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Title: Shakespeare as a Dramatic Artist - A Popular Illustration of the Principles of Scientific Criticism
Author: Moulton, Richard G. (Richard Green), 1849-1924
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's note.

Minor punctuation inconsistencies have been silently repaired. Variable
spelling has been retained. A list of the changes made can be found at
the end of the book. In the Index of Scenes, clarendon typeface is
indicated as bold. Sidenotes are presented [within square brackets].

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SHAKESPEARE AS A DRAMATIC ARTIST


_MOULTON_



  London
  HENRY FROWDE

  [Illustration]

  OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS WAREHOUSE
  AMEN CORNER, E.C.



    SHAKESPEARE AS A DRAMATIC ARTIST

    A POPULAR ILLUSTRATION OF THE PRINCIPLES OF SCIENTIFIC CRITICISM


    BY RICHARD G. MOULTON, M.A.

    LATE SCHOLAR OF CHRIST'S COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY (EXTENSION)
    LECTURER IN LITERATURE


  Oxford
  AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
  1885

  [_All rights reserved_]



PREFACE.


I HAVE had three objects before me in writing this book. The first
concerns the general reader. 'No one needs assistance in order to
perceive Shakespeare's greatness; but an impression is not uncommonly to
be found, especially amongst English readers, that Shakespeare's
greatness lies mainly in his deep knowledge of human nature, while, as
to the technicalities of Dramatic Art, he is at once careless of them
and too great to need them. I have endeavoured to combat this impression
by a series of Studies of Shakespeare as a Dramatic Artist. They are
chiefly occupied with a few master-strokes of art, sufficient to
illustrate the revolution Shakespeare created in the Drama of the
world--a revolution not at once perceived simply because it had carried
the Drama at a bound so far beyond Dramatic Criticism that the
appreciation of Shakespeare's plays was left to the uninstructed public,
while the trained criticism that ought to have recognised the new
departure was engaged in clamouring for other views of dramatic
treatment, which it failed to perceive that Shakespeare had rendered
obsolete.

While the earlier chapters are taken up with these Studies, the rest of
the work is an attempt, in very brief form, to present Dramatic Criticism
as a regular Inductive Science. If I speak of this as a new branch of
Science I am not ignoring the great works on Shakespeare-Criticism which
already exist, the later of which have treated their subject in an
inductive spirit. What these still leave wanting is a _recognition_ of
method in application to the study of the Drama: my purpose is to claim
for Criticism a position amongst the Inductive Sciences, and to sketch
in outline a plan for the Dramatic side of such a Critical Science.

A third purpose has been to make the work of use as an educational
manual. Shakespeare now enters into every scheme of liberal education;
but the annotated editions of his works give the student little
assistance except in the explanation of language and allusions; and the
idea, I believe, prevails that anything like the discussion of literary
characteristics or dramatic effect is out of place in an educational
work--is, indeed, too 'indefinite' to be 'examined on.' Ten years'
experience in connection with the Cambridge University Extension, during
which my work has been to teach literature apart from philology, has
confirmed my impression that the subject-matter of literature, its
exposition and analysis from the sides of science, history, and art, is
as good an educational discipline as it is intrinsically valuable in
quickening literary appreciation.

There are two special features of the book to which I may here draw
attention. Where practicable, I have appended in the margin references
to the passages of Shakespeare on which my discussion is based. (These
references are to the Globe Edition.) I have thus hoped to reduce to a
minimum the element of personal opinion, and to give to my treatment at
least that degree of definiteness which arises when a position stands
side by side with the evidence supporting it. I have also endeavoured to
meet a practical difficulty in the use of Shakespeare-Criticism as an
educational subject. It is usual in educational schemes to name single
plays of Shakespeare for study. Experience has convinced me that
methodical study of the subject-matter is not possible within the
compass of a single play. On the other hand, few persons in the
educational stage of life can have the detailed knowledge of
Shakespeare's plays as a whole which is required for a full treatment of
the subject. The present work is so arranged that it assumes knowledge
of only five plays--_The Merchant of Venice_, _Richard III_, _Macbeth_,
_Julius Cæsar_, and _King Lear_. Not only in the Studies, but also in
the final review, the matter introduced is confined to what can be
illustrated out of these five plays. These are amongst the most familiar
of the Shakespearean Dramas, or they can be easily read before
commencing the book; and if the arrangement is a limitation involving a
certain amount of repetition, yet I believe the gain will be greater
than the loss. For the young student, at all events, it affords an
opportunity of getting what will be the best of all introductions to the
whole subject--a thorough knowledge of five plays.

In passing the book through the press I have received material
assistance from my brother, Dr. Moulton, Master of the Leys School, and
from my College friend, Mr. Joseph Jacobs. With the latter, indeed, I
have discussed the work in all its stages, and have been under continual
obligation to his stores of knowledge and critical grasp in all
departments of literary study. I cannot even attempt to name the many
friends--chiefly fellow-workers in the University Extension
Movement--through whose active interest in my Shakespeare teaching I
have been encouraged to seek for it publication.

RICHARD G. MOULTON.

_April, 1885._



CONTENTS.


  =INTRODUCTION.=

    PLEA FOR AN INDUCTIVE SCIENCE OF LITERARY CRITICISM.

  =PART FIRST.=

    SHAKESPEARE CONSIDERED AS A DRAMATIC ARTIST, _IN TEN STUDIES_.

  I.
  THE TWO STORIES SHAKESPEARE BORROWS FOR HIS 'MERCHANT OF VENICE.'

                                                                PAGE
  _A Study in the Raw Material of the Romantic Drama_.           43

  II.
  _How Shakespeare Improves the Stories in the Telling_.
  _A Study in Dramatic Workmanship_.                             58

  III.
  HOW SHAKESPEARE MAKES HIS PLOT MORE COMPLEX IN ORDER TO MAKE IT MORE
  SIMPLE.
  _A Study in Underplot_.                                        74

  IV.
  A PICTURE OF IDEAL VILLANY IN 'RICHARD III.'
  _A Study in Character-Interpretation_.                         90

  V.
  'RICHARD III': HOW SHAKESPEARE WEAVES NEMESIS INTO HISTORY.
  _A Study in Plot_.                                             107

  VI.
  HOW NEMESIS AND DESTINY ARE INTERWOVEN IN 'MACBETH.'
  _A further Study in Plot_.                                     125

  VII.
  MACBETH, LORD AND LADY.
  _A Study in Character-Contrast_.                               144

  VIII.
  JULIUS CÆSAR BESIDE HIS MURDERERS AND HIS AVENGER.
  _A Study in Character-Grouping_.                               168

  IX.
  HOW THE PLAY OF 'JULIUS CÆSAR' WORKS UP TO A CLIMAX
  AT THE CENTRE.
  _A Study in Passion and Movement_.                             185

  X.
  HOW CLIMAX MEETS CLIMAX IN THE CENTRE OF 'LEAR.'
  _A Study in more complex Passion and Movement_.                202


  =PART SECOND.=

    SURVEY OF DRAMATIC CRITICISM AS AN INDUCTIVE SCIENCE.

  XI.
  TOPICS OF DRAMATIC CRITICISM.                              227

  XII.
  INTEREST OF CHARACTER.                                     237

  XIII.
  INTEREST OF PASSION.                                       246

  XIV.
  INTEREST OF PLOT.                                          268



INTRODUCTION.

_PLEA FOR AN INDUCTIVE SCIENCE OF LITERARY CRITICISM._



INTRODUCTION.


[_Proposition._]

IN the treatment of literature the proposition which seems to stand most
in need of assertion at the present moment is, _that there is an
inductive science of literary criticism_. As botany deals inductively
with the phenomena of vegetable life and traces the laws underlying
them, as economy reviews and systematises on inductive principles the
facts of commerce, so there is a criticism not less inductive in
character which has for its subject-matter literature.

       *       *       *       *       *

[_Presumption in favour of inductive literary criticism._]

The presumption is clearly that literary criticism should follow other
branches of thought in becoming inductive. Ultimately, science means no
more than organised thought; and amongst the methods of organisation
induction is the most practical. To begin with the observation of facts;
to advance from this through the arrangement of observed facts; to use
_à priori_ ideas, instinctive notions of the fitness of things, insight
into far probabilities, only as side-lights for suggesting convenient
arrangements, the value of which is tested only by the actual
convenience in arranging they afford; to be content with the sure
results so obtained as 'theory' in the interval of waiting for still
surer results based on a yet wider accumulation of facts: this is a
regimen for healthy science so widely established in different tracts of
thought as almost to rise to that universal acceptance which we call
common sense. Indeed the whole progress of science consists in winning
fresh fields of thought to the inductive methods.

[_Current conceptions of criticism coloured by notions other than
inductive._]

Yet the great mass of literary criticism at the present moment is of a
nature widely removed from induction. The prevailing notions of
criticism are dominated by the idea of _assaying_, as if its function
were to test the soundness and estimate the comparative value of
literary work. Lord Macaulay, than whom no one has a better right to be
heard on this subject, compares his office of reviewer to that of a
king-at-arms, versed in the laws of literary precedence, marshalling
authors to the exact seats to which they are entitled. And, as a matter
of fact, the bulk of literary criticism, whether in popular conversation
or in discussions by professed critics, occupies itself with the merits
of authors and works; founding its estimates and arguments on canons of
taste, which are either assumed as having met with general acceptance,
or deduced from speculations as to fundamental conceptions of literary
beauty.

[_Criticism judicial and inductive. The two distinguished._]

It becomes necessary then to recognise two different kinds of literary
criticism, as distinct as any two things that can be called by the same
name. The difference between the two may be summed up as the difference
between the work of a _judge_ and of an _investigator_. The one is the
enquiry into what ought to be, the other the enquiry into what is.
Judicial criticism compares a new production with those already existing
in order to determine whether it is inferior to them or surpasses them;
criticism of investigation makes the same comparison for the purpose of
identifying the new product with some type in the past, or
differentiating it and registering a new type. Judicial criticism has a
mission to watch against variations from received canons; criticism of
investigation watches for new forms to increase its stock of species.
The criticism of taste analyses literary works for grounds of preference
or evidence on which to found judgments; inductive criticism analyses
them to get a closer acquaintance with their phenomena.

Let the question be of Ben Jonson. Judicial criticism starts by holding
Ben Jonson responsible for the decay of the English Drama.

Inductive criticism takes objection to the word 'decay' as suggesting
condemnation, but recognises Ben Jonson as the beginner of a new
tendency in our dramatic history.

But, judicial criticism insists, the object of the Drama is to pourtray
human nature, whereas Ben Jonson has painted not men but caricatures.

Induction sees that this formula cannot be a sufficient definition of
the Drama, for the simple reason that it does not take in Ben Jonson;
its own mode of putting the matter is that Ben Jonson has founded a
school of treatment of which the law is caricature.

But Ben Jonson's caricatures are palpably impossible.

Induction soon satisfies itself that their point lies in their
impossibility; they constitute a new mode of pourtraying qualities of
character, not by resemblance, but by analysing and intensifying
contrasts to make them clearer.

Judicial criticism can see how the poet was led astray; the bent of his
disposition induced him to sacrifice dramatic propriety to his satiric
purpose.

Induction has another way of putting the matter: that the poet
has utilised dramatic form for satiric purpose; thus by the
'cross-fertilisation' of two existing literary species he has added to
literature a third including features of both.

At all events, judicial criticism will maintain, it must be admitted
that the Shakespearean mode of pourtraying is infinitely the higher: a
sign-painter, as Macaulay points out, can imitate a deformity of
feature, while it takes a great artist to bring out delicate shades of
expression.

Inductive treatment knows nothing about higher or lower, which lie
outside the domain of science. Its point is that science is indebted to
Ben Jonson for a new species; if the new species be an easier form of
art it does not on that account lose its claim to be analysed.

The critic of merit can always fall back upon taste: who would not
prefer Shakespeare to Ben Jonson?

But even from this point of view scientific treatment can plead its own
advantages. The inductive critic reaps to the full the interest of Ben
Jonson, to which the other has been forcibly closing his eyes; while, so
far from liking Shakespeare the less, he appreciates all the more keenly
Shakespeare's method of treatment from his familiarity with that which
is its antithesis.

[_The two criticisms confused:_]

It must be conceded at once that both these kinds of criticism have
justified their existence. Judicial criticism has long been established
as a favourite pursuit of highly cultivated minds; while the criticism
of induction can shelter itself under the authority of science in
general, seeing that it has for its object to bring the treatment of
literature into the circle of the inductive sciences. [_conception of
critical method limited to judicial method._] It is unfortunate,
however, that the spheres of the two have not been kept distinct. In the
actual practice of criticism the judicial method has obtained an
illegitimate supremacy which has thrown the other into the shade; it has
even invaded the domain of the criticism that claims to be scientific,
until the word _criticism_ itself has suffered, and the methodical
treatment of literature has by tacit assumption become limited in idea
to the judicial method.

[_Partly a survival of Renaissance influence:_]

Explanation for this limited conception of criticism is not far to seek.
Modern criticism took its rise before the importance of induction was
recognised: it lags behind other branches of thought in adapting itself
to inductive treatment chiefly through two influences. The first of
these is connected with the revival of literature after the darkness of
the middle ages. The birth of thought and taste in modern Europe was the
Renaissance of classical thought and taste; by Roman and Greek
philosophy and poetry the native powers of our ancestors were trained
till they became strong enough to originate for themselves. It was
natural for their earliest criticism to take the form of applying the
classical standards to their own imitations: [_and its testing by
classical models._] now we have advanced so far that no one would
propose to test exclusively by classical models, but nevertheless the
idea of _testing_ still lingers as the root idea in the treatment of
literature. Other branches of thought have completely shaken off this
attitude of submission to the past: literary criticism differs from the
rest only in being later to move. This is powerfully suggested by the
fact that so recent a writer as Addison couples science in general with
criticism in his estimate of probable progress; laying down the
startling proposition that 'it is impossible for us who live in the
later ages of the world to make observations in criticism, in morality,
_or in any art or science_, which have not been touched upon by others'!

[_Partly the methods of journalism have invaded systematic criticism._]

And even for this lateness a second influence goes far to account. The
grand literary phenomenon of modern times is journalism, the huge
apparatus of floating literature of which leading object is to review
literature itself. The vast increase of production consequent upon the
progress of printing has made production itself a phenomenon worthy of
study, and elevated the sifting of production into a prominent literary
occupation; by the aid of book-tasters alone can the ordinary reader
keep pace with production. It is natural enough that the influence of
journalism should pass beyond its natural sphere, and that the review
should tend to usurp the position of the literature for which reviewing
exists. Now in journalism testing and valuation of literary work have a
real and important place. It has thus come about that in the great
preponderance of ephemeral over permanent literature the machinery
adapted to the former has become applied to the latter: methods proper
to journalism have settled the popular conception of systematic
treatment; and the bias already given to criticism by the Renaissance
has been strengthened to resist the tendency of all kinds of thought
towards inductive methods.

[_The limitation defended: theory of taste as condensed experience._]

History will thus account for the way in which the criticism of taste
and valuation tends to be identified with criticism in general: but
attempts are not wanting to give the identification a scientific basis.
Literary appreciation, it is said, is a thing of culture. A critic in
the reviewer's sense is one who has the literary faculty both originally
acute and developed by practice: he thus arrives quickly and with
certainty at results which others would reach laboriously and after
temporary misjudgments. Taste, however arbitrary in appearance, is in
reality condensed experience; judicial criticism is a wise economy of
appreciation, the purpose of which is to anticipate natural selection
and universal experience. He is a good critic who, by his keen and
practised judgment, can tell you at once the view of authors and works
which you would yourself come to hold with sufficient study and
experience.

[_The theory examined. The judicial spirit a limit on appreciation._]

Now in the first place there is a flaw in this reasoning: it omits to
take into account that the judicial attitude of mind is itself a barrier
to appreciation, as being opposed to that delicacy of receptiveness
which is a first condition of sensibility to impressions of literature
and art. It is a matter of commonest experience that appreciation may be
interfered with by prejudice, by a passing unfavourable mood, or even by
uncomfortable external surroundings. But it is by no means sufficient
that the reader of literature should divest himself of these passive
hindrances to appreciation: poets are pioneers in beauty, and
considerable activity of effort is required to keep pace with them.
Repetition may be necessary to catch effects--passages to be read over
and over again, more than one author of the same school to be studied,
effect to be compared with kindred effect each helping the other. Or an
explanation from one who has already caught the idea may turn the mind
into a receptive attitude. Training again is universally recognised as a
necessity for appreciation, and to train is to make receptive. [_On the
other hand sympathy the great interpreter._] Beyond all these conditions
of perception, and including them, is yet another. It is a foundation
principle in art-culture, as well as in human intercourse, that
_sympathy is the grand interpreter_: secrets of beauty will unfold
themselves to the sunshine of sympathy, while they will wrap themselves
all the closer against the tempest of sceptical questionings. Now a
judicial attitude of mind is highly unreceptive, for it necessarily
implies a restraint of sympathy: every one, remarks Hogarth, is a judge
of painting except the connoisseur. The judicial mind has an appearance
of receptiveness, because it seeks to shut out prejudice: but what if
the idea of judging be itself a prejudice? On this view the very
consciousness of fairness, involving as it does limitation of sympathy,
will be itself unfair. In practical life, where we have to act, the
formation of judgments is a necessity. In art we can escape the
obligation, and here the judicial spirit becomes a wanton addition to
difficulties of appreciation already sufficiently great; the mere notion
of condemning may be enough to check our receptivity to qualities which,
as we have seen, it may need our utmost effort to catch. So that the
judicial attitude of mind comes to defeat its own purpose, and disturbs
unconsciously the impression it seeks to judge; until, as Emerson puts
it, 'if you criticise a fine genius the odds are that you are out of
your reckoning, and instead of the poet are censuring your caricature of
him.'

[_The theory refuted by experience: the history of criticism a triumph
of authors over critics._]

But the appeal made is to experience: to experience let it go. It will
be found that, speaking broadly, _the whole history of criticism has
been a triumph of authors over critics_: so long as criticism has meant
the gauging of literature, so long its progress has consisted in the
reversal of critical judgments by further experience. I hesitate to
enlarge upon this part of my subject lest I be inflicting upon the
reader the tedium of a thrice-told tale. But I believe that the ordinary
reader, however familiar with notable blunders of criticism, has little
idea of that which is the essence of my argument--the degree of
regularity, amounting to absolute law, with which criticism, where it
has set itself in opposition to freedom of authorship, has been found in
time to have pronounced upon the wrong side, and has, after infinite
waste of obstructive energy, been compelled at last to accept
innovations it had pronounced impossible under penalty of itself
becoming obsolete.

[_Case of the Shakespearean Drama: retiring waves of critical
opposition._]

Shakespeare-criticism affords the most striking illustration. Its
history is made up of wave after wave of critical opposition, each
retiring further before the steady advance of Shakespeare's fame. They
may almost be traced in the varying apologetic tones of the successive
_Variorum_ editors, until Reed, in the edition of 1803, is content to
leave the poet's renown as established on a basis which will 'bid
defiance to the caprices of fashion and the canker of time.' [I.
_Unmeasured attack._] The first wave was one of unmeasured virulent
attack. Rymer, accepted in his own day as the champion of 'regular'
criticism, and pronounced by Pope one of the best critics England ever
had, says that in Tragedy Shakespeare appears quite out of his element:

    His brains are turned; he raves and rambles without any coherence,
    any spark of reason, or any rule to control him or set bounds to his
    phrensy.

The shouting and battles of his scenes are necessary to keep the
audience awake, 'otherwise no sermon would be so strong an opiate.'
Again:

    In the neighing of an horse, or in the growling of a mastiff, there
    is a meaning, there is as lively an expression, and, may I say, more
    humanity, than many times in the tragical flights of Shakespeare.

The famous Suggestion Scene in _Othello_ has, in Rymer's view, no point
but 'the mops, the mows, the grimace, the grins, the gesticulation.' On
Desdemona's

                        O good Iago,
    What shall I do to win my lord again?

he remarks that no woman bred out of a pig-stye would talk so meanly.
Speaking of Portia he says, 'she is scarce one remove from a natural,
she is own cousin-german, of one piece, the very same impertinent flesh
and blood with Desdemona.' And Rymer's general verdict of
_Othello_--which he considers the best of Shakespeare's tragedies--is
thus summed up:

    There is in this play some burlesque, some humour and ramble of
    comical wit, some show and some mimicry to divert the spectators:
    but the tragical part is plainly none other than a bloody farce,
    without salt or savour.

In the eighteenth century Lord Lansdowne, writing on 'Unnatural Flights
in Poetry,' could refuse to go into the question of Shakespeare's
soliloquies, as being assured that 'not one in all his works could be
excused by reason or nature.' The same tone was still later kept up by
Voltaire, who calls Shakespeare a writer of monstrous farces called
tragedies; says that nature had blended in him all that is most great
and elevating with all the basest qualities that belong to barbarousness
without genius; and finally proceeds to call his poetry the fruit of the
imagination of an intoxicated savage. [2. _The Shakespearean Drama held
inadmissible, yet attractive._]--Meanwhile a second wave of opinion had
arisen, not conceiving a doubt as to the total inadmissibility of the
Shakespearean Drama, yet feeling its attraction. This is perhaps most
exactly illustrated in the forgotten critic Edwards, who ruled that
'poor Shakespeare'--the expression his own--must be excluded from the
number of good tragedians, yet 'as Homer from the Republic of Plato,
with marks of distinction and veneration.' But before this the more
celebrated dramatists of the Restoration had shown the double feeling in
the way they reconstructed Shakespeare's plays, and turned them into
'correct' dramas. Thus Otway made the mediæval Capulets and Montagus
presentable by giving them a classical dress as followers of Marius and
Sulla; and even Dryden joined in a polite version of _The Tempest_, with
an original touch for symmetry's sake in the addition to the heroine
Miranda, a maid who had never seen a man, of a suitable hero, a man who
had never seen a maid. [3. _The Shakespearean Drama admitted with
excuses._]--Against loud abuse and patronising reconstruction the silent
power of Shakespeare's works made itself more and more felt, and we
reach a third stage when the Shakespearean Drama is accepted as it
stands, but with excuses. Excuse is made for the poet's age, in which
the English nation was supposed to be struggling to emerge from
barbarism. Heywood's apology for uniting light and serious matter is
allowed, that 'they who write to all must strive to please all.' Pope
points out that Shakespeare was dependent for his subsistence on
pleasing the taste of tradesmen and mechanics; and that his 'wrong
choice of subjects' and 'wrong conduct of incidents,' his 'false
thoughts and forced expressions' are the result of his being forced to
please the lowest of the people and keep the worst of company. Similarly
Theobald considers that he schemed his plots and characters from
romances simply for want of classical information. [4. _The
Shakespearean Drama not felt to need defence as a whole, but praised and
blamed in its parts._]--With the last name we pass to yet another
school, with whom Shakespeare's work as a whole is not felt to need
defence, and the old spirit survives only in their distribution of
praise and blame amongst its different parts. Theobald opens his preface
with the comparison of the Shakespearean Drama to a splendid pile of
buildings, with 'some parts finished up to hit the taste of a
connoisseur, others more negligently put together to strike the fancy of
a common beholder.' Pope--who reflects the most various schools of
criticism, often on successive pages--illustrates this stage in his
remark that Shakespeare has excellences that have elevated him above all
others, and almost as many defects; 'as he has certainly written better
so he has perhaps written worse than any other.' Dr. Johnson sets out by
describing Shakespeare as 'having begun to assume the dignity of an
ancient'--the highest commendation in his eyes. But he goes on to point
out the inferiority of Shakespeare's Tragedy to his Comedy, the former
the outcome of skill rather than instinct, with little felicity and
always leaving something wanting; how he seems without moral purpose,
letting his precepts and axioms drop casually from him, dismissing his
personages without further care, and leaving the examples to operate by
chance; how his plots are so loosely formed that they might easily be
improved, his set speeches cold and weak, his incidents imperfectly told
in many words which might be more plainly described in few. Then in the
progress of his commentary, he irritates the reader, as Hallam points
out, by the magisterial manner in which he dismisses each play like a
schoolboy's exercise. [5. _Finally criticism comes round entirely to
Shakespeare._]--At last comes a revolution in criticism and a new order
of things arises: with Lessing to lead the way in Germany and Coleridge
in England, a school of critics appear who are in complete harmony with
their author, who question him only to learn the secrets of his art. The
new spirit has not even yet leavened the whole of the literary world;
but such names as Goethe, Tieck, Schlegel, Victor Hugo, Ulrici, Gervinus
suggest how many great reputations have been made, and reputations
already great have been carried into a new sphere of greatness, by the
interpretation and unfolding of Shakespeare's greatness: not one critic
has in recent years risen to eminence by attacking Shakespeare.

[_Other examples._]

And the Shakespearean Drama is only the most illustrious example of
authors triumphing over the criticism that attempted to judge them.
[_Milton._] It is difficult for a modern reader to believe that even
Rymer could refer to the _Paradise Lost_ as 'what some are pleased to
call a poem'; or that Dr. Johnson could assert of the minor poems of
Milton that they exhibit 'peculiarity as distinguished from excellence,'
'if they differ from others they differ for the worse.' He says of
_Comus_ that it is 'inelegantly splendid and tediously instructive';
and of _Lycidas_, that its diction is harsh, its rhymes uncertain, its
numbers unpleasing, that 'in this poem there is no nature for there is
no truth, there is no art for there is nothing new,' that it is 'easy,
vulgar, and therefore disgusting,'--after which he goes through the
different parts of the poem to show what Milton should have done in
each. Hallam has pointed out how utterly impotent Dr. Johnson has been
to fix the public taste in the case of these poems; yet even Hallam
could think the verse of the poet who wrote _Paradise Lost_ sufficiently
described by the verdict, 'sometimes wanting in grace and almost always
in ease.' [_Shakespeare's Sonnets._] In the light of modern taste it is
astonishing indeed to find Steevens, with his devotion of a lifetime to
Shakespeare, yet omitting the Sonnets from the edition of 1793, 'because
the strongest Act of Parliament that could be framed would not compel
readers into their service.' [_Spenser._] It is equally astonishing to
find Dryden speaking of Spenser's 'ill choice of stanza,' and saying of
the _Faerie Queene_ that if completed it might have been more of a
piece, but it could not be perfect, because its model was not true: an
example followed up in the next century by a 'person of quality,' who
translated a book of the _Faerie Queene_ out of its 'obsolete language
and manner of verse' into heroic couplets. [_Gray._] I pass over the
crowd of illustrations, such as the fate of Gray at the hands of Dr.
Johnson, [_Keats._] of Keats at the hands of monthly and quarterly
reviewers, [_Waverley Novels._] or of the various Waverley Novels
capriciously selected by different critics as examples of literary
suicide. But we have not yet had time to forget how Jeffrey--one of the
greatest names in criticism--set in motion the whole machinery of
reviewing in order to put down Wordsworth. [_Wordsworth._] Wordsworth's
most elaborate poem he describes as a 'tissue of moral and devotional
ravings,' a 'hubbub of strained raptures and fantastical sublimities':
his 'effusions on ... the physiognomy of external nature' he
characterises as 'eminently fantastic, obscure, and affected.' Then, to
find a climax, he compares different species of Wordsworth's poetry to
the various stages of intoxication: his Odes are 'glorious delirium' and
'incoherent rapture,' his Lyrical Ballads a 'vein of pretty deliration,'
his _White Doe_ is 'low and maudlin imbecility.' Not a whit the less has
the influence of Wordsworth deepened and solidified; and if all are not
yet prepared to accept him as the apostle of a new religion, yet he has
tacitly secured his place in the inner circle of English poets. In fine,
the work of modern criticism is seriously blocked by the perpetual
necessity of revising and reversing what this same Jeffrey calls the
'impartial and irreversible sentences' of criticism in the past. And as
a set-off in the opposite scale only one considerable achievement is to
be noted: [_Robert Montgomery._] that journalism afforded a medium for
Macaulay to quench the light of Robert Montgomery, which, on Macaulay's
own showing, journalism had puffed into a flame.

[_Defeat of criticism in the great literary questions._]

It is the same with the great literary questions that have from time to
time arisen, the pitched battles of criticism: as Goldsmith says, there
never has been an unbeaten path trodden by the poet that the critic has
not endeavoured to recall him by calling his attempt an innovation.
[_Blank verse._] Criticism set its face steadily from the first against
blank verse in English poetry. The interlocutors in Dryden's _Essay on
the Drama_ agree that it is vain to strive against the stream of the
people's inclination, won over as they have been by Shakespeare, Ben
Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher; but, as they go on to discuss the rights
of the matter, the most remarkable thing to a modern reader is that the
defence of blank verse is made to rest only on the colloquial character
of dramatic poetry, and neither party seems to conceive the possibility
of non-dramatic poetry other than in rhyme. Before Dryden's _Essay on
Satire_ the _Paradise Lost_ had made its appearance; but so impossible
an idea is literary novelty to the 'father of English criticism' that
Dryden in this Essay refuses to believe Milton's own account of the
matter, saying that, whatever reasons Milton may allege for departing
from rhyme, 'his own particular reason is plainly this, that rhyme was
not his talent, he has neither the ease of doing it nor the graces of
it.' To one so steeped in French fashions as Rymer, poetry that lacks
rhyme seems to lack everything; many of Shakespeare's scenes might, he
says, do better without words at all, or at most the words set off the
action like the drone of a bagpipe. Voltaire estimates blank verse at
about the same rate, and having to translate some of Shakespeare's for
purposes of exact comparison, he remarks that blank verse costs nothing
but the trouble of dictating, that it is not more difficult to write
than a letter. Dr. Johnson finds a theoretic argument in the unmusical
character of English poetry to prove the impossibility of its ever
adapting itself to the conditions of blank verse, and is confident
enough to prophesy: 'poetry may subsist without rhyme, but English
poetry will not often please.' Even Byron is found only one degree more
tolerant than Dryden: he has the grace to except Milton from his dictum
that no one ever wrote blank verse who could rhyme. Thus critical taste,
critical theory, and critical prophecy were unanimous against blank
verse as an English measure: for all that it has become the leading
medium of English poetry, and a doubter of to-day would be more likely
to doubt the permanence of English rhyme than of English blank verse.
[_The 'three unities':_] As to the famous 'three unities,' not only the
principles themselves, but even the refutation of them has now become
obsolete. Yet this stickling for the unities has been merely the chief
amongst many examples of the proneness the critical mind has exhibited
towards limiting literary appreciation and production by single
standards of taste. [_and limitations by still narrower classical
standards._] The same tone of mind that contended for the classical
unities had in an earlier generation contended for the classical
languages as the sole vehicle of literary expression, and the modern
languages of Europe had to assert their rights by hard fighting. In
Latin literature itself a more successful attempt has been made to limit
taste by the writers of a single period, the Augustan age, and so
construct a list of Latin poets which omits Lucretius. And for a short
period of the Renaissance movement the limitation was carried further to
a single one of the Augustan writers, and 'Ciceronianism' struggled hard
against the freedom of style it chose to nickname 'Apuleianism,' till it
fell itself before the laughter of Erasmus. [_Criticism failing to
distinguish the permanent and transitory._] It would seem almost to be a
radical law of the critical temperament that admiration for the past
paralyses faith in the future; while criticism proves totally unable to
distinguish between what has been essential in the greatness of its
idols and what has been as purely accidental as, to use Scott's
illustration, the shape of the drinking-glass is to the flavour of the
wine it contains. And if criticism has thus failed in distinguishing
what is permanent in past literature, it has proved equally mistaken in
what it has assumed to be accidental and transitory. Early commentators
on Shakespeare, whatever scruples they may have had upon other points,
had no misgivings in condemning the irregularities of his English and
correcting his grammar. This was described as obsolete by Dryden half a
century after the poet's death; while it is delicious to hear Steevens,
in the Advertisement to his edition of 1766, mentioning that 'some have
been of opinion that even a particular syntax prevailed in the time of
Shakespeare'--a novel suggestion he promptly rejects. If the two could
have lived each a century later, Dryden would have found Malone laying
down that Shakespeare had been the great purifyer and refiner of our
language, and Steevens would have seen Shakespeare's grammar studied
with the same minuteness and reduced to the same regular form as the
grammar of his commentators and readers; while one of the most
distinguished of our modern grammarians, instituting a comparison
between Elizabethan and nineteenth century English, fancies the
representative of the old-fashioned tongue characterising current speech
in the words of Sebastian:

                          Surely
    It is a sleepy language!

