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

Macphee, Wendy Jean (1996). Arcana in Shakespeare's comedies with specific reference to 'The Comedy of Errors' and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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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: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, The Shakespeare Institute
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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