This second edition of Shakespeare for Students (SFS) is intended to present the beginning student of William Shakespeare and other interested readers with information on the writer's most popular and frequently taught plays, his sonnets, and his epic (long) poems. A further purpose of SFS is to acquaint the reader with the use and function of literary criticism itself. Selected from the immense and often bewildering body of Shakespearean commentary, the essays and excerpts in this edition offer insights into Shakespeare's plays from a diverse range of commentators representing many different critical viewpoints. Readers do not need a wide background in literary studies to use this book. Students can benefit from using SFS as a basis for class discussion and written assignments, new perspectives on the plays and poems, and noteworthy analyses of Shakespeare's artistry.
Each work is treated with a separate entry. The information covered in each entry includes an introduction to the work; a plot summary, to help readers understand the action and story of the work; a list of characters, including explanation of a given character's role in the work as well as discussion about that character's relationship to other characters in the work; an analysis of important themes addressed in the work; an examination of style elements used by the author; and a section on important historical and cultural events that shaped both the author and the work.
In addition to this material, which helps the reader analyze the work itself, students are also provided with a critical overview that provides information about how the work has been received through the centuries. Accompanying the critical overview are excerpts from previously published critical essays and, in some cases, original critical essays written explicitly for this edition. For further analysis and enjoyment, a list of media adaptations is also included, as well as reading suggestions for works of fiction and nonfiction on similar themes and topics. Classroom aids include topics for discussion, which include ideas for research papers, and lists of critical sources that provide additional material on the work.
Each entry heading includes the title of the work being discussed and the year it was first published or performed. The following sections are included in the discussion of each entry:
Throughout the book, various illustrations—including artist's renditions of certain scenes and performance photographs—add a visual dimension, enhancing the reader's understanding of the critical discussion of each play.
September 13, 2010