[_Critical works where inductive retain their force, where judicial have
become obsolete._]

The critics may themselves be called as chief witnesses against
themselves. Those parts of their works in which they apply themselves to
analysing and interpreting their authors survive in their full force:
where they judge, find fault, and attempt to regulate, they inevitably
become obsolete. Aristotle, the founder of all criticism, is for the
most part inductive in his method, describing poetry as it existed in
his day, distinguishing its different classes and elements, and
tabulating its usages: accordingly Aristotle's treatise, though more
than two thousand years old, remains the text-book of the Greek Drama.
In some places, however, he diverges from his main purpose, as in the
final chapter, in which he raises the question whether Epic or Tragic is
more excellent, or where he promises a special treatise to discuss
whether Tragedy is yet perfect: here he has for modern readers only the
interest of curiosity. Dr. Johnson's analysis of 'metaphysical poetry,'
Addison's development of the leading effects in _Paradise Lost_, remain
as true and forcible to-day as when they were written: Addison
constructing an order of merit for English poets with Cowley and Sprat
at the head, Dr. Johnson lecturing Shakespeare and Milton as to how they
ought to have written--these are to us only odd anachronisms. It is like
a contest with atomic force, this attempt at using ideas drawn from the
past to mould and limit productive power in the present and future. The
critic peers into the dimness of history, and is found to have been
blind to what was by his side: Boileau strives to erect a throne of
Comedy for Terence, and never suspects that a truer king was at hand in
his own personal friend Molière. It is in vain for critics to denounce,
their denunciation recoils on themselves: the sentence of Rymer that
the soul of modern Drama was a brutish and not a reasonable soul, or of
Voltaire, that Shakespeare's Tragedy would not be tolerated by the
lowest French mob, can harm none but Rymer and Voltaire. If the critics
venture to prophesy, the sequel is the only refutation of them needed;
if they give reasons, the reasons survive only to explain how the
critics were led astray; if they lay down laws, literary greatness in
the next generation is found to vary directly with the boldness with
which authors violate the laws. If they assume a judicial attitude, the
judgment-seat becomes converted into a pillory for the judge, and a
comic side to literary history is furnished by the mockery with which
time preserves the proportions of things, as seen by past criticism, to
be laid side by side with the true perspective revealed by actual
history. In such wise it has preserved to us the list of 'poets
laureate' who preceded Southey: Shadwell, Tate, Rowe, Eusden, Cibber,
Whitehead, Warton, Pye. It reveals Dryden sighing that Spenser could
only have read the rules of Bossu, or smitten with a doubt whether he
might not after all excuse Milton's use of blank verse 'by the example
of Hannibal Caro'; Rymer preferring Ben Jonson's _Catiline_ to all the
tragedies of the Elizabethan age, and declaring Waller's _Poem on the
Navy Royal_ beyond all modern poetry in any language; Voltaire wondering
that the extravagances of Shakespeare could be tolerated by a nation
that had seen Addison's _Cato_; Pope assigning three-score years and ten
as the limit of posthumous life to 'moderns' in poetry, and celebrating
the trio who had rescued from the 'uncivilised' Elizabethan poetry the
'fundamental laws of wit.' These three are Buckingham, Roscommon, and
Walsh: as to the last of whom if we search amongst contemporary
authorities to discover who he was, we at last come upon his works
described in the _Rambler_ as 'pages of inanity.'

[_In actual practice criticism is found to have gradually approached
induction._]

But in the conflict between judicial criticism and science the most
important point is to note how the critics' own ideas of criticism are
found to be gradually slipping away from them. Between the Renaissance
and the present day criticism, as judged by the methods actually
followed by critics, has slowly changed from the form of laying down
laws to authors into the form of receiving laws from authors. [_Five
stages. 1. Idea of judging solely by classical standards._] The process
of change falls into five stages. In its first stage the conception of
criticism was bounded by the notion of comparing whatever was produced
with the masterpieces and trying it by the ideas of Greek and Roman
literature. Boileau objected to Corneille's tragedies, not because they
did not excite admiration, but because admiration was not one of the
tragical passions as laid down by Aristotle. To Rymer's mind it was
clearly a case of classical standards or no standards, and he describes
his opponents as 'a kind of stage-quacks and empirics in poetry who have
got a receipt to please.' And there is a degree of _naïveté_ in the way
in which Bossu betrays his utter unconsciousness of the possibility that
there should be more than one kind of excellence, where, in a passage in
which he is admitting that the moderns have as much spirit and as lucky
fancies as the ancients, he nevertheless calls it 'a piece of injustice
to pretend that our new rules destroy the fancies of the old masters,
and that they must condemn all their works who could not foresee all our
humours.' Criticism in this spirit is notably illustrated by the
Corneille incident in the history of the French Academy. The fashionable
literary world, led by a Scudéry, solemnly impeach Corneille of
originality, and Richelieu insists on the Academy pronouncing judgment;
which they at last do, unwillingly enough, since, as Boileau admitted,
all France was against them. The only one that in the whole incident
retained his sense of humour was the victim himself; who, early in the
struggle, being confronted by critics recognising no merit but that of
obedience to rules, set himself to write his _Clitandre_ as a play
which should obey all the rules of Drama and yet have nothing in it: 'in
which,' he said, 'I have absolutely succeeded.' [2. _Recognition of
modern as illegitimate merit._]--But this reign of simple faith began to
be disturbed by sceptical doubts: it became impossible entirely to
ignore merit outside the pale of classical conformity. Thus we get a
Dennis unable to conceal his admiration for the daring of Milton, as a
man who knew the rules of Aristotle, 'no man better,' and yet violated
them. Literature of the modern type gets discussed as it were under
protest. Dr. Johnson, when he praises Addison's _Cato_ for adhering to
Aristotle's principles 'with a _scrupulousness_ almost unexampled on the
English stage,' is reflecting the constant assumption throughout this
transitional stage, that departure from classical models is the result
of carelessness, and that beauties in such offending writers are lucky
hits. The spirit of this period is distinctly brought out by Dr. Johnson
where he 'readily allows' that the union in one composition of serious
and ludicrous is 'contrary to the rules of criticism,' but, he adds,
'there is always an appeal open from criticism to nature.' [3. _Modern
standards of judging side by side with ancient._]--Once admitted to
examination the force of modern literature could not fail to assert its
equality with the literature of the ancients, and we pass into a third
stage of criticism when critics grasp the conception that there may be
more than one set of rules by which authors may be judged. The new
notion made its appearance early in the country which was the main
stronghold of the opposite view. Perrault in 1687 instituted his
'Parallels' between the ancients and the moderns to the advantage of the
latter; and the question was put in its naked simplicity by Fontenelle,
the 'Nestor of literature,' when he made it depend upon another
question, 'whether the trees that used to grow in our woods were larger
than those which grow now.' Later, and with less distinctness, English
criticism followed the lead. Pope, with his happy indifference to
consistency, after illustrating the first stage where he advises to
write 'as if the Stagirite o'erlooked each line,' and where he contends
that if the classical authors indulge in a licence that licence becomes
a law to us, elsewhere lays down that to apply ancient rules in the
treatment of modern literature is to try by the laws of one country a
man belonging to another. In one notable instance the genius of Dr.
Johnson rises superior to the prejudices of his age, and he vindicates
in his treatment of Shakespeare the conception of a school of Drama in
which the unities of time and place do not apply. But he does it with
trembling: 'I am almost frightened at my own temerity; and when I
estimate the fame and the strength of those who maintain the contrary
opinion, am ready to sink down in reverential silence.' [4. _Conception
of criticism as judging begins to waver:_]--Criticism had set out with
judging by one set of laws, it had come to judge by two: the change
began to shake the notion of _judging_ as the function of criticism, and
the eyes of critics came to be turned more to the idea of literary
beauty itself, as the end for which the laws of literary composition
were merely means. Addison is the great name connected with this further
transitional stage. We find Addison not only arguing negatively that
'there is sometimes a greater judgment shown in deviating from the rules
of art than in adhering to them,' [_changing to the search for
beauties:_] but even laying down as a positive theory that the true
function of a critic is 'to discover the concealed beauties of a
writer'; while the practical illustration of his theory which he gave in
the case of the _Paradise Lost_ is supposed to have revolutionised the
opinion of the fashionable reading-public. [5. _and finally to
investigation of laws in literature as it stands._]--Addison was removed
by a very little from the final stage of criticism, the conception of
which is perhaps most fully brought out by Gervinus, where he declares
his purpose of treating Shakespeare as the 'revealing genius' of his
department of art and of its laws. Thus slowly and by gradual stages has
the conception of criticism been changing in the direction of induction:
starting from judgment by the laws of the ancient classics as standards
beyond which there is no appeal, passing through the transitional stage
of greater and greater toleration for intrinsic worth though of a modern
type, to arrive at the recognition of modern standards of judgment side
by side with ancient; again passing through a further transitional stage
of discrediting judgment altogether as the purpose of criticism in
favour of the search for intrinsic worth in literature as it stands,
till the final conception is reached of analysing literature as it
stands for the purpose of discovering its laws in itself. The later
stages do not universally prevail yet. But the earlier stages have at
all events become obsolete; and there is no reader who will not
acquiesce cheerfully in one of the details Addison gives out for his
ideal theatre, by which Rymer's tragedy _Edgar_ was to be cut up into
snow to make the Storm Scene in Shakespeare's _Lear_.

       *       *       *       *       *

[_Separateness of the two criticisms._]

It may be well to recall the exact purpose to which the present argument
is intended to lead. The purpose is not to attack journalism and kindred
branches of criticism in the interests of inductive treatment. It would
be false to the principles of induction not to recognise that the
criticism of taste has long since established its position as a fertile
branch of literature. Even in an inductive system journalism would still
have place as a medium for fragmentary and tentative treatment. Moreover
it may be admitted that induction in its formal completeness of system
can never be applied in practical life; and in the intellectual pursuits
of real life trained literary taste may be a valuable acquisition. What
is here attacked is the mistake which has identified the criticism of
taste and valuation with the conception of criticism as a whole; the
intrusion of methods belonging to journalism into treatment that claims
to be systematic. [_Criticism of taste belongs to creative literature:_]
So far from being a standard of method in the treatment of literature,
criticism of the reviewer's order is outside science altogether. It
finds its proper place on the creative side of literature, as a branch
in which literature itself has come to be taken as a theme for literary
writing; it thus belongs to the literature treated, not to the
scientific treatment of it. [_as the lyrics of prose._] Reviews so
placed may be regarded almost as the lyrics of prose: like lyric poems
they have their completeness in themselves, and their interest lies, not
in their being parts of some whole, but in their flashing the
subjectivity of a writer on to a variety of isolated topics; they thus
have value, not as fragments of literary science, but as fragments of
Addison, of Jeffrey, of Macaulay. Nor is the bearing of the present
argument that commentators should set themselves to eulogise the authors
they treat instead of condemning them (though this would certainly be
the safer of two errors). The treatment aimed at is one independent of
praise or blame, one that has nothing to do with merit, relative or
absolute. The contention is for a branch of criticism separate from the
criticism of taste; a branch that, in harmony with the spirit of other
modern sciences, reviews the phenomena of literature as they actually
stand, enquiring into and endeavouring to systematise the laws and
principles by which they are moulded and produce their effects.
Scientific criticism and the criticism of taste have distinct spheres:
and the whole of literary history shows that the failure to keep the two
separate results only in mutual confusion.

Our present purpose is with inductive criticism. What, by the analogy of
other sciences, is implied in the inductive treatment of literature?

[_Application of induction to literary subject-matter._]

The inductive sciences occupy themselves directly with facts, that is,
with phenomena translated by observation into the form of facts; and
soundness of inductive theory is measured by the closeness with which it
will bear confronting with the facts. In the case of literature and art
the facts are to be looked for in the literary and artistic productions
themselves: the dramas, epics, pictures, statues, pillars, capitals,
symphonies, operas--the details of these are the phenomena which the
critical observer translates into facts. A picture is a title for a
bundle of facts: that the painter has united so many figures in such and
such groupings, that he has given such and such varieties of colouring,
and such and such arrangement of light and shade. Similarly the _Iliad_
is a short name implying a large number of facts characterising the
poem: that its principal personages are Agamemnon and Achilles, that
these personages are represented as displaying certain qualities, doing
certain deeds, and standing in certain relations to one another.

[_Difficulty: the want of positiveness in literary impressions._]

Here, however, arises that which has been perhaps the greatest
stumbling-block in the way of securing inductive treatment for
literature. Science deals only with ascertained facts: but the details
of literature and art are open to the most diverse interpretation. They
leave conflicting impressions on different observers, impressions both
subjective and variable in themselves, and open to all manner of
distracting influences, not excepting that of criticism itself. Where in
the treatment of literature is to be found the positiveness of
subject-matter which is the first condition of science?

[_The difficulty not confined to literature._]

In the first place it may be pointed out that this want of certainty in
literary interpretation is not a difficulty of a kind peculiar to
literature. The same object of terror will affect the members of a crowd
in a hundred different ways, from presence of mind to hysteria; yet this
has not prevented the science of psychology from inductively discussing
fear. Logic proposes to scientifically analyse the reasoning processes
in the face of the infinite degrees of susceptibility different minds
show to proof and persuasion. It has become proverbial that taste in art
is incapable of being settled by discussion, yet the art of music has
found exact treatment in the science of harmony. In the case of these
well-established sciences it has been found possible to separate the
variable element from that which is the subject-matter of the science:
such a science as psychology really covers two distinct branches of
thought, the psychology that discusses formally the elements of the
human mind, and another psychology, not yet systematised, that deals
with the distribution of these elements amongst different individuals.
It need then be no barrier to inductive treatment that in the case of
literature and art the will and consciousness act as disturbing forces,
refracting what may be called natural effects into innumerable effects
on individual students. It only becomes a question of practical
procedure, in what way the interfering variability is to be eliminated.

[_The variable element to be eliminated by reference not to taste;_]

It is precisely at this point that _à priori_ criticism and induction
part company. The _à priori_ critic gets rid of uncertainty in literary
interpretation by confining his attention to effects produced upon the
best minds: he sets up _taste_ as a standard by which to try impressions
of literature which he is willing to consider. The inductive critic
cannot have recourse to any such arbitrary means of limiting his
materials; for his doubts he knows no court of appeal except the appeal
to the literary works themselves. [_but to the objective details of the
literature itself._] The astronomer, from the vast distance of the
objects he observes, finds the same phenomenon producing different
results on different observers, and he has thus regularly to allow for
personal errors: but he deals with such discrepancies only by fresh
observations on the stars themselves, and it never occurs to him that he
can get rid of a variation by abstract argument or deference to a
greater observer. In the same way the inductive critic of literature
must settle his doubts by referring them to the literary productions
themselves; to him the question is not of the nobler view or the view in
best taste, but simply what view fits in best with the details as they
stand in actual fact. He quite recognises that it is not the objective
details but the subjective impressions they produce that make literary
effect, but the objective details are the _limit_ on the variability of
the subjective impressions. The character of Macbeth impresses two
readers differently: how is the difference to be settled? The _à priori_
critic contends that his conception is the loftier; that a hero should
be heroic; that moreover the tradition of the stage and the greatest
names in the criticism of the past bear him out; or, finally, falls back
upon good taste, which closes the discussion. The inductive critic
simply puts together all the sayings and doings of Macbeth himself, all
that others in the play say and appear to feel about him, and whatever
view of the character is consistent with these and similar facts of the
play, that view he selects; while to vary from it for any external
consideration would seem to him as futile as for an astronomer to make a
star rise an hour earlier to tally with the movements of another star.

[_Foundation axiom of the inductive criticism: Interpretation of the
nature of an hypothesis._]

We thus arrive at a foundation axiom of inductive literary criticism:
_Interpretation in literature is of the nature of a scientific
hypothesis, the truth of which is tested by the degree of completeness
with which it explains the details of the literary work as they actually
stand_. That will be the true meaning of a passage, not which is the
most worthy, but which most nearly explains the words as they are; that
will be the true reading of a character which, however involved in
expression or tame in effect, accounts for and reconciles all that is
represented of the personage. The inductive critic will interpret a
complex situation, not by fastening attention on its striking elements
and ignoring others as oversights and blemishes, but by putting together
with business-like exactitude all that the author has given, weighing,
balancing, and standing by the product. He will not consider that he has
solved the action of a drama by some leading plot, or some central idea
powerfully suggested in different parts, but will investigate patiently
until he can find a scheme which will give point to the inferior as well
as to the leading scenes, and in connection with which all the details
are harmonised in their proper proportions. In this way he will be
raising a superstructure of exposition that rests, not on authority
however high, but upon a basis of indisputable fact.

[_Practical objection: Did the authors intend those interpretations?_]

In actual operation I have often found that such positive analysis
raises in the popular mind a very practical objection: that the
scientific interpretation seems to discover in literary works much more
in the way of purpose and design than the authors themselves can be
supposed to have dreamed of. Would not Chaucer and Shakespeare, it is
asked, if they could come to life now, be greatly astonished to hear
themselves lectured upon? to find critics knowing their purposes better
than they had known them themselves, and discovering in their works laws
never suspected till after they were dead, and which they themselves
perhaps would need some effort to understand? Deep designs are traced in
Shakespeare's plots, and elaborate combinations in his characters and
passions: is the student asked to believe that Shakespeare really
_intended_ these complicated effects?

[_Answer: changed meaning of 'design' in science._]

The difficulty rests largely upon a confusion in words. Such words as
'purpose,' 'intention,' have a different sense when used in ordinary
parlance from that which they bear when applied in criticism and
science. In ordinary parlance a man's 'purpose' means his conscious
purpose, of which he is the best judge; in science the 'purpose' of a
thing is the purpose it actually serves, and is discoverable only by
analysis. Thus science discovers that the 'purpose' of earthworms is to
break up the soil, the 'design' of colouring in flowers is to attract
insects, though the flower is not credited with fore-sight nor the worm
with disinterestedness. In this usage alone can the words 'purpose,'
'intention,' be properly applied to literature and art: science knows no
kind of evidence in the matter of creative purpose so weighty as the
thing it has actually produced. This has been well put by Ulrici:

    The _language_ of the artist is poetry, music, drawing, colouring:
    there is no other form in which he can express himself with equal
    depth and clearness. Who would ask a philosopher to paint his ideas
    in colours? It would be equally absurd to think that because a poet
    cannot say with perfect philosophic certainty in the form of
    reflection and pure thought what it was that he wished and intended
    to produce, that he never thought at all, but let his imagination
    improvise at random.

Nothing is more common than for analysis to discover design in what, so
far as consciousness is concerned, has been purely instinctive. Thus
physiology ascertains that bread contains all the necessary elements of
food except one, which omission happens to be supplied by butter: this
may be accepted as an explanation of our 'purpose' in eating butter with
bread, without the explanation being taken to imply that all who have
ever fed on bread and butter have consciously _intended_ to combine the
nitrogenous and oleaginous elements of food. It is the natural order of
things that the practical must precede the analytic. Bees by instinct
construct hexagonal cells, and long afterwards mensuration shows that
the hexagon is the most economic shape for such stowage; individual
states must rise and fall first before the sciences of history and
politics can come to explain the how and why of their mutations.
Similarly it is in accordance with the order of things that Shakespeare
should produce dramas by the practical processes of art-creation, and
that it should be left for others, his critics succeeding him at long
intervals, to discover by analysis his 'purposes' and the laws which
underlie his effects. The poet, if he could come to life now, would not
feel more surprise at this analysis of his 'motives' and unfolding of
his unconscious 'design' than he would feel on hearing that the beating
of his heart--to him a thing natural enough, and needing no
explanation--had been discovered to have a distinct purpose he could
never have dreamed of in propelling the circulation of his blood, a
thing of which he had never heard.

[_Three points of contrast between judicial and inductive criticism._]

There are three leading ideas in relation to which inductive and
judicial criticism are in absolute antagonism: to bring out these
contrasts will be the most effective way of describing the inductive
treatment.

The first of these ideas is order of merit, together with the kindred
notions of partisanship and hostility applied to individual authors and
works. [1. _Comparisons of merit: these outside science._] The minds of
ordinary readers are saturated with this class of ideas; they are the
weeds of taste, choking the soil, and leaving no room for the purer
forms of literary appreciation. Favoured by the fatal blunder of modern
education, which considers every other mental power to stand in need of
training, but leaves taste and imagination to shift for themselves,
literary taste has largely become confused with a spurious form of it:
the mere taste for competition, comparison of likes and dislikes, gossip
applied to art and called criticism. Of course such likes and dislikes
must always exist, and journalism is consecrated to the office of giving
them shape and literary expression; though it should be led by
experience, if by nothing else, to exercise its functions with a double
reserve, recognising that the judicial attitude of mind is a limit on
appreciation, and that the process of testing will itself be tried by
the test of vitality. But such preferences and comparisons of merit must
be kept rigidly outside the sphere of science. Science knows nothing of
competitive examination: a geologist is not heard extolling old red
sandstone as a model rock-formation, or making sarcastic comments on the
glacial epoch. Induction need not disturb the freedom with which we
attach ourselves to whatever attracts our individual dispositions:
individual partisanship for the wooded snugness of the Rhine or the bold
and bracing Alps is unaffected by the adoption of exact methods in
physical geography. What is to be avoided is the confusion of two
different kinds of interest attaching to the same object. In the study
of the stars and the rocks, which can inspire little or no personal
interest, it is easy to keep science pure; to keep it to 'dry light,' as
Heraclitus calls it, intelligence unclouded by the humours of individual
sentiment, as Bacon interprets. But when science comes to be applied to
objects which can excite emotion and inspire affection, then confusion
arises, and the scientific student of political economy finds his
treatment of pauperism disturbed by the philanthropy which belongs to
him as a man. Still more in so emotional an atmosphere as the study of
beauty, the student must use effort to separate the _beauty_ of an
object, which is a thing of art and perfectly analysable, from his
personal _interest_ in it, which is as distinctly external to the
analysis of beauty as his love for his dog is external to the science of
zoology. The possibility of thus separating interest and perception of
beauty without diminishing either may be sufficiently seen in the case
of music--an art which has been already reduced to scientific form.
Music is as much as any art a thing of tastes and preferences; besides
partialities for particular masters one student will be peculiarly
affected by melody, another is all for dramatic effect, others have a
special taste for the fugue or the sonata. No one can object to such
preferences, but the science of music knows nothing about them; its
exposition deals with modes of treatment or habits of orchestration
distinguishing composers, irrespective of the private partialities they
excite. Mozart and Wagner are analysed as two items in the sum of facts
which make up music; and if a particular expositor shows by a turn in
the sentence that he has a leaning to one or the other, the slip may do
no harm, but for the moment science has been dropped.

[_Inductive treatment concerned with differences of kind, not of
degree._]

There is, however, a sort of difference between authors and works, the
constant recognition of which would more than make up to cultured
pleasure for discarding comparisons of merit. Inductive treatment is
concerned with _differences of kind_ as distinguished from differences
of degree. Elementary as this distinction is, the power of firmly
grasping it is no slight evidence of a trained mind: the power, that is,
of clearly seeing that two things are different, without being at the
same time impelled to rank one above the other. The confusion of the two
is a constant obstacle in the way of literary appreciation. It has been
said, by way of comparison between two great novelists, that George
Eliot constructs characters, but Charlotte Brontë creates them. The
description (assuming it to be true) ought to shed a flood of interest
upon both authoresses; by perpetually throwing on the two modes of
treatment the clear light of contrast it ought to intensify our
appreciation of both. As a fact, however, the description is usually
quoted to suggest a preference for Charlotte Brontë on the supposed
ground that creation is 'higher' than construction; and the usual
consequences of preferences are threatened--the gradual closing of our
susceptibilities to those qualities in the less liked of the two which
do not resemble the qualities of the favourite. Yet why should we not be
content to accept such a description (if true) as constituting a
difference of kind, and proceed to recognise 'construction' and
'creation' as two parallel modes of treatment, totally distinct from one
another in the way in which a fern is distinct from a flower, a
distinction allowing no room for preferences because there is no common
ground on which to compare? This separateness once granted, the mind,
instead of having to choose between the two, would have scope for taking
in to the full the detailed effects flowing from both modes of
treatment, and the area of mental pleasure would be enlarged. The great
blunders of criticism in the past, which are now universally admitted,
rest on this inability to recognise differences of kind in literature.
The Restoration poets had a mission to bring the heroic couplet to
perfection: poetry not in their favourite measure they treated, not as
different, but as bad, and rewrote or ignored Spenser and Milton. And
generations of literary history have been wasted in discussing whether
the Greek dramatists or Shakespeare were the higher: now every one
recognises that they constitute two schools different in kind that
cannot be compared.

[_Distinctions of kind a primary element in appreciation._]

It is hardly going too far to assert that this sensitiveness to
differences of kind as distinguished from differences of degree is the
first condition of literary appreciation. Nothing can be more essential
to art-perception than receptiveness, and receptiveness implies a change
in the receptive attitude of mind with each variety of art. To
illustrate by an extreme case. Imagine a spectator perfectly familiar
with the Drama, but to whom the existence of the Opera was unknown, and
suppose him to have wandered into an opera-house, mistaking it for a
theatre. At first the mistake under which he was labouring would distort
every effect: the elaborate overture would seem to him a great 'waste'
of power in what was a mere accessory; the opening recitative would
strike him as 'unnaturally' delivered, and he would complain of the
orchestral accompaniment as a 'distraction'; while at the first aria he
would think the actor gone mad. As, however, arias, terzettos,
recitatives succeeded one another, he must at last catch the idea that
the music was an essential element in the exhibition, and that he was
seeing, not a drama, but a drama translated into a different kind of
art. The catching of this idea would at once make all the objectionable
elements fall into their proper places. No longer distracted by the
thought of the ordinary Drama, his mind would have leisure to catch the
special effects of the Opera: he would feel how powerfully a change of
passion could move him when magnified with all the range of expression
an orchestra affords, and he would acknowledge a dramatic touch as the
diabolic spirit of the conspirator found vent in a double D. The
illustration is extreme to the extent of absurdity: but it brings out
how expectation plays an important part in appreciation, and how the
expectation has to be adapted to that on which it is exercised. The
receptive attitude is a sort of mental focus which needs adjusting
afresh to each variety of art if its effects are to be clearly caught;
and to disturb attention when engaged on one species of literature by
the thought of another is as unreasonable as to insist on one
microscopic object appearing definite when looked at with a focus
adjusted to another object. [_Each author a separate species._] This
will be acknowledged in reference to the great divisions of art: but
does it not apply to the species as well as the genera, indeed to each
individual author? Wordsworth has laid down that each fresh poet is to
be tried by fresh canons of taste: this is only another way of saying
that the differences between poets are differences of kind, that each
author is a 'school' by himself, and can be appreciated only by a
receptive attitude formed by adjustment to himself alone. In a
scientific treatment of literature, at all events, an elementary axiom
must be: [_Second axiom of inductive criticism: its function in
distinguishing literary species._] _That inductive criticism is mainly
occupied in distinguishing literary species_. And on this view it will
clearly appear how such notions as order of merit become disturbing
forces in literary appreciation: unconsciously they apply the
_qualitative_ standard of the favourite works to works which must
necessarily be explained by a different standard. They are defended on
the ground of pleasure, but they defeat their own object: no element in
pleasure is greater than variety, and comparisons of merit, with every
other form of the judicial spirit, are in reality arrangements for
appreciating the smallest number of varieties.

[II. _The 'laws of art': confusion between law external and
scientific._]

The second is the most important of the three ideas, both for its effect
in the past and for the sharpness with which it brings judicial and
inductive criticism into contrast. It is the idea that there exist
'laws' of art, in the same sense in which we speak of laws in morality
or the laws of some particular state--great principles which have been
laid down, and which are binding on the artist as the laws of God or his
country are binding on the man; that by these, and by lesser principles
deduced from these, the artist's work is to be tried, and praise or
blame awarded accordingly. Great part of formal criticism runs on these
lines; while, next in importance to comparisons of merit, the popular
mind considers literary taste to consist in a keen sensitiveness to the
'faults' and 'flaws' of literary workmanship.

