Ideology and the Humanist Interpretation of Shakespeare

  • K. M. Newton


Shakespeare is the most interpreted author in English literature, as a glance at the shelves in any university library or at the Modern Language Association bibliography or Dissertation Abstracts will show. There seems little likelihood that this will change in the future. The obvious reasons for this are that Shakespeare is generally regarded as the greatest writer in English and has left behind him a large body of works. But another factor which contributes to the sheer magnitude of Shakespearean interpretation and its great diversity is that virtually nothing is known about Shakespeare the author which can provide evidence from outside the works themselves as to what he intended his plays to mean. No notebooks or letters or memoirs exist which inform us about his philosophical or political or religious views or which give any indication as to the nature of his temperament or personality or tell us what he thought about the books he read or what attitude he took to his plays. There are only the works themselves. It is not often, however, that one reads Shakespearean critics regretting the absence of documentary evidence that could illuminate Shakespeare’s intention and help in the interpretation of his plays.


Authority Figure Literary Text Traditional Critic Humanist Interpretation Human Force 
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© Kenneth McMillan Newton 1986

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  • K. M. Newton

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