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The Forest in Shakespeare's Plays

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 05:22 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 43.3 
  • Words: 1964
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Synopsis from a thesis submitted to the University of Bombay for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts by Aparna Basu, November, 1994: Bombay



With his early association and familiarity with Nature acquired, no doubt, in his formative years from the salubrious surroundings of Stratford-on-Avon it is no coincidence that Shakespeare makes a significant use of natural elements and nature imagery in his plays. Although substantial critical analysis has been devoted to Shakespeare’s use of Nature, its various aspects and the imagery that grows from it, none have dwelt specifically on the forest, which is a dominant Nature element.



Shakespeare has prominently used the forest plays in six of his plays viz., Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Henry IV Part II, Timon of Athens, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. He has drawn heavily from established tradition in depicting the forest and forest life, and, at the same time has transformed tradition in a meaningful way to suit his purpose both human and artistic. In the process, he created a whole range of living symbols for the forest.



Different aspects of the forest have emerged from Shakespeare’s adoption of traditions. The forest is depicted as an antithesis to Court Life; its various perspectives have been revealed by the different characters who view it as benign, magical and sometimes fearsome. The realistic and dangerous nature of the forest and reflection of the mood on the action and character and the symbolic significance it is invested with have been dealt with by Shakespeare in various settings of the plays.



Detailed analyses of these aspects of the forest establish that the forest is a dominant nature element and has a dramatic role to play in developing the action and characterization. Throughout the ages, Nature has been a creative and stimulating influence on poets and dramatists. From Beowulf to Chaucer,...

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