This attitude to art illustrates the enormous misleading power of the
metaphors that lie concealed in words. The word 'law,' justly applicable
in one of its senses to art, has in practice carried with it the
associations of its other sense; and the mistake of metaphor has been
sufficient to distort criticism until, as Goldsmith remarks, rules have
become the greatest of all the misfortunes which have befallen the
commonwealth of letters. Every expositor has had to point out the
widespread confusion between the two senses of this term. Laws in the
moral and political world are external obligations, restraints of the
will; they exist where the will of a ruler or of the community is
applied to the individual will. In science, on the other hand, law has
to do not with what ought to be, but with what is; scientific laws are
facts reduced to formulæ, statements of the habits of things, so to
speak. The laws of the stars in the first sense could only mean some
creative fiat, such as 'Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven';
in the scientific sense laws of the stars are summaries of their
customary movements. In the act of getting drunk I am violating God's
moral law, I am obeying his law of alcoholic action. So scientific laws,
in the case of art and literature, will mean descriptions of the
practice of artists or the characteristics of their works, when these
will go into the form of general propositions as distinguished from
disconnected details. The key to the distinction is the notion of
external authority. There cannot be laws in the moral and political
sense without a ruler or legislative authority; in scientific laws the
law-giver and the law-obeyer are one and the same, and for the laws of
vegetation science looks no further than the facts of the vegetable
world. [_The 'laws of art' are scientific laws._] In literature and art
the term 'law' applies only in the scientific sense; the laws of the
Shakespearean Drama are not laws imposed by some external authority upon
Shakespeare, but laws of dramatic practice derived from the analysis of
his actual works. Laws of literature, in the sense of external
obligations limiting an author, there are none: if he were voluntarily
to bind himself by such external laws, he would be so far curtailing
art; it is hardly a paradox to say the art is legitimate only when it
does not obey laws. [_The word 'fault' meaningless in inductive
criticism._] What applies to the term 'law' applies similarly to the
term 'fault.' The term is likely always to be used from its extreme
convenience in art-training; but it must be understood strictly as a
term of education and discipline. In inductive criticism, as in the
other inductive sciences, the word 'fault' has no meaning. If an artist
acts contrary to the practice of all other artists, the result is either
that he produces no art-effect at all, in which case there is nothing
for criticism to register and analyse, or else he produces a new effect,
and is thus extending, not breaking, the laws of art. The great clash of
horns in Beethoven's Heroic Symphony was at first denounced as a gross
fault, a violation of the plainest laws of harmony; now, instead of a
'fault,' it is spoken of as a 'unique effect,' and in the difference
between the two descriptions lies the whole difference between the
conceptions of judicial and inductive criticism. Again and again in the
past this notion of faults has led criticism on to wrong tracks, from
which it has had to retrace its steps on finding the supposed faults to
be in reality new laws. Immense energy was wasted in denouncing
Shakespeare's 'fault' of uniting serious with light matter in the same
play as a violation of fundamental dramatic laws; experience showed this
mixture of passions to be the source of powerful art-effects hitherto
shut out of the Drama, and the 'fault' became one of the distinguishing
'laws' in the most famous branch of modern literature. It is necessary
then to insist upon the strict scientific sense of the term 'law' as
used of literature and art; and the purging of criticism from the
confusion attaching to this word is an essential step in its elevation
to the inductive standard. It is a step, moreover, in which it has been
preceded by other branches of thought. At one time the practice of
commerce and the science of economy suffered under the same confusion:
the battle of 'free trade' has been fought, the battle of 'free art' is
still going on. In time it will be recognised that the practice of
artists, like the operations of business, must be left to its natural
working, and the attempt to impose external canons of taste on artists
will appear as futile as the attempt to effect by legislation the
regulation of prices.

[_Objection as to the moral purpose of literature:_]

Objections may possibly be taken to this train of argument on very high
grounds, as if the protest against the notion of law-obeying in art were
a sort of antinomianism. Literature, it may be said, has a moral
purpose, to elevate and refine, and no duty can be higher than that of
pointing out what in it is elevating and refining, and jealously
watching against any lowering of its standard. [_this outside inductive
treatment, though intrinsically more important._] Such contention may
readily be granted, and yet may amount to no more than this: that there
are ways of dealing with literature which are more important than
inductive criticism, but which are none the less outside it. Jeremy
Collier did infinite service to our Restoration Drama, but his was not
the service of a scientific critic. The same things take different ranks
as they are tried by the standards of science or morals. An enervating
climate may have the effect of enfeebling the moral character, but this
does not make the geographer's interest in the tropical zone one whit
the less. Economy concerns itself simply with the fact that a certain
subsidence of profits in a particular trade will drive away capital to
other trades. But the details of human experience that are latent in
such a proposition: the chilling effects of unsuccess and the dim colour
it gives to the outlook into the universe, the sifting of character and
separation between the enterprising and the simple, the hard thoughts as
to the mysterious dispensations of human prosperity, the sheer misery of
a wage-class looking on plenty and feeling starvation--this human drama
of failing profits may be vastly more important than the whole science
of economy, but economy none the less entirely and rightly ignores it.

[_Objection: Art as an arbitrary product not subject to law._]

To some, I know, it appears that literature is a sphere in which the
strict sense of the word 'law' has no application: that such laws belong
to nature, not to art. The essence, it is contended, of the natural
sciences is the certainty of the facts with which they deal. Art, on the
contrary, is creative; it does not come into the category of objective
phenomena at all, but is the product of some artist's will, and
therefore purely arbitrary. If in a compilation of observations in
natural history for scientific use it became known that the compiler had
at times drawn upon his imagination for his details, the whole
compilation would become useless; and any scientific theories based upon
it would be discredited. But the artist bases his work wholly on
imagination, and caprice is a leading art-beauty: how, it is asked, can
so arbitrary a subject-matter be reduced to the form of positive laws?

[_Third axiom of inductive criticism: art a part of nature._]

In view of any such objections, it may be well to set up a third axiom
of inductive criticism: _That art is a part of nature_. Nature, it is
true, is the vaguest of words: but this is a vagueness common to the
objection and the answer. The objection rests really on a false
antithesis, of which one term is 'nature,' while it is not clear what is
the other term; the axiom set up in answer implies that there is no real
distinction between 'nature' and the other phenomena which are the
subject of human enquiry. The distinction is supposed to rest upon the
degree to which arbitrary elements of the mind, such as imagination,
will, caprice, enter into such a thing as art-production. [_Other
arbitrary products subject to inductive treatment._] But there are other
things in which the human will plays as much part as it does in art, and
which have nevertheless proved compatible with inductive treatment.
Those who hold that 'thought is free' do not reject psychology as an
inductive science; actual politics are made up of struggles of will,
exercises of arbitrary power, and the like, and yet there is a political
science. If there is an inductive science of politics, men's voluntary
actions in the pursuit of public life, and an inductive science of
economy, men's voluntary actions in pursuit of wealth, why should there
not be an inductive science of art, men's voluntary actions in pursuit
of the beautiful? The whole of human action, as well as the whole of
external nature, comes within the jurisdiction of science; so far from
the productions of the will and imagination being exempted from
scientific treatment, will and imagination themselves form chapters in
psychology, and caprice has been analysed.

[III. _Testing by fixed standards inconsistent with inductive
treatment._]

It remains to notice the third of the three ideas in relation to which
the two kinds of criticism are in complete contrast with one another. It
is a vague notion, which no objector would formulate, but which as a
fact does underlie judicial criticism, and insensibly accompanies its
testing and assaying. It is the idea that the foundations of literary
form have reached their final settlement, the past being tacitly taken
as a standard for the present and future, or the present as a standard
for the past. Thus in the treatment of new literature the idea manifests
itself in a secret antagonism to variations from received models; at the
very least, new forms are called upon to justify themselves, and so the
judicial critic brings his least receptive attitude to the new effects
which need receptiveness most. In opposition to this tacit assumption,
inductive criticism starts with a distinct counter-axiom of the utmost
importance: _That literature is a thing of development_. [_Fourth axiom
of inductive criticism: literature a thing of development._] This axiom
implies that the critic must come to literature as to that in which he
is expecting to find unlimited change and variety; he must keep before
him the fact that production must always be far ahead of criticism and
analysis, and must have carried its conquering invention into fresh
regions before science, like settled government in the wake of the
pioneer, follows to explain the new effects by new principles. No doubt
in name literary development is recognised in all criticism; yet in its
treatment both of old literature and new the _à priori_ criticism is
false to development in the scientific sense of the term. [_Ignoring of
development in new literature:_] Such systems are apt to begin by laying
down that 'the object of literature is so and so,' or that 'the purpose
of the Drama is to pourtray human nature'; they then proceed to test
actual literature and dramas by the degree in which they carry out these
fundamental principles. Such procedure is the opposite of the inductive
method, and is a practical denial of development in literature.
[_'purpose' in literature continually modifying._] Assuming that the
object of existing literature were correctly described, such a formula
could not bind the literature of the future. Assuming that there was
ever a branch of art which could be reduced to one simple purpose, yet
the inherent tendency of the human mind and its productions to develop
would bring it about that what were at first means towards this purpose
would in time become ends in themselves side by side with the main
purpose, giving us in addition to the simple species a modified variety
of it; external influences, again, would mingle with the native
characteristics of the original species, and produce new species
compound in their purposes and effects. The real literature would be
ever obeying the first principle of development and changing from simple
to complex, while the criticism that tried it by the original standard
would be at each step removed one degree further from the only standard
by which the literature could be explained. [_Development in past
literature confused with improvement._] And if judicial criticism fails
in providing for development in the future and present, it is equally
unfortunate in giving a false twist to development when looked for in
the past. The critic of comparative standards is apt to treat early
stages of literature as elementary, tacitly assuming his own age as a
standard _up to_ which previous periods have developed. Thus his
treatment of the past becomes often an assessment of the degrees in
which past periods have approximated to his own, advancing from literary
pot-hooks to his own running facility. The clearness of an ancient
writer he values at fifty per cent. as compared with modern standards,
his concatenation of sentences is put down as only forty-five. But what
if a certain degree of mistiness be an essential element in the phase
of literary development to which the particular writer belongs, so that
in him modern clearness would become, in judicial phrase, a fault? What
if Plato's concatenation of sentences would simply spoil the flavour of
Herodotus's story-telling, if Jeremy Taylor's prolixity and Milton's
bi-lingual prose be simply the fittest of all dresses for the thought of
their age and individual genius? In fact, the critic of fixed standards
confuses development with _improvement_: a parallel mistake in natural
history would be to understand the statement that man is higher in the
scale of development than the butterfly as implying that a butterfly was
God's failure in the attempt to make man. The inductive critic will
accord to the early forms of his art the same independence he accords to
later forms. Development will not mean to him education for a future
stage, but the perpetual branching out of literary activity into ever
fresh varieties, different in kind from one another, and each to be
studied by standards of its own: the 'individuality' of authors is the
expression in literary parlance which corresponds to the perpetual
'differentiation' of new species in science. Alike, then, in his
attitude to the past and the future, the inductive critic will eschew
the temptation to judgment by fixed standards, which in reality means
opposing lifeless rules to the ever-living variety of nature. He will
leave a dead judicial criticism to bury its dead authors and to pen for
them judicious epitaphs, and will himself approach literature filled
equally with reverence for the unbroken vitality of its past and faith
in its exhaustless future.

[_Summary._]

To gather up our results. Induction, as the most universal of scientific
methods, may be presumed to apply wherever there is a subject-matter
reducible to the form of fact; such a subject-matter will be found in
literature where its effects are interpreted, not arbitrarily, but with
strict reference to the details of the literary works as they actually
stand. There is thus an inductive literary criticism, akin in spirit
and methods to the other inductive sciences, and distinct from other
branches of criticism, such as the criticism of taste. This inductive
criticism will entirely free itself from the judicial spirit and its
comparisons of merit, which is found to have been leading criticism
during half its history on to false tracks from which it has taken the
other half to retrace its steps. On the contrary, inductive criticism
will examine literature in the spirit of pure investigation: looking for
the laws of art in the practice of artists, and treating art, like the
rest of nature, as a thing of continuous development, which may thus be
expected to fall, with each author and school, into varieties distinct
in kind from one another, and each of which can be fully grasped only
when examined with an attitude of mind adapted to the special variety
without interference from without.

       *       *       *       *       *

To illustrate the criticism thus described in its application to
Shakespeare is the purpose of the present work.

The scope of the book is limited to the consideration of Shakespeare in
his character as the great master of the Romantic Drama; and its
treatment of his dramatic art divides itself into two parts. The first
applies the inductive method in a series of Studies devoted to
particular plays, and to single important features of dramatic art which
these plays illustrate. One of the purposes of this first part is to
bring out how the inductive method, besides its scientific interest, has
the further recommendation of assisting more than any other treatment to
enlarge our appreciation of the author and of his achievements. The
second part will use the materials collected in the first part to
present, in the form of a brief survey, Dramatic Criticism as an
inductive science: enumerating, so far as its materials admit, the
leading topics which such a science would treat, and arranging these
topics in the logical connection which scientific method requires.



PART FIRST.

SHAKESPEARE CONSIDERED AS A DRAMATIC ARTIST _IN TEN STUDIES_.



I.

THE TWO STORIES SHAKESPEARE BORROWS FOR HIS MERCHANT OF VENICE.

_A Study in the Raw Material of the Romantic Drama_.


[_Story as the Raw Materials of the Romantic Drama._]

THE starting-point in the treatment of any work of literature is its
position in literary history: the recognition of this gives the attitude
of mind which is most favourable for extracting from the work its full
effect. The division of the universal Drama to which Shakespeare belongs
is known as the 'Romantic Drama,' one of its chief distinctions being
that it uses the stories of Romance, together with histories treated as
story-books, as the sources from which the matter of the plays is taken;
Romances are the _raw material_ out of which the Shakespearean Drama is
manufactured. This very fact serves to illustrate the elevation of the
Elizabethan Drama in the scale of literary development: just as the
weaver uses as his raw material that which is the finished product of
the spinner, so Shakespeare and his contemporaries start in their art of
dramatising from Story which is already a form of art. In the
exhibition, then, of Shakespeare as an Artist, it is natural to begin
with the raw material which he worked up into finished masterpieces. For
illustration of this no play could be more suitable than _The Merchant
of Venice_, in which two tales, already familiar in the story form, have
been woven together into a single plot: the Story of the Cruel Jew, who
entered into a bond with his enemy of which the forfeit was to be a
pound of this enemy's own flesh, and the Story of the Heiress and the
Caskets. The present study will deal with the stories themselves,
considering them as if with the eye of a dramatic artist to catch the
points in which they lend themselves to dramatic effect; the next will
show how Shakespeare improves the stories in the telling, increasing
their dramatic force by the very process of working them up; a third
study will point out how, not content with two stories, he has added
others in the development of his plot, making it more complex only in
reality to make it more simple.

[_Story of The Jew._]

In the Story of the Jew the main point is its special capability for
bringing out the idea of _Nemesis_, one of the simplest and most
universal of dramatic motives. Described broadly, Nemesis is retribution
as it appears in the world of art. [_Nemesis as a dramatic idea._] In
reality the term covers two distinct conceptions: in ancient thought
Nemesis was an artistic bond between excess and reaction, in modern
thought it is an artistic bond between sin and retribution. The
distinction is part of the general difference between Greek and modern
views of life. [_Ancient conception: artistic connection between excess
and reaction._] The Greeks may be said to be the most artistic nation of
mankind, in the sense that art covered so large a proportion of their
whole personality: it is not surprising to find that they projected
their sense of art into morals. Aristotle was a moral philosopher, but
his system of ethics reads as an artistically devised pattern, in which
every virtue is removed at equal distances from vices of excess and
defect balancing it on opposite sides. The Greek word for law signifies
proportion and distribution, _nomos_; and it is only another form of it
that expresses _Nemesis_ as the power punishing violations of proportion
in things human. Distinct from Justice, which was occupied with crime,
Nemesis was a companion deity to Fortune; and as Fortune went through
the world distributing the good things of life heedlessly without regard
to merit, so Nemesis followed in her steps, and, equally without regard
to merit, delighted in cutting down the prosperity that was high enough
to attract her attention. Polycrates is the typical victim of such
Nemesis: cast off by his firmest ally for no offence but an unbroken
career of good luck, in the reaction from which his ally feared to be
involved; essaying as a forlorn hope to propitiate by voluntarily
throwing in the sea his richest crown-jewel; recognising when this was
restored by fishermen that heaven had refused his sacrifice, and
abandoning himself to his fate in despair. But Nemesis, to the moral
sense of antiquity, could go even beyond visitation on innocent
prosperity, and goodness itself could be carried to a degree that
invited divine reaction. Heroes like Lycurgus and Pentheus perished for
excess of temperance; and the ancient Drama startles the modern reader
with an Hippolytus, whose passionate purity brought down on him a
destruction prophesied beforehand by those to whom religious duty
suggested moderate indulgence in lust.

[_Modern conception: artistic connection between sin and retribution._]

Such malignant correction of human inequalities is not a function to
harmonise with modern conceptions of Deity. Yet the Greek notion of
Nemesis has an element of permanency in it, for it represents a
principle underlying human life. It suggests a sort of elasticity in
human experience, a tendency to rebound from a strain; this is the
equilibrium of the moral world, the force which resists departure from
the normal, becoming greater in proportion as departure from the normal
is wider. Thus in commercial speculation there is a safe medium certain
to bring profit in the long run; in social ambition there is a certain
rise though slow: if a man hurries to be rich, or seeks to rise in
public life by leaps and bounds, the spectator becomes aware of a secret
force that has been set in motion, as when the equilibrium of physical
bodies has been disturbed, which force threatens to drag the aspirant
down to the point from which he started, or to debase him lower in
proportion to the height at which he rashly aimed. Such a force is
'risk,' and it may remain risk, but if it be crowned with the expected
fall the whole is recognised as 'Nemesis.' This Nemesis is deeply
embedded in the popular mind and repeatedly crops up in its proverbial
wisdom. Proverbs like 'Grasp all, lose all,' 'When things come to the
worst they are sure to mend,' exactly express moral equilibrium, and the
'golden mean' is its proverbial formula. The saying 'too much of a good
thing' suggests that the Nemesis on departures from the golden mean
applies to good things as well as bad; while the principle is made to
apply even to the observation of the golden mean itself in the proverb
'Nothing venture, nothing have.' Nevertheless, this side of the whole
notion has in modern usage fallen into the background in comparison with
another aspect of Nemesis. The grand distinction of modern thought is
the predominance in it of moral ideas: they colour even its imagination;
and if the Greeks carried their art-sense into morals, modern instincts
have carried morals into art. In particular the speculations raised by
Christianity have cast the shadow of Sin over the whole universe. It has
been said that the conception of Sin is unknown to the ancients, and
that the word has no real equivalent in Latin or Classical Greek. The
modern mind is haunted by it. Notions of Sin have invaded art, and
Nemesis shows their influence: vague conceptions of some supernatural
vindication of artistic proportion in life have now crystallised into
the interest of watching morals and art united in their treatment of
Sin. The link between Sin and its retribution becomes a form of
art-pleasure; and no dramatic effect is more potent in modern Drama than
that which emphasises the principle that whatsoever a man soweth that
shall he also reap.

[_Dramatic Nemesis latent in the Story of the Jew._]

Now for this dramatic effect of Nemesis it would be difficult to find a
story promising more scope than the Story of the Cruel Jew. It will be
seen at once to contain a double nemesis, attaching to the Jew himself
and to his victim. The two moreover represent the different conceptions
of Nemesis in the ancient and modern world; Antonio's excess of moral
confidence suffers a nemesis of reaction in his humiliation, and
Shylock's sin of judicial murder finds a nemesis of retribution in his
ruin by process of law. The nemesis, it will be observed, is not merely
two-fold, but double in the way that a double flower is distinct from
two flowers: it is a nemesis _on_ a nemesis; the nemesis which visits
Antonio's fault is the crime for which Shylock suffers his nemesis.
Again, in that which gives artistic character to the reaction and the
retribution the two nemeses differ. Let St. Paul put the difference for
us: 'Some men's sins are evident, going before unto judgment; and some
they follow after.' So in cases like that of Shylock the nemesis is
interesting from its very obviousness and the impatience with which we
look for it; in the case of Antonio the nemesis is striking for the very
opposite reason, that he of all men seemed most secure against it.

[_Antonio: perfection and self-sufficiency, the Nemesis of Surprise._]

Antonio must be understood as a perfect character: for we must read the
play in the light of its age, and intolerance was a mediæval virtue. But
there is no single good quality that does not carry with it its special
temptation, and the sum of them all, or perfection, has its shadow in
self-sufficiency. It is so with Antonio. Of all national types of
character the Roman is the most self-sufficient, alike incorruptible by
temptation and independent of the softer influences of life: [=iii.= ii.
297.] we find that 'Roman honour' is the idea which Antonio's friends
are accustomed to associate with him. Further the dramatist contrives to
exhibit Antonio to us in circumstances calculated to bring out this
drawback to his perfection. In the opening scene we see the dignified
merchant-prince suffering under the infliction of frivolous visitors, to
which his friendship with the young nobleman exposes him: his tone
throughout the interview is that of the barest toleration, and suggests
that his courtesies are felt rather as what is due to himself than what
is due to those on whom they are bestowed. [=i.= i. 60-64.] When
Salarino makes flattering excuses for taking his leave, Antonio replies,
first with conventional compliment,

    Your worth is very dear in my regard,

and then with blunt plainness, as if Salarino were not worth the trouble
of keeping up polite fiction:

    I take it, your own business calls on you
    And you embrace the occasion to depart.

[=i.= i. 8.]

The visitors, trying to find explanation for Antonio's seriousness,
suggest that he is thinking of his vast commercial speculations; Antonio
draws himself up:

[=i.= i. 41.]

    Believe me, no: I thank my fortune for it,
    My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
    Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate
    Upon the fortune of this present year:
    Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad.

Antonio is saying in his prosperity that _he_ shall never be moved. But
the great temptation to self-sufficiency lies in his contact, not with
social inferiors, but with a moral outcast such as Shylock: confident
that the moral gulf between the two can never be bridged over, Antonio
has violated dignity as well as mercy in the gross insults he has heaped
upon the Jew whenever they have met. [=i.= iii. 99 &c.] In the Bond
Scene we see him unable to restrain his insults at the very moment in
which he is soliciting a favour from his enemy; [=i.= iii. 107-130.] the
effect reaches a climax as Shylock gathers up the situation in a single
speech, reviewing the insults and taunting his oppressor with the
solicited obligation:

    Well then, it now appears you need my help:
    Go to, then; you come to me, and you say,
    'Shylock, we would have moneys': you say so;
    You, that did void your rheum upon my beard
    And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur
    Over your threshold: moneys is your suit.

There is such a foundation of justice for these taunts that for a
moment our sympathies are transferred to Shylock's side. But Antonio, so
far from taking warning, is betrayed beyond all bounds in his defiance;
and in the challenge to fate with which he replies we catch the tone of
infatuated confidence, the _hybris_ in which Greek superstition saw the
signal for the descent of Nemesis.

[=i.= iii. 131.]

    I am as like to call thee so again,
    To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too.
    If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not
    As to thy friends ...
    _But lend it rather to thine enemy,
    Who, if he break, thou may'st with better face
    Exact the penalty_.

To this challenge of self-sufficiency the sequel of the story is the
answering Nemesis: the merchant becomes a bankrupt, the first citizen of
Venice a prisoner at the bar, the morally perfect man holds his life and
his all at the mercy of the reprobate he thought he might safely insult.

[_Shylock: malignant justice, the Nemesis of Measure for Measure._]

So Nemesis has surprised Antonio in spite of his perfectness: but the
malice of Shylock is such as is perpetually crying for retribution, and
the retribution is delayed only that it may descend with accumulated
force. In the case of this second nemesis the Story of the Jew exhibits
dramatic capability in the opportunity it affords for the sin and the
retribution to be included within the same scene. [=iv.= i.] Portia's
happy thought is a turning-point in the Trial Scene on the two sides of
which we have the Jew's triumph and the Jew's retribution; the two sides
are bound together by the principle of measure for measure, and for each
detail of vindictiveness that is developed in the first half of the
scene there is a corresponding item of nemesis in the sequel. [_Charter_
v. _statute_. =iv.= i. 38; compare 102, 219.] To begin with, Shylock
appeals to the charter of the city. It is one of the distinctions
between written and unwritten law that no flagrant injustice can arise
out of the latter. If the analogy of former precedents would seem to
threaten such an injustice, it is easy in a new case to meet the special
emergency by establishing a new precedent; where, however, the letter of
the written law involves a wrong, however great, it must, nevertheless,
be exactly enforced. Shylock takes his stand upon written law; [compare
=iii.= iii. 26-31.] indeed upon the strictest of all kinds of written
law, for the charter of the city would seem to be the instrument
regulating the relations between citizens and aliens--an absolute
necessity for a free port--which could not be superseded without
international negotiations. But what is the result? As plaintiff in the
cause Shylock would, in the natural course of justice, leave the court,
when judgment had been given against him, with no further mortification
than the loss of his suit. He is about to do so when he is recalled:

    It is enacted in the laws of Venice, &c.

[=iv.= i. 314.]

Unwittingly, he has, by the action he has taken, entangled himself with
an old statute law, forgotten by all except the learned Bellario, which,
going far beyond natural law, made the mere attempt upon a citizen's
life by an alien punishable to the same extent as murder. Shylock had
chosen the letter of the law, and by the letter of the law he is to
suffer. [_Humour_ v. _quibble_.] Again, every one must feel that the
plea on which Portia upsets the bond is in reality the merest quibble.
It is appropriate enough in the mouth of a bright girl playing the
lawyer, but no court of justice could seriously entertain it for a
moment: by every principle of interpretation a bond that could justify
the cutting of human flesh must also justify the shedding of blood,
which is necessarily implied in such cutting. But, to balance this, we
have Shylock in the earlier part of the scene refusing to listen to
arguments of justice, and taking his stand upon his 'humour': [=iv.= i.
40-62.] if he has a whim, he pleads, for giving ten thousand ducats to
have a rat poisoned, who shall prevent him? The suitor who rests his
cause on a whim cannot complain if it is upset by a quibble. Similarly,
throughout the scene, every point in Shylock's justice of malice meets
its answer in the justice of nemesis. He is offered double the amount of
his loan:

[_Offer of double_ v. _refusal of principal._]

    If every ducat in six thousand ducats
    Were in six parts, and every part a ducat,

he answers, he would not accept them in lieu of his bond. [=iv.= i. 318,
336.] The wheel of Nemesis goes round, and Shylock would gladly accept
not only this offer but even the bare principal; but he is denied, on
the ground that he has refused it in open court. They try to bend him to
thoughts of mercy:

[_Complete security_ v. _total loss._]

    How shalt thou hope for mercy, rendering none?

He dares to reply:

    What judgement shall I dread, doing no wrong?

The wheel of Nemesis goes round, and Shylock's life and all lie at the
mercy of the victim to whom he had refused mercy and the judge to whose
appeal for mercy he would not listen. [_Exultation_ v. _irony._] In the
flow of his success, when every point is being given in his favour, he
breaks out into unseemly exultation:

[=iv.= i. 223, 246, 250, 301, 304.]

    A Daniel come to judgement! yea, a Daniel!

The ebb comes, and his enemies catch up the cry and turn it against him:

[=iv.= i. 313, 317, 323, 333, 340.]

    A Daniel, still say I, a second Daniel!
    I thank thee, Jew, for _teaching_ me that word.

Such then is the Story of the Jew, and so it exhibits nemesis clashing
with nemesis, the nemesis of surprise with the nemesis of equality and
intense satisfaction.

       *       *       *       *       *

[_The Caskets Story._]

In the Caskets Story, which Shakespeare has associated with the Story of
the Jew, the dramatic capabilities are of a totally different kind. In
the artist's armoury one of the most effective weapons is Idealisation:
[_Idealisation:_] inexplicable touches throwing an attractiveness over
the repulsive, uncovering the truth and beauty which lie hidden in the
commonplace, and showing how much can be brought out of how little with
how little change. [_the exhibition of a commonplace experience in a
glorified form._] A story will be excellent material, then, for dramatic
handling which contains at once some experience of ordinary life, and
also the surroundings which can be made to exhibit this experience in a
glorified form: the more commonplace the experience, the greater the
triumph of art if it can be idealised. The point of the Caskets Story to
the eye of an artist in Drama is the opportunity it affords for such an
idealisation of the commonest problem in everyday experience--what may
be called the Problem of Judgment by Appearances.

[_Problem of Judgment by Appearances._]

In the choice between alternatives there are three ways in which
judgment may be exercised. The first mode, if it can be called judgment
at all, is to accept the decision of chance--to cast lots, or merely to
drift into a decision. An opposite to this is purely rational choice.
But rational choice, if strictly interpreted as a logical process,
involves great complications. If a man would choose according to the
methods of strict reason, he must, first of all, purge himself of all
passion, for passion and reason are antagonistic. Next, he must examine
himself as to the possibility of latent prejudice; and as prejudice may
be unconsciously inherited, he must include in the sphere of his
examination ancestral and national bias. Then, he must accumulate all
the evidence that can possibly bear upon the question in hand, and
foresee every eventuality that can result from either alternative. When
he has all the materials of choice before him, he must proceed to
balance them against one another, seeing first that the mental faculties
employed in the process have been equally developed by training. All
such preliminary conditions having been satisfied, he may venture to
enquire on which side the balance dips, maintaining his suspense so long
as the dip is undecided. And when a man has done all this he has
attained only that degree of approach to strictly rational choice which
his imperfect nature admits. Such pure reason has no place in real life:
judgment in practical affairs is something between chance and this
strict reason; it attempts to use the machinery of rational choice, but
only so far as practical considerations proper to the matter in hand
allow. This medium choice is what I am here calling Judgment by
Appearances, for it is clear that the antithesis between appearance and
reality will obtain so long as the materials of choice are
scientifically incomplete; the term will apply with more and more
appropriateness as the divergence from perfect conditions of choice is
greater.

[_This idealised: a maximum in the issue._]

Judgment by Appearances so defined is the only method of judgment proper
to practical life, and accordingly an exalted exhibition of it must
furnish a keen dramatic interest. How is such a process to be glorified?
Clearly Judgment by Appearances will reach the ideal stage when there is
the maximum of importance in the issue to be decided and the minimum of
evidence by which to decide it. These two conditions are satisfied in
the Caskets Story. In questions touching the individual life, that of
marriage has this unique importance, that it is bound up with wide
consequences which extend beyond the individual himself to his
posterity. With the suitors of Portia the question is of marriage with
the woman who is presented as supreme of her age in beauty, in wealth
and in character; [=ii.= i. 40, &c.] moreover, the other alternative is
a vow of perpetual celibacy. So the question at issue in the Caskets
Story concerns the most important act of life in the most important form
in which it can be imagined to present itself. [_and a minimum in the
evidence._] When we turn to the evidence on which this question is to be
decided we find that of rational evidence there is absolutely none. The
choice is to be made between three caskets distinguished by their metals
and by the accompanying inscriptions:

[=ii.= vii. 5-9.]

    Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.
    Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves.
    Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath.

However individual fancies may incline, it is manifestly impossible to
set up any train of _reasoning_ which should discover a ground of
preference amongst the three. And it is worth noting, as an example of
Shakespeare's nicety in detail, that the successful chooser reads in the
scroll which announces his victory,

[=iii.= ii. 132.]

