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Essays and Notes

Hamlet’s Last Soliloquy

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Hamlet’s final soliloquy appears in earlier quarto versions of the play but is omitted from the First Folio. Scholars continue to debate reasons for this.
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Love and Water

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The Comedy of Error’s concluding dialogue between Dromio of Ephesus and Dromio of Syracuse neatly ties up an underlying theme of this farce, that true love — brotherly, marital or other — renders the lovers indistinguishable, “Methinks you are my glass, and not my brother.” But this metaphor of the mirror at the end of the play is a shift from the similes of drops of water that recurred previously.
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Appearance and Deception

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A recurring theme in many of Shakespeare’s plays, and central to Much Ado About Nothing, explores how easily people are deceived not just by the false testimony of others but even by their own senses. Claudio, believing he was deceived by Don John, learned to place no trust in the words of others. With “Let every eye negotiate for itself,”
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Friars, Friends and Deceivers

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Friar Francis in Much Ado About Nothing (4.1.221), like Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, is a sympathetic character who aids the romantic interests of the young lovers. Both friars fashion a conspiracy whose central conceit is the fake death of the lady. Friars fare better than the Catholic hierarchy in Shakespeare’s plays, even though the friars are as devious in their means as cardinals and archbishops.
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Seasons, Elements and Humors

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The four seasons, the four elements and the four humors were all related. The four seasons spring, summer, autumn and winter paralleled the four humors blood/sanguine, yellow bile/choleric, phlegm/phlegmatic and black bile/melancholic, which in turn paralleled the four elements air, fire, water and earth. Good health and good disposition of character or personality were believed to be a matter of keeping one’s humors in proper balance.
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Tempter or Tempted?

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In Measure for Measure (2.2.197), Angelo confronts, possibly for the first time in his life, the temptation of lust. And since this is new to him and because he is highly moralistic, he is troubled and confused. He reacts by asking himself a series of questions for which he has no answers.

What’s this? What’s this? Is this her fault,
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Seduction or Harassment?

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Shakespeare delights in the seduction ceremonies of bright men with even brighter women. These dialogues, whether between adolescents like Romeo and Juliet, more mature characters like Henry V and Princess Katherine, or seasoned adults like the widow Lady Grey and the sexual harasser King Edward, in this scene (3HenryVI 3.2.36), give Shakespeare opportunities to employ dazzling webworks of rhetorical exchanges.
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Sexual Extortion

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In Measure for Measure (2.4.95), Angelo, the classic sexual harasser, adopts a method of sexual extortion similar to King Edward’s in Henry VI Part 3 (3.2.36).  Both men begin with oblique insinuations about their desires, which can be innocently misread. When the women, Isabella in Measure for Measure and Lady Grey in Henry VI,
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Keeping Adultery Hidden

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In comedy or tragedy, Shakespeare’s characters advise the prudence of spouses keeping their dalliances hidden. In Comedy of Errors, Luciana advises Antipholus of Syracuse, who she thinks is her brother-in-lawto conceal from his presumed wife Adriana, Luciana’s sister, his apparent infidelity. Iago’s observation about the adulteries of Venetian women in Othello, is similar.
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