THE TRAGIC SENSE IN SHAKESPEARE by John Lawlor

THE TRAGIC SENSE IN SHAKESPEARE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

John Lawlor is a Professor of English at University College of North Staffordshire, England. This book, directed to the serious student, is devoted to a discussion of certain deep rooted characteristics which Lawlor finds in Shakespeare's tragic art and which seem to him to offer a coherence of tragic statement. He believes that Shakespeare's decisive contribution to the tragic art lies in the play- wright's dialetical habit (a medieval heritage) which looks for definition in the co-existence of opposites. He selects Henry IV, Richard II and Henry Was illustrative of the theme of outward appearance and inward reality. Hamlet exemplifies the dilemma of a man commanded to do what he is not sure is right -- man as agent and patient. Othello represents man as the patient of coincidence and the unforseeable -- accident and design. Finally, in the essay Natural and Supernatural it is Macbeth which most clearly presents man as agent and victim of the natural consequences of acts known to him as wicked and entered upon knowledgeably. There is a final essay on The Truth of Imagination and the Idea of Justice which occasions an examination of King Lear and in which Lawlor makes the point that justice is not the ultimate question in tragic experience. The Tragic Sense in Shakespeare is by no means an easily comprehensible book but it is unmistakably a profoundly rewarding one.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1960
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace