'Skill in the construction' : dramaturgy, ideology, and interpretation in Shakespeare's late plays
This thesis examines the way dramaturgical techniques in Shakespeare's late plays are used to create a complex and radical exploration of the relationship between ideology and interpretation. It links such concerns via the multiple meanings of "construction", illustrated using the scene of reading at the end of Cymbeline, centred upon the prophetic label. In Part I, major reservations are expressed about the standard interpretative paradigms applied to late Shakespearian drama, and their effect on critical understanding. The deficiencies of a "Romance" reading and the problems with traditional attitudes to chronology, authorship, and collaboration are stressed; elements often marginalized as aesthetically inferior are defended; and two related areas of dramaturgical technique, theatrical spectacle and reported action, are emphasized. Part II focuses on reading individual late plays, with special emphasis on Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen. It adopts a reconstructed, politicized close reading, concentrating on issues relating to the problematics of interpretation within the plays. Individual chapters highlight different forms of "construction": art, history, truth, authority, display, narrative. Attention is drawn to how reading and interpretation are shown to be always inscribed within power relations and the performative dynamic of language.