    You that choose not by the view,
    Chance _as_ fair, and choose _as_ true:

Shakespeare does not say '_more_ fair,' '_more_ true.' [=i.= ii. 30-36.]
This equal balancing of the alternatives will appear still clearer when
we recollect that it is an intentional puzzle with which we are dealing,
and accordingly that even if ingenuity could discover a preponderance of
reason in favour of any one of the three, there would be the chance that
this preponderance had been anticipated by the father who set the
puzzle. The case becomes like that of children bidden to guess in which
hand a sweetmeat is concealed. They are inclined to say the right hand,
but hesitate whether that answer may not have been foreseen and the
sweetmeat put in the left hand; and if on this ground they are tempted
to be sharp and guess the left hand, there is the possibility that this
sharpness may have been anticipated, and the sweetmeat kept after all in
the right hand. If then the Caskets Story places before us three
suitors, going through three trains of intricate reasoning for guidance
in a matter on which their whole future depends, whereas we, the
spectators, can see that from the nature of the case no reasoning can
possibly avail them, we have clearly the Problem of Judgment by
Appearances drawn out in its ideal form; and our sympathies are
attracted by the sight of a process, belonging to our everyday
experience, yet developed before us in all the force artistic setting
can bestow.

[_Solution of the problem: the characters of the choosers determine
their fates._]

But is this all? Does Shakespeare display before us the problem, yet
give no help towards its solution? The key to the suitors' fates is not
to be found in the trains of reasoning they go through. [=iii.= ii, from
43; esp. 61.] As if to warn us against looking for it in this
direction. Shakespeare contrives that we never hear the reasonings of
the successful suitor. By a natural touch Portia, who has chosen
Bassanio in her heart, is represented as unable to bear the suspense of
hearing him deliberate, and calls for music to drown his meditations; it
is only the conclusion to which he has come that we catch as the music
closes. The particular song selected on this occasion points dimly in
the direction in which we are to look for the true solution of the
problem:

[=iii.= ii. 63.]

    Tell me where is fancy bred,
    Or in the heart or in the head?

'Fancy' in Shakespearean English means 'love'; and the discussion,
whether love belongs to the head or the heart, is no inappropriate
accompaniment to a reality which consists in this--that the success in
love of the suitors, which they are seeking to compass by their
reasonings, is in fact being decided by their characters.

To compare the characters of the three suitors, it will be enough to
note the different form that pride takes in each. [=ii.= i, vii.] The
first suitor is a prince of a barbarian race, who has thus never known
equals, but has been taught to consider himself half divine; as if made
of different clay from the rest of mankind he instinctively shrinks from
'lead.' [=ii.= vii. 20.] Yet modesty mingles with his pride, and though
he feels truly that, so far [=ii.= vii. 24-30.] as the estimation of him
by others is concerned, he might rely upon 'desert,' yet he doubts if
desert extends as far as Portia. [=ii.= vii, from 36.] What seizes his
attention is the words, 'what many men desire'; and he rises to a flight
of eloquence in picturing wildernesses and deserts become thoroughfares
by the multitude of suitors flocking to Belmont. But he is all the while
betraying a secret of which he was himself unconscious: he has been led
to seek the hand of Portia, not by true love, but by the feeling that
what all the world is seeking the Prince of Morocco must not be slow to
claim. Very different is the pride of Arragon. [=ii.= ix.] He has no
regal position, but rather appears to be one who has fallen in social
rank: [compare =ii.= ix. 47-9.] he makes up for such a fall by intense
pride of family, and is one of those who complacently thank heaven that
they are not as other men. The 'many men' which had attracted Morocco
repels Arragon:

[=ii.= ix. 31.]

    I will not choose what many men desire,
    Because I will not jump with common spirits,
    And rank me with the barbarous multitudes.

[=ii.= ix, from 36.] He is caught by the bait of 'desert.' It is true he
almost deceives us with the lofty tone in which he reflects how the
world would benefit if dignities and offices were in all cases purchased
by the merit of the wearer; yet there peeps through his sententiousness
his real conception of merit--the sole merit of family descent. His
ideal is that the 'true seed of honour' should be 'picked from the chaff
and ruin of the times,' and wrest greatness from the 'low peasantry' who
had risen to it. He accordingly rests his fate upon desert: and he finds
in the casket of his choice a fool's head. [=iii.= ii, from 73.] Of
Bassanio's soliloquy we hear enough to catch that his pride is the pride
of the soldier, who will yield to none the post of danger, [compare =i.=
ii. 124.] and how he is thus attracted by the 'threatening' of the
leaden casket:

                            thou meagre lead,
    Which rather threatenest than dost promise aught,
    Thy paleness moves me more than eloquence.

Moreover, he is a lover, and the threatening is a challenge to show what
he will risk for love: his true heart finds its natural satisfaction in
'giving and hazarding' his all. This is the pride that is worthy of
Portia; and thus the ingenious puzzle of the 'inspired' father has
succeeded in piercing through the outer defence of specious reasoning,
and carrying its repulsion and attraction to the inmost characters of
the suitors.

[_General principle: character as an element in judgment._]

Such, then, is Shakespeare's treatment of the Problem of Judgment by
Appearances: while he draws out the problem itself to its fullest extent
in displaying the suitors elaborating trains of argument for a
momentous decision in which we see that reason can be of no avail, he
suggests for the solution that, besides reason, there is in such
judgments another element, character, and that in those crises in which
reason is most fettered, character is most potent. An important solution
this is; for what is character? A man's character is the shadow of his
past life; it is the grand resultant of all the forces from within and
from without that have been operating upon him since he became a
conscious agent. Character is the sandy footprint of the commonplace
hardened into the stone of habit; it is the complexity of daily tempers,
judgments, restraints, impulses, all focussed into one master-passion
acting with the rapidity of an instinct. To lay down then, that where
reason fails as an element in judgment, character comes to its aid, is
to bind together the exceptional and the ordinary in life. In most of
the affairs of life men have scope for the exercise of commonplace
qualities, but emergencies do come where this is denied them; in these
cases, while they think, like the three suitors, that they are moving
voluntarily in the direction in which they are judging fit at the
moment, in reality the weight of their past lives is forcing them in the
direction in which their judgment has been accustomed to take them. Thus
in the moral, as in the physical world, nothing is ever lost: not a
ripple on the surface of conduct but goes on widening to the outermost
limit of experience. Shakespeare's contribution to the question of
practical judgment is that by the long exercise of commonplace qualities
we are building up a character which, though unconsciously, is the
determining force in the emergencies in which commonplace qualities are
impossible.



II.

HOW SHAKESPEARE IMPROVES THE STORIES IN THE TELLING.

_A Study in Dramatic Workmanship._


[_Two points of Dramatic Mechanism._]

IN treating the Story as the raw material of the Romantic Drama it has
already been shown, in the case of the stories utilised for _The
Merchant of Venice_, what natural capacities these exhibit for dramatic
effect. The next step is to show how the artist increases their dramatic
force in the process of working them up. Two points will be illustrated
in the present study: first, how Shakespeare meets the difficulties of a
story and reduces them to a minimum; secondly, how he improves the two
tales by weaving them together so that they assist one another's effect.

[_Reduction of difficulties specially important in Drama._]

The avoidance or reduction of difficulties in a story is an obvious
element in any kind of artistic handling; it is of special importance in
Drama in proportion as we are more sensitive to improbabilities in what
is supposed to take place before our eyes than in what we merely hear of
by narrative. This branch of art could not be better illustrated than in
the Story of the Jew: never perhaps has an artist had to deal with
materials so bristling with difficulties of the greatest magnitude, and
never, it may be added, have they been met with greater ingenuity. The
host of improbabilities gathering about such a detail as the pound of
flesh must strike every mind. [_First difficulty: monstrosity of the
Jew's character._] There is, however, preliminary to these, another
difficulty of more general application: the difficulty of painting a
character bad enough to be the hero of the story. It might be thought
that to paint excess of badness is comparatively easy, as needing but a
coarse brush. On the contrary, there are few severer tests of creative
power than the treatment of monstrosity. To be told that there is
villainy in the world and tacitly to accept the statement may be easy;
it is another thing to be brought into close contact with the villains,
to hear them converse, to watch their actions and occasionally to be
taken into their confidence. We realise in Drama through our sympathy
and our experience: in real life we have not been accustomed to come
across monsters and are unfamiliar with their behaviour; in proportion
then as the badness of a character is exaggerated it is carried outside
the sphere of our experience, the naturalness of the scene is
interrupted and its human interest tends to decline. So, in the case of
the story under consideration, the dramatist is confronted with this
dilemma: he must make the character of Shylock absolutely bad, or the
incident of the bond will appear unreal; he must not make the character
extraordinarily bad, or there is danger of the whole scene appearing
unreal.

[_Its repulsiveness counteracted by sympathy with his wrongs._]

Shakespeare meets a difficulty of this kind by a double treatment. On
the one hand, he puts no limits to the blackness of the character
itself; on the other hand, he provides against repulsiveness by giving
it a special attraction of another kind. In the present case, while
painting Shylock as a monster, he secures for him a hold upon our
sympathy by representing him as a victim of intolerable ill-treatment
and injustice. The effect resembles the popular sympathy with criminals.
The men themselves and their crimes are highly repulsive; but if some
slight irregularity occurs in the process of bringing them to
justice--if a counsel shows himself unduly eager, or a judge appears for
a moment one-sided, a host of volunteer advocates espouse their cause.
These are actuated no doubt by sensitiveness to purity of justice; but
their protests have a ring that closely resembles sympathy with the
criminals themselves, whom they not unfrequently end by believing to be
innocent and injured. [e.g. in =iii.= i, iii; =iv.= i; =ii.= 5.] In the
same way Shakespeare shows no moderation in the touches of
bloodthirstiness, of brutality, of sordid meanness he heaps together in
the character of Shylock; but he takes equal pains to rouse our
indignation at the treatment he is made to suffer. [e.g. =iii.= i.;
=iv.= i, &c.] Personages such as Gratiano, Salanio, Salarino, Tubal,
serve to keep before us the mediæval feud between Jew and Gentile, and
the persecuting insolence with which the fashionable youth met the
money-lenders who ministered to their necessities. [=i.= iii. 107-138.]
Antonio himself has stepped out of his natural character in the
grossness of his insults to his enemy. [=iii.= i. 57, 133; =iii.= iii.
22; and =i.= iii. 45.] Shylock has been injured in pocket as well as in
sentiment, Antonio using his wealth to disturb the money-market and
defeat the schemes of the Jew; according to Shylock Antonio has hindered
him of half-a-million, and were he out of Venice the usurer could make
what merchandise he would. Finally, our sense of deliverance in the
Trial Scene cannot hinder a touch of compunction for the crushed
plaintiff, as he appeals against the hard justice meted out to him:--the
loss of his property, the acceptance of his life as an act of grace, the
abandonment of his religion and race, which implies the abandonment of
the profession by which he makes his living.

[=iv.= i. 374.]

    Nay, take my life and all; pardon not that:
    You take my house when you do take the prop
    That doth sustain my house; you take my life
    When you do take the means whereby I live.

By thus making us resent the harsh fate dealt to Shylock the dramatist
recovers in our minds the fellow-feeling we have lost in contemplating
the Jew himself. [_Dramatic Hedging._] A name for such double treatment
might be 'Dramatic Hedging': as the better covers a possible loss by a
second bet on the opposite side, so, when the necessities of a story
involve the creation of a monster, the dramatic artist 'hedges' against
loss of attractiveness by finding for the character human interest in
some other direction. So successful has Shakespeare been in the present
instance that a respectable minority of readers rise from the play
partisans of Shylock.

[_Difficulties connected with the pound of flesh._]

We pass on to the crop of difficulties besetting the pound of flesh as a
detail in the bond. That such a bond should be proposed, that when
proposed it should be accepted, that it should be seriously entertained
by a court of justice, that if entertained at all it should be upset on
so frivolous a pretext as the omission of reference to the shedding of
blood: these form a series of impossible circumstances that any
dramatist might despair of presenting with even an approach to
naturalness. Yet if we follow the course of the story as moulded by
Shakespeare we shall find all these impossibilities one after another
evaded.

[_Proposal of the bond._]

At the end of the first scene Antonio had bidden Bassanio go forth and
try what his credit could do in Venice. [=i.= i. 179.] Armed with this
blank commission Bassanio hurries into the city. As a gay young nobleman
he knows nothing of the commercial world except the money-lenders; and
now proceeds to the best-known of them, apparently unaware of what any
gossip on the Rialto could have told him, the unfortunate relations
between this Shylock and his friend Antonio. [compare =i.= iii. 1-40.]
At the opening of the Bond Scene we find Bassanio and Shylock in
conversation, Bassanio impatient and irritated to find that the famous
security he has to offer seems to make so little impression on the
usurer. [=i.= iii. 41.] At this juncture Antonio himself falls[1] in
with them, sees at a glance to what his rash friend has committed him,
but is too proud to draw back in sight of his enemy. Already a minor
difficulty is surmounted, as to how Antonio comes to be in the position
of asking an obligation of Shylock. Antonio is as impatient as dignity
will permit to bring an awkward business to a conclusion. Shylock, on
the contrary, to whom the interview itself is a triumph, in which his
persecutor is appearing before him in the position of a client, casts
about to prolong the conversation to as great a length as possible. Any
topic would serve his purpose; but what topic more natural than the
question at the root of the feud between the two, the question of
lending money on interest? It is here we reach the very heart of our
problem, how the first mention of the pound of flesh is made without a
shock of unreality sufficient to ruin the whole scene. Had Shylock asked
for a forfeiture of a million per cent., or in any other way thrown into
a commercial form his purpose of ruining Antonio, the old feud and the
present opportunity would be explanation sufficient: the real difficulty
is the total incongruity between such an idea as a pound of human flesh
and commercial transactions of any kind. [_The proposal led up to by the
discourse on interest._] This difficulty Shakespeare has met by one of
his greatest triumphs of mechanical ingenuity: his leading up to the
proposal of the bond by the discussion on interest. The effect of this
device a modern reader is in danger of losing: [=i.= iii, from 69.] we
are so familiar with the idea of interest at the present day that we are
apt to forget what the difficulty was to the ancient and mediæval mind,
which for so many generations kept the practice of taking interest
outside the pale of social decency. This prejudice was one of the
confusions arising out of the use of a metal currency. The ancient mind
could understand how corn put into the ground would by the agency of
time alone produce twentyfold, thirtyfold, or a hundredfold; they could
understand how cattle left to themselves would without human assistance
increase from a small to a large flock: but how could metal grow? how
could lifeless gold and silver increase and multiply like animals and
human beings? The Greek word for interest, _tokos_, is the exact
equivalent of the English word _breed_, and the idea underlying the two
was regularly connected with that of interest in ancient discussions.
The same idea is present throughout the dispute between Antonio and
Shylock. Antonio indignantly asks:

[=i.= iii. 134.]

                       when did friendship take
    A _breed_ for _barren metal_ of his friend?

[=i.= iii. 72.]

Shylock illustrates usury by citing the patriarch Jacob and his clever
trick in cattle-breeding; showing how, at a time when cattle were the
currency, the natural rate of increase might be diverted to private
advantage. Antonio interrupts him:

[=i.= iii. 96.]

    Is your gold and silver ewes and rams?

Shylock answers:

    I cannot tell; I make it _breed_ as fast;

both parties thus showing that they considered the distinction between
the using of flesh and metal for the medium of wealth to be the
essential point in their dispute. With this notion then of flesh
_versus_ money floating in the air between them the interview goes on to
the outbursts of mutual hatred which reach a climax in Antonio's
challenge to Shylock to do his worst; [=i.= iii, from 138.] this
challenge suddenly combines with the root idea of the conversation to
flash into Shylock's mind the suggestion of the bond. In an instant he
smoothes his face and proposes friendship. He will lend the money
without interest, in pure kindness, nay more, he will go to that extent
of good understanding implied in joking, and will have a merry bond;
while as to the particular joke (he says in effect), since you
Christians cannot understand interest in the case of money while you
acknowledge it in the case of flesh and blood, suppose I take as my
interest in this bond a pound of your own flesh. In such a context the
monstrous proposal sounds almost natural. It has further been ushered
in a manner which makes it almost impossible to decline it. When one who
is manifestly an injured man is the first to make advances, a generous
adversary finds it almost impossible to hold back. A sensitive man,
again, will shrink from nothing more than from the ridicule attaching to
those who take serious precautions against a jest. And the more
incongruous Shylock's proposal is with commercial negotiations the
better evidence it is of his non-commercial intentions. In a word, the
essence of the difficulty was the incongruity between human flesh and
money transactions: it has been surmounted by a discussion, flowing
naturally from the position of the two parties, of which the point is
the relative position of flesh and money as the medium of wealth in the
past.

[_Difficulty of legally recognising the bond evaded:_]

The bond thus proposed and accepted, there follows the difficulty of
representing it as entertained by a court of justice. With reference to
Shakespeare's handling of this point it may be noted, first, that he
leaves us in doubt whether the court would have entertained it: [=iv.=
i. 104.] the Duke is intimating an intention of adjourning at the moment
when the entrance of Portia gives a new turn to the proceedings. [=iv.=
i. 17.] Again, at the opening of the trial, the Duke gives expression to
the universal opinion that Shylock's conduct was intelligible only on
the supposition that he was keeping up to the last moment the
appearance of insisting on his strange terms, in order that before the
eyes of the whole city he might exhibit his enemy at his mercy, and then
add to his ignominy by publicly pardoning him: a fate which, it must be
admitted, was no more than Antonio justly deserved. This will explain
how Shylock comes to have a hearing at all: when once he is admitted to
speak it is exceedingly difficult to resist the pleas Shakespeare puts
into his mouth. [=iv.= i. 38.] He takes his stand on the city's charter
and the letter of the law, and declines to be drawn into any discussion
of natural justice; [=iv.= i. 90.] yet even as a question of natural
justice what answer can be found when he casually points to the
institution of slavery, which we must suppose to have existed in Venice
at the period? Shylock's only offence is his seeking to make Antonio's
life a matter of barter: what else is the accepted institution of
slavery but the establishment of power over human flesh and blood and
life, simply because these have been bought with money, precisely as
Shylock has given good ducats for his rights over the flesh of Antonio?
No wonder the perplexed Duke is for adjourning.

[_Difficulty as to the traditional mode of upsetting the bond met._]

There remains one more difficulty, the mode in which, according to the
traditional story, the bond is upset. It is manifest that the agreement
as to the pound of flesh, if it is to be recognised by a court of
justice at all, cannot without the grossest perversion of justice be
cancelled on the ground of its omitting to mention blood. Legal evasion
can go to great lengths. It is well known that an Act requiring cabs to
carry lamps at night has been evaded through the omission of a direction
that the lamps were to be lighted; and that importers have escaped a
duty on foreign gloves at so much the pair by bringing the right-hand
and left-hand gloves over in different ships. But it is perfectly
possible to carry lamps without lighting them, while it is a clear
impossibility to cut human flesh without shedding blood. Nothing of
course would be easier than to upset the bond on rational
grounds--indeed the difficulty is rather to imagine it receiving
rational consideration at all; but on the other hand no solution of the
perplexity could be half so dramatic as the one tradition has preserved.
The dramatist has to choose between a course of procedure which shall be
highly dramatic but leave a sense of injustice, and one that shall be
sound and legal but comparatively tame. Shakespeare contrives to secure
both alternatives. He retains the traditional plea as to the blood, but
puts it into the mouth of one known to his audience to be a woman
playing the lawyer for the nonce; [=iv.= i. 314, 347.] and again, before
we have time to recover from our surprise and feel the injustice of the
proceeding, he follows up the brilliant evasion by a sound legal plea,
the suggestion of a real lawyer. Portia has come to the court from a
conference with her cousin Bellario, the most learned jurist of Venice.
[=iii.= iv. 47; =iv.= i. 143.] Certainly it was not this doctor who hit
upon the idea of the blood being omitted. His contribution to the
interesting consultation was clearly the old statute of Venice, which
every one else seems to have forgotten, which made the mere attempt on
the life of a citizen by an alien punishable with death and loss of
property: according to this piece of statute law not only would
Shylock's bond be illegal, but the demand of such security constituted a
capital offence. Thus Shakespeare surmounts the final difficulty in the
story of the Jew in a mode which retains dramatic force to the full, yet
does this without any violation of legal fairness.

       *       *       *       *       *

[_The interweaving of the two stories._]

The second purpose of the present study is to show how Shakespeare has
improved his two stories by so weaving them together that they assist
one another's effect.

First, it is easy to see how the whole movement of the play rises
naturally out of the union of the two stories. One of the main
distinctions between the progress of events in real life or history and
in Drama is that the movement of a drama falls into the form technically
known as Complication and Resolution. [_Complication and Resolution._]
A dramatist fastens our attention upon some train of events: then he
sets himself to divert this train of events from its natural course by
some interruption; this interruption is either removed, and the train of
events returns to its natural course, or the interruption is carried on
to some tragic culmination. In _The Merchant of Venice_ our interest is
at the beginning fixed on Antonio as rich, high-placed, the protector
and benefactor of his friends. By the events following upon the incident
of the bond we see what would seem the natural life of Antonio diverted
into a totally different channel; in the end the old course is restored,
and Antonio becomes prosperous as before. Such interruption of a train
of incidents is its Complication, and the term Complication suggests a
happy Resolution to follow. Complication and Resolution are essential to
dramatic movement, as discords and their 'resolution' into concords
constitute the essence of music. [_The one story complicated and
resolved by the other._] The Complication and Resolution in the story of
the Jew serve for the Complication and Resolution of the drama as a
whole; and my immediate point is that these elements of movement in the
one story spring directly out of its connection with the other. [=i.= i,
from 122; =i.= iii.] But for Bassanio's need of money and his blunder in
applying to Shylock the bond would never have been entered into, and the
change in Antonio's fortunes would never have come about: thus the cause
for all the Complication of the play (technically, the Complicating
Force) is the happy lover of the Caskets Story. Similarly Portia is the
means by which Antonio's fortunes are restored to their natural flow: in
other words, the source of the Resolution (or Resolving Force) is the
maiden of the Caskets Story. The two leading personages of the one tale
are the sources respectively of the Complication and Resolution in the
other tale, which carry the Complication and Resolution of the drama as
a whole. Thus simply does the movement of the whole play flow from the
union of the two stories.

[_The whole play symmetrical about its central scene._]

One consequence flowing from this is worth noting; that the scene in
which Bassanio makes his successful choice of the casket is the Dramatic
Centre of the whole play, as being the point in which the Complicating
and Resolving Forces meet. This Dramatic Centre is, according to
Shakespeare's favourite custom, placed in the exact mechanical centre of
the drama, covering the middle of the middle Act. There is again an
amount of poetic splendour lavished upon this scene which throws it up
as a poetic centre to the whole. More than this, it is the real crisis
of the play. Looking philosophically upon the whole drama as a piece of
history, we must admit that the true turning-point is the success of
Bassanio; the apparent crisis is the Trial Scene, but this is in reality
governed by the scene of the successful choice, and if Portia and
Bassanio had not been united in the earlier scene no lawyer would have
interposed to turn the current of events in the trial. There is yet
another sense in which the same scene may be called central. Hitherto I
have dealt with only two tales; the full plot however of _The Merchant
of Venice_ involves two more, the Story of Jessica and the Episode of
the Rings: it is to be observed that all four stories meet in the scene
of the successful choice. This scene is the climax of the Caskets Story.
[=iii.= ii, from 221.] It is connected with the catastrophe in the Story
of the Jew: Bassanio, at the moment of his happiness, learns that the
friend through whom he has been able to contend for the prize has
forfeited his life to his foe as the price of his liberality. The scene
is connected with the Jessica Story: for Jessica and her husband are the
messengers who bring the sad tidings, and thus link together the bright
and gloomy elements of the play. [=iii.= ii. 173-187.] Finally, the
Episode of the Rings, which is to occupy the end of the drama, has its
foundation in this scene, in the exchange of the rings which are
destined to be the source of such ironical perplexity. Such is the
symmetry with which the plot of _The Merchant of Venice_ has been
constructed: the incident which is technically its Dramatic Centre is at
once its mechanical centre, its poetic centre, and, philosophically
considered, its true turning-point; while, considering the play as a
Romantic drama with its union of stories, we find in the same central
incident all the four stories dovetailed together.

[_Shakespeare as a master of Plot_.]

These points may appear small and merely technical. But is a constant
purpose with me in the present exposition of Shakespeare as a Dramatic
Artist to combat the notion, so widely prevalent amongst ordinary
readers, that Shakespeare, though endowed with the profoundest grasp of
human nature, is yet careless in the construction of his plots: a notion
in itself as improbable as it would be that a sculptor could be found to
produce individual figures exquisitely moulded and chiselled, yet
awkwardly and clumsily grouped. It is the minuter points that show the
finish of an artist; and such symmetry of construction as appears in
_The Merchant of Venice_ is not likely to characterise a dramatist who
sacrifices plot to character-painting.

[_The union of a light with a serious story._]

There remains another point, which no one will consider small or
technical, connected with the union of the two stories: the fact that
Shakespeare has thus united a light and a serious story, that he has
woven together gloom and brightness. This carries us to one of the great
battlefields of dramatic history; no feature is more characteristic of
the Romantic Drama than this mingling of light and serious in the same
play, and at no point has it been more stoutly assailed by critics
trained in an opposite school. I say nothing of the wider scope this
practice gives to the dramatist, nor the way in which it brings the
world of art nearer to the world of reality; my present purpose is to
review the dramatic effects which flow from the mingling of the two
elements in the present play.

[_Dramatic effects arising out of this union._]

In general human interest the stories are a counterpoise to one
another, so different in kind, so equal in the degree of interest their
progress continues to call forth. The incidents of the two tales gather
around Antonio and Portia respectively; [_Effects of Human Interest._]
each of these is a full and rounded character, and they are both centres
of their respective worlds. [=i.= i. 1.] The stories seem to start from
a common point. The keynote to the story of the Jew is the strange
'sadness'--the word implies no more than seriousness--which overpowers
Antonio, and which seems to be the shadow of his coming trouble. Compare
with this the first words we hear of Portia:

[=i.= ii. 1.]

    By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this great world.

Such a humorous languor is a fitting precursor to the excitement and
energy of the scenes which follow. But from this common starting-point
the stories move in opposite directions; the spectator's sympathies are
demanded alternately for two independent chains of circumstances, for
the fortunes of Antonio sinking lower and lower, and the fortunes of
Portia rising higher and higher. He sees the merchant and citizen become
a bankrupt prisoner, the lordly benefactor of his friends a wretch at
the mercy of his foe. He sees Portia, already endowed with beauty,
wealth, and character, attain what to her heart is yet higher, the power
to lay all she has at the feet of the man she loves. Then, when they are
at the climax of their happiness and misery, when Portia has received
all that this world can bestow, and Antonio has lost all that this world
can take away, for the first time these two central personages meet face
to face in the Trial Scene. [_Effects of Plot._] And if from general
human interest we pass on to the machinery of plot, we find this also
governed by the same combination: a half-serious frolic is the medium in
which a tragic crisis finds its solution.

[_Emotional effects: increase of tragic passion;_]

But it is of course passion and emotional interest which are mainly
affected by the union of light and serious: these we shall appreciate
chiefly in connection with the Trial Scene, where the emotional threads
of the play are gathered into a knot, and the two personages who are the
embodiments of the light and serious elements face one another as judge
and prisoner. [=iv.= i, from 225.] In this scene it is remarkable how
Portia takes pains to prolong to the utmost extent the crisis she has
come to solve; she holds in her fingers the threads of the tangled
situation, and she is strong enough to play with it before she will
consent to bring it to an end. [178.] She has intimated her opinion that
the letter of the bond must be maintained, [184-207.] she has made her
appeal to Shylock for mercy and been refused, she has heard Bassanio's
appeal to wrest the law for once to [214-222.] her authority and has
rejected it; there remains nothing but to pronounce the decree. [225.]
But at the last moment she asks to see the bond, and every spectator in
court holds his breath and hears his heart beat as he follows the
lawyer's eye down line after line. [227-230.] It is of no avail; at the
end she can only repeat the useless offer of thrice the loan, with the
effect of drawing from Shylock an oath that he will not give way.
[230-244.] Then Portia admits that the bond is forfeit, with a needless
reiteration of its horrible details; yet, as if it were some evenly
balanced question, in which after-thoughts were important, she once more
appeals to Shylock to be merciful and bid her tear the bond, and evokes
a still stronger asseveration from the malignant victor, until even
Antonio's stoicism begins to give way, and he begs for a speedy
judgment. [243.] Portia then commences to pass her judgment in language
of legal prolixity, which sounds like a recollection of her hour with
Bellario:--

    For the intent and purpose of the law
    Hath full relation to the penalty,
    Which here appeareth due upon the bond, &c.

[255-261.]

Next she fads about the details of the judicial barbarity, the balance
to weigh the flesh, a surgeon as a forlorn hope; and when Shylock demurs
to the last, stops to argue that he might do this for charity. At last
surely the intolerable suspense will come to a termination. [263.] But
our lawyer of half-an-hour's standing suddenly remembers she has
forgotten to call on the defendant in the suit, and the pathos is
intensified by the dying speech of Antonio, calmly welcoming death for
himself, anxious only to soften Bassanio's remorse, his last human
passion a rivalry with Portia for the love of his friend.

[=iv.= i. 276.]

                      Bid her be judge
    Whether Bassanio had not once a love.

[=iv.= i, from 299.]

When the final judgment can be delayed no longer its opening sentences
are still lengthened out by the jingling repetitions of judicial
formality,

    The law allows it, and the court awards it, &c.

Only when every evasion has been exhausted comes the thunderstroke which
reverses the whole situation. Now it is clear that had this situation
been intended to have a tragic termination this prolonging of its
details would have been impossible; thus to harrow our feelings with
items of agony would be not art but barbarity. It is because Portia
knows what termination she is going to give to the scene that she can
indulge in such boldness; it is because the audience have recognised in
Portia the signal of deliverance that the lengthening of the crisis
becomes the dramatic beauty of suspense. It appears then that, if this
scene be regarded only as a crisis of tragic passion, the dramatist has
been able to extract more _tragic_ effect out of it by the device of
assisting the tragic with a light story.

[_reaction and comic effect;_]

Again, it is a natural law of the human mind to pass from strain to
reaction, and suspense relieved will find vent in vehement exhilaration.
By giving Portia her position in the crisis scene the dramatist is
clearly furnishing the means for a reaction to follow, and the reaction
is found in the [=iv.= i, from 425.] Episode of the Rings, by which the
disguised wives entangle their husbands in a perplexity affording the
audience the bursts of merriment needed as relief from the tension of
the Trial Scene. The play is thus brought into conformity with the laws
of mental working, and the effect of the reaction is to make the
serious passion more keen because more healthy.

