1st Edition

Shakespeare’s Mirrors

By Edward Evans Copyright 2024
    216 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Clear mirrors and scripture in English, revolutionary innovations of the Elizabethan age, inspired Shakespeare’s drive towards a new purpose for drama. Shakespeare reversed the conventional mirror metaphor for drama. Implying drama cannot reflect the substance of human nature, Shakespeare developed a method of characterization, through metadrama, self-awareness and soliloquy, to project St. Paul’s idea of conscience onto the Elizabethan stage. This revolutionary method of characterization, aesthetic existence beyond performance, has long been sensed while remaining elusively undefined. By reviewing Shakespeare’s mirror metaphors, the method that created characters, “detachable from the play like real people,” slowly emerges. Shakespeare used mirror metaphors far more than his contemporaries. Shakespeare’s Mirrors charts the way his drama developed the representation of the unstageable: St. Paul’s metaphysical conception of human nature glimpsed through a glass darkly.

    Introduction: Shakespeare’s Mirror Metaphors         


    Prologue: “The Mirror of All Martial Men,” (Living up to Stereotypes)            

    Mirrors in the Cultural and Historical Context of Sixteenth Century England   

    Henry VI, Part One        


    1.           “Amorous Looking-Glass:” The Self-Infatuation of the Regal Perfomer in the Early Histories              

    Richard III and Henry VI, Parts Two and Three  

    Richard II          


    2.           “Dissembling Glass of Mine:” Female Self-Evaluation within the Patriarchal Genre of Courtship Comedy  

    The Two Gentlemen of Verona 

    The Comedy of Errors  

    The Taming of the Shrew            

    Love’s Labour’s Lost    

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream   

    The Merchant of Venice              

    As You Like It   


    3.           “The Mirror of All Christian Kings:” Increasing Tension between Classical Action and Christian Passivity             

    Henry IV, Part Two         

    Henry V              

    Julius Caesar   


    4.           “The Mirror up to Nature:” Hamlet’s Metaphysical Redirection of the Purpose of Playing Hamlet     

    Metatheatre Subverting the Classical Tradition

    Shakespeare’s Rivalry with Ben Jonson              

    Hamlet’s Pauline Education at Wittenberg        

    The Gravedigger Scene as Christian Exegesis  

    Venetian Mirrors and the Representation of the Self in the Context of the Revolutionary Social and Scientific Environment of the Sixteenth Century     


    5.           “Glassy Essence:” The Fraudulent Hypocrisy of Impious Authority              

    Troilus and Cressida     

    Measure for Measure   

    Timon of Athens


    6.           “Spacious Mirror:” The Epic Futility of Political Activity in a World Without Redemption King Lear              


    Antony and Cleopatra  



    7.           “My Glass, Mine Own:” Human Play and Identity Reconciled Through Performative Faith Pericles, Prince of Tyre   


    The Winter’s Tale           

    The Tempest     

    The Two Noble Kinsmen             

    Henry VIII          


    Epilogue: “Through A Glass, Darkly”




    Edward Evans received his Ph.D. in English Literature from Bar-Ilan University, and is currently research fellow and teaching assistant in the English Linguistics and Literature Department at Bar-Ilan University.