Cover image for A theatergoer's guide to Shakespeare's themes
A theatergoer's guide to Shakespeare's themes
Fallon, Robert Thomas.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, [2002]

Physical Description:
xviii, 268 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR2987 .F36 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Following on the success of his Theatergoer s Guide to Shakespeare, Robert Fallon now examines the themes in Shakespeare s plays, the revelations about human nature that give them substance and weight and such an enduring quality. Again Mr. Fallon sets aside academic jargon and the machinery of scholarship; he writes for intelligent playgoers, seeking to enhance their enjoyment of a performance. (Of course, casual readers too will find his interpretations absorbing.) The book surveys the most pervasive of Shakespeare s themes, among them love, war, illusion, statecraft, heroism, the supernatural, and the comic. In chapters devoted to each of eleven such themes, Mr. Fallon explains how these patterns of meaning were viewed in Shakespeare s time, what history the poet draws upon in presenting them on the stage, and how he suggests them through his pageant of men and women engaged in the business of living. Mr. Fallon offers a wealth of illustrative examples from all thirty-eight plays attributed to the Bard. His lively narrative provides ample detail, ensuring that the examples are accessible to readers who may not be familiar with some of the less frequently staged works. As in A Theatergoer s Guide to Shakespeare, Mr. Fallon succeeds in capturing Shakespeare s endless appeal: his ability to place before us figures with whom we are familiar the ardent lover, the swaggering soldier, the tyrant, villain, and clown, as well as mothers, fathers, and children, both treacherous and devoted all of whom confront the experiences that define the eternal themes of the human condition."

Author Notes

Robert Thomas Fallon is professor emeritus of English at La Salle University in Philadelphia.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This clearly written, useful, appealing guide to various Shakespearean dramatic subjects by well-respected Miltonist Robert Fallon (emeritus, La Salle University) offers concise overviews of the plays organized into simple chapter headings such as "The Prince" and "The Supernatural." It can be profitably read as a brief refresher course in the plays or as a Baedeker to the Bard's dramatic world for those who know little of it. Complex matters are kept simple, with such topics as warfare and illusion called "themes" in Shakespeare, whereas accepted critical parlance defines a theme as a statement about rather than just a treatment of a subject. But Fallon knows his Shakespeare to the letter, quotes aptly, and keeps methodically to orderly plot summaries. The book endorses a very conservative theory beloved by E.M.W. Tillyard, namely (and tautologically), that the plays hold an objective mirror up to nature. The Bard, for example, neither favored nor opposed war, "however much we may wish he had." Shakespeare thus seems a man for any season, signifying everything. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and general readers. A. DiMatteo New York Institute of Technology

Table of Contents

Prologuep. xi
Charactersp. xvii
Love and Hatredp. 3
Courtly Lovep. 5
Romancep. 14
Men and Men, Women and Womenp. 22
The Familyp. 25
Warfarep. 35
The Stagep. 37
The Causep. 41
The Soldiersp. 47
Henry Vp. 51
Madness and Melancholyp. 65
Madnessp. 66
Feigned Madnessp. 72
Melancholyp. 74
Hamletp. 77
The Princep. 85
Gaining Powerp. 87
Keeping Powerp. 94
Losing Powerp. 98
Love versus Dutyp. 103
Kingshipp. 108
Illusionp. 116
The Stagep. 117
The Play Within a Playp. 119
Masksp. 122
Disguisesp. 124
Mistaken Identitiesp. 128
"Strange Shapes"p. 133
Universal Orderp. 137
The Chain as Onep. 139
The Chain as Linksp. 145
Political Orderp. 150
The Supernaturalp. 159
Ghostsp. 160
Witches and Soothsayersp. 163
Clericsp. 168
Deus ex Machinap. 171
Magicians and Fairiesp. 173
EVIL (and Good)p. 177
Evil by Naturep. 179
Villains for Causep. 182
Shylockp. 185
Evil Womenp. 187
Comic Villainsp. 188
The Goodp. 192
The Herop. 199
The Martial Herop. 201
The Antiherop. 207
The Tragic Herop. 209
The Comic Musep. 222
Court Fops and Nincompoopsp. 223
Fools and Clownsp. 227
Insultsp. 230
Double Meanings, Puns, and Malapropsp. 235
Falstaffp. 240
The Choric Voicep. 246
Commoners as Chorusp. 248
Characters as Chorusp. 250
Choruses as Chorusp. 253
Epiloguep. 257
Indexp. 259