[_effects of mixed passion._]

Finally, there are the effects of mixed passion, neither wholly serious
nor wholly light, but compounded of the two, which are impossible to a
drama that can admit only a single tone. The effect of Dramatic Irony,
which Shakespeare inherited from the ancient Drama, but greatly modified
and extended, is powerfully illustrated at the most pathetic point of
the Trial Scene, [=iv.= i. 273-294.] when Antonio's chance reference to
Bassanio's new wife calls from Bassanio and his followers agonised vows
to sacrifice even their wives if this could save their patron--little
thinking that these wives are standing by to record the vow. But there
is an effect higher than this. [=iv.= i. 184-202.] Portia's outburst on
the theme of mercy, considered only as a speech, is one of the noblest
in literature, a gem of purest truth in a setting of richest music. But
the situation in which she speaks it is so framed as to make Portia
herself the embodiment of the mercy she describes. How can we imagine a
higher type of mercy, the feminine counterpart of justice, than in the
bright woman, at the moment of her supreme happiness, appearing in the
garb of the law to deliver a righteous unfortunate from his one error,
and the justice of Venice from the insoluble perplexity of having to
commit a murder by legal process? And how is this situation brought
about but by the most intricate interweaving of a story of brightness
with a story of trouble?

In all branches then of dramatic effect, in Character, in Plot and in
Passion, the union of a light with a serious story is found to be a
source of power and beauty. The fault charged against the Romantic Drama
has upon a deeper view proved a new point of departure in dramatic
progress; and in this particular case the combination of tales so
opposite in character must be regarded as one of the leading points in
which Shakespeare has improved the tales in the telling.


FOOTNOTES:

[1] No commentator has succeeded in making intelligible the line

[=i.= iii. 42.]

    How like a fawning publican he looks!

as it stands in the text at the opening of Shylock's soliloquy. The
expression 'fawning publican' is so totally the opposite of all the
qualities of Antonio that it could have no force even in the mouth of a
satirist. It is impossible not to be attracted by the simple change in
the text that would not only get over this difficulty, but add a new
effect to the scene: the change of assigning this single line to
Antonio, reserving, of course, the rest of the speech for Shylock. The
passage would then read thus [the stage direction is my own]:

    _Enter_ ANTONIO.

    _Bass._ This is Signior Antonio.

    _Ant._ [_Aside_]. How like a fawning publican he looks--

           [BASSANIO _whispers_ ANTONIO _and brings him to_ SHYLOCK.

    _Shy._ [_Aside_]. I hate him, for he is a Christian, But more, &c.

Both the terms 'fawning' and 'publican' are literally applicable to
Shylock, and are just what Antonio would be likely to say of him. It is
again a natural effect for the two foes on meeting for the first time in
the play to exchange scowling defiance. Antonio's defiance is cut short
at the first line by Bassanio's running up to him, explaining what he
has done, and bringing Antonio up to where Shylock is standing; the time
occupied in doing this gives Shylock scope for his longer soliloquy.



III.

HOW SHAKESPEARE MAKES HIS PLOT MORE COMPLEX IN ORDER TO MAKE IT MORE
SIMPLE.

_A Study in Underplot._


[_Paradox of simplicity by means of increased complexity._]

THE title of the present study is a paradox: that Shakespeare makes a
plot more complex[2] in order to make it more simple. It is however a
paradox that finds an illustration from the material world in every open
roof. The architect's problem has been to support a heavy weight without
the assistance of pillars, and it might have been expected that in
solving the problem he would at least have tried every means in his
power for diminishing the weight to be supported. On the contrary, he
has increased this weight by the addition of massive cross-beams and
heavy iron-girders. Yet, if these have been arranged according to the
laws of construction, each of them will bring a supporting power
considerably greater than its own weight; and thus, while in a literal
sense increasing the roof, for all practical purposes they may be said
to have diminished it. Similarly a dramatist of the Romantic school,
from his practice of uniting more than one story in the same plot, has
to face the difficulty of complexity. This difficulty he solves not by
seeking how to reduce combinations as far as possible, but, on the
contrary, by the addition of more and inferior stories; yet if these new
stories are so handled as to emphasise and heighten the effect of the
main stories, the additional complexity will have resulted in increased
simplicity. In the play at present under consideration, Shakespeare has
interwoven into a common pattern two famous and striking tales; his
plot, already elaborate, he has made yet more elaborate by the addition
of two more tales less striking in their character--the Story of Jessica
and the Episode of the Rings. [_The Jessica Story and the Rings Episode
assist the main stories._] If it can be shown that these inferior
stories have the effect of assisting the main stories, smoothing away
their difficulties and making their prominent points yet more prominent,
it will be clear that he has made his plot more complex only in reality
to make it more simple. The present study is devoted to noticing how the
Stories of Jessica and of the Rings minister to the effects of the Story
of the Jew and the Caskets Story.

[_The Jessica Story. It serves as Underplot for mechanical personages._]

To begin with: it may be seen that in many ways the mechanical working
out of the main stories is assisted by the Jessica story. In the first
place it relieves them of their superfluous personages. Every drama,
however simple, must contain 'mechanical' personages, who are introduced
into the play, not for their own sake, but to assist in presenting
incidents or other personages. The tendency of Romantic Drama to put a
story as a whole upon the stage multiplies the number of such mechanical
personages: and when several such stories come to be combined in one,
there is a danger of the stage being crowded with characters which
intrinsically have little interest. Here the Underplots become of
service and find occupation for these inferior personages. In the
present case only four personages are essential to the main
plot--Antonio, Shylock, Bassanio, Portia. But in bringing out the
unusual tie that binds together a representative of the city and a
representative of the nobility, [e.g. =i.= i; =iii.= iii; =iv.= i.] and
upon which so much of the plot rests, it is an assistance to introduce
the rank and file of gay society and depict these paying court to the
commercial magnate. The high position of Antonio and Bassanio in their
respective spheres will come out still clearer if these lesser social
personages are graduated. [=i.= i; compare =iii.= i. esp. 14-18.]
Salanio, Salerio, and Salarino are mere parasites; [=i.= i. 74-118. =i.=
ii. 124. =v.= i, &c. =i.= ii, &c. =iii.= i. 80, &c.] Gratiano has a
certain amount of individuality in his wit; while, seeing that Bassanio
is a scholar as well as a nobleman and soldier, it is fitting to give
prominence amongst his followers to the intellectual and artistic
Lorenzo. Similarly the introduction of Nerissa assists in presenting
Portia fully; Shylock is seen in his relations with his race by the aid
of Tubal, his family life is seen in connection with Jessica, and his
behaviour to dependants in connection with Launcelot; Launcelot himself
is set off by Gobbo. Now the Jessica story is mainly devoted to these
inferior personages, and the majority of them take an animated part in
the successful elopement. It is further to be noted that the Jessica
Underplot has itself an inferior story attached to it, [=ii.= ii. iii;
=iii.= v.] that of Launcelot, who seeks scope for his good nature by
transferring himself to a Christian master, just as his mistress seeks a
freer social atmosphere in union with a Christian husband. And,
similarly, side by side with the Caskets Story, which unites Portia and
Bassanio, [=iii.= ii. 188, &c.] we have a faintly-marked underplot which
unites their followers, Nerissa and Gratiano. In one or other of these
inferior stories the mechanical personages find attachment to plot; and
the multiplication of individual figures, instead of leaving an
impression of waste, is made to minister to the sense of Dramatic
Economy.

[_It assists mechanical development: occupying the three months'
interval,_]

Again: as there are mechanical personages so there are mechanical
difficulties--difficulties of realisation which do not belong to the
essence of a story, but which appear when the story comes to be worked
out upon the stage. The Story of the Jew involves such a mechanical
difficulty in the interval of three months which elapses between the
signing of the bond and its forfeiture. In a classical setting this
would be avoided by making the play begin on the day the bond falls due;
such treatment, however, would shut out the great dramatic opportunity
of the Bond Scene. The Romantic Drama always inclines to exhibiting the
whole of a story; it must therefore in the present case _suppose_ a
considerable interval between one part of the story and another, and
such suppositions tend to be weaknesses. The Jessica Story conveniently
bridges over this interval. The first Act is given up to bringing about
the bond, which at the beginning of the third Act appears to be broken.
The intervening Act consists of no less than nine scenes, and while
three of them carry on the progress of the Caskets Story, the other six
are devoted to the elopement of Jessica: the bustle and activity implied
in such rapid change of scene indicating how an underplot can be used to
keep the attention of the audience just where the natural interest of
the main story would flag.

[_and so breaking gradually the news of Antonio's losses._]

The same use of the Jessica Story to bridge over the three months'
interval obviates another mechanical difficulty of the main plot. The
loss of all Antonio's ships, the supposition that all the commercial
ventures of so prudent a merchant should simultaneously miscarry, is so
contrary to the chances of things as to put some strain upon our sense
of probability; and this is just one of the details which, too
unimportant to strike us in an anecdote, become realised when a story is
presented before our eyes. The artist, it must be observed, is not bound
to find actual solutions for every possible difficulty; he has merely to
see that they do not interfere with dramatic effect. Sometimes he so
arranges his incidents that the difficulty is met and vanishes;
sometimes it is kept out of sight, the portion of the story which
contains it going on behind the scenes; at other times he is content
with reducing the difficulty in amount. In the present instance the
improbability of Antonio's losses is lessened by the gradual way in
which the news is broken to us, distributed amongst the numerous scenes
of the three months' interval. [=ii.= viii. 25.] We get the first hint
of it in a chance conversation between Salanio and Salarino, in which
they are chuckling over the success of the elopement and the fury of the
robbed father. Salanio remarks that Antonio must look that he keep his
day; this reminds Salarino of a ship he has just heard of as lost
somewhere in the English Channel:

    I thought upon Antonio when he told me;
    And wish'd in silence that it were not his.

[=iii.= i.] In the next scene but one the same personages meet, and one
of them, enquiring for the latest news, is told that the rumour yet
lives of Antonio's loss, and now the exact place of the wreck is
specified as the Goodwin Sands; Salarino adds: 'I would it might prove
the end of his losses.' Before the close of the scene Shylock and Tubal
have been added to it. Tubal has come from Genoa and gives Shylock the
welcome news that at Genoa it was _known_ that Antonio had lost an
argosy coming from Tripolis; while on his journey to Venice Tubal had
travelled with creditors of Antonio who were speculating upon his
bankruptcy as a certainty. [=iii.= ii.] Then comes the central scene in
which the full news reaches Bassanio at the moment of his happiness: all
Antonio's ventures failed--

    From Tripolis, from Mexico and England,
    From Lisbon, Barbary, and India,

not one escaped. [=iii.= iii.] In the following scene we see Antonio in
custody.

[_The Jessica Story assists Dramatic Hedging in regard to Shylock._]

These are minor points such as may be met with in any play, and the
treatment of them belongs to ordinary Dramatic Mechanism. But we have
already had to notice that the Story of the Jew contains special
difficulties which belong to the essence of the story, and must be met
by special devices. One of these was the monstrous character of the Jew
himself; and we saw how the dramatist was obliged to maintain in the
spectators a double attitude to Shylock, alternately letting them be
repelled by his malignity and again attracting their sympathy to him as
a victim of wrong. Nothing in the play assists this double attitude so
much as the Jessica Story. Not to speak of the fact that Shylock shows
no appreciation for the winsomeness of the girl who attracts every one
else in the drama, nor of the way in which this one point of brightness
in the Jewish quarter throws up the sordidness of all her surroundings,
[=ii.= iii. 2.] we hear the Jew's own daughter reflect that his house is
a 'hell,' and we see enough of his domestic life to agree with her.
[e.g. =ii.= v.] A Shylock painted without a tender side at all would be
repulsive; he becomes much more repulsive when he shows a tenderness for
one human being, and yet it appears how this tenderness has grown hard
and rotten with the general debasement of his soul by avarice, until, in
his ravings over his loss, [=iii.= i, from 25.] his ducats and his
daughter are ranked as equally dear.

    [=iii.= i. 92.] I would my daughter were dead at my foot, and the
    jewels in her ear! Would she were hearsed at my foot, and the ducats
    in her coffin!

For all this we feel that he is hardly used in losing her. Paternal
feeling may take a gross form, but it is paternal feeling none the less,
and cannot be denied our sympathy; bereavement is a common ground upon
which not only high and low, but even the pure and the outcast, are
drawn together. Thus Jessica at home makes us hate Shylock: with Jessica
lost we cannot help pitying him. The perfection of Dramatic Hedging lies
in the equal balancing of the conflicting feelings, and one of the most
powerful scenes in the whole play is devoted to this twofold display of
Shylock. Fresh from the incident of the elopement, he is encountered by
the parasites and by Tubal: these amuse themselves with alternately
'chaffing' him upon his losses, and 'drawing' him in the matter of the
expected gratification of his vengeance, while his passions rock him
between extremes of despair and fiendish anticipation. [_Jessica
Shakespeare's compensation to Shylock._] We may go further. Great
creative power is accompanied by great attachment to the creations and
keen sense of justice in disposing of them. Looked at as a whole, the
Jessica Story is Shakespeare's compensation to Shylock. [=iv.= i.
348-394.] The sentence on Shylock, which the necessities of the story
require, is legal rather than just; yet large part of it consists in a
requirement that he shall make his daughter an heiress. And, to put it
more generally, the repellent character and hard fate of the father have
set against them the sweetness and beauty of the daughter, together with
the full cup of good fortune which her wilful rebellion brings her in
the love of Lorenzo and the protecting friendship of Portia. Perhaps the
dramatist, according to his wont, is warning us of this compensating
treatment when he makes one of the characters early in the play exclaim:
[=ii.= iv. 34.]

    If e'er the Jew her father come to heaven,
    It will be for his gentle daughter's sake.

[_The Jessica Story explains Shylock's unyieldingness._]

The other main source of difficulty in the Story of the Jew is, as we
have seen, the detail concerning the pound of flesh, which throws
improbability over every stage of its progress. In one at least of these
stages the difficulty is directly met by the aid of the Jessica Story:
it is this which explains Shylock's resolution not to give way. When we
try in imagination to realise the whole circumstances, common sense must
take the view taken in the play itself by the Duke:

[=iv.= i. 17.]

    Shylock, the world thinks, and I think so too,
    That thou but lead'st this fashion of thy malice
    To the last hour of act; and then 'tis thought
    Thou'lt show thy mercy and remorse more strange
    Than is thy strange apparent cruelty.

A life-long training in avarice would not easily resist an offer of nine
thousand ducats. But further, the alternatives between which Shylock has
to choose are not so simple as the alternatives of Antonio's money or
his life. On the one hand, Shylock has to consider the small chance that
either the law or the mob would actually suffer the atrocity to be
judicially perpetrated, and how his own life would be likely to be lost
in the attempt. Again, turning to the other alternative, Shylock is
certainly deep in his schemes of vengeance, and the finesse of malignity
must have suggested to him how much more cruel to a man of Antonio's
stamp it would be to fling him a contemptuous pardon before the eyes of
Venice than to turn him into a martyr, even supposing this to be
permitted. But at the moment when the choice becomes open to Shylock he
has been maddened by the loss of his daughter, who, with the wealth she
has stolen, has gone to swell the party of his deadly foe. It is fury,
not calculating cruelty, that makes Shylock with a madman's tenacity
cling to the idea of blood, while this passion is blinding him to a more
keenly flavoured revenge, and risking the chance of securing any
vengeance at all[3].

[_The Jessica Story assists the interweaving of the main stories._]

From the mechanical development of the main plot and the reduction of
its difficulties, we pass to the interweaving of the two principal
stories, which is so leading a feature of the play. In the main this
interweaving is sufficiently provided for by the stories themselves, and
we have already seen how the leading personages in the one story are the
source of the whole movement in the other story. But this interweaving
is drawn closer still by the affair of Jessica: [_It is thus a Link
Action,_] technically described the position in the plot of Jessica's
elopement is that of a Link Action between the main stories. This
linking appears in the way in which Jessica and her suite are in the
course of the drama transferred from the one tale to the other. At the
opening of the play they are personages in the Story of the Jew, and
represent its two antagonistic sides, Jessica being the daughter of the
Jew and Lorenzo a friend and follower of Bassanio and Antonio. First the
contrivance of the elopement assists in drawing together these opposite
sides of the Jew Story, and aggravating the feud on which it turns.
[=iii.= ii, from 221.] Then, as we have seen, Jessica and her husband in
the central scene of the whole play come into contact with the Caskets
Story at its climax. From this point they become adopted into the
Caskets Story, and settle down in the house and under the protection of
Portia. [_helping to restore the balance between the main stories,_]
This transference further assists the symmetry of interweaving by
helping to adjust the balance between the two main stories. In its
_mass_, if the expression may be allowed, the Caskets tale, with its
steady progress to a goal of success, is over-weighted by the tale of
Antonio's tragic peril and startling deliverance: the Jessica episode,
withdrawn from the one and added to the other, helps to make the two
more equal. Once more, the case, we have seen, is not merely that of a
union between stories, but a union between stories opposite in kind, a
combination of brightness with gloom. [_and a bond between their bright
and dark climaxes._] The binding effect of the Jessica Story extends to
the union between these opposite tones. We have already had occasion to
notice how the two extremes meet in the central scene, how from the
height of Bassanio's bliss we pass in an instant to the total ruin of
Antonio, which we then learn in its fulness for the first time: the link
which connects the two is the arrival of Jessica and her friends as
bearers of the news.

[_Character effects. Character of Jessica._]

So far, the points considered have been points of Mechanism and Plot; in
the matter of Character-Interest the Jessica episode is to an even
greater degree an addition to the whole effect of the play, Jessica and
Lorenzo serving as a foil to Portia and Bassanio. The characters of
Jessica and Lorenzo are charmingly sketched, though liable to
misreading unless carefully studied. To appreciate Jessica we must in
the first place assume the grossly unjust mediæval view of the Jews as
social outcasts. [=ii.= v.] The dramatist has vouchsafed us a glimpse of
Shylock at home, and brief as the scene is it is remarkable how much of
evil is crowded into it. The breath of home life is trust, yet the one
note which seems to pervade the domestic bearing of Shylock is the
lowest suspiciousness. [12, 16, 36.] Three times as he is starting for
Bassanio's supper he draws back to question the motives for which he has
been invited. He is moved to a shriek of suspicion by the mere fact of
his servant joining him in shouting for the absent Jessica, [7.] by the
mention of masques, by the sight of the servant whispering to his
daughter [28, 44.]. Finally, he takes his leave with the words

[52.]

    Perhaps I will return immediately,

a device for keeping order in his absence which would be a low one for a
nurse to use to a child, but which he is not ashamed of using to his
grown-up daughter and the lady of his house. The short scene of
fifty-seven lines is sufficient to give us a further reminder of
Shylock's sordid house-keeping, which is glad to get rid of the
good-natured Launcelot as a 'huge feeder'; [3, 46.] and his aversion to
any form of gaiety, which leads him to insist on his shutters being put
up when he hears that there is a chance of a pageant in the streets
[28.]. Amidst surroundings of this type Jessica has grown up, a
motherless girl, mingling only with harsh men (for we nowhere see a
trace of female companionship for her): [=ii.= iii. 20.] it can hardly
be objected against her that she should long for a Christian atmosphere
in which her affections might have full play. Yet even for this natural
reaction she feels compunction:

[=ii.= iii. 16.]

    Alack, what heinous sin is it in me
    To be ashamed to be my father's child!
    But though I am a daughter to his blood,
    I am not to his manners.

Formed amidst such influences it would be a triumph to a character if it
escaped repulsiveness; Jessica, on the contrary, is full of attractions.
She has a simplicity which stands to her in the place of principle. More
than this she has a high degree of feminine delicacy. Delicacy will be
best brought out in a person who is placed in an equivocal situation,
and we see Jessica engaged, not only in an elopement, but in an
elopement which, [=ii.= iv. 30.] it appears, has throughout been planned
by herself and not by Lorenzo. Of course a quality like feminine
delicacy is more conveyed by the bearing of the actress than by positive
words; we may however notice the impression which Jessica's part in the
elopement scenes makes upon those who are present. [=ii.= iv. 30-40.]
When Lorenzo is obliged to make a confidant of Gratiano, and tell him
how it is Jessica who has planned the whole affair, instead of feeling
any necessity of apologising for her the thought of her childlike
innocence moves him to enthusiasm, and it is here that he exclaims:

    If e'er the Jew her father come to heaven,
    It will be for his gentle daughter's sake.

[=ii.= vi.]

In the scene of the elopement itself, Jessica has steered clear of both
prudishness and freedom, and when after her pretty confusion she has
retired from the window, even Gratiano breaks out:

[=ii.= vi. 51.]

    Now, by my hood, a Gentile and no Jew;

while Lorenzo himself has warmed to see in her qualities he had never
expected:

[=ii.= vi. 52.]

    Beshrew me but I love her heartily;
    For she is wise, if I can judge of her,
    And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true,
    And true she is, as she has proved herself,
    And therefore, like herself, wise, fair, and true,
    Shall she be placed in my constant soul.

So generally, all with whom she comes into contact feel her spell:
[=ii.= iii. 10.] the rough Launcelot parts from her with tears he is
ashamed of yet cannot keep down; [=iii.= i. 41.] Salarino--the last of
men to take high views of women--resents as a sort of blasphemy
Shylock's claiming her as his flesh and blood; [=iii.= iv, v; =v.= i.]
while between Jessica and Portia there seems to spring in an instant an
attraction as mysterious as is the tie between Antonio and Bassanio.

[_Character of Lorenzo._]

Lorenzo is for the most part of a dreamy inactive nature, as may be seen
in his amused tolerance of Launcelot's word-fencing [=iii.= v.
44-75.]--word-fencing being in general a challenge which none of
Shakespeare's characters can resist; similarly, Jessica's enthusiasm on
the subject of Portia, which in reality he shares, he prefers to meet
with banter [=iii.= v. 75-89.]:

                Even such a husband
    Hast thou of me as she is for a wife.

But the strong side of his character also is shown us in the play: [=v.=
i. 1-24, 54-88.] he has an artist soul, and to the depth of his passion
for music and for the beauty of nature we are indebted for some of the
noblest passages in Shakespeare. This is the attraction which has drawn
him to Jessica, her outer beauty is the index of artistic sensibility
within: [=v.= i. 69, 1-24.] 'she is never merry when she hears sweet
music,' and the soul of rhythm is awakened in her, just as much as in
her husband, by the moonlight scene. Simplicity again, is a quality they
have in common, as is seen by their ignorance in money-matters, [=iii.=
i. 113, 123.] and the way a valuable turquoise ring goes for a
monkey--if, at least, Tubal may be believed: a carelessness of money
which mitigates our dislike of the free hand Jessica lays upon her
father's ducats and jewels. On the whole, however, Lorenzo's dreaminess
makes a pretty contrast to Jessica's vivacity. And Lorenzo's inactivity
is capable of being roused to great things. This is seen by the
elopement itself: [esp. =ii.= iv. 20, 30; =ii.= vi. 30. &c.] for the
suggestion of its incidents seems to be that Lorenzo meant at first no
more than trifling with the pretty Jewess, and that he rose to the
occasion as he found and appreciated Jessica's higher tone and
attraction. [=iii.= iv. 24, 32.] Finally, we must see the calibre of
Lorenzo's character through the eyes of Portia, who selects him at
first sight as the representative to whom to commit her household in her
absence, of which commission she will take no refusal.

[_Jessica and Lorenzo a foil to Portia and Bassanio._]

So interpreted the characters of Jessica and Lorenzo make the whole
episode of the elopement an antithesis to the main plot. To a wedded
couple in the fresh happiness of their union there can hardly fall a
greater luxury than to further the happiness of another couple; this
luxury is granted to Portia and Bassanio, and in their reception of the
fugitives what picturesque contrasts are brought together! The two pairs
are a foil to one another in kind, and set one another off like gold and
gems. Lorenzo and Jessica are negative characters with the one positive
quality of intense capacity for enjoyment; Bassanio and Portia have
everything to enjoy, yet their natures appear dormant till roused by an
occasion for daring and energy. The Jewess and her husband are
distinguished by the bird-like simplicity that so often goes with
special art-susceptibility; Portia and Bassanio are full and rounded
characters in which the whole of human nature seems concentrated. The
contrast is of degree as well as kind: the weaker pair brought side by
side with the stronger throw out the impression of their strength.
Portia has a fulness of power which puts her in her most natural
position when she is extending protection to those who are less able to
stand by themselves. Still more with Bassanio: he has so little scope in
the scenes of the play itself, which from the nature of the stories
present him always in situations of dependence on others, that we see
his strength almost entirely by the reflected light of the attitude
which others hold to him; in the present instance we have no difficulty
in catching the intellectual power of Lorenzo, and Lorenzo looks up to
Bassanio as a superior. And the couples thus contrasted in character
present an equal likeness and unlikeness in their fortunes. Both are
happy for ever, and both have become so through a bold stroke. Yet in
the one instance it is blind obedience, in face of all temptations, to
the mere whims of a good parent, who is dead, that has been guided to
the one issue so passionately desired; in the case of the other couple
open rebellion, at every practical risk, against the legitimate
authority of an evil father, still living, has brought them no worse
fate than happiness in one another, and for their defenceless position
the best of patrons.

It seems, then, that the introduction of the Jessica Story is justified,
not only by the purposes of construction which it serves, but by the
fact that its human interest is at once a contrast and a supplement to
the main story, with which it blends to produce the ordered variety of a
finished picture.

[_The Rings Episode assists the mechanism of the main stories,_]

A few words will be sufficient to point out how the effects of the main
plot are assisted by the Rings Episode, which, though rich in fun, is of
a slighter character than the Jessica Story, and occupies a much smaller
space in the field of view. The dramatic points of the two minor stories
are similar. Like the Jessica Story the Rings Episode assists the
mechanical working out of the main plot. An explanation must somehow be
given to Bassanio that the lawyer is Portia in disguise; mere mechanical
explanations have always an air of weakness, but the affair of the rings
utilises the explanation in the present case as a source of new dramatic
effects. This arrangement further assists, to a certain extent, in
reducing the improbability of Portia's project. The point at which the
improbability would be most felt would be, not the first appearance of
the lawyer's clerk, for then we are engrossed in our anxiety for
Antonio, but when the explanation of the disguise came to be made; there
might be a danger lest here the surprise of Bassanio should become
infectious, and the audience should awake to the improbability of the
whole story: as it is, their attention is at the critical moment
diverted to the perplexity of the penitent husbands. [_and their
interweaving;_] The Story of the Rings, like that of Jessica, assists
the interweaving of the two main stories with one another, its subtlety
suggesting to what a degree of detail this interlacing extends. Bassanio
is the main point which unites the Story of the Jew and the Caskets
Story; in the one he occupies the position of friend, in the other of
husband. [=iv.= i. 425-454.] The affair of the rings, slight as it is,
is so managed by Portia that its point becomes a test as between his
friendship and his love; and so equal do these forces appear that,
though his friendship finally wins and he surrenders his betrothal ring,
yet it is not until after his wife has given him a hint against herself:

    An if your wife be not a mad-woman,
    And know how well I have deserved the ring,
    She would not hold out enemy for ever
    For giving it to me.

The Rings Episode, even more than the Jessica Story, assists in
restoring the balance between the main tales. The chief inequality
between them lies in the fact that the Jew Story is complicated and
resolved, while the Caskets Story is a simple progress to a goal; when,
however, there springs from the latter a sub-action which has a highly
comic complication and resolution the two halves of the play become
dramatically on a par. And the interweaving of the dark and bright
elements in the play is assisted by the fact that the Episode of the
Rings not only provides a comic reaction to relieve the tragic crisis,
but its whole point is a Dramatic Irony in which serious and comic are
inextricably mixed.

[_and assists in the development of Portia's character._]

Finally, as the Jessica Story ministers to Character effect in
connection with the general ensemble of the personages, so the Episode
of the Rings has a special function in bringing out the character of
Portia. The secret of the charm which has won for Portia the suffrages
of all readers is the perfect balance of qualities in her character: she
is the meeting-point of brightness, force, and tenderness. And, to crown
the union, Shakespeare has placed her at the supreme moment of life, on
the boundary line between girlhood and womanhood, when the wider aims
and deeper issues of maturity find themselves in strange association
with the abandon of youth. The balance thus becomes so perfect that it
quivers, and dips to one side and the other. [=i.= ii. 39.] Portia is
the saucy child as she sprinkles her sarcasms over Nerissa's enumeration
of the suitors: in the trial she faces the world of Venice as a heroine.
[=iii.= ii. 150.] She is the ideal maiden in the speech in which she
surrenders herself to Bassanio: [=iv.= i. 184.] she is the ideal woman
as she proclaims from the judgment seat the divinity of mercy. Now the
fourth Act has kept before us too exclusively one side of this
character. Not that Portia in the lawyer's gown is masculine: but the
dramatist has had to dwell too long on her side of strength. He will not
dismiss us with this impression, but indulges us in one more daring feat
surpassing all the madcap frolics of the past. Thus the Episode of the
Rings is the last flicker of girlhood in Portia before it merges in the
wider life of womanhood. We have rejoiced in a great deliverance wrought
by a noble woman: our enjoyment rises higher yet when the Rings Episode
reminds us that this woman has not ceased to be a sportive girl.

It has been shown, then, that the two inferior stories in _The Merchant
of Venice_ assist the main stories in the most varied manner, smoothing
their mechanical working, meeting their special difficulties, drawing
their mutual interweaving yet closer, and throwing their character
effects into relief: the additional complexity they have brought has
resulted in making emphatic points yet more prominent, and the total
effect has therefore been to increase clearness and simplicity. Enough
has now been said on the building up of Dramas out of Stories, which is
the distinguishing feature of the Romantic Drama; the studies that
follow will be applied to the more universal topics of dramatic
interest, Character, Plot, and Passion.


FOOTNOTES:

[2] It is a difficulty of literary criticism that it has to use as
technical terms words belonging to ordinary conversation, and therefore
more or less indefinite in their significations. In the present work I
am making a distinction between 'complex' and 'complicated': the latter
is applied to the diverting a story out of its natural course with a
view to its ultimate 'resolution'; 'complex' is reserved for the
interweaving of stories with one another. Later on 'single' will be
opposed to 'complex,' and 'simple' to 'complicated.'

[3] This seems to me a reasonable view notwithstanding what Jessica says
to the contrary (iii. ii. 286), that she has often heard her father
swear he would rather have Antonio's flesh than twenty times the value
of the bond. It is one thing to swear vengeance in private, another
thing to follow it up in the face of a world in opposition. A man of
overbearing temper surrounded by inferiors and dependants often utters
threats, and seems to find a pleasure in uttering them, which both he
and his hearers know he will never carry out.



IV.

A PICTURE OF IDEAL VILLAINY IN RICHARD III.

