Webster: The Tragedies (Analysing Texts) Paperback – 27 Feb 2001
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Webster's plays are often seen as subordinate to those of his contemporary, William Shakespeare. This book shows students how Webster's dramas are equal to those of Shakespeare, through analysing both his dramatic and poetic skills. It focuses in particular on Webster's heroines and the tightly male dominated world in which they are seen to struggle. Chapters on openings and endings, turning points, theatricality and imagery, as well as characters, give the student analytical tools with which to approach the plays.
From the Back Cover
Webster's theatre was also Shakespeare's theatre: but their tragedies are very different. Webster has a reputation for angst-ridden, obsessive and debased characters and the creation of a sick and decaying world. Yet his heroines are the amongst the strongest characters, male or female, in Jacobean drama.
This book shows how Webster's plays portray a world in which patriarchal, aristocratic politics are dissected as diseased. Through close analysis of key moments, scenic and dramatic structure, characterisation, theatricality and imagery, this book enables students to appreciate Webster's individual contribution to our dramatic heritage. Through such textual reading, we learn how he uses drama to debate contemporary political and social issues, most explicitly those of gender. The book provides students with effective reading, critical and analytical tools with which to approach Webster's plays as dramatic scripts for our time, as well as their own, and thus as rivals to Shakespeare's major tragedies.
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19 June 2014
I found this book really useful - I'm currently directing a production of The Duchess of Malfi. I must admit, I didn't find much in it that was new, but it is very well organised, and Webster's themes are very fully explored. There are detailed scene analyses throughout - very thorough and often insightful. I did found the introduction about Webster's verse useful but flawed. It contains some very good general points, but I found the analysis of rhtyhm in individual lines sometimes questionable. I also think it is confusing to talk about ten beat lines: there are ten syllables in a regular iambic lines but only five beats.