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Title: The function of structure and imagery in Shakespeare's last plays
Author: Hoeniger, F. D.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1954
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Scholars are far from agreed as to the basic nature of Shakespeare's last plays or Romances. Concentrating mainly on Pericles, Cymbeline, and The Winter's Tale, this thesis seeks to add to our understanding of the Romances by examining their structure and imagery, which contain a number of peculiarities. It is argued that the main function of the structure of the last plays is to give shape to Shakespeare's final vision: a vision as profound as, though different from, that of the Tragedies. As the Romances are complex poetic dramas, a conception of structure merely in terms of "the arrangement of the incidents would be inadequate. All those elements, as far as they can be traced, which contributed to their design, are relevant. Imagery, in particular, closely interacts with structure, though not equally clearly in all of the Romances. It clarifies their function of structure. To express his vision clearly, and in effective dramatic form, presented even Shakespeare, the mature dramatist, with unusual difficulties. His first two Romances are interesting experiments rather than successful plays, pericles being written in the manner of a saint-play, Cymbeline in the more complex form of Alexandrian romance. In The Winter's Tale and The Tempest, Shakespeare accomplished his purpose fully, employing basically different types of structure. His final vision is at once wider and more optimistic than that of the Tragedies. It comprehends levels of romance as well as of reality. Though the good man encounters evil and is subjected to suffering, even to despair, divine Providence restores him to joy. During his trials, he acquires patience and moral wisdom. Providence acts partly through the younger generation who represent man's hope of renewal in life. This action is mainly inward and requires many years. The findings, however, should be regarded as tentative, since they are based on merely one angle of approach.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Literature