_A Study in Character-Interpretation._


[_Villainy as a subject for art-treatment._]

I HOPE that the subject of the present study will not be considered by
any reader forbidding. On the contrary, there is surely attractiveness
in the thought that nothing is so repulsive or so uninteresting in the
world of fact but in some way or other it may be brought under the
dominion of art-beauty. The author of _L'Allegro_ shows by the companion
poem that he could find inspiration in a rainy morning; and the great
master in English poetry is followed by a great master in English
painting who wins his chief triumphs by his handling of fog and mist.
Long ago the masterpiece of Virgil consecrated agricultural toil;
Murillo's pictures have taught us that there is a beauty in rags and
dirt; rustic commonplaces gave a life passion to Wordsworth, and were
the cause of a revolution in poetry; while Dickens has penetrated into
the still less promising region of low London life, and cast a halo
around the colourless routine of poverty. Men's evil passions have given
Tragedy to art, crime is beautified by being linked to Nemesis, meanness
is the natural source for brilliant comic effects, ugliness has reserved
for it a special form of art in the grotesque, and pain becomes
attractive in the light of the heroism that suffers and the devotion
that watches. In the infancy of modern English poetry Drayton found a
poetic side to topography and maps, and Phineas Fletcher idealised
anatomy; while of the two greatest imaginations belonging to the modern
world Milton produced his masterpiece in the delineation of a fiend, and
Dante in a picture of hell. The final triumph of good over evil seems to
have been already anticipated by art.

[_The villainy of Richard ideal in its scale,_]

The portrait of Richard satisfies a first condition of ideality in the
scale of the whole picture. The sphere in which he is placed is not
private life, but the world of history, in which moral responsibility is
the highest: if, therefore, the quality of other villainies be as fine,
here the issues are deeper. [_and in its fulness of development._] As
another element of the ideal, the villainy of Richard is presented to us
fully developed and complete. Often an artist of crime will rely--as
notably in the portraiture of Tito Melema--mainly on the succession of
steps by which a character, starting from full possession of the
reader's sympathies, arrives by the most natural gradations at a height
of evil which shocks. In the present case all idea of growth is kept
outside the field of this particular play; the opening soliloquy
announces a completed process:

[=i.= i. 30.]

    I am determined to prove a villain.

What does appear of Richard's past, seen through the favourable medium
of a mother's description, only seems to extend the completeness to
earlier stages:

[=iv.= iv. 167.]

    A grievous burthen was thy birth to me;
    Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy;
    Thy school-days frightful, desperate, wild, and furious,
    Thy prime of manhood daring, bold, and venturous,
    Thy age confirm'd, proud, subtle, bloody, treacherous,
    More mild, but yet more harmful, kind in hatred.

So in the details of the play there is nowhere a note of the hesitation
that betrays tentative action. When even Buckingham is puzzled as to
what can be done if Hastings should resist, Richard answers:

[=iii.= i. 193.]

    Chop off his head, man; somewhat we will do.

His choice is only between different modes of villainy, never between
villainy and honesty.

[_It has no sufficient motive._]

Again, it is to be observed that there is no suggestion of impelling
motive or other explanation for the villainy of Richard. He does not
labour under any sense of personal injury, such as Iago felt in
believing, however groundlessly, [_Othello_: =i.= iii. 392, &c.] that
his enemies had wronged him through his wife; [_Lear_: =i.= ii. 1-22.]
or Edmund, whose soliloquies display him as conscious that his birth has
made his whole life an injury. Nor have we in this case the morbid
enjoyment of suffering which we associate with Mephistopheles, and which
Dickens has worked up into one of his most powerful portraits in Quilp.
Richard never turns aside to gloat over the agonies of his victims; it
is not so much the details as the grand schemes of villainy, the
handling of large combinations of crime, that have an interest for him:
he is a strategist in villainy, not a tactician. Nor can we point to
ambition as a sufficient motive. He is ambitious in a sense which
belongs to all vigorous natures; he has the workman's impulse to rise by
his work. But ambition as a determining force in character must imply
more than this; it is a sort of moral dazzling, its symptom is a
fascination by ends which blinds to the ruinous means leading up to
these ends. Such an ambition was Macbeth's; but in Richard the symptoms
are wanting, and in all his long soliloquies he is never found dwelling
upon the prize in view. A nearer approach to an explanation would be
Richard's sense of bodily deformity. Not only do all who come in contact
with him shrink from the 'bottled spider,' [=i.= iii. 242, 228; =iv.=
iv. 81, &c.] but he himself gives a conspicuous place in his meditations
to the thought of his ugliness; from the outset he connects his criminal
career with the reflection that he 'is not shaped for sportive tricks'
[=i.= i. 14.]:

    Deform'd, unfinish'd, sent before my time
    Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
    And that so lamely and unfashionable
    That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
    Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
    Have no delight to pass away the time,
    Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
    And descant on mine own deformity.

Still, it would be going too far to call this the motive of his crimes:
the spirit of this and similar passages is more accurately expressed by
saying that he has a morbid pleasure in contemplating physical ugliness
analogous to his morbid pleasure in contemplating moral baseness. [esp.
=i.= ii. 252-264.]

[_Villainy has become to Richard an end in itself._]

There appears, then, no sufficient explanation and motive for the
villainy of Richard: the general impression conveyed is that to Richard
villainy has become an end in itself needing no special motive. This is
one of the simplest principles of human development--that a means to an
end tends to become in time an end in itself. The miser who began
accumulating to provide comforts for his old age finds the process
itself of accumulating gain firmer and firmer hold upon him, until, when
old age has come, he sticks to accumulating and foregoes comfort. So in
previous plays Gloster may have been impelled by ambition to his crimes:
[compare _3 Henry VI:_ =iii.= ii. 165-181.] by the time the present play
is reached crime itself becomes to him the dearer of the two, and the
ambitious end drops out of sight. This leads directly to one of the two
main features of Shakespeare's portrait: Richard is an _artist in
villainy_. [_Richard an artist in villainy._] What form and colour are
to the painter, what rhythm and imagery are to the poet, that crime is
to Richard: it is the medium in which his soul frames its conceptions of
the beautiful. The gulf that separates between Shakespeare's Richard and
the rest of humanity is no gross perversion of sentiment, nor the
development of abnormal passions, nor a notable surrender in the
struggle between interest and right. It is that he approaches villainy
as a thing of pure intellect, a region of moral indifference in which
sentiment and passion have no place, attraction to which implies no more
motive than the simplest impulse to exercise a native talent in its
natural sphere.

[_Richard lacks the emotions naturally attending crime._]

Of the various barriers that exist against crime, the most powerful are
the checks that come from human emotions. It is easier for a criminal
to resist the objections his reason interposes to evildoing than to
overcome these emotional restraints: either his own emotions, woven by
generations of hereditary transmission into the very framework of his
nature, which make his hand tremble in the act of sinning; or the
emotions his crimes excite in others, such as will cause hardened
wretches, who can die calmly on the scaffold, to cower before the
menaces of a mob. Crime becomes possible only because these emotions can
be counteracted by more powerful emotions on the other side, by greed,
by thirst for vengeance, by inflamed hatred. In Richard, however, when
he is surveying his works, we find no such evil emotions raised, no
gratified vengeance or triumphant hatred. The reason is that there is in
him no restraining emotion to be overcome. Horror at the unnatural is
not subdued, but absent; [=i.= ii.] his attitude to atrocity is the
passionless attitude of the artist who recognises that the tyrant's
cruelty can be set to as good music as the martyr's heroism. Readers are
shocked at the scene in which Richard wooes Lady Anne beside the bier of
the parent he has murdered, and wonder that so perfect an intriguer
should not choose a more favourable time. But the repugnance of the
reader has no place in Richard's feelings: the circumstances of the
scene are so many _objections_, to be met by so much skill of treatment.
A single detail in the play illustrates perfectly this neutral attitude
to horror. Tyrrel comes to bring the news of the princes' murder;
Richard answers:

[=iv.= iii. 31.]

    Come to me, Tyrrel, soon at after supper,
    And thou shalt tell the process of their death.

Quilp could not have waited for his gloating till after supper; other
villains would have put the deed out of sight when done; the epicure in
villainy reserves his _bonbouche_ till he has leisure to do it justice.
Callous to his own emotions, he is equally callous to the emotions he
rouses in others. When Queen Margaret is pouring a flood of curses which
make the innocent courtiers' hair stand on end, and the heaviest curse
of all, which she has reserved for Richard himself, [=i.= iii. 216-239.]
is rolling on its climax,

    Thou slander of thy mother's heavy womb!
    Thou loathed issue of thy father's loins!
    Thou rag of honour! thou detested--

he adroitly slips in the word 'Margaret' in place of the intended
'Richard,' and thus, with the coolness of a schoolboy's small joke,
disconcerts her tragic passion in a way that gives a moral wrench to the
whole scene. [=iv.= iv, from 136.] His own mother's curse moves him not
even to anger; he caps its clauses with bantering repartees, until he
seizes an opportunity for a pun, and begins to move off: [=ii.= ii.
109.] he treats her curse, as in a previous scene he had treated her
blessing, with a sort of gentle impatience as if tired of a fond yet
somewhat troublesome parent. Finally, there is an instinct which serves
as resultant to all the complex forces, emotional or rational, which
sway us between right and wrong; this instinct of conscience is formally
disavowed by Richard:

[=v.= iii. 309.]

    Conscience is but a word that cowards use,
    Devised at first to keep the strong in awe.

[_But he regards villainy with the intellectual enthusiasm of the
artist._]

But, if the natural heat of emotion is wanting, there is, on the other
hand, the full intellectual warmth of an artist's enthusiasm, whenever
Richard turns to survey the game he is playing. He reflects with a
relish how he does the wrong and first begins the brawl, how he sets
secret mischief abroach and charges it on to others, beweeping his own
victims to simple gulls, and, [=i.= iii, from 324.] when these begin to
cry for vengeance, quoting Scripture against returning evil for evil,
and thus seeming a saint when most he plays the devil. The great master
is known by his appreciation of details, in the least of which he can
see the play of great principles: so the magnificence of Richard's
villainy does not make him insensible to commonplaces of crime. When in
the long usurpation conspiracy there is a moment's breathing space just
before the Lord Mayor enters, [=iii.= vi. 1-11.] Richard and Buckingham
utilise it for a burst of hilarity over the deep hypocrisy with which
they are playing their parts; how they can counterfeit the deep
tragedian, murder their breath in the middle of a word, tremble and
start at wagging of a straw:--here we have the musician's flourish upon
his instrument from very wantonness of skill. Again:

[=i.= i. 118.]

    Simple, plain Clarence! I do love thee so
    That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven--

is the composer's pleasure at hitting upon a readily workable theme.
Richard appreciates his murderers as a workman appreciates good tools:

[=i.= iii. 354.]

    Your eyes drop millstones, when fools' eyes drop tears:
    I like you, lads.

[=i.= ii, from 228.]

And at the conclusion of the scene with Lady Anne we have the artist's
enjoyment of his own masterpiece:

    Was ever woman in this humour woo'd?
    Was ever woman in this humour won?...
    What! I, that kill'd her husband and his father,
    To take her in her heart's extremest hate,
    With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes,
    The bleeding witness of her hatred by;
    Having God, her conscience, and these bars against me,
    And I nothing to back my suit at all,
    But the plain devil and dissembling looks,
    And yet to win her, all the world to nothing!

The tone in this passage is of the highest: it is the tone of a musician
fresh from a triumph of his art, the sweetest point in which has been
that he has condescended to no adventitious aids, no assistance of
patronage or concessions to popular tastes; it has been won by pure
music. So the artist in villainy celebrates a triumph of _plain devil_!

[_The villainy ideal in success: a fascination of irresistibility in
Richard._]

This view of Richard as an artist in crime is sufficient to explain the
hold which villainy has on Richard himself: but ideal villainy must be
ideal also in its success; and on this side of the analysis another
conception in Shakespeare's portraiture becomes of first importance. It
is obvious enough that Richard has all the elements of success which can
be reduced to the form of skill: but he has something more. No theory of
human action will be complete which does not recognise a dominion of
will over will operating by mere contact, without further explanation so
far as conscious influence is concerned. What is it that takes the bird
into the jaws of the serpent? No persuasion or other influence on the
bird's consciousness, for it struggles to keep back; we can only
recognise the attraction as a force, and give it a name, fascination. In
Richard there is a similar Fascination of Irresistibility, which also
operates by his mere presence, and which fights for him in the same way
in which the idea of their invincibility fought for conquerors like
Napoleon, and was on occasions as good to them as an extra twenty or
thirty thousand men. A consideration like this will be appreciated in
the case of _tours de force_ like the Wooing of Lady Anne, which is a
stumblingblock to many readers--a widow beside the bier of her murdered
husband's murdered father wooed and won by the man who makes no secret
that he is the murderer of them both. The analysis of ordinary human
motives would make it appear that Anne would not yield at points at
which the scene represents her as yielding; some other force is wanted
to explain her surrender, and it is found in this secret force of
irresistible will which Richard bears about with him. But, it will be
asked, in what does this fascination appear? The answer is that the idea
of it is furnished to us by the other scenes of the play. Such a
consideration illustrates the distinction between real and ideal. An
ideal incident is not an incident of real life simply clothed in beauty
of expression; nor, on the other hand, is an ideal incident divorced
from the laws of real possibility. Ideal implies that the transcendental
has been made possible by treatment: that an incident (for example)
which might be impossible in itself becomes possible through other
incidents with which it is associated, just as in actual life the action
of a public personage which may have appeared strange at the time
becomes intelligible when at his death we can review his life as a
whole. Such a scene as the Wooing Scene might be impossible as a
fragment; it becomes possible enough in the play, where it has to be
taken in connection with the rest of the plot, throughout which the
irresistibility of the hero is prominent as one of the chief threads of
connection. [_The fascination is to be conveyed in the acting._] Nor is
it any objection that the Wooing Scene comes early in the action. The
play is not the book, but the actor's interpretation on the stage, and
the actor will have collected even from the latest scenes elements of
the interpretation he throws into the earliest: the actor is a lens for
concentrating the light of the whole play upon every single detail. The
fascination of irresistibility, then, which is to act by instinct in
every scene, may be arrived at analytically when we survey the play as a
whole--when we see how by Richard's innate genius, by the reversal in
him of the ordinary relation of human nature to crime, especially by his
perfect mastery of the successive situations as they arise, the
dramatist steadily builds up an irresistibility which becomes a secret
force clinging to Richard's presence, and through the operation of which
his feats are half accomplished by the fact of his attempting them.

[_The irresistibility analysed. Unlikely means._]

To begin with: the sense of irresistible power is brought out by the way
in which the unlikeliest things are continually drawn into his schemes
and utilised as means. [=i.= i, from 42.] Not to speak of his regular
affectation of blunt sincerity, he makes use of the simple brotherly
confidence of Clarence as an engine of fratricide, [=iii.= iv; esp. 76
compared with =iii.= i. 184.] and founds on the frank familiarity
existing between himself and Hastings a plot by which he brings him to
the block. The Queen's compunction at the thought of leaving Clarence
out of the general reconciliation around the dying king's bedside is
the fruit of a conscience tenderer than her neighbours': [=ii.= i, from
73: cf. 134.] Richard adroitly seizes it as an opportunity for shifting
on to the Queen and her friends the suspicion of the duke's murder.
[=iii.= i. 154.] The childish prattle of little York Richard manages to
suggest to the bystanders as dangerous treason; [=ii.= i. 52-72.] the
solemnity of the king's deathbed he turns to his own purposes by
outdoing all the rest in Christian forgiveness and humility; [=iii.= v.
99, &c.] and he selects devout meditation as the card to play with the
Lord Mayor and citizens. On the other hand, amongst other devices for
the usurpation conspiracy, he starts a slander upon his own mother's
purity; [=iii.= v. 75-94.] and further--by one of the greatest strokes
in the whole play--makes capital in the Wooing Scene out of his own
heartlessness, [=i.= ii. 156-167.] describing in a burst of startling
eloquence the scenes of horror he has passed through, the only man
unmoved to tears, in order to add:

    And what these sorrows could not thence exhale,
    Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with weeping.

There are things which are too sacred for villainy to touch, and there
are things which are protected by their own foulness: both alike are
made useful by Richard.

[_The sensation produced by one crime made to bring about others._]

Similarly it is to be noticed how Richard can utilise the very sensation
produced by one crime as a means to bring about more; as when he
interrupts the King's dying moments to announce the death of Clarence in
such a connection as must give a shock to the most unconcerned
spectator, [=ii.= i, from 77; cf. 134.] and then draws attention to the
pale faces of the Queen's friends as marks of guilt. He thus makes one
crime beget another without further effort on his part, reversing the
natural law by which each criminal act, through its drawing more
suspicion to the villain, tends to limit his power for further mischief.
[_Richard's own plans foisted on to others._] It is to the same purpose
that Richard chooses sometimes instead of acting himself to foist his
own schemes on to others; as when he inspires Buckingham with the idea
of the young king's arrest, and, when Buckingham seizes the idea as his
own, meekly accepts it from him:

[=ii.= ii. 112-154; esp. 149.]

    I, like a child, will go by thy direction.

There is in all this a dreadful _economy_ of crime: not the economy of
prudence seeking to reduce its amount, but the artist's economy which
delights in bringing the largest number of effects out of a single
device. Such skill opens up a vista of evil which is boundless.

[_No signs of effort in Richard: imperturbability of mind._]

The sense of irresistible power is again brought out by his perfect
imperturbability of mind: villainy never ruffles his spirits. He never
misses the irony that starts up in the circumstances around him, and
says to Clarence:

[=i.= i. 111.]

              This deep disgrace in brotherhood
    _Touches_ me deeply.

While taking his part in entertaining the precocious King he treats us
to continual asides--

[=iii.= i. 79, 94.]

    So wise so young, they say, do never live long--

showing how he can stop to criticise the scenes in which he is an actor.
[=iii.= iv. 24.] He can delay the conspiracy on which his chance of the
crown depends by coming late to the council, [=iii.= iv. 32.] and then
while waiting the moment for turning upon his victim is cool enough to
recollect the Bishop of Ely's strawberries. [_humour;_] But more than
all these examples is to be noted Richard's _humour_. This is _par
excellence_ the sign of a mind at ease with itself: scorn, contempt,
bitter jest belong to the storm of passion, but humour is the sunshine
of the soul. Yet Shakespeare has ventured to endow Richard with
unquestionable humour. [=i.= i. 151-156.] Thus, in one of his earliest
meditations, he prays, 'God take King Edward to his mercy,' for then he
will marry Warwick's youngest daughter:

    What though I kill'd her husband and her father!
    The readiest way to make the wench amends
    Is to become her husband and her father!

[e.g. =i.= i. 118; =ii.= ii. 109; =iv.= iii. 38, 43; =i.= iii. 142;
=ii.= i. 72; =iii.= vii. 51-54, &c.]

And all through there perpetually occur little turns of language into
which the actor can throw a tone of humorous enjoyment; notably, when he
complains of being 'too childish-foolish for this world,' and where he
nearly ruins the effect of his edifying penitence in the Reconciliation
Scene, by being unable to resist one final stroke:

    I thank my God for my humility!

[_freedom from prejudice._]

Of a kindred nature is his perfect frankness and fairness to his
victims: villainy never clouds his judgment. Iago, astutest of
intriguers, was deceived, as has been already noted, by his own morbid
acuteness, and firmly believed--what the simplest spectator can see to
be a delusion--that Othello has tampered with his wife. Richard, on the
contrary, is a marvel of judicial impartiality; he speaks of King Edward
in such terms as these--

[=i.= i. 36.]

    If King Edward be as true and just
    As I am subtle, false and treacherous;

and weighs elaborately the superior merit of one of his victims to his
own:

[=i.= ii. from 240.]

    Hath she forgot already that brave prince,
    Edward, her lord, whom I, some three months since,
    Stabb'd in my angry mood at Tewksbury?
    A sweeter and a lovelier gentleman,
    Framed in the prodigality of nature,
    Young, valiant, wise, and, no doubt, right royal,
    The spacious world cannot again afford:
    And will she yet debase her eyes on me,
    That cropped the golden prime of this sweet prince,
    And made her widow to a woful bed?
    On me, whose all not equals Edward's moiety?

Richard can rise to all his height of villainy without its leaving on
himself the slightest trace of struggle or even effort.

[_A recklessness suggesting boundless resources._]

Again, the idea of boundless resource is suggested by an occasional
recklessness, almost a slovenliness, in the details of his intrigues.
Thus, in the early part of the Wooing Scene he makes two blunders of
which a tyro in intrigue might be ashamed. [=i.= ii. 91.] He denies that
he is the author of Edward's death, to be instantly confronted with the
evidence of Margaret as an eye-witness. Then a few lines further on he
goes to the opposite extreme:

[=i.= ii. 101.]

    _Anne._ Didst thou not kill this king?

    _Glouc._                         I grant ye.

    _Anne_. Dost grant me, hedgehog?

The merest beginner would know better how to meet accusations than by
such haphazard denials and acknowledgments. But the crack
billiard-player will indulge at the beginning of the game in a little
clumsiness, giving his adversaries a prospect of victory only to have
the pleasure of making up the disadvantage with one or two brilliant
strokes. And so Richard, essaying the most difficult problem ever
attempted in human intercourse, lets half the interview pass before he
feels it worth while to play with caution.

[_General character of Richard's intrigue: inspiration rather than
calculation._]

The mysterious irresistibility of Richard, pointed to by the succession
of incidents in the play, is assisted by the very improbability of some
of the more difficult scenes in which he is an actor. Intrigue in
general is a thing of reason, and its probabilities can be readily
analysed; but the genius of intrigue in Richard seems to make him avoid
the caution of other intriguers, and to give him a preference for feats
which seem impossible. The whole suggests how it is not by calculation
that he works, but he brings the _touch_ of an artist to his dealing
with human weakness, and follows whither his artist's inspiration leads
him. If, then, there is nothing so remote from evil but Richard can make
it tributary; if he can endow crimes with power of self-multiplying; if
he can pass through a career of sin without the taint of distortion on
his intellect and with the unruffled calmness of innocence; if Richard
accomplishes feats no other would attempt with a carelessness no other
reputation would risk, even slow reason may well believe him
irresistible. When, further, such qualifications for villainy become,
by unbroken success in villainy, reflected in Richard's very bearing;
when the only law explaining his motions to onlookers is the lawlessness
of genius whose instinct is more unerring than the most laborious
calculation and planning, it becomes only natural that the _opinion_ of
his irresistibility should become converted into a mystic _fascination_,
making Richard's very presence a signal to his adversaries of defeat,
chilling with hopelessness the energies with which they are to face his
consummate skill.

The two main ideas of Shakespeare's portrait, the idea of an artist in
crime and the fascination of invincibility which Richard bears about
with him, are strikingly illustrated in the wooing of Lady Anne. [=i.=
ii.] For a long time Richard will not put forth effort, but meets the
loathing and execration hurled at him with repartee, saying in so many
words that he regards the scene as a 'keen encounter of our wits.'
[115.] All this time the mysterious power of his presence is operating,
the more strongly as Lady Anne sees the most unanswerable cause that
denunciation ever had to put produce no effect upon her adversary, and
feels her own confidence in her wrongs recoiling upon herself. [from
152.] When the spell has had time to work then he assumes a serious
tone: suddenly, as we have seen, turning the strong point of Anne's
attack, his own inhuman nature, into the basis of his plea--he who never
wept before has been softened by love to her. From this point he urges
his cause with breathless speed; [175.] he presses a sword into her hand
with which to pierce his breast, knowing that she lacks the nerve to
wield it, and seeing how such forbearance on her part will be a
starting-point in giving way. [from 193.] We can trace the sinking of
her will before the unconquerable will of her adversary in her feebler
and feebler refusals, while as yet very shame keeps her to an outward
defiance. Then, when she is wishing to yield, he suddenly finds her an
excuse by declaring that all he desires at this moment is that she
should leave the care of the King's funeral

    To him that hath more cause to be a mourner.

By yielding this much to penitence and religion we see she has commenced
a downward descent from which she will never recover. Such consummate
art in the handling of human nature, backed by the spell of an
irresistible presence, the weak Anne has no power to combat. [=iv.= i.
66-87.] To the last she is as much lost in amazement as the reader at
the way it has all come about:

    Lo, ere I can repeat this curse again,
    Even in so short a space, my woman's heart
    Grossly grew captive to his honey words.

[_Ideal_ v. _real villainy_]

To gather up our results. A dramatist is to paint a portrait of ideal
villainy as distinct from villainy in real life. In real life it is a
commonplace that a virtuous life is a life of effort; but the converse
is not true, that he who is prepared to be a villain will therefore lead
an easy life. On the contrary, 'the _way_ of transgressors is hard.' The
metaphor suggests a path, laid down at first by the Architect of the
universe, beaten plain and flat by the generations of men who have since
trodden it: he who keeps within this path of rectitude will walk, not
without effort, yet at least with safety; but he who 'steps aside' to
the right or left will find his way beset with pitfalls and
stumblingblocks. In real life a man sets out to be a villain, but his
mental power is deficient, and he remains a villain only in intention.
Or he has stores of power, but lacks the spark of purpose to set them
aflame. Or, armed with both will to plan and mind to execute, yet his
efforts are hampered by unfit tools. Or, if his purpose needs reliance
alone on his own clear head and his own strong arm, yet in the critical
moment the emotional nature he has inherited with his humanity starts
into rebellion and scares him, like Macbeth, from the half-accomplished
deed. Or, if he is as hardened in nature as corrupt in mind and will,
yet he is closely pursued by a mocking fate, which crowns his well-laid
plans with a mysterious succession of failures. Or, if there is no other
limitation on him from within or from without, yet he may move in a
world too narrow to give him scope: the man with a heart to be the
scourge of his country proves in fact no more than the vagabond of a
country side.--But in Shakespeare's portrait we have infinite capacity
for mischief, needing no purpose, for evil has become to it an end in
itself; we have one who for tools can use the baseness of his own nature
or the shame of those who are his nearest kin, while at his touch all
that is holiest becomes transformed into weapons of iniquity. We have
one whose nature in the past has been a gleaning ground for evil in
every stage of his development, and who in the present is framed to look
on unnatural horror with the eyes of interested curiosity. We have one
who seems to be seconded by fate with a series of successes, which
builds up for him an irresistibility that is his strongest safeguard;
and who, instead of being cramped by circumstances, has for his stage
the world of history itself, in which crowns are the prize and nations
the victims. In such a portrait is any element wanting to arrive at the
ideal of villainy?

[_Ideal villainy_ v. _monstrosity._]

The question would rather be whether Shakespeare has not gone too far,
and, passing outside the limits of art, exhibited a monstrosity. Nor is
it an answer to point to the 'dramatic hedging' by which Richard is
endowed with undaunted personal courage, unlimited intellectual power,
and every good quality not inconsistent with his perfect villainy. The
objection to such a portrait as the present study presents is that it
offends against our sense of the principles upon which the universe has
been constructed; we feel that before a violation of nature could attain
such proportions nature must have exerted her recuperative force to
crush it. If, however, the dramatist can suggest that such reassertion
of nature is actually made, that the crushing blow is delayed only while
it is accumulating force: in a word, if the dramatist can draw out
before us a _Nemesis_ as ideal as the villainy was ideal, then the full
demands of art will be satisfied. The Nemesis that dominates the whole
play of _Richard III_ will be the subject of the next study.



V.

RICHARD III: HOW SHAKESPEARE WEAVES NEMESIS INTO HISTORY.

_A Study in Plot._


[_Richard III: from the Character side a violation of Nemesis;_]

I HAVE alluded already to the dangerous tendency, which, as it appears
to me, exists amongst ordinary readers of Shakespeare, to ignore plot as
of secondary importance, and to look for Shakespeare's greatness mainly
in his conceptions of character. But the full character effect of a
dramatic portrait cannot be grasped if it be dissociated from the plot;
and this is nowhere more powerfully illustrated than in the play of
_Richard III_. The last study was devoted exclusively to the Character
side of the play, and on this confined view the portrait of Richard
seemed a huge offence against our sense of moral equilibrium, rendering
artistic satisfaction impossible. Such an impression vanishes when, as
in the present study, the drama is looked at from the side of Plot.
[_from the side of Plot, the transformation of history into Nemesis._]
The effect of this plot is, however, missed by those who limit their
attention in reviewing it to Richard himself. These may feel that there
is nothing in his fate to compensate for the spectacle of his crimes:
man must die, and a death in fulness of energy amid the glorious stir of
battle may seem a fate to be envied. But the Shakespearean Drama with
its complexity of plot is not limited to the individual life and fate in
its interpretation of history; and when we survey all the distinct
trains of interest in the play of _Richard III_, with their blendings
and mutual influence, we shall obtain a sense of dramatic satisfaction
amply counterbalancing the monstrosity of Richard's villainy. Viewed as
a study in character the play leaves in us only an intense craving for
Nemesis: when we turn to consider the plot, this presents to us the
world of history transformed into an intricate design of which the
recurrent pattern is Nemesis.

[_The underplot: a set of separate Nemesis Actions._]

This notion of tracing a pattern in human affairs is a convenient key to
the exposition of plot. Laying aside for the present the main interest
of Richard himself, we may observe that the bulk of the drama consists
in a number of minor interests--single threads of the pattern--each of
which is a separate example of Nemesis. [_Clarence._] The first of these
trains of interest centres around the Duke of Clarence. He has betrayed
the Lancastrians, to whom he had solemnly sworn fealty, for the sake of
the house of York; [=i.= iv. 50, 66.] this perjury is his bitterest
recollection in his hour of awakened conscience, and is urged home by
the taunts of his murderers; while his only defence is that he did it
all for his brother's love. [=ii.= i. 86.] Yet his lot is to fall by a
treacherous death, the warrant for which is signed by this brother, the
King and head of the Yorkist house, [=i.= iv. 250.] while its execution
is procured by the bulwark of the house, the intriguing Richard. [_The
King._] The centre of the second nemesis is the King, who has thus
allowed himself in a moment of suspicion to be made a tool for the
murder of his brother, seeking to stop it when too late. [=ii.= i.
77-133.] Shakespeare has contrived that this death of Clarence,
announced as it is in so terrible a manner beside the King's sick bed,
gives him a shock from which he never rallies, and he is carried out to
die with the words on his lips:

    O God, I fear Thy justice will take hold
    On me, and you, and mine, and yours for this.

[_The Queen and her kindred._]

In this nemesis on the King are associated the Queen and her kindred.
They have been assenting parties to the measures against Clarence
(however little they may have contemplated the bloody issue to which
those measures have been brought by the intrigues of Gloster). [=ii.=
ii. 62-65.] This we must understand from the introduction of Clarence's
children, who serve no purpose except to taunt the Queen in her
bereavement:

    _Boy._   Good aunt, you wept not for our father's death;
         How can we aid you with our kindred tears?

    _Girl._  Our fatherless distress was left unmoan'd;
         Your widow-dolour likewise be unwept!

