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Moral-System of Shakespeare
A POPULAR ILLUSTRATION OF
FICTION AS THE EXPERIMENTAL SIDE OF PHILOSOPHY
RICHARD G. MOULTON, M.A. (CAMB.), PH.D. (PENNA.)
AUTHOR OF "THE ANCIENT CLASSICAL DRAMA," ETC., EDITOR OF
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD.
All rights reserved
THE purpose and scope of this work are fully set forth in the introductory section. A preface is desirable only for explanations upon two points of detail.
My former book, Shakespeare as a Dramatic Artist, originally published (by the Clarendon Press, Oxford) in 1885, is now (third edition, 1893) in extensive use amongst private readers and in schools and universities. This present work illustrates an entirely different view point of literary study. Necessarily, however, two books treating the same author must have some points in common. Where this is the case, I have usually in the present work given the briefest treatment consistent with clearness, the reader being referred by footnotes to the other book for fuller discussion.
In what is intended primarily for the general reader I have wished to exclude technical discussion from the text. Believing, however, that precise analysis of structure is the best foundation for the fullest appreciation of literary beauty, I have added an Appendix, which gives formal schemes of plot for each of the Shakespearean plays. In these analyses I have broken away altogether from the current schemes of plot analysis. These, however able in detail, appear to me to be in method no more than adaptations of Aristotle's principles to new matter; they are thus survivals of the Renaissance criticism, in which all that might be newly created must be surveyed from the one standpoint of Greek art. But Greek Drama and Shakespearean Drama of equal importance in universal literature stand nevertheless at opposite poles of dramatic structure; the one
rests upon the severe simplicity of the unities, the other reaches after free play and fulness, rejoicing to draw the most complex material into artistic harmony. Accordingly, I have adopted a method of dramatic analysis which allows dramatic movement to fall into the second place, while the chief prominence is given to the multiplication of stories which is the essence of the Romantic Drama, and to the exquisite effects of balance and symmetry which make its artistic glory. We moderns pay the best tribute to the Founder of Criticism when we imitate, not his results, but his spirit, and interrogate the new literary material, as Aristotle interrogated his Greek Drama, for the principles which best explain the literary product.
By this combination of general discussion in the text with formal analysis in the Appendix I have tried to make what may serve as a text-book of Shakespeare for students of literary clubs or scholastic institutions. And I would say to the reader who is conscious to himself of being no more than a pleasure seeker in his reading, that he will consult best for his own pleasure if he will give attention to the foundation interest of dramatic structure, as enhancing beauties of effect which lie more upon the surface.
RICHARD G. MOULTON.
WHAT IS IMPLIED IN "THE MORAL SYSTEM OF SHAKESPEARE"
ROOT IDEAS OF SHAKESPEARE'S MORAL SYSTEM
I. Heroism and Moral Balance: The first four Histories
IV. Wrong and Restoration: The Comedies of Winter's Tale and
SHAKESPEARE'S WORLD IN ITS MORAL COMPLEXITY
VI. The Outer and Inner in Application to Roman Life
VIII. Comedy as Life in Equilibrium
IX. Tragedy as Equilibrium Overthrown
X. The Moral Significance of Humour
V. The Life Without and the Life Within: The Mask-Tragedy of
Henry the Eighth.