Shakespeare: the Roman Plays, Volume 10
Excerpt from Shakespeare: The Last Phase
A number of critics have suggested that I have laid too much stress on the symbolic and religious elements ln the final plays at the expense of those of romance and fantasy. The tendency to read explicit statements of Christian belief into Shakespeare seems to me indeed to have been carried considerably too far in certain places. I do not myself believe that much can usefully be said concerning Shakes peare's personal beliefs, and I am certain that none of his plays were written to illustrate religious dogmas or to point preconceived moral judgements; but - I must add - it seems to me no more than natural that a writer of his t1me and place should be aware of Christian tradition as an inﬂuence moulding his thought and that he should even seek, in his latest plays, to present in terms of a highly personal reading of that tradition some of his final conclusions about life. For taking the plays seriously, for reading them as something more than poetic fantasies in dramatic form, I offer no apology; their seriousness and originality seem to me to be clearly written on practically every page.
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