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Platonism and bathos in Shakespeare and other early modern drama

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posted on 2006-04-26, 13:50 authored by Gabriel Egan
It has long been noticed that the events of Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet and those of the play of Pyramis and Thisbe in his A Midsummer Night's Dream are alike, and that the former treats seriously what is farcical in the latter. Roger Prior showed that a single source, either George Gascoigne's The Poesies (Gascoigne 1575) or his Whole Works (Gascoigne 1587), was used for both plays, and in particular the description of a masque to celebrate the marriage in 1572 of two children of Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montague (Prior 2000). As well as verbal parallels there are collocations of ideas and images, such as strangers daring to enter a feast (as in Romeo and Juliet 1.5) and phrases about the anticipation of the wedding (as used by Theseus and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream 1.1), Shakespeare appears to have moved to a poem called 'The Refusal' on the facing page of Gascoigne's The Poesies and mined it for the rivalry of Demetrius and Lysander (1.1) and of Hermia and Helena (3.2). The Gascoigne link gives us additional reason to consider Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream as paired plays and to attend to Shakespeare's telling of one story two ways, one tragical and one comical.



  • The Arts, English and Drama


  • English and Drama


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EGAN, G., 2005. Platonism and bathos in Shakespeare and other early modern drama. IN: Holmes and Streete (eds.) Refiguring Mimesis: Representation in Early Modern Literature. Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press

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