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Arcana in Shakespeare's comedies with specific reference to 'The Comedy of Errors' and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

Macphee, Wendy Jean (1996)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

This thesis aims to demonstrate that Shakespeare encoded
his comedies with spiritual arcana including: theurgy;
Celtic mysticism; alchemy; Renaissance Platonism; and
the Bible. An analysis of The Comedy of Errors and A
Midsummer Night's Dream shows that the plays are
polysemous, providing simultaneous readings of a number of
spiritual allegories.
The arcana are examined in the light of material to
which Shakespeare could have had access. They are
separately documented in chapters designed to provide a
resource of information on their contemporary nature
mediated for modern understanding.
The research is based on an exploration of plays in
production, represented in programme notes in the
appendices. The work was undertaken to clarify the
director's notes to cast and audiences of the
international professional Theatre Set-Up company and the
results of this study informed their productions from 1983
to 1996. It was found that explanations of the scripts'
iconography which the research revealed, clarified and
lightened their performance.
Early chapters review a range of opinions from
literary criticism on the issues discussed in the thesis,
revealing considerable sympathy with its tenets.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
School/Faculty:Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
Department:Shakespeare Institute
Subjects:PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
PR English literature
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3126
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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