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Shakespeare developed this basic narrative into a poem of 1,194 lines. His chief innovation was to make Adonis refuse Venus's offer of herself. It has been argued (by Erwin Panofsky) that Shakespeare might have seen a copy of Titian's 'Venus and Adonis', a painting that could be taken to show Adonis refusing to join Venus in embraces. However Shakespeare had already shown a liking for activist heroines, forced to woo and pursue an evasive male in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
The other innovation was a kind of observance of the Aristotelian unities: the action takes place in one location, lasts from morning till morning, and focuses on the two main characters.
Posted October 26, 2008
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