Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-v

Contents

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p. vii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

AN EARLY VERSION of the fourth chapter of this book was published in On King Lear (Princeton University Press, 1981), edited by Lawrence Danson. Portions of Chapter Five appeared, in different form, in Focus on "Macbeth" (Routledge...

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I. Introduction

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pp. 3-16

ACTING AND ACTION—the two terms, obvious, vague, familiar, stand at the heart of the theatrical mystery. The novice playwright learns quickly that he needs two basic skills: the ability to write for actors and the ability to create action. Without...

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II. "To Be or Not To Be" and the Spectrum of Action

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pp. 17-45

How DOES an action begin? Where does it end? What makes it an action? I sit at my desk, leafing through the newspaper. Suddenly I turn aside from it and begin to scribble this sentence on a pad. I clip it to some notes on another sheet of paper,...

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III. Othello's Cause

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pp. 46-70

IN Othello, the course of the action seems all too plain. Instead of struggling, as in Hamlet, to make sense of what is going on, we feel compelled to stop it. "Don't listen to him!" we say as Iago talks to Othello, and "Don't do it!" as he prepares...

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IV. Acting and Feeling: Histrionic Imagery in King Lear

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pp. 71-93

So FAR in this book, when discussing how Shakespeare writes for actors, I have tended to concentrate on the acting difficulties presented by the text, and moved directly from them to the dramatic effects which occur when they are successfully...

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V. Speaking Evil: Language and Action in Macbeth

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pp. 94-111

ONE OF THE THINGS our analysis of King Lear has indicated is that the distinctive verbal texture of a role should be a clue to distinctive actions on the part of the performer. In this essay I want to approach Macbeth—and particularly its power...

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VI. Antony and Cleopatra: Action as Imaginative Command

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pp. 112-139

MOST of Shakespeare's tragedies—Romeo and Juliet is perhaps the only arguable exception—are concerned, one way or another, with human greatness. Their heroes are larger than life and recognized as such by those around them. Antony and Cleopatra...

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VII. Characterizing Coriolanus

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pp. 140-168

ANY DISCUSSION of acting is inevitably a discussion of characterization, and studies of Shakespearean tragedy, whatever their approach, inevitably concern themselves with Shakespeare's characters and how we are meant to take them. Though...

Notes

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pp. 169-180

Index

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pp. 181-182