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date: 17 May 2021

Shakespeare, Williamlocked

  • Christopher R. Wilson,
  • F.W. Sternfeld
  •  and Eric Walter White

Extract

(b Stratford-upon-Avon, bap. April 26, 1564; d Stratford-upon-Avon, April 23, 1616). English playwright.

Christopher R. Wilson, assisted by F.W. Sternfeld

Music has an important role in Shakespeare’s works: any of his plays would suffer only in its total impact if sound effects and processions, fencing and costumes were eliminated, but the actual sound of vocal and instrumental music is essential to Shakespeare’s dramatic purpose. It remains of course complementary to the sound of verse and prose, but where it punctuates the dialogue it could be omitted only at considerable loss. Beyond this, the traditional associations of music, its divine and degrading powers, often play their part in providing the dramas with a network of wider associations, not only in the actual use of music in the dramatic action but in the frequent use of musical imagery in the text of the play, for important structural and thematic purposes. These allegorical and symbolic functions of music would be recognizable by an Elizabethan audience but less so today....

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