Paperback: Shakespeare, by Jeremy Lemmon

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The Independent Culture

This brief account works wonders at elucidating Shakespeare's astounding oeuvre.

The "dire combustion and confused events" in Macbeth are a clear reference to the Gunpowder Plot, uncovered while it was being written. Though the messenger "with two heads and a hand" in Titus Andronicus may seem absurd, it was less incongruous when heads of traitors were displayed on London Bridge. Elizabeth I recognised the startling relevance of Shakespeare. Following Essex's failed rebellion, when his supporters were stirred up by a special performance of Richard II (a play about regicide), Elizabeth remarked: "I was Richard II, know ye not that?"

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