[=ii.= ii. 74, &c.]

The death of the King, so unexpectedly linked to that of Clarence,
removes from the Queen and her kindred the sole bulwark to the hated
Woodville family, and leaves them at the mercy of their enemies.
[_Hastings._] A third nemesis Action has Hastings for its subject. [=i.=
i. 66; =iii.= ii. 58, &c.] Hastings is the head of the court-faction
which is opposed to the Queen and her allies, and he passes all bounds
of decency in his exultation at the fate which overwhelms his
adversaries:

    But I shall laugh at this a twelvemonth hence,
    That they who brought me in my master's hate,
    I live to look upon their tragedy.

He even forgets his dignity as a nobleman, and stops on his way to the
Tower to chat with a mere officer of the court, [=iii.= ii. 97.] in
order to tell him the news of which he is full, that his enemies are to
die that day at Pomfret. Yet this very journey of Hastings is his
journey to the block; the same cruel fate which had descended upon his
opponents, from the same agent and by the same unscrupulous doom, is
dealt out to Hastings in his turn. [_Buckingham._] In this treacherous
casting off of Hastings when he is no longer useful, Buckingham has been
a prime agent. [=iii.= ii, from 114.] Buckingham amused himself with the
false security of Hastings, adding to Hastings's innocent expression of
his intention to stay dinner at the Tower the aside

    And supper too, although thou know'st it not;

while in the details of the judicial murder he plays second to Richard.
By precisely similar treachery he is himself cast off when he hesitates
to go further with Richard's villainous schemes; [=iv.= ii, from 86.]
and in precisely similar manner the treachery is flavoured with
contempt.

    _Buck._ I am thus bold to put your grace in mind
        Of what you promised me.

    _K. Rich._             Well, but what's o'clock?

    _Buck._ Upon the stroke of ten.

    _K. Rich._             Well, let it strike.

    _Buck._ Why let it strike?

    _K. Rich._ Because that, like a Jack, thou keep'st the stroke
        Betwixt thy begging and my meditation.
        I am not in the giving vein to-day.

    _Buck._ Why, then resolve me whether you will or no.

    _K. Rich._ Tut, tut.
        Thou troublest me; I am not in the vein.

                  [_Exeunt all but Buckingham._

    _Buck._ Is it even so? rewards he my true service
        With such deep contempt? made I him king for this?
        O, let me think on Hastings, and be gone
        To Brecknock, while my fearful head is on!

[_The four nemeses formed into a system by nemesis as a link._]

These four Nemesis Actions, it will be observed, are not separate trains
of incident going on side by side, they are linked together into a
system, the law of which is seen to be that those who triumph in one
nemesis become the victims of the next; so that the whole suggests a
'chain of destruction,' like that binding together the orders of the
brute creation which live by preying upon one another. When Clarence
perished it was the King who dealt the doom and the Queen's party who
triumphed: the wheel of Nemesis goes round and the King's death follows
the death of his victim, the Queen's kindred are naked to the vengeance
of their enemies, and Hastings is left to exult. Again the wheel of
Nemesis revolves, and Hastings at the moment of his highest exultation
is hurled to destruction, while Buckingham stands by to point the moral
with a gibe. Once more the wheel goes round, and Buckingham hears
similar gibes addressed to himself and points the same moral in his own
person. Thus the portion of the drama we have so far considered yields
us a pattern within a pattern, a series of Nemesis Actions woven into a
complete underplot by a connecting-link which is also Nemesis.

[_The 'Enveloping Action' a nemesis._]

Following out the same general idea we may proceed to notice how the
dramatic pattern is surrounded by a fringe or border. The picture of
life presented in a play will have the more reality if it be connected
with a life wider than its own. There is no social sphere, however
private, but is to some extent affected by a wider life outside it, this
by one wider still, until the great world is reached the story of which
is History. The immediate interest may be in a single family, but it
will be a great war which, perhaps, takes away some member of this
family to die in battle, or some great commercial crisis which brings
mutation of fortune to the obscure home. The artists of fiction are
solicitous thus to suggest connections between lesser and greater; it is
the natural tendency of the mind to pass from the known to the unknown,
and if the artist can derive the movements in his little world from the
great world outside, he appears to have given his fiction a basis of
admitted truth to rest on. This device of enclosing the incidents of the
actual story in a framework of great events--technically, the
'Enveloping Action'--is one which is common in Shakespeare; it is enough
to instance such a case as _A Midsummer Night's Dream_, in which play a
fairy story has a measure of historic reality given to it by its
connection with the marriage of personages so famous as Theseus and
Hippolyta. In the present case, the main incidents and personages belong
to public life; nevertheless the effect in question is still secured,
and the contest of factions with which the play is occupied is
represented as making up only a few incidents in the great feud of
Lancaster and York. This Enveloping Action of the whole play, the War of
the Roses, is marked with special clearness: two personages are
introduced for the sole purpose of giving it prominence. [=ii.= ii. 80.]
The Duchess of York is by her years and position the representative of
the whole house; the factions who in the play successively triumph and
fall are all descended from herself; she says:

    Alas, I am the mother of these moans!
    Their woes are parcell'd, mine are general.

[=i.= iii, from 111; and =iv.= iv. 1-125.]

And probabilities are forced to bring in Queen Margaret, the head and
sole rallying-point of the ruined Lancastrians: when the two aged women
are confronted the whole civil war is epitomised. It is hardly necessary
to point out that this Enveloping Action is itself a Nemesis Action. All
the rising and falling, the suffering and retaliation that we actually
see going on between the different sections of the Yorkist house,
constitute a detail in a wider retribution: [esp. =ii.= ii; =iv.= i;
=iv.= iv.] the presence of the Duchess gives to the incidents a unity,
[=ii.= iii; and =iv.= iv.] Queen Margaret's function is to point out
that this unity of woe is only the nemesis falling on the house of York
for their wrongs to the house of Lancaster. Thus the pattern made up of
so many reiterations of nemesis is enclosed in a border which itself
repeats the same figure.

[_The Enveloping Nemesis carried on into indefiniteness._]

The effect is carried further. Generally the Enveloping Action is a sort
of curtain by which our view of a drama is bounded; in the present case
the curtain is at one point lifted, and we get a glimpse into the world
beyond. Queen Margaret has surprised the Yorkist courtiers, and her
prophetic denunciations are still ringing, in which she points to the
calamities her foes have begun to suffer as retribution for the woes of
which her fallen greatness is the representative--[=i.= iii. 174-194.]
when Gloster suddenly turns the tables upon her.

    The curse my noble father laid on thee,
    When thou didst crown his warlike brows with paper
    And with thy scorns drew'st rivers from his eyes,
    And then, to dry them, gavest the duke a clout
    Steep'd in the faultless blood of pretty Rutland,--
    His curses, then from bitterness of soul
    Denounced against thee, are all fall'n upon thee;
    And God, not we, hath plagu'd thy bloody deed.

And the new key-note struck by Gloster is taken up in chorus by the
rest, who find relief from the crushing effect of Margaret's curses by
pressing the charge home upon her. This is only a detail, but it is
enough to carry the effect of the Enveloping Action a degree further
back in time: the events of the play are nemesis on York for wrongs done
to Lancaster, but now, it seems, these old wrongs against Lancaster were
retribution for yet older crimes Lancaster had committed against York.
As in architecture the vista is contrived so as to carry the general
design of the building into indefiniteness, so here, while the grand
nemesis, of which Margaret's presence is the representative, shuts in
the play like a veil, the momentary lifting of the veil opens up a vista
of nemeses receding further and further back into history.

[_The one attempt to reverse the nemesis confirms it._]

Once more. All that we have seen suggests it as a sort of law to the
feud of York and Lancaster that each is destined to wreak vengeance on
the other, and then itself suffer in turn. [=i.= ii.] But at one notable
point of the play an attempt is made to evade the hereditary nemesis by
the marriage of Richard and Lady Anne. Anne, daughter to Warwick--the
grand deserter to the Lancastrians and martyr to their cause--widow to
the murdered heir of the house and chief mourner to its murdered head,
is surely the greatest sufferer of the Lancastrians at the hands of the
Yorkists. Richard is certainly the chief avenger of York upon Lancaster.
When the chief source of vengeance and the chief sufferer are united in
the closest of all bonds, the attempt to evade Nemesis becomes ideal.
Yet what is the consequence? This attempt of Lady Anne to evade the
hereditary curse proves the very channel by which the curse descends
upon herself. [=iv.= i. 66-87.] We see her once more: she is then on her
way to the Tower, and we hear her tell the strange story of her wooing,
and wish the crown were 'red hot steel to sear her to the brain'; never,
she says, since her union with Richard has she enjoyed the golden dew
of sleep; she is but waiting for the destruction, by which, no doubt,
Richard will shortly rid himself of her.

[_To counteract the effect of repetition the nemeses are specially
emphasised:_]

An objection may, however, here present itself, that continual
repetition of an idea like Nemesis, tends to weaken its artistic effect,
until it comes to be taken for granted. No doubt it is a law of taste
that force may be dissipated by repetition if carried beyond a certain
point. But it is to be noted, on the other hand, what pains Shakespeare
has taken to counteract the tendency in the present instance. The force
of a nemesis may depend upon a fitness that addresses itself to the
spectator's reflection, or it may be measured by the degree to which the
nemesis is brought into prominence in the incidents themselves. [_by
recognition,_] In the incidents of the present play special means are
adopted to make the recognition of the successive nemeses as they arise
emphatic. In the first place the nemesis is in each case pointed out at
the moment of its fulfilment. [=i.= iv, from 18.] In the case of
Clarence his story of crime and retribution is reflected in his dream
before it is brought to a conclusion in reality; and wherein the
bitterness of this review consists, we see when he turns to his
sympathising jailor and says:

[=i.= iv. 66.]

    O Brackenbury, I have done those things,
    Which now bear evidence against my soul,
    For Edward's sake: and see how he requites me!

The words have already been quoted in which the King recognises how
God's justice has overtaken him for his part in Clarence's death, and
those in which the children of Clarence taunt the Queen with her having
herself to bear the bereavement she has made them suffer. As the Queen's
kindred are being led to their death, one of them exclaims:

[=iii.= iii. 15.]

    Now Margaret's curse is fall'n upon our heads
    For standing by when Richard stabb'd her son.

Hastings, when his doom has wakened him from his infatuation, recollects
a priest he had met on his way to the Tower, with whom he had stopped
to talk about the discomfiture of his enemies:

[=iii.= iv. 89.]

    O, now I want the priest that spake to me!

Buckingham on his way to the scaffold apostrophises the souls of his
victims:

[=v.= i. 7.]

    If that your moody discontented souls
    Do through the clouds behold this present hour,
    Even for revenge mock my destruction.

[=iv.= iv. 1, 35.] And such individual notes of recognition are
collected into a sort of chorus when Margaret appears the second time to
point out the fulfilment of her curses, and sits down beside the old
Duchess and her daughter-in-law to join in the 'society of sorrow' and
'cloy her' with beholding the revenge for which she has hungered.

[_by prophecy,_]

Again, the nemeses have a further emphasis given to them by prophecy.
[=i.= iii, from 195.] As Queen Margaret's second appearance is to mark
the fulfilment of a general retribution, so her first appearance
denounced it beforehand in the form of curses. And the effect is carried
on in individual prophecies: the Queen's friends as they suffer foresee
that the turn of the opposite party will come:

[=iii.= iii. 7.]

    You live that shall cry woe for this hereafter;

and Hastings prophesies Buckingham's doom:

[=iii.= iv. 109.]

    They smile at me that shortly shall be dead.

It is as if the atmosphere cleared for each sufferer with the approach
of death, and they then saw clearly the righteous plan on which the
universe is constructed, and which had been hidden from them by the dust
of life.

[_and especially by irony._]

But there is a third means, more powerful than either recognition or
prophecy, which Shakespeare has employed to make his Nemesis Actions
emphatic. The danger of an effect becoming tame by repetition he has met
by giving to each train of nemesis a flash of irony at some point of its
course. In the case of Lady Anne we have already seen how the exact
channel Nemesis chooses by which to descend upon her is the attempt she
made to avert it. She had bitterly cursed her husband's murderer:

[=iv.= i. 75.]

    And be thy wife--if any be so mad--
    As miserable by the life of thee
    As thou hast made me by my dear lord's death!

In spite of this she had yielded to Richard's mysterious power, and so,
as she feels, proved the _subject of her own heart's curse_. Again, it
was noticed in the preceding study how the Queen, less hard than the
rest in that wicked court, or perhaps softened by the spectacle of her
dying husband, essayed to reverse, when too late, what had been done
against Clarence; [=ii.= i. 134.] Gloster skilfully turned this
compunction of conscience into a ground of suspicion on which he traded
to bring all the Queen's friends to the block, and thus a moment's
relenting was made into a means of destruction. [=i.= iv. 187, 199, 200,
206.] In Clarence's struggle for life, as one after another the threads
of hope snap, as the appeal to law is met by the King's command, the
appeal to heavenly law by the reminder of his own sin, [=i.= iv. 232.]
he comes to rest for his last and surest hope upon his powerful brother
Gloster--and the very murderers catch the irony of the scene:

    _Clar._ If you be hired for meed, go back again,
        And I will send you to my brother Gloster,
        Who shall reward you better for my life
        Than Edward will for tidings of my death.

    _Sec. Murd._ You are deceived, your brother Gloster hates you.

    _Clar._ O, no, he loves me, and he holds me dear:
        Go you to him from me.

    _Both._                 Ay, so we will.

    _Clar._ Tell him, when that our princely father York
        Bless'd his three sons with his victorious arm,
        And charg'd us from his soul to love each other,
        He little thought of this divided friendship:
        Bid Gloster think of this, and he will weep.

    _First Murd._ Ay, millstones; as he lesson'd us to weep.

    _Clar._ O, do not slander him, for he is kind.

    _First Murd._                                 Right,
        As snow in harvest. Thou deceivest thyself:
        'Tis he that sent us hither now to slaughter thee.

    _Clar._ It cannot be; for when I parted with him,
        He hugg'd me in his arms, and swore, with sobs,
        That he would labour my delivery.

    _Sec. Murd._ Why, so he doth, now he delivers thee
        From this world's thraldom to the joys of heaven.

[=ii.= i. 95.]

In the King's case a special incident is introduced into the scene to
point the irony. Before Edward can well realise the terrible
announcement of Clarence's death, the decorum of the royal chamber is
interrupted by Derby, who bursts in, anxious not to lose the portion of
the king's life that yet remains, in order to beg a pardon for his
follower. The King feels the shock of contrast:

    Have I a tongue to doom my brother's death,
    And shall the same give pardon to a slave?

The prerogative of mercy that exists in so extreme a case as the murder
of a 'righteous gentleman,' and is so passionately sought by Derby for a
servant, is denied to the King himself for the deliverance of his
innocent brother. [=iii.= ii, from 41.] The nemesis on Hastings is
saturated with irony; he has the simplest reliance on Richard and on
'his servant Catesby,' who has come to him as the agent of Richard's
treachery; and the very words of the scene have a double significance
that all see but Hastings himself.

    _Hast._ I tell thee, Catesby,--

    _Cate._                      What, my lord?

    _Hast._ Ere a fortnight make me elder
        I'll send some packing that yet think not on it.

    _Cate._ 'Tis a vile thing to die, my gracious lord,
        When men are unprepared, and look not for it.

    _Hast._ O monstrous, monstrous! and so falls it out
        With Rivers, Vaughan, Grey: and so 'twill do
        With some men else, who think themselves as safe
        As thou and I.

As the scenes with Margaret constituted a general summary of the
individual prophecies and recognitions, [=ii.= i.] so the Reconciliation
Scene around the King's dying bed may be said to gather into a sort of
summary the irony distributed through the play; for the effect of the
incident is that the different parties pray for their own destruction.
[=ii.= i. 32.] In this scene Buckingham has taken the lead and struck
the most solemn notes in his pledge of amity; [=v.= i, from 10.] when
Buckingham comes to die, his bitterest thought seems to be that the day
of his death is All Souls' Day.

    _This is the day_ that, in King Edward's time,
    I wish'd might fall on me, when I was found
    False to his children or his wife's allies;
    This is the day wherein I wish'd to fall
    By the false faith of him I trusted most; ...
    That high All-Seer that I dallied with
    Hath turn'd my feigned prayer on my head
    And given in earnest what I begg'd in jest.

By devices, then, such as these; by the sudden revelation of a remedy
when it is just too late to use it; by the sudden memory of clear
warnings blindly missed; by the spectacle of a leaning for hope upon
that which is known to be ground for despair; by attempts to retreat or
turn aside proving short cuts to destruction; above all by the
sufferer's perception that he himself has had a chief share in bringing
about his doom:--by such irony the monotony of Nemesis is relieved, and
fatality becomes flavoured with mockery.

[_This multiplication of Nemesis a dramatic background for the villainy
of Richard._]

Dramatic design, like design which appeals more directly to the eye, has
its perspective: to miss even by a little the point of view from which
it is to be contemplated is enough to throw the whole into distortion.
So readers who are not careful to watch the harmony between Character
and Plot have often found in the present play nothing but wearisome
repetition. Or, as there is only a step between the sublime and the
ridiculous, this masterpiece of Shakespearean plot has suggested to them
only the idea of Melodrama,--that curious product of dramatic feeling
without dramatic inventiveness, with its world in which poetic justice
has become prosaic, in which conspiracy is never so superhumanly secret
but there comes a still more superhuman detection, and however
successful villainy may be for a moment the spectator confidently relies
on its being eventually disposed of by a summary 'off with his head.'
The point of view thus missed in the present play is that this network
of Nemesis is all needed to give dramatic reality to the colossal
villainy of the principal figure. When isolated, the character of
Richard is unrealisable from its offence against an innate sense of
retribution. Accordingly Shakespeare projects it into a world of which,
in whatever direction we look, retribution is the sole visible pattern;
in which, as we are carried along by the movement of the play, the
unvarying reiteration of Nemesis has the effect of _giving rhythm to
fate_.

[_The motive force of the whole play is another nemesis: the Life and
Death of Richard._]

What the action of the play has yielded so far to our investigation has
been independent of the central personage: we have now to connect
Richard himself with the plot. Although the various Nemesis Actions have
been carried on by their own motion and by the force of retribution as a
principle of moral government, yet there is not one of them which
reaches its goal without at some point of its course receiving an
impetus from contact with Richard. Richard is thus the source of
movement to the whole drama, communicating his own energy through all
parts. It is only fitting that the motive force to this system of
nemeses should be itself a grand Nemesis Action, the _Life and Death_,
or crime and retribution, _of Richard III_. The hero's rise has been
sufficiently treated in the preceding study; it remains to trace his
fall.

[_The fall of Richard: not a shock but a succession of stages._]

This fall of Richard is constructed on Shakespeare's favourite plan; its
force is measured, not by suddenness and violence, but by protraction
and the perception of distinct stages--the crescendo in music as
distinguished from the fortissimo. Such a fall is not a mere passage
through the air--one shock and then all is over--but a slipping down the
face of the precipice, with desperate clingings and consciously
increasing impetus: its effect is the one inexhaustible emotion of
suspense. If we examine the point at which the fall begins we are
reminded that the nemesis on Richard is different in its type from the
others in the play. [_Not a nemesis of equality but of sureness._] These
are (like that on Shylock) of the _equality_ type, of which the motto is
measure for measure: [=iii.= iii. 15.] and, with his usual exactness,
Shakespeare gives us a turning-point in the precise centre of the play,
where, as the Queen's kindred are being borne to their death, we get the
first recognition that the general retribution denounced by Margaret has
begun to work. But the turning-point of Richard's fate is reserved till
long past the centre of the play; his is the nemesis of _sureness_, in
which the blow is delayed that it may accumulate force. Not that this
turning-point is reserved to the very end; [_The turning-point: irony of
its delay._] the change of fortune appears just when Richard has
_committed himself_ to his final crime in the usurpation--the murder of
the children--the crime from which his most unscrupulous accomplice has
drawn back. [=iv.= ii, from 46.] The effect of this arrangement is to
make the numerous crimes which follow appear to come by necessity; he is
'so far in blood that sin will pluck on sin'; he is forced to go on
heaping up his villainies with Nemesis full in his view. This
turning-point appears in the simple announcement that 'Dorset has fled
to Richmond.' There is an instantaneous change in Richard to an attitude
of defence, which is maintained to the end. His first instinct is
action: but as soon as we have heard the rapid scheme of measures--most
of them crimes--by which he prepares to meet his dangers, then he can
give himself up to meditation; [from 98.] and we now begin to catch the
significance of what has been announced. The name of Richmond has been
just heard for the first time in this play. But as Richard meditates we
learn how Henry VI prophesied that Richmond should be a king while he
was but a peevish boy. Again, Richard recollects how lately, while
viewing a castle in the west, the mayor, who showed him over it,
mispronounced its name as 'Richmond'--and he had started, for a bard of
Ireland had told him he should not live long after he had seen Richmond.
Thus the irony that has given point to all the other retributions in the
play is not wanting in the chief retribution of all: Shakespeare
compensates for so long keeping the grand Nemesis out of sight by thus
representing Richard as gradually realising that _the finger of Nemesis
has been pointing at him all his life and he has never seen it_!

[_Tantalising mockery in Richard's fate._]

From this point fate never ceases to tantalise and mock Richard. He
engages in his measures of defence, and with their villainy his spirits
begin to recover:

[=iv.= iii. 38.]

    The sons of Edward sleep in Abraham's bosom,
    And Anne my wife hath bid the world good night;

young Elizabeth is to be his next victim, and

    To her I go, a jolly thriving wooer.

[comp. 49. =iv.= iii. 45.]

Suddenly the Nemesis appears again with the news that Ely, the shrewd
bishop he dreads most of all men, is with Richmond, and that Buckingham
has raised an army. Again, his defence is completing, and the wooing of
Elizabeth--his masterpiece, since it is the second of its kind--has been
brought to an issue that deserves his surprised exultation:

[=iv.= iv. 431.]

    Relenting fool, and shallow, changing woman!

Suddenly the Nemesis again interrupts him, and this time is nearer: a
puissant navy has actually appeared on the west. And now his equanimity
begins at last to be disturbed. [_His equanimity affected._] He storms
at Catesby for not starting, forgetting that he has given him no message
to take. [=iv.= iv. 444-540.] More than this, a little further on
_Richard changes his mind_! Through the rest of the long scene destiny
is openly playing with him, giving him just enough hope to keep the
sense of despair warm. Messenger follows messenger in hot haste:
Richmond is on the seas--Courtenay has risen in Devonshire--the
Guildfords are up in Kent.--But Buckingham's army is dispersed--But
Yorkshire has risen.--But, a gleam of hope, the Breton navy is
dispersed--a triumph, Buckingham is taken.--Then, finally, Richmond has
landed! The suspense is telling upon Richard. In this scene he strikes a
messenger before he has time to learn that he brings good tidings. [=v.=
iii. 2, 5, 8, &c.] When we next see him he wears a forced gaiety and
scolds his followers into cheerfulness; but with the gaiety go sudden
fits of depression:

                     Here will I lie to-night;
    But where to-morrow?

[=v.= iii, from 47.]

A little later he becomes nervous, and we have the minute attention to
details of the man who feels that his all depends upon one cast; he will
not sup, but calls for ink and paper to plan the morrow's fight, he
examines carefully as to his beaver and his armour, selects White Surrey
to ride, and at last calls for wine and _confesses_ a change in himself:

    I have not that alacrity of spirit,
    Nor cheer of mind, that I was wont to have.

[_Climax of Richard's fate: significance of the apparitions._]

Then comes night, and with it the full tide of Nemesis. By the device of
the apparitions the long accumulation of crimes in Richard's rise are
made to have each its due representation in his fall. It matters not
that they are only apparitions. [=v.= iii, from 118.] Nemesis itself is
the ghost of sin: its sting lies not in the physical force of the blow,
but in the close _connection_ between a sin and its retribution. So
Richard's victims rise from the dead only to secure that the weight of
each several crime shall lie heavy on his soul in the morrow's doom.
This point moreover must not be missed--that the climax of his fate
comes to Richard in his _sleep_. [_Significance of Richard's sleep._]
The supreme conception of resistance to Deity is reached when God is
opposed by God's greatest gift, the freedom of the will. God, so it is
reasoned, is omnipotent, but God has made man omnipotent in setting no
bounds to his will; and God's omnipotence to punish may be met by man's
omnipotence to endure. Such is the ancient conception of Prometheus,
and such are the reasonings Milton has imagined for his Satan: to whom,
though heaven be lost,

    All is not lost, the unconquerable will ...
    And courage never to submit or yield.

But when that strange bundle of greatness and littleness which makes up
man attempts to oppose with such weapons the Almighty, how is he to
provide for those states in which the will is no longer the governing
force in his nature; for the sickness, in which the mind may have to
share the feebleness of the body, or for the daily suspension of will in
sleep? Richard can to the last preserve his will from faltering. But,
like all the rest of mankind, he must some time sleep: that which is the
refuge of the honest man, when he may relax the tension of daily care,
sleep, is to Richard his point of weakness, when the safeguard of
invincible will can protect him no longer. It is, then, this weak moment
which a mocking fate chooses for hurling upon Richard the whole
avalanche of his doom; as he starts into the frenzy of his half-waking
soliloquy we see him, as it were, tearing off layer after layer of
artificial reasonings with which the will-struggles of a lifetime have
covered his soul against the touch of natural remorse. With full waking
his will is as strong as ever: but meanwhile his physical nature has
been shattered to its depths, and it is only the wreck of Richard that
goes to meet his death on Bosworth Field.

[_Remaining stages of the fall._]

There is no need to dwell on the further stages of the fall: to the last
the tantalising mockery continues. [=v.= iii. 303.] Richard's spirits
rise with the ordering of the battle, and there comes the mysterious
scroll to tell him he is bought and sold. [=v.= iii. 342.] His spirits
rise again as the fight commences, and news comes of Stanley's long
feared desertion. [=v.= iv. 11.] Five times in the battle he has slain
his foe, and five times it proves a false Richmond. Thus slowly the cup
is drained to its last dregs and Richard dies. [=i.= i, from 1.] The
play opened with the picture of peace, the peace which led Richard's
turbid soul, no longer finding scope in physical warfare, to turn to
the moral war of villainy; from that point through all the crowded
incidents has raged the tumultuous battle between Will and Nemesis; with
Richard's death it ceases, and the play may return to its keynote:

[=v.= v. 40.]

    Now civil wounds are stopp'd, peace lives again.



VI.

HOW NEMESIS AND DESTINY ARE INTERWOVEN IN MACBETH.

_A further Study in Plot._


[_Macbeth as a study of subtlety in Plot._]

THE present study, like the last, is a study in Plot. The last
illustrated Shakespeare's grandeur of conception, how a single principle
is held firm amidst the intricacies of history, and reiterated in every
detail. The present purpose is to give an example of Shakespeare's
_subtlety_, and to exhibit the incidents of a play bound together not by
one, [_Its threefold action._] but by three, distinct threads of
connection--or, if a technical term may be permitted, three Forms of
Dramatic Action--all working harmoniously together into a design equally
involved and symmetrical. One of these forms is Nemesis; the other two
are borrowed from the ancient Drama: it thus becomes necessary to
digress for a moment, in order to notice certain differences between the
ancient and modern Drama, and between the ancient and modern thought of
which the Drama is the expression.

[_In the passage from ancient to modern, Destiny changes into
Providence._]

In the ancient Classical Drama the main moral idea underlying its action
is the idea of Destiny. The ancient world recognised Deity, but their
deities were not supreme in the universe; Zeus had gained his position
by a revolution, and in his turn was to be overthrown by revolution;
there was thus, in ancient conception, behind Deity a yet higher force
to which Deity itself was subject. The supreme force of the universe has
by a school of modern thought been defined as a stream of tendency in
things not ourselves making for righteousness: if we attempt to adapt
this formula to the ideas of antiquity the difficulty will be in finding
anything to substitute for the word 'righteousness.' Sometimes the sum
of forces in the universe did seem, in the conception of the ancients,
to make for righteousness, and Justice became the highest law. At other
times the world seemed to them governed by a supernatural Jealousy, and
human prosperity was struck down for no reason except that it was
prosperity. In such philosophy as that of Lucretius, again, the tendency
of all things was towards Destruction; while in the handling of legends
such as that of Hippolytus there is a suggestion of a dark interest to
ancient thought in conceiving Evil itself as an irresistible force. It
appears, then, that the ancient mind had caught the idea of _force_ in
the universe, without adding to it the further idea of a motive by which
that force was guided: _blind_ fate was the governing power over all
other powers. With this simple conception of force as ruling the world,
modern thought has united as a motive righteousness or law: the
transition from ancient to modern thought may be fairly described by
saying that Destiny has become changed into Providence as the supreme
force of the universe. [_The change reflected in ancient and modern
Nemesis._] The change may be well illustrated by comparing the ancient
and modern conception of Nemesis. To ancient thought Nemesis was simply
one phase of Destiny; the story of Polycrates has been quoted in a
former study to illustrate how Nemesis appeared to the Greek mind as
capricious a deity as Fortune, a force that might at any time, heedless
of desert, check whatever happiness was high enough to attract its
attention. But in modern ideas Nemesis and justice are strictly
associated: Nemesis may be defined as the artistic side of justice.

So far as Nemesis then is concerned, it has, in modern thought, passed
altogether out of the domain of Destiny and been absorbed into the
domain of law: it is thus fitted to be one of the regular forms into
which human history may be represented as falling, in harmony with our
modern moral conceptions. But even as regards Destiny itself, while the
notion as a whole is out of harmony with the modern notion of law and
Providence as ruling forces of the world, yet certain minor phases of
Destiny as conceived by antiquity have survived into modern times and
been found not irreconcilable with moral law. [_Nemesis and Destiny
interwoven in the plot of Macbeth_.] Two of these minor phases of
Destiny are, it will be shown, illustrated in _Macbeth_: and we may thus
take as a general description of its plot, the interweaving of Destiny
with Nemesis.

[_The whole plot a Nemesis Action,_]

That the career of Macbeth is an example of Nemesis needs only to be
stated. As in the case of _Richard III_, we have the rise and fall of a
leading personage; the rise is a crime of which the fall is the
retribution. Nemesis has just been defined as the artistic aspect of
justice; we have in previous studies seen different artistic elements in
different types of Nemesis. Sometimes, as with Richard III, the
retribution becomes artistic through its sureness; its long delay
renders the effect of the blow more striking when it does come. [_of the
type of equality._] More commonly the artistic element in Nemesis
consists in the perfect equality between the sin and its retribution;
and of the latter type the Nemesis in the play of _Macbeth_ is perhaps
the most conspicuous illustration. The rise and fall of Macbeth, to
borrow the illustration of Gervinus, constitute a perfect arch, with a
turning-point in the centre. Macbeth's series of successes is unbroken
till it ends in the murder of Banquo; his series of failures is unbroken
from its commencement in the escape of Fleance. Success thus
constituting the first half and failure the second half of the play, the
transition from the one to the other is the expedition against Banquo
and Fleance, in which success and failure are mingled: [=iii.= iii.] and
this expedition, the keystone to the arch, is found to occupy the exact
middle of the middle Act.

