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Summary

The new book is the result of fifty years of studying Shakespeare, his time and the works of his contemporaries. The essay on Shakespeare's life contains the facts, legends and forgeries. The poems and the sonnets reflect the influence of Ovid and of the English poets but also the originality of the young Shakespeare. The comedies unite poetical fancy and reality, and in some later comedies, as well as in the so called problem plays and in the late romances it is important to see the double ending at first tragical as in real life and then the happy end as in fairy tales.

To understand the historical plays we must compare them with the sources and with the contemporary events, for even in the first plays Shakespeare unites past and present and creates the artistic picture of the leading forces in history. The plays on the reign of Henry VI have a unity of conception though this unity is not seen by many critics: Shakespeare gives the picture of the inner conflicts in the state and shows the deepest causes of those conflicts.

Richard III is here interpreted as the play on the causes of tyranny which are revealed in a different way than in the plays of his contemporaries. The two plays Richard II and King John reveal the leading forces in history and the complex relations between law and violence, right and might, humanity and commodity. The lawful Richard II is deposed when his policy brings him into conflict with every group of his people, and his opponent easily takes the power. The unlawful John gains the victory when he shows the national trends in policy and is able to save his power by compromise.

In Henry IV the methods of governing the state are shown to be different from those of Richard II it is impossible for the ruler to preserve those ethical virtues praised by many Renaissance political writers. Shakespeare shows the importance of the conceptions of Necessity and Time in state politics.

The traditional and well known interpretation of Julius Caesar is rejected in the present study. The comparison with Plutarch help to trace the important changes in the text of the tragedy which show the crisis in Shakespeare's political views. The danger of tyranny is hidden in the absolute power and even the able ruler might become dangerous when he is given unlimited power. This danger, must be killed in the shell. The fate of Brutus and Cassius is the main tragedy in this play.

The analysis of the tragedies in this study reveals the dialectical relations between the psychological and the social causes of the final catastrophy. The heroes are changed so as to be different from their nature. Othello when he is convinced of Desdemona's adultery at first does not think of vengeance: my relief must be in loathing he says. Only after Jago insinuates and proves the vile behaviour of Cassio and only when Desdemona becomes in his view a deep liar Othello comes to the thought of murder. He says farewell to his life (in III, 3) not because he plans suicide but because the love of Desdemona was the gift for his valiant life. When in the end he knows the truth there is a kind of relief in his words about Medicinable gums his life now resumes its value, and he says an epitath before he kills himself.

The tragedy of King Lear is conceived in the wrong way in many critical studies. Because of the erroneous interpretation of the first scene of the play Lear is taken to be a despot. The analysis of the text proves this to be an error. The final words of Lear my poor fool is hanged are usually referred to Cordelia the author of the present study accepts the interpretation of sir Joshua Reynolds: Lear means his Fool. The importance of Lear's monologues, especially in the scene of the tempest, is shown to reveal the protest against the evil state of the world.

Macbeth is interpreted here as a tragedy on crime and punishment. The causes of his suffering are misunderstood by Macbeth: it seems to him that he is threatened by the outward enemies and he commits new crimes in spite even of the assuarance given by the witches.

The main part of the chapter on tragedies the analysis of Hamlet. It is the comparison with Montaigne's Essays that helps to understand the causes of Hamlet's delay. The question of the consequence of the suicide is commented with the help of some ideas in Montaigne and this question hides a more complex problem of the results of the great enterprise killing of the King. Some verbal coincidences are the keys for analysis of the two monologues different in their trend of thought. In To be or not to be Hamlet follows Montaigne in forseeing the unknown evils, while in his monologue in the 4th act he takes the view of Montaigne that human enterprises need not be sifted too nicely: vaine is his enterprise that presumes to know both causes and consequences.

The Tempest is treated as the allegorical poetical tale on the different means to change human natures and society: it is the magic of science and art, especially of the dramatic art. But as to the dream on the return to the primitive state of society it is shown to be only a dream and the real way tending to the future is the way of Prospero.

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