Why Shakespeare: An Introduction to the Playwright's Art

Front Cover
A&C Black, 2005 M03 1 - 192 pages
Writing for a small troupe of men and boys who performed on an almost bare stage, William Shakespeare dramatized an unparalleled range of stories and emotions through his wizardry with words, his uncanny understanding of the human spirit, and his genius for maximizing the talents of his actors. Working under conditions that today we would consider primitive, he made himself into the supreme playwright.

Exactly how does Shakespeare achieve his effects? Why does he continue to enthrall audiences performance after performance, night after night, century after century? Can we learn the secrets of his success?

By concentrating on a dozen of his best-known plays (though others receive attention, too), and analyzing their structural and theatrical elements as well as their distinctive language, inventive plotting, and unique characters this book demystifies Shakespeare for all theater lovers. With its down-to-earth and jargon-free approach, Why Shakespeare enables us to step behind the curtain to learn why Shakespeare is considered the greatest dramatist of all time.


Organizing the Story
Managing the Exposition
Structuring and Sequencing the Scenes
Creating Character
Mixing Verse and Prose
Incorporating Theatrical Devices
Resolving the Action
On the Publication and Performance

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

About the author (2005)

Gerald M. Pinciss is Professor Emeritus at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of The City University of New York. He has published several other books on Shakespeare and Elizabethan England, including Shakespeare's World (Continuum), which he co-edited. Pinciss lives in New York City.

Bibliographic information