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THE MORAL SYSTEM OF SHAKESPEARE
WHAT IS IMPLIED IN "THE MORAL SYSTEM OF
THE title of this work, The Moral System of Shakespeare, is not intended to suggest that the man Shakespeare had formed in his mind a certain system of morals, which he proceeded to put into his plays. Indeed, this book does not concern itself in any way with the man Shakespeare; if any of my readers inclines to the view that the plays of Shakespeare were written by Lord Bacon, or, for that matter, by Queen Elizabeth, he will find nothing in the pages that follow to disturb his faith. 'Shakespeare' is only used as a convenient name for the whole body of thirty-six dramas usually attributed to William Shakespeare, by whomsoever these dramas may have been composed, in whatsoever way they may have been put together. The contents of these thirty-six plays make a world of their own, a world of personages, of incidents, of story. It is surely possible to survey this imaginary world from the same standpoint from which the moralist surveys the world of reality the result of such a survey, put together with some degree of methodical order, will give us the moral system of the Shakespearean Drama.
At the outset of our task a word of disclaimer must be said against what may be called the Fallacy of Quotations. Nothing is commoner than the attempt to convey the mind of Shakespeare by passages from his plays. Yet this is obviously delusive. If we
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
All rights reserved
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.
Set up, electrotyped, and published May, 1903.
J. S. Cushing & Co. - Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.
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