A short, vigorous and clear study of the use and misuse of our knowledge of Elizabethan stage conditions in interpreting Shakespeare's plays. After reviewing past Shakespearean criticism and showing the unsatisfactory results of treating Shakespeare as a pure poet unfettered by time and place, Professor Bradbrook explains how the bare open stage of theatres like the Globe allowed great flexibility of dramatic structure for Shakespeare and his contemporaries; she considers the degree to which the Elizabethan audience influenced the content of the plays and the effects of the conventions and peculiarities of Shakespeare's actors on his dramatic characters. She argues that an increased knowledge of Elizabethan stage conditions can prevent the interference of some preconceptions of our own age and help to make a fruitful separation between historic and appreciative criticism. This essay, long unobtainable, is now made generally available.
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