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in 1603 and performed by the boy company at Blackfriars, this play
foreshadows the light ladies and callous gallants of Restoration
comedy. Passion is a scourge, love is humiliation, and friends might as
well be enemies. Freevill discards his concubine Franceschina and, for
a joke, sets his straight-laced friend Malheureux on to her, who falls
for her and promises to carry out her revenge on Freevill by killing
him. The play in the theatre, which is fully imagined in the
introduction to this edition, impresses on the audience the
spuriousness of rigid moral persuasions, especially when they are tried
by fits of sexual passion.
The Malcontent is a striking example of the new satiric tone and moral seriousness in English comedy of the early 1600s. The play's vision of a fallen humanity driven by lust and ambition is created partly by its depiction of Machiavellian intrigue in the court of Genoa, and partly by the disaffected Malevole, the malcontent of the title, who is actually the deposed Duke Altofronto in disguise. Marston's tragi-comedy is full of reversals, surprises and moral transformations and offers a thin disguise for the Jacobean court and its vices.
This new student edition contains a lengthy new Introduction with background on the author, date and sources, theme, critical interpretation and stage history.
this master-piece of Jacobean city comedy signals its ironic nature
even in the title: chaste maids, like most other goods and people in
London's busiest commercial area, are likely to be fake. Money is more
important than either happiness or honour; and the most coveted
commodities to be bought with it are sex and social prestige. Middleton
interweaves the fortunes of four families, who either seek to marry
their children off as profitably as possible, to stop having any more
for fear of poverty, or to acquire some in order to keep their property
in the family. Most prosperous is the husband who pimps his wife to a
rich knight and lets him support the household with his alimony. Like
many early modern critics of London's enormous growth, this play
warned: the city is a monster that lives off the money the country
real-life character, the notorious cross-dresser Moll Frith, who
probably was among the first audiences of 'her' play before she was
taken up for public misconduct. Middleton and Dekker's 'roaring girl'
may outrage her society with her pipe, bluster and swagger, but she
turns out to be the moral centre of the play. Her code of honour leads
her to call the bluff on rogues and conspicuous consumers, to thrash a
hypocritical gallant in a duel, and to act as go-between for the young
lovers thwarted by parental tyranny. This wry dramatisation of female
deviancy exposing male ineffectuality is as much to the point today as
it was in King James's England. An appendix helps the modern reader to
appreciate the canting terms used by the low-life characters.
This new student edition has been freshly revised by Professor Andrew Gurr to incorporate the latest stage history and critical interpretations of the play. It also appends the scenes that were added in 1602, discusses Elizabethan attitudes to revenge, the Senecan features of the play and the significance of the Anglo-Spanish conflict in the 1580s.
Both tragedy and farce, this masterpiece of Elizabethan theater reflects the social and political complexities of its age. Christopher Marlowe's dramatic hybrid resonates with racial tension, religious conflict, and political intrigue — all of which abounded in 16th-century England. The playwright, who infused each one of his plays with cynical humor and a dark world view, draws upon stereotypes of Muslim and Christian as well as Jewish characters to cast an ironic perspective on all religious beliefs.
The immediate success of The Jew of Malta on the Elizabethan stage is presumed to have influenced Marlowe's colleague, William Shakespeare, to draw upon the same source material for The Merchant of Venice. The character of Barabas is the prototype for the well-known Shylock, and this drama of his villainy remains a satirical gem in its own right.
First published in 1634, this Jacobean tragicomedy features a plot derived from "The Knight's Tale" in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The play was originally attributed to both John Fletcher and William Shakespeare; its association with the latter is a longstanding source of controversy that is now generally accepted by scholarly consensus.
The Revenger's Tragedy is an intense tragic burlesque. Its hero, Vindice, desires to avenge the death of his betrothed. Operating in disguises he provokes discord among his enemies so that they plot against each other. It is an anonymous masterpiece (the play was entered in the Stationer's Register on 7th October 1607 without an author being named) produced at a crucial phase in Jacobean theatre with Hamlet, The Malcontent, Measure for Measure, Volpone and King Lear all recently performed. Written with vivid imagery, the play contains energetic, high-spirited action and brooding, slow-paced scenes on the subjects of death, revenge and evil, culminating in an unexpected ironic climax.
This new student edition contains a completely re-edited text of the play and a new Introduction examining this unique combination of poetic tragedy, macabre farce and satire, focused on the dark brilliance of the hero Vindice. It also views the play in wider contexts - of contemporary attitudes to women, as well as contemporary debates concerning rebellion against tyranny.
Often compared to Shakespeare in terms of his dynamic plots and poetic lyricism, Webster created radical, profoundly original works that feature shifting perspectives and thought-provoking challenges to conventional moral judgments. Required reading for courses in seventeenth-century English literature, this provocative masterpiece from the Golden Age of English drama will not only be welcomed by students and teachers of English literature but also a wide audience of general readers.
In his epic treatment of the Faust legend, Marlowe retains much of the rich phantasmagoria of its origins. There are florid visions of an enraged Lucifer, dueling angels, the Seven Deadly Sins, Faustus tormenting the Pope, and his summoning of the spirit of Alexander the Great. But the playwright created equally powerful scenes that invest the work with tragic dignity, among them the doomed man's calling upon Christ to save him and his ultimate rejection of salvation for the embrace of Helen of Troy.
