Why Shakespeare's tragedies still matter

New book by Galway author examines Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth

A FASCINATING and insightful book on four key Shakespeare tragedies, aimed at Leaving Cert and undergraduate students, theatregoers, and those who would like to ‘get’ Shakespeare, will be launched next week.

Fear Not Shakespeare’s Tragedies - A Comprehensive Introduction by Galway based author and academic Jenny Farrell, will be launched on Wednesday October 5 at 7.30pm in the Oranmore Library, with the guest speaker being writer Mo Ryan.

The book examines Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth through plot, characters, themes, dramatic devices, the ending, and the question of tragic content, through a close reading of the plays themselves. There is also a chapter on Shakespeare’s times, theatre, and life. It also looks at what tragedy is and how "utterly relevant Shakespeare’s tragedies are in our day and age".

There is also a chapter explaining the historical context of Shakespeare's plays. "I discuss the historical situation in England at Shakespeare's time," says Ms Farrell, "the evolution of the middle class with its potential for a profoundly humanist word view, and a Machiavellian, anti-human reality. Shakespeare puts these forces, and others, on stage and in the tragedies.

"The fall of the tragic hero is caused by the Machiavellian force in each case. Shakespeare's historical optimism is that the Machiavellian is also defeated. Today, we are confronted with a world where the Machiavellian is very much at large, so Shakespeare's tragedies have a very immediate relevance to our own times."

Jenny Farrell holds a PhD in English literature and has been tutoring students in Shakespeare's tragedies for many years. She works in the GMIT.

All are welcome to the launch. Fear Not Shakespeare’s Tragedies is published by Nuascéalta, and is available in paperback from the publishers, online from Barnes & Noble, and in ebook format from Amazon.



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