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Reviews Shakespeare the Maker: Recent Critical Studies ALEXANDER LEG GATT Robert G. Hunter. Shakespeare and the Mystery of God's Judgments. Athens: University of Georgia Press 1976. 208. $8.50 S.L. Goldberg. An Essay on King Lear. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1974. 192. $10·95 }. Leeds Barroll. Artificial Persons: The Formation of Character in tlte Tragedies of Shakespeare. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press 1974. ix, 267. $14·95 Richard Fly. Shakespeare's Mediated World. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press 1976. xv, 164. $10.00 Larry S. Champion. Sllakespeare's Tragic Perspective. Athens: University of Georgia Press 1976. viii, 279. $11.00 Robert Y. Turner. Shakespeare's Apprenticeship . Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1974. vii, 293. $12·5° Barbara A. Mowat. The Dramaturgy of Shakespeare's Romances. Athens: University of Georgia Press 1977. ix,163. $7.00 Madeleine Doran. Shakespeare's Dramatic Language. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press 1976. X, 253. $11.00 It is a commonplace that every age recreates Shakespeare in an image it.finds congenial. In what we might optimistically call the Silver Age of Shakespeare criticism, we are much concerned with the artifice of art, and our Shakespeare is not the visionary, the student of human nature, or the storyteller that others have found; he is a maker of artifacts, an inventor of self-contained worlds. This line of inquiry is apparent in several recent critical studies. An interesting test case is Robert G. Hunter's Shakespeare and the Mystery of God's Judgments. Rather than seeing Shakespeare expounding a particular doctrine or devising a doctrine of his own, Hunter shows him making imaginary worlds, drawing eclectically on the variety of creeds available to the Renaissance Christian but making no final commitments, and altering the balance of the mixture to suit the special requirements of each world he invents. Hunter's particular interest is the problem of free will and predestination. After surveying some earlier plays in which it is explicitly argued that the will is (or is not) free, he comes to Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and argues, interestingly and persuasively, that here the playwright 'did not ... use the theatre in order to make a theological statement. Instead he used UNIVERSlTY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY, VOLUME XLVII, NUMBER) , SPRING 1978 0042-0247178/0500-0259 $01·50/0 © UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO PRESS 1978 260 ALEXANDER LEGGATT theology in order to make a theatrical statement.' The play is responsive to a number of different theological approaches, but what finally matters is not the analysis of the ground rules for damnation but the dramatization, agonizingly human, of the condition of a damned soul. Applied to Shakespeare, the success of Hunter's method is a little more variable . He is best on Richard III and Macbeth, two plays which - the one with its machinery of curses fulfilled, the other with its prophecies - address themselves directly to his concern with free will. Richard speaks of choosing his own nature, but his speeches also show that his nature was chosen for him, by his deformity; as Hunter argues, the love that forswore him in his mother's womb may well have been divine love. But (making a link with Marlowe) Hunter withdraws from a final commitment to seeing Richard as the victim of a predestinating God who dooms him from the beginning: 'neither Richard nor Faustus must be seen in this way. The terrible possibility exists as a device for increasing the intensity of the terror with which an audience responds to these tragedies.' In other words, if the balance of probability favours predestination (and Hunter clearly thinks that it does) this is for dramatic, not theological, reasons. Dealing with Macbeth, he juggles various possibilities: do Macbeth's visions come from without or from within? Whatever their so~rce, is Macbeth's will capable or incapable of exorcising them? Here there is no balance of probability: the possibilities remain suspended and the answer mysterious. In the course of his analysis Hunter provides an interesting commentary on the details of the text - on, for example, the unsettling mixture of guilt and innocence embodied in the image of the bloody child, born by killing its mother. The discussion of Hamlet, however, is rather...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 259-267
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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