What is it that makes Shakespeare’s problem plays problematic? Many critics have sought for the underlying vision or message of these puzzling and disturbing dramas. Originally published in 1987, the key to Viv Thomas’s new synthesis of the plays is the idea of fracture and dissolution in the universe. From the collapse of ‘degree’ in Troilus and Cressida to the corruption at the heart of innocence in Measure for Measure, to the puzzling status of virtue and valour in All’s Well, the most obvious feature of these plays in their capacity to prompt new questions. In a detailed discussion of each play in turn, the author traces the dominant themes that both distinguish and unite them, and provides numerous insights into the sources, background, texture and morality of the plays.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements. A Note on the Text. 1. Concepts and Perspectives: Why Problem Plays? 2. Shakespeare’s Use of His Source Material (i) Troilus and Cressida (ii) All’s Well that Ends Well (iii) Measure for Measure 3. The Fractured Universe: Wholeness and Division in Troilus and Cressida 4. Virtue and Honour in All’s Well that Ends Well 5. Order and Authority in Measure for Measure 6. Conclusion. Bibliography. Index.