The Meaning of Shakespeare

Harold C. Goddard, The Meaning of Shakespeare, 2 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951)


Do not misunderstand me. Shakespeare was a genius and a writer. We are just common readers. I am not suggesting that we are entitled to take any such freedom with his plays as he took with his sources. But I am suggesting that his attitude toward them does show in kind what our attitude toward him should be. He himself, when he is dealing with another genius, Plutarch, preserved a fidelity to his original that he does not exhibit toward writers of a lower order. How much greater should be our reverence, as mere readers, for the supreme genius of Shakespeare! But it should be no merely passive reverence. “A great portrait,” says Samuel Butler, “is always a portrait of the painter more than of the painted.” With due allowance, what is true of the most gifted painter is true of the humblest reader. It has been true of the greatest critics.

Table of Contents:

Volume 1

I. Cadwal and Polydore
II. The Integrity of Shakespeare
III. The Comedy of Errors
IV. The Three Parts of Henry VI
V. Titus Andronicus
VI. Richard III
VII. The Two Gentlemen of Verona
VIII. Love’s Labours’ Lost
IX. The Poet-Playwright
X. The Taming of the Shrew
XI. A Midsummer-Night’s Dream
XII. The Merchant of Venice
XIII. Romeo and Juliet
XIV. King John
XV. Richard II
XVI. Henry IV, Part I; Henry IV, Part II (The Merry Wives Of Windsor)
XVII. Henry V
XIX. Much Ado About Nothing
XX. As You Like It
XXI. Twelfth Night
XXII. Julius Caesar
XXIII. Hamlet

Volume 2

XXIV. Troilus and Cressida
XXV. All’s Well That Ends Well
XXVI. Measure for Measure
XXVII. Othello
XXVIII. Macbeth
XXIX. King Lear
XXX. Timon of Athens
XXXI. Antony and Cleopatra
XXXII. Coriolanus
XXXIII. Pericles
XXXIV. Cymbeline
XXXV. The Winter’s Tale
XXXVI. The Tempest

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