loren Eiseley in his beautifully written book about Bacon The Man Who Saw Through Time remarks that Bacon: "...more fully than any man of his time, entertained the idea of the universe as a problem to be solved, examined, meditated upon, rather than as an eternally fixed stage, upon which man walked."
This is the title page from Bacon's Instauratio Magna which contains his Novum Organum which is a new method to replace that of Aristotle. The image is of a ship passing through the pillars of Hercules, which symbolized for the ancients the limits of man's possible explorations. The image represents the analogy between the great voyages of discovery and the explorations leading to the advancement of learning. In The Advancement of Learning Bacon makes this analogy explicit. Speaking to James I, to whom the book is dedicated, he writes: "For why should a few received authors stand up like Hercules
columns, beyond which there should be no sailing or discovering, since we have so bright and benign a star as your Majesty to conduct and prosper us." The image also forcefully suggests that using Bacon's new method, the boundaries of ancient learning will be passed. The Latin phrase at the bottom from the Book of Daniel means: "Many will pass through and knowledge will be increased."
Bacon saw himself as the inventor of a method which would kindle a light in nature - "a light that would eventually disclose and bring into sight all that is most hidden and secret in the universe." This method involved the collection of data, their judicious interpretation, the carrying out of experiments, thus to learn the secrets of nature by organized
observation of its regularities. Bacon's proposals had a powerful influence on the
development of science in seventeenth century Europe. Thomas Hobbes served as Bacon's last amunensis or secretary. Many members of the British Royal Society saw Bacon as advocating the kind of enquiry conducted by that society.
Descartes is often called the father of modern science. He established a new, clear way of thinking about philosophy and science by rejecting all ideas based on assumptions or emotional beliefs and accepting only those ideas which could be proved by or systematically deduced from direct observation. He took as his philosophical starting point the statement Cogito ergo sum -- "I think, therefore I am." Descartes made major contributions to modern mathematics, especially in developing the Cartesian coordinate system and advancing the theory of equations.
Isaac Newton's discoveries were so numerous and varied that many consider him to be the father of modern science. A graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, Newton developed an intense interest in mathematics and the laws of nature which ultimately led to his two most famous works: Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687) and Opticks (1704). Newton helped define the laws of gravity and planetary motion, co-founded the field of calculus, and explained laws of light and color, among many other discoveries. A famous story suggests Newton discovered the laws of gravity by watching an apple fall from a tree, though there's no proof that this is true. Newton was knighted in 1705." />