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Providing a unique combination of well-written, up-to-date background information and intriguing selections from primary documents, The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare introduces students to the topics most important to the study of Shakespeare in their full historical and cultural context.
This edition of Shakespeare s The Merchant of Venice reprints the Bevington edition of the play accompanied by four sets of thematically arranged primary documents and illustrations designed to facilitate many different approaches to Shakespeare s play and the early modern culture out of which the play emerges. The texts include maps, woodcuts, sermons, statutes, early modern documents reflecting Christian attitudes toward Jews and Jewish reactions to these attitudes, excerpts from the bible on money lending as well as contemporary discourses on usury and commerce, excerpts from the first account of Jewish life written in the vernacular by a Jew for a Christian audience, anti-Catholic tracts, travel accounts, diplomatic reports, scenes from a morality play about the corrupting effects of money, royal proclamations concerning the treatment of aliens, conduct literature, and contemporary treatises on the role of women.
Maria Howell's, Manhood and Masculine Identity in William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Macbeth, is an important and compelling scholarly work which seeks to examine the sixteenth century's greatest concern, echoed by Hamlet himself, "What is a man?" In an attempt to analyze the concept of manhood in Macbeth, Howell explores the contradictions and ambiguities that underlie heroic notions of masculinity dramatized throughout the play. From Lady Macbeth's capacity to control and destroy Macbeth's masculine identity, to Macbeth himself, who corrupts his military prowess to become a ruthless and murderous tyrant, Howell demonstrates that heroic notions of masculinity not only reinforce masculine power and authority, paradoxically, these ideals are also the source of man's disempowerment and destruction. Howell argues that in an attempt to attain a higher principle, the means (violence and destruction) and the ends (justice and peace) become fused and indistinguishable, so that those values that inform man's actions for good no longer provide moral clarity. Howell's poignant and timely analysis of manhood and masculine identity in Shakespeare's Macbeth will no doubt resonate with readers today.
Illyria in Shakespeare’s England studies the eastern Adriatic region known as “Illyria” in five plays by Shakespeare and other early modern English writing. It examines the origins and features of past discourses on the area, expanding our knowledge of the ways in which England and other polities negotiated their position in the early modern world.
More has been written about Shakespeare than about any other author, and many of these works are of interest primarily to scholars. At the same time, a great many works exist that are of inestimable value to theatre professionals, and many actors and directors have little need for more arcane scholarly studies. This reference conveniently discusses scholarship on Shakespeare that is of particular value to members of the dramatic community. Included are chapters on how to locate works in an academic library, the merits of various editions and commentaries, available reference works, studies of the Elizabethan world, and Shakespeare's stage history.
Constance Jordan looks at how Shakespeare, through his romances, contributed to the cultural debates over the nature of monarchy in Jacobean England. Stressing the differences between absolutist and constitutionalist principles of rule, Jordan reveals Shakespeare's investment in the idea that a head of state should be responsive to law, and not be governed by his unbridled will. Conflicts within royal courts which occur in the romances show wives, daughters, and servants resisting tyrannical husbands, fathers, masters, and monarchs by relying on the authority of conscience. These loyal subjects demonstrated to Shakespeare's diverse audiences that the vitality of the body politic, its dynastic future, and its material productivity depend on a cooperative union of ruler and subject. Drawing on representations of servitude and slavery in the humanist and political literature of the period, Jordan shows that Shakespeare's abusive rulers suffer as much as they impose on their subjects. Shakespeare's Monarchies recognizes the romances as politically inflected texts and confirms Shakespeare's involvement in the public discourse of the period.

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