Shakespeare's plays are works of art made out of words. To read the plays closely, that is, to pay careful attention to the multiple, shifting meanings of and relationships between their words, is to gain a deep and lasting appreciation for the complex artistry of their construction and of their effects. In fourteen chapters, the book takes readers on a guided tour through some of the most productive sites in Shakespeare's plays for analysis, providing an introduction to the practice of reading Shakespeare's plays closely, and some examples of the interpretive work that such close reading can enable.
Topics of analysis include verbal patterning, dramatic structure, staging and stage directions, soliloquies and character-construction and poetic meter. This is an ideal teaching text for introductory courses on Shakespeare. Offering a wide range of examples from nearly all of Shakespeare's plays, it will give students the analytical tools they need to develop sustained close readings of their own.