Onstage and Offstage Worlds in Shakespeare's Plays
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Originally published in 1989, this book focuses on the handling of the relationship between the onstage world and the offstage world, between the world that Shakespeare shows us and the one he tells us about. It is developed in two parts. Initially examined is the way reports are used in Shakespeare to relate the offstage and onstage worlds, building from simple examples within individual scenes in various plays to related sequences of reports which can be evaluated as part of broader strategies effecting the structure of a whole play. In the second part the author examines the ways in which several, or all, of these strategies work in individual plays, and what combined effect the prominent employment of them has in shaping the effect of the plays. In all cases the author is concerned to indicate why Shakespeare chose to handle matters as he does rather than in other ways available in the sources or in the speculative alternative methods which can be imaginatively constructed.
Table of Contents
Preface. Introduction. Part 1 1. ‘Such News As You Never Heard Of’: The Functions of Reporting in Shakespeare’s Plays 2. ‘There is a World Elsewhere’: The Functions of Stage Absence in the Structure of Shakespeare’s Plays 3. ‘Are Those my Tents Where I Perceive the Fire?’: The Structure of Shakespeare’s Battles and their Onstage/Offstage Action Part 2 4. ‘Mangling by Starts the Full Course of their Glory’: The Legend and the Reality of War in Henry V 5. ‘Is Thy News Good or Bad? Answer to That’: The Use of Reports and the Structure of Roles in Romeo and Juliet 6. ‘I am Dumb!’: The Absence and Presence of Antonio in The Merchant of Venice 7. ‘O Julius Caesar, Thou Art Mighty Yes!: The Potency of Caesar On and Off the Stage, Alive and Dead 8. ‘If That an Eye May Profit by a Tongue’: The functions of Reporting and Stage Absence in As You Like It 9. ‘He is Himself Alone’: The Use of Battle, Report, and Stage Absence in Coriolanus. Index.