It's fair to say that the stuff of life, in all its variety, can be found in the plays of Shakespeare. But, where, exactly?
To help answer that question, Victor L. Cahn has put together "The Plays of Shakespeare: A Thematic Guide," recently published by Greenwood Press. In 35 separate essays, Cahn looks at the Bard's most conspicuous themes and subjects, tackling everything from "Acting" to "War."
Within each chapter, he cites several plays, quoting lines and passages application to the topic under examination. The section on honor, for instance, heavily references Julius Caesar and Coriolanus, both of which contain characters preoccupied with valor and doing the right thing. Unsurprisingly, the essay on "Love and Romance" begins with several quotes from that ultimate love story, "Romeo and Juliet." And when it comes to "Revenge," the reader finds utterances by such bloody dramatic personages as Hamlet, Richard II, Titus Andronicus and Shylock from The Merchant of Venice.
Cahn is a Professor of English at Skidmore College, where he teaches Shakespeare and drama. He has previously authored "Shakespeare the Playwright: A Companion to the Complete Tragedies, Comedies and Romances," and has written for Variety and The New York Times.
—By Robert Simonson