With immense poetic skill, and psychological insight that foreshadowed the later work of Shakespeare and the Jacobean playwrights, Marlowe created in Dr. Faustus one of the first true tragedies in English. Vividly dramatic, rich in poetic grandeur, this classic play remains a robust and lively exemplar of the glories of Elizabethan drama.
Aaron the Moor, a magnificent villain and the empress’s secret lover, makes a similar transition. After the empress bears him a child, Aaron devotes himself to preserving the baby. Retaining his thirst for evil, he shows great tenderness to his little family—a tenderness that also characterizes Titus before the terrifying conclusion.
The authoritative edition of Titus Andronicus from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general readers, includes:
-The exact text of the printed book for easy cross-reference
-Hundreds of hypertext links for instant navigation
-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play
-Full explanatory notes conveniently linked to the text of the play
-Scene-by-scene plot summaries
-A key to the play’s famous lines and phrases
-An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language
-An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play
-Fresh images from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s vast holdings of rare books
-An annotated guide to further reading
Essay by Alexander Leggatt
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit Folger.edu.
I think this coming summer the King of Sicilia means to pay Bohemia the visitation which he justly owes him.
Wherein our entertainment shall shame us we will be justified in our loves; for indeed,—
Verily, I speak it in the freedom of my knowledge: we cannot with such magnificence—in so rare—I know not what to say.—We will give you sleepy drinks, that your senses, unintelligent of our insufficience, may, though they cannot praise us, as little accuse us.
You pay a great deal too dear for what's given freely.
Believe me, I speak as my understanding instructs me and as mine honesty puts it to utterance.
The plot is based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Life of Markus Antonius and follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony from the time of the Parthian War to Cleopatra's suicide. The major antagonist is Octavius Caesar, one of Antony's fellow triumvirs and the future first emperor of Rome. The tragedy is a Roman play characterized by swift, panoramic shifts in geographical locations and in registers, alternating between sensual, imaginative Alexandria and the more pragmatic, austere Rome. Many consider the role of Cleopatra in this play one of the most complex female roles in Shakespeare's work. She is frequently vain and histrionic, provoking an audience almost to scorn; at the same time, Shakespeare's efforts invest both her and Antony with tragic grandeur. These contradictory features have led to famously divided critical responses.
Each Edition Includes:
• Comprehensive explanatory notes
• Vivid introductions and the most up-to-date scholarship
• Clear, modernized spelling and punctuation, enabling contemporary readers to understand the Elizabethan English
• Completely updated, detailed bibliographies and performance histories
• An interpretive essay on film adaptations of the play, along with an extensive filmography
The Odyssey is literature's grandest evocation of every man's journey through life. In the myths and legends that are retold here, renowned translator Robert Fagles has captured the energy and poetry of Homer's original in a bold, contemporary idiom and given us an edition of The Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery. This is an edition to delight both the classicist and the general reader, and to captivate a new generation of Homer's students.
From the Hardcover edition.
This 'excellent comedy of affliction' enjoyed enormous prestige for more than a century after its first performance: for John Dryden it had 'the greatest and most noble construction of any pure unmixed comedy in any language'. Its title signals Jonson's satiric and complex concern with gender: the play asks not only 'what should a man do?', but how should men and women behave, both as fit examples of their sex, and to one another? The characters furnish a cross-section of wrong answers, enabling Jonson to create riotous entertainment out of lack, loss and disharmony, to the point of denying the straightfowardly festive conclusion which audiences at comedies normally expect. Much of the comic vitality arises from a degeneration of language, which Jonson called 'the instrument of society', into empty chatter or furious abuse, and from a plot which is a series of lies and betrayals (the hero lies to everyone and Jonson lies to the audience). The central figure is a man named Morose, who hates noise yet lives in the centre of London, and who, because of his decision to marry a woman he supposes to be silent, exposes himself to a fantastic cacophony of voices, male, female and - epicene.
This student edition contains a lengthy Introduction with background on the author, date and sources, theme, critical interpretation and stage history.
offered its inhabitants commercial events during which to indulge their
need for bodily delights and festival exuberance. The fair of St
Bartholmew, held anually in Smithfield on 24 August, served Jonson as
an opportunity to dissect a wide cross-section of Londoners and their
various reasons for spending a day out among the booths, stalls, smells
and noises of the fair. Unusually magnanimous for a Jonsonian city
comedy, the main thrust of the satire is not against fools, madmen,
fortune-hunters, cuckolds or prostitutes, but against hypocrisy and
bigotry. This edition shows that the play can be read as a
comprehensive refutation of puritanism and the London magistracy, both
of whom were attacking the theatre (and the festive culture of which it
was still part) as idolatrous, seditious and disorderly.
The lively introduction focuses on the play as a comedy about swindlers and characters on the margins of society. It highlights Jonson's cratft as a dramatist and his masterful use of language, building into the play all actors and directors need to know about its characters and action. With helpful on-page commentary notes, this student edition also discusses the play in its theatrical and historical context and traces its connections to modern theatre, bringing its farcical comedy vividly to life.
This student edition contains a lengthy Introduction with background on the author, date and sources, critical interpretation and stage history.
Robert N. Watson is Distinguished Professor of English at UCLA. His publications include Critical Essays on Ben Jonson (as editor) and Ben Jonson's Parodic Strategy. He also edited the New Mermaids edition of Every Man in His Humour.