Customer Reviews for

Theatergoer's Guide to Shakespeare's Characters

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 1
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2004

    Shakespeare holds up a mirror for us to see ourselves

    Someone has calculated that more than eight hundred characters appear in Shakespeare's 38 plays--an astonishing variety of kings and queens, fairies and witches, jesters and fools, peasants and dukes, villains and heroes. In A Theatergoer's Guide to Shakespeare's Characters, Robert Thomas Fallon, professor emeritus of English at La Salle University in Philadelphia, has chosen some sixty of these figures to examine. 'Aside from Shakespeare's extraordinary poetic powers,' he writes, 'it is the range and depth of his characters that is most astonishing.' The author admits that any such survey is bound to be inadequate: 'Aside from the sheer numbers, the range and depth of them is so rich, so vast, so varied, that mere summary must fall short of satisfaction.' Fallon points out that Shakespeare never leaves us entirely comfortable with a character, never able unconditionally to reject his villains or embrace his heroes: 'His figures have familiar human flaws that often impel them to tragically destructive acts, but at the same time they appeal to our sympathy precisely because those flaws are so very human and familiar.' For example, Coriolanus is insufferably arrogant, but he is a valiant warrior devoted to his country. Othello is a vengeful murderer eaten with 'the green-ey'd monster' of jealousy, but he never entirely loses the aura of 'the noble Moor.' Macbeth is the story of a good man gone wrong. We witness his tragic decline into evil, a man egged on to wicked deeds by Lady Macbeth, much as King Ahab was encouraged by Jezebel to persecute the prophet Elijah. Hamlet, his 'native hue of resolution / Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,' is distressingly indecisive and profoundly contradictory. As the British novelist Anthony Trollope put it, 'When men think much, they can rarely decide.' Nevertheless, Hamlet is finally moved to action when confronted with the task of killing his stepfather. Hamlet, says Fallon, is 'Shakespeare's most exasperating tragic character. . . . Hamlet defeats us.' Romeo is impulsive and hotheaded, but he is young and we tend to wink and forgive him his youthful excesses. Although Brutus is 'the noblest Roman of them all,' he joins a conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. Othello shows how Shakespeare unmasks the tragic dual nature of mankind, portraying the human spirit as at once noble and brutish: 'We, like the Moor, are gifted with the capacity to conceive a soaring vision of joy and fulfillment, but, again like him, we can be reduced to primal rage when those riches are snatched from us. Both a lesser angel and a greater ape, we swing precariously between the two natures, unwilling to surrender the one and unable to subdue the other.' Unconcerned with taking a position on ideological issues, Shakespeare's purpose in these plays is to 'hold as 'twere a mirror up to nature,' to record the 'abstracts and brief chronicles of the time.' Declining to pass moralistic judgments on his characters, he presents them instead in all their nobility and baseness, virtues and vices. Shakespeare takes few pains to explain why his villains are evil. He simply sets them before us in all their multicolored wickedness. His villains are moved by passion, lust, greed, envy, guilt, fear, anger, revenge, hubris, and blind ambition: 'They act in a manner appropriate to their twisted nature. We watch them plot their crimes, relish the outcome, manipulate others to provide the occasion, and then destroy their victims with stony unconcern for the suffering they inflict.' 'The range of Shakespeare's characters,' writes Fallon, 'is extraordinary. [They] are often complex; they are torn by divided loyalties, inflamed with sudden passion, immobilized by melancholy, brightened with joy. [They] excite interest because they reflect our own dilemmas, which themselves have no easy answers.' Various critics have called this book eloquent and lucid, highly informative an

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 1