© 2003

Shakespeare: Three Problem Plays

  • Authors

Part of the Analysing Texts book series (ANATX)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Introduction: Looking at Plays and Studying Poetry

  3. Analysing Shakespeare’s Problem Plays

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 9-9
    2. Nicholas Marsh
      Pages 11-43
    3. Nicholas Marsh
      Pages 44-81
    4. Nicholas Marsh
      Pages 82-115
    5. Nicholas Marsh
      Pages 116-155
    6. Nicholas Marsh
      Pages 156-186
    7. Nicholas Marsh
      Pages 187-222
  4. The Context and the Critics

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 223-223
    2. Nicholas Marsh
      Pages 225-242
    3. Nicholas Marsh
      Pages 243-255
    4. Nicholas Marsh
      Pages 256-271
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 272-280

About this book


Written in 1602-4, between Hamlet and the other great tragedies, Shakespeare's three Problem Plays are so called because they do not fit easily into the other groups of plays. They are awkward dramas, full of unresolved controversies, which leave audiences and readers unsettled by contradictory responses.
Nicholas Marsh uses close analysis of extracts from the plays to explore how Shakespeare maintains competing discourses within a single text. In the first part of his study, Marsh highlights the multiple interpretations these plays provoke and provides useful sections on methods of analysis to encourage readers to develop their views independently. The second part of the book discusses the Problem Plays in relation to the playwright's other works, and examines their cultural and historical contexts. A comparison of five modern critical views and helpful suggestions for further reading provide a bridge to continuing study. In this essential guide to a complex set of plays, Marsh does not seek to reconcile the thorny issues these dramas leave open: rather, he equips the reader with the necessary critical tools to fashion their own synthesis.


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About the authors

NICHOLAS MARSH teaches English at Francis Holland School, Regent's Park, London, and is Fellow of the English Association. He is author of the popular How to Begin Studying English Literature, now in its third edition, the Master Guide of The Wife of Bath's Tale, and many titles in the Analysing Texts series, of which he is also the General Editor.

Bibliographic information