But this is not all: not only the play as a whole is an example of
nemesis, but if its two halves be taken separately they will be found to
constitute each a nemesis complete in itself. [_The rise of Macbeth a
separate Nemesis action._] To begin with the first half, that which is
occupied with the rise of Macbeth. If the plan of the play extended no
further than to make the hero's fall the retribution upon his rise, it
might be expected that the turning-point of the action would be reached
upon Macbeth's elevation to the throne. As a fact, however, Macbeth's
rise does not stop here; he still goes on to win one more success in his
attempt upon the life of Banquo. What the purpose of this prolonged flow
of fortune is will be seen when it is considered that this final success
of the hero is in reality the source of his ruin. In Macbeth's progress
to the attainment of the crown, while of course it was impossible that
crimes so violent as his should not incur suspicion, yet circumstances
had strangely combined to soothe these suspicions to sleep. But--so
Shakespeare manipulates the story--when Macbeth, seated on the throne,
goes on to the attempt against Banquo, this additional crime not only
brings its own punishment, but has the further effect of unmasking the
crimes that have gone before. This important point in the plot is
brought out to us in a scene, specially introduced for the purpose, in
which Lennox and another lord represent the opinion of the court.

[=iii.= vi. i.]

    _Lennox._ My former speeches have but hit your thoughts,
        Which can interpret further: only, I say,
        Things have been strangely borne. The gracious Duncan
        Was pitied of Macbeth: marry, he was dead:
        And the right-valiant Banquo walk'd too late;
        Whom, you may say, if't please you, Fleance kill'd,
        For Fleance fled: men must not walk too late.
        Who cannot want the thought how monstrous
        It was for Malcolm and for Donalbain
        To kill their gracious father? damned fact!
        How it did grieve Macbeth! did he not straight
        In pious rage the two delinquents tear,
        That were the slaves of drink and thralls of sleep?
        Was not that nobly done? Ay, and wisely too;
        For 'twould have anger'd any heart alive
        To hear the men deny't. So that, I say,
        He has borne all things well: and I do think
        That had he Duncan's sons under his key--
        As, an't please heaven, he shall not--they should find
        What 'twere to kill a father; so should Fleance.

Under the bitter irony of this speech we can see clearly enough that
Macbeth has been exposed by his _series_ of suspicious acts; he has
'done all things well;' and in particular by peculiar resemblances
between this last incident of Banquo and Fleance and the previous
incident of Duncan and his son. It appears then that Macbeth's last
successful crime proves the means by which retribution overtakes all his
other crimes; the latter half of the play is needed to develop the steps
of the retribution, but, in substance, Macbeth's fall is latent in the
final step of his rise. Thus the first half of the play, that which
traces the rise of Macbeth, is a complete Nemesis Action--a career of
sins in which the last sin secures the punishment of all.

[_The fall of Macbeth a separate Nemesis Action._]

The same reasoning applies to the latter half of the play: the fall of
Macbeth not only serves as the retribution for his rise, but further
contains in itself a crime and its nemesis complete. What Banquo is to
the first half of the play Macduff is to the latter half; the two
balance one another as, in the play of _Julius Cæsar_, Cæsar himself is
balanced by Antony; and Macduff comes into prominence upon Banquo's
death as Antony upon the fall of Cæsar. Now Macduff, when he finally
slays Macbeth, is avenging not only Scotland, but also his own wrongs;
and the tyrant's crime against Macduff, with its retribution, just gives
unity to the second half of the play, in the way in which the first half
was made complete by the association between Macbeth and Banquo, [=iii.=
i. 57-72.] from their joint encounter with the Witches on to the murder
of Banquo as a consequence of the Witches' prediction. Accordingly we
find that no sooner has Macbeth, by the appearance of the Ghost at the
banquet, realised the turn of fate, than his first thoughts are of
Macduff:

[=iii.= iv. 128.]

    _Macbeth._ How say'st thou, that Macduff denies his person
            At our great bidding?

    _Lady M._            Did you send to him, sir?

    _Macbeth._ I hear it by the way; but I will send.

When the Apparitions bid Macbeth 'beware Macduff,' he answers,

[=iv.= i. 74.]

    Thou hast harp'd my fear aright!

[=iv.= i, from 139.] On the vanishing of the Apparition Scene, the first
thing that happens is the arrival of news that Macduff has fled to
England, and is out of his enemy's power; then Macbeth's bloody thoughts
devise a still more cruel purpose of vengeance to be taken on the
fugitive's family.

    Time, thou anticipatest my dread exploits:
    The flighty purpose never is o'ertook
    Unless the deed go with it....
    The castle of Macduff I will surprise;
    Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o' the sword
    His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
    That trace him in his line.

[=iv.= ii, iii.] In succeeding scenes we have this diabolical massacre
carried out, and see the effect which the news of it has in rousing
Macduff to his revenge; [=v.= vii. 15.] until in the final scene of all
he feels that if Macbeth is slain and by no stroke of his, his wife and
children's ghosts will for ever haunt him. Thus Macduff's function in
the play is to be the agent not only of the grand nemesis which
constitutes the whole plot, but also of a nemesis upon a private wrong
which occupies the latter half of the play. And, putting our results
together, we find that a Nemesis Action is the description alike of the
whole plot and of the rise and fall which are its two halves.

[_The Oracular as one phase of Destiny: its partial revelation._]

With Nemesis is associated in the play of _Macbeth_ Destiny in two
distinct phases. The first of these is _the Oracular_. In ancient
thought, as Destiny was the supreme governor of the universe, so oracles
were the revelation of Destiny; and thus the term 'the Oracles of God'
is appropriately applied to the Bible as the Christian revelation. With
the advent of Christianity the oracles became dumb. But the triumph of
Christianity was for centuries incomplete; heathen deities were not
extirpated, but subordinated to the supernatural personages of the new
religion; [_A minor form of the Oracular in modern oracular beings._]
and the old oracles declined into oracular beings such as witches and
wizards, and oracular superstitions, such as magic mirrors, dreams,
apparitions--all means of dimly revealing hidden destiny. Shakespeare is
never wiser than the age he is pourtraying; and accordingly he has
freely introduced witches and apparitions into the machinery of
_Macbeth_, though in the principles that govern the action of this, as
of all his other plays, he is true to the modern notions of Providence
and moral law. [_The Oracular Action: Destiny working from mystery to
clearness;_] An oracle and its fulfilment make up a series of events
eminently fitted to constitute a dramatic interest; and no form of
ancient Drama and Story is more common than this of the 'Oracular
Action.' Its interest may be formulated as Destiny working from mystery
to clearness. At the commencement of an oracular story the fated future
is revealed indeed, but in a dress of mystery, as when the Athenians are
bidden to defend themselves with only wooden walls; but as the story of
Themistocles develops itself, the drift of events is throwing more and
more light on to the hidden meaning of the oracle, until by the naval
victory over the Persians the oracle is at once clear and fulfilled.

The Oracular Action is so important an element in plot, that it may be
worth while to prolong the consideration of it by noting the three
principal varieties into which it falls, all of which are illustrated in
the play of _Macbeth_. In each case the interest consists in tracing the
working of Destiny out of mystery into clearness: the distinction
between the varieties depends upon the agency by which Destiny works,
and the relation of this agency to the original oracle. [(1) _by the
agency of blind obedience;_] In the first variety Destiny is fulfilled
by the agency of blind obedience. The Spartans, unfortunate in their
war with the Messenians, enquire of an oracle, and receive the strange
response that they must apply for a general to the Athenians, their
hereditary enemies. But they resolve to obey the voice of Destiny,
though to all appearance they obey at their peril; and the Athenians
mock them by selecting the most unfit subject they can find--a man whose
bodily infirmities had excluded him from the military exercises
altogether. Yet in the end the faith of the Spartans is rewarded. It had
been no lack of generalship that had caused their former defeats, but
discord and faction in their ranks; now Tyrtæus turned out to be a lyric
poet, whose songs roused the spirit of the Spartans and united them as
one man, and when united, their native military talent led them to
victory. Thus in its fulfilment the hidden meaning of the oracle breaks
out into clearness: and blind obedience to the oracle is the agency by
which it has been fulfilled.

[(2) _by the agency of free will;_]

In the second variety the oracle is fulfilled by the agency of
indifference and free will: it is neither obeyed nor disobeyed, but
ignored. One of the best illustrations is to be found in the plot of Sir
Walter Scott's novel, _The Betrothed_. Its heroine, more rational than
her age, resists the family tradition that would condemn her to sleep in
the haunted chamber; overborne, however, by age and authority, she
consents, and the lady of the bloody finger appears to pronounce her
doom:

    Widow'd wife, and wedded maid;
    Betrothed, Betrayer, and Betrayed.

This seems a mysterious destiny for a simple and virtuous girl. The
faithful attendant Rose declares in a burst of devotion that betrayed
her mistress may be, but betrayer never; the heroine herself braces her
will to dismiss the foreboding from her thoughts, and resolves that she
will not be influenced by it on the one side or on the other. Yet it all
comes about. Gratitude compels her to give her hand to the elderly
Constable, who on the very day of betrothal is summoned away to the
Crusade, from which, as it appears, he is never to return, leaving his
spouse at once a widowed wife and a wedded maid. In the troubles of that
long absence, by a perfectly natural series of events, gratitude again
leads the heroine to admit to her castle her real deliverer and lover in
order to save his life, and in protecting him amidst strange
circumstances of suspicion to bid defiance to all comers. Finally the
castle is besieged by the royal armies, and the heroine has to hear
herself proclaimed a traitor by the herald of England; from this
perplexity a deliverance is found only when her best friend saves her by
betraying the castle to the king. So every detail in the unnatural doom
has been in the most natural manner fulfilled: and the woman by whose
action it has been fulfilled has been all the while maintaining the
freedom of her will and persistently ignoring the oracle.

[(3) _by the agency of opposing will._]

But the supreme interest of the Oracular Action is reached when the
oracle is fulfilled by an agency that has all the while set itself to
oppose and frustrate it. A simple illustration of this is seen in the
Eastern potentate who, in opposition to a prophecy that his son should
be killed by a lion, forbad the son to hunt, but heaped upon him every
other indulgence. In particular he built him a pleasure-house, hung with
pictures of hunting and of wild beasts, on which all that art could do
was lavished to compensate for the loss of the forbidden sport. One day
the son, chafing at his absence from the manly exercise in which his
comrades were at that moment engaged, wandered through his
pleasure-house, until, stopping at a magnificent picture of a lion at
bay, he began to apostrophise it as the source of his disgrace, and
waxing still more angry, drove his fist through the picture. A nail,
hidden behind the canvas entered his hand; the wound festered, and he
died. So the measures taken to frustrate the destiny proved the means of
fulfilling it. But in this third variety of the Oracular Action the
classical illustration is the story of Oedipus: told fully, it presents
three examples woven together. Laius of Thebes learns from an oracle
that the son about to be born to him is destined to be his murderer;
accordingly he refuses to rear the child, and it is cast out to perish.
A herdsman, Polybus, takes pity on the infant, carries it away to
Corinth, and brings it up in secret. In due time this Oedipus becomes
weary of the humble life of his supposed father; quitting Corinth, he
seeks advice of the oracle as to his future career, and receives the
startling response that he is destined to slay his own father. Resolved
to frustrate so terrible a fate, he will not return to Corinth, but, as
it happens, _takes the road to Thebes_, where he falls in accidentally
with Laius, and, in ignorance of his person, quarrels with him and slays
him. Now if Laius had not resisted the oracle by casting out the infant,
it would have grown up like other sons, and every probability would have
been against his committing so terrible a crime as parricide. Again, if
Polybus had not by his removal to Corinth sought to keep the child in
ignorance of his fate, he would have known the person of Laius and
spared him. Once more, if Oedipus had not, in opposition to the oracle,
avoided his supposed home, Corinth, he would never have gone to Thebes
and fallen in with his real father. Three different persons acting
separately seek to frustrate a declared destiny, and their action unites
in fulfilling it.

The plot of _Macbeth_, both as a whole and in its separate parts, is
constructed upon this form of the Oracular Action, in combination with
the form of Nemesis. The play deals with the rise and fall of Macbeth:
the rise, and the fall, and again the two taken together, present each
of them an example of an Oracular Action. [_The rise of Macbeth an
Oracular Action,_] Firstly, the former half of the play, the rise of
Macbeth, taken by itself, consists in an oracle and its fulfilment--the
Witches' promise of the crown and the gradual steps by which the crown
is attained. Amongst the three varieties of the Oracular Action we have
just distinguished, the present example wavers between the first and the
second. [_varying between the second and first type._] After his first
excitement has passed away, Macbeth resolves that he will have nothing
to do with the temptation that lurked in the Witches' words; in his
disjointed meditation we hear him saying:

[=i.= iii. 143.]

    If chance will have me king, why chance may crown me
    Without my stir;

and again:

[=i.= iii. 146.]

                      Come what come may,
    Time and the hour runs through the roughest day;

in which last speech the very rhyming may, according to Shakespeare's
subtle usage, be pointed to as marking a mind made up. So far then we
appear to be following an Oracular Action of the second type, that of
indifference and ignoring. But in the very next scene the proclamation
of a Prince of Cumberland--that is, of an heir-apparent like our Prince
of Wales--takes away Macbeth's 'chance':

[=i.= iv. 48.]

    _Macb._ [_Aside_]. The prince of Cumberland! that is a step
    On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,
    For in my way it lies.

He instantly commits himself to the evil suggestion, and thus changes
the type of action to the first variety, that in which the oracle is
fulfilled by the agency of obedience.

[_The fall an Oracular Action of the first type._]

Similarly Macbeth's fall, taken by itself, constitutes an Oracular
Action, consisting as it does of the ironical promises by the
Apparitions which the Witches raise for Macbeth on his visit to them,
and the course of events by which these promises are fulfilled. Its type
is a highly interesting example of the first variety, that of blind
obedience. [=iv.= i. 71-100.] The responses of the Apparitions lay down
impossible conditions, and as long as these conditions are unfulfilled
Macbeth is to be secure; he will fall only when one not born of woman
shall be his adversary, only when Birnam Wood shall come to Dunsinane.
Macbeth trusts blindly to these promises; further he obeys them, so far
as a man can be said to obey an oracle which enjoins no command: he
obeys in the sense of relying on them, and making that reliance his
ground of action. But this reliance of Macbeth on the ironical promises
is an agency in fulfilling them in their real meaning. [=iv.= i.
144-156.] In his reckless confidence he strikes out right and left, and
amongst others injures one to whom the description 'not born of woman'
applies. In his reliance on the Apparitions he proceeds, when threatened
by the English, to _shut himself up in Dunsinane Castle_; but for this
fact the English army would not have approached Dunsinane Castle by the
route of Birnam Wood, and the incident of the boughs would never have
taken place. Thus Macbeth's fate was made to depend uponi mpossibilities:
by his action in reliance on these impossibilities he is all the while
giving them occasion to become possible. In this way an ironical oracle
comes to be fulfilled by the agency of blind obedience.

[_The whole plot an Oracular Action of the third type._]

Thirdly, the rise and fall of Macbeth are so linked together as to
constitute the whole plot another example of the Oracular Action. [=i.=
iii. 48-50, 62-66.] The original oracle given by the Witches on the
blasted heath was a double oracle: besides the promise of the thaneships
and the crown there was another revelation of destiny, that Banquo was
to be lesser than Macbeth and yet greater, that he was to get kings
though to be none. In this latter half of the oracle is found the link
which binds together the rise and fall of Macbeth. When the first half
of the Witches' promise has been fulfilled in his elevation to the
throne, Macbeth sets himself to prevent the fulfilment of the second
half by his attempt upon Banquo and Fleance. Now we have already seen
how this attempt has the effect of drawing attention, not only to
itself, but also to Macbeth's other crimes, and proves indeed the
foundation of his ruin. Had Macbeth been content with the attainment of
the crown, all might yet have been well: the addition of just one more
precaution renders all the rest vain. It appears, then, that that which
binds together the rise and the fall, that which makes the fall the
retribution upon the rise, is the expedition against the Banquo family;
and the object of this crime is to frustrate the second part of the
Witches' oracle. So the original oracle becomes the motive force to the
whole play, setting in motion alike the rise and fall of the action. The
figure of the whole plot we have taken as a regular arch; its movement
might be compared to that terrible incident of mining life known as
'overwinding,' in which the steam engine pulls the heavy cage from the
bottom to the top of the shaft, but, instead of stopping then, winds on
till the cage is carried over the pulley and dashed down again to the
bottom. So the force of the Witches' prediction is not exhausted when it
has tempted Macbeth on to the throne, but carries him on to resist its
further clauses, and in resisting to bring about the fall by which they
are fulfilled. Not only then are the rise and the fall of Macbeth taken
separately oracular, but the whole plot, compounded of the two taken
together, constitutes another Oracular Action; and the last is of that
type in which Destiny is fulfilled by the agency of a will that has been
opposing it.

[_Irony a phase of malignant Destiny._]

A second phase of Destiny enters into the plot of _Macbeth_: this is
Irony. Etymologically the word means no more than _saying_. Pressing the
idea of saying as distinguished from meaning we get at the ordinary
signification, ambiguous speech; from which the word widens in its usage
to include double-dealing in general, such as the 'irony of Socrates,'
his habit of assuming the part of a simple enquirer in order to entangle
the pretentious sophists in their own wisdom. The particular extension
of meaning with which we are immediately concerned is that by which
irony comes to be applied to a double-dealing in Destiny itself; the
link between this and the original sense being no doubt the ambiguous
wording of oracular responses which has become proverbial. In ancient
conception Destiny wavered between justice and malignity; a leading
phase of malignant destiny was this Irony or double-dealing; Irony was
the laughter or mockery of Fate. It is illustrated in the angry measures
of Oedipus for penetrating the mystery that surrounds the murder of
Laius in order to punish the crime, impunity for which has brought the
plague upon his city: when at last it is made clear that Oedipus himself
has been unknowingly the culprit, there arises an irresistible sensation
that Destiny has been all the while playing with the king, and using his
zeal as a means for working his destruction. In modern thought the
supreme force of the universe cannot possibly be represented as
malignant. [_A modified Irony: Justice in a mocking humour._] But
mockery, though it may not be enthroned in opposition to justice, may
yet, without violating modern ideas, be made to appear in the _mode of
operation_ by which justice is brought about; here mockery is no longer
malignant, but simply an index of overpowering force, just as we smile
at the helpless stubbornness of a little child, whereas a man's
opposition makes us angry. For such a reconciliation of mockery with
righteousness we have authority in the imagery of Scripture.

    Why do the heathen rage?
      And the people imagine a vain thing?
    The kings of the earth set themselves
      And the rulers take counsel together
    Against the Lord
      And against His Anointed:
    Saying, Let us break their bonds,
      And cast away their cords from us.

    He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh:
    The Lord shall have them in derision.

    Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath;
      And vex them in his sore displeasure.

There could not be a more perfect type of Irony, in that form of it
which harmonises with justice, than this picture in three touches, of
the busy security of the wicked, of justice pausing to mock their idle
efforts, and then with a burst of wrath and displeasure annihilating
their projects at a stroke.

In modern thought, then, Irony is Justice in a mocking humour. The
mockery that suddenly becomes apparent in the mysterious operations of
Providence, and is a measure of their overpowering force, is clearly
capable of giving a highly dramatic interest to a train of events, and
so is fitted to be a form of dramatic action. [_Irony in the plot of
Macbeth: obstacles converted into stepping-stones._] The operation of
Destiny as exhibited in the plot of _Macbeth_ is throughout tinctured
with irony: the element of mockery appearing always in this, that
apparent checks to Destiny turn out the very means Destiny chooses by
which to fulfil itself. Irony of this kind is regularly attached to what
I have called the third variety of the Oracular Action, that in which
the oracle is fulfilled by the agency of attempts to oppose it; but in
the play under consideration the destiny, whether manifesting itself in
that type of the Oracular Action or not, is never dissociated from the
attitude of mockery to resistance which converts obstacles into
stepping-stones. It remains to show how the rise of Macbeth, the fall of
Macbeth, and again the rise and the fall taken together, are all of them
Irony Actions.

[_The rise of Macbeth an Irony Action._]

The basis of Macbeth's rise is the Witches' promise of the crown.
Scarcely has it been given when an obstacle starts up to its fulfilment
in the proclamation of Malcolm as heir-apparent. I have already pointed
out that it is this very proclamation which puts an end to Macbeth's
wavering, and leads him to undertake the treasonable enterprise which
only in the previous scene he had resolved he would have nothing to do
with. Later in the history a second obstacle appears: [=ii.= iii. 141.]
the king is slain, but his two sons, this heir-apparent and his brother,
escape from Macbeth's clutches and place two lives between him and the
fulfilment of his destiny. But, as events turn out, it is this very
flight of the princes that, by diverting suspicion to them for a moment,
causes Macbeth to be named as Duncan's successor. A conversation in the
play itself is devoted to making this point clear.

[=ii.= iv. 22.]

    _Ross._ Is't known who did this more than bloody deed?

    _Macduff._ Those that Macbeth hath slain.

    _Ross._                                Alas, the day!
        What good could they pretend?

    _Macduff._                     They were suborn'd:
        Malcolm and Donalbain, the king's two sons,
        Are stol'n away and fled; which puts upon them
        Suspicion of the deed.

    _Ross._                  'Gainst nature still!
        Thriftless ambition, that will ravin up
        Thine own life's means! Then 'tis most like
        The sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth.

    _Macduff._ He is already named, and gone to Scone
        To be invested.

[_The fall an Irony Action._]

Twice, then, in the course of the rise Destiny allows obstacles to
appear only for the sake of using them as an unexpected means of
fulfilment. The same mockery marks the fall of the action. The security
against a fall promised by the Apparitions to Macbeth had just one
drawback--'beware Macduff'; [=iv.= i. 71.] and [=iv.= ii, &c.] we have
already had occasion to notice Macbeth's attempt to secure himself
against this drawback in the completest manner by extirpating the
dangerous thane and his family to the last scion of his stock, and also
how this cruel purpose succeeded against all but Macduff himself. Now it
is to be noted that this attempt against the fulfilment of the destined
retribution proves the very source of the fulfilment, without which it
would never have come about. For at one point of the story Macduff, the
only man who, according to the decrees of Fate, can harm Macbeth,
resolves to abandon his vengeance against him. In his over-cautious
policy Macduff was unwilling to move without the concurrence of Malcolm
the rightful heir. [=iv.= iii.] In one of the most singular scenes in
all Shakespeare Macduff is represented as urging Malcolm to assert his
rights, while Malcolm (in reality driven by the general panic to
suspect even Macduff) discourages his attempts, and affects to be a
monster of iniquity, surpassing the tyrant of Scotland himself. [=iv.=
iii, from 100.] At last he succeeds in convincing Macduff of his
villainies, and in a burst of despair the fate-appointed avenger
renounces vengeance.

    _Macduff._               Fit to govern?
        No, not to live.... Fare thee well!
        These evils thou repeat'st upon thyself
        Have banish'd me from Scotland. O my breast
        Thy hope ends here!

Malcolm, it is true, then drops the pretence of villainy, but he does
not succeed in reassuring his companion.

[=iv.= iii. 138.]

    _Macduff._ Such welcome and unwelcome things at once
          'Tis hard to reconcile.

At this moment enters Ross with the news of Macbeth's expedition against
Fife, and tells how all Macduff's household, 'wife, children, servants,
all,' have been cut off 'at one swoop': before the agony of a
bereavement like this hesitation flies away for ever.

[=iv.= iii. 231.]

                              Gentle heavens,
    Cut short all intermission; front to front
    Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself;
    Within my sword's length set him: if he 'scape,
    Heaven forgive him too!

The action taken by Macbeth with a view to prevent Macduff's being the
instrument of retribution, is brought by a mocking Fate to impel Macduff
to his task at the precise moment he had resolved to abandon it.

[_The plot as a whole an Irony Action._]

Finally, if the rise and the fall be contemplated together as
constituting one action, this also will be found animated by the same
spirit of irony. The original promise of the Witches, as well as the
later promise of the Apparition, [=i.= iii. 62-66.] had its drawback in
the destiny that Banquo was to be lesser than Macbeth and yet greater,
to get kings though to be none; and to secure against this drawback is
Macbeth's purpose in his plot against Banquo and Fleance, by which the
rival family would be extirpated. The plot only _half succeeds_, and by
its half-success contributes to the exactness with which the destiny is
fulfilled. Had Macbeth's attempt fully succeeded, Banquo would neither
have got kings nor been one; had no such attempt at all been made, then,
for anything we see to the contrary in the play, Banquo would have
preceded his sons on the throne, and so again the oracle would not have
been fulfilled which made Banquo lesser than Macbeth. But by the mixture
of success and failure in Macbeth's plot Banquo is slain before he can
attain the crown, and Fleance lives to give a royal house to Scotland.
Once more, then, mockery appears a characteristic of the Destiny that
finds in human resistance just the one peculiar device needed for
effecting the peculiar distribution of fortune it has promised.

[_Summary._]

Such is the subtlety with which Shakespeare has constructed this plot of
_Macbeth_, and interwoven in it Nemesis and Destiny. To outward
appearance it is connected with the rise and fall of a sinner: the
analysis that searches for inner principles of construction traces
through its incidents three forms of action working harmoniously
together, by which the rise and fall of Macbeth are so linked as to
exhibit at once a crime with its Nemesis, an Oracle with its fulfilment,
and the Irony which works by the agency of that which resists it. Again
the separate halves of the play, the rise and the fall of the hero, are
found to present each the same triple pattern as the whole. Once more,
with the career of Macbeth are associated the careers of Banquo and
Macduff, and these also reflect the threefold spirit. Macbeth's rise
involves Banquo's fall: this fall is the subject of oracular prediction,
it is the starting-point of nemesis on Macbeth, and it has an element of
irony in the fact that Banquo _all but_ escaped. With Macbeth's fall is
bound up Macduff's rise: this also had been predicted in oracles, it is
an agency in the main nemesis, and Macduff's fate has the irony that he
_all but_ perished at the outset of his mission. Through all the
separate interests of this elaborate plot, the three forms of
action--Nemesis, the Oracular, Irony--are seen perfectly harmonised and
perfectly complete. And over all this is thrown the supernatural
interest of the Witches, who are agents of nemesis working by the means
of ironical oracles.



VII.

MACBETH, LORD AND LADY.

_A Study in Character-Contrast._


CONTRASTS of character form one of the simplest elements of dramatic
interest. Such contrasts are often obvious; at other times they take
definitiveness only when looked at from a particular point of view. The
contrast of character which it is the object of the present study to
sketch rests upon a certain distinction which is one of the fundamental
ideas in the analysis of human nature--[_The antithesis of the outer and
inner life._] the distinction between the outer life of action and the
inner life of our own experience. The recognition of the two is as old
as the _Book of Proverbs_, which contrasts the man that ruleth his
spirit with the man that taketh a city. The heathen oracle, again,
opened out to an age which seemed to have exhausted knowledge a new
world for investigation in the simple command, Know thyself. The Stoics,
who so despised the busy vanity of state cares, yet delighted to call
their ideal man a king; and their particular tenet is universalised by
Milton when he says:

          Therein stands the office of a king,
    His honour, virtue, merit, and chief praise,
    That for the public all this weight he bears:
    Yet he who reigns within himself, and rules
    Passions, desires, and fears, is more a king.

And the modern humourist finds the idea indispensable for his pourtrayal
of character and experience. 'Sir,' says one of Thackeray's personages,
'a distinct universe walks about under your hat and under mine ... You
and I are but a pair of infinite isolations with some fellow-islands
more or less near to us.' And elsewhere the same writer says that 'each
creature born has a little kingdom of thought of his own, which it is a
sin in us to invade.'

This antithesis of the practical and inner life is so accepted a
commonplace of the pulpit and of the essayist on morals and culture that
it may seem tedious to expound it. But for the very reason that it
belongs to all these spheres, and that these spheres overlap, the two
sides of the antithesis are not kept clearly distinct, nor are the terms
uniformly used in the same sense. For the present purpose the exact
distinction is between the outer world, the world of practical action,
the sphere of making and doing, in which we mingle with our fellow men,
join in their enterprises, and influence them to our ideas, in which we
investigate nature and society, or seek to build up a fabric of power:
and, on the other hand, the inner intellectual life, in which our powers
as by a mirror are turned inwards upon ourselves, finding a field for
enterprise in self-discipline and the contest with inherited notions and
passions, exploring the depths of our consciousness and our mysterious
relations with the unseen, until the thinker becomes familiar with
strange situations of the mind and at ease in the presence of its
problems. The antithesis is thus not at all the same as that between
worldly and religious, for the inner life may be cultivated for evil:
self-anatomy, as Shelley says,

                      Shall teach the will
    Dangerous secrets: for it tempts our powers.
    Knowing what must be thought and may be done,
    Into the depth of darkest purposes.

Still less is it the antithesis between intellectual and commonplace;
the highest intellectual powers find employment in practical life. The
various mental and moral qualities belong to both spheres, but have a
different meaning for each. Practical experience is a totally different
thing from what the religious thinker means by his 'experience.' The
discipline given by the world often consists in the dulling of those
powers which self-discipline seeks to develope. Knowledge of affairs,
with its rapid and instinctive grasp, is often possessed in the highest
degree by the man who is least of all men versed in the other knowledge,
which could explain and analyse the processes by which it operated. And
every observer is struck by the different forms which courage takes in
the two spheres, courage in action, and courage where nothing can be
done and men have only to endure and wait. Macaulay in a well-known
passage contrasts the active and passive courage as one of the
distinctions between the West and the East.

    An European warrior, who rushes on a battery of cannon with a loud
    hurrah, will sometimes shriek under the surgeon's knife, and fall
    into an agony of despair at the sentence of death. But the Bengalee,
    who would see his country overrun, his house laid in ashes, his
    children murdered or dishonoured, without having the spirit to
    strike one blow, has yet been known to endure torture with the
    firmness of Mucius, and to mount the scaffold with the steady step
    and even pulse of Algernon Sidney.

The two lives are complete, each with its own field, its own qualities,
culture, and fruit.

[_The antithesis an element in Character-Interpretation._]

It is obvious that relation to these two lives will have a very great
effect in determining individual character. In the same man the two
sides of experience may be most unequally developed; an intellectual
giant is often a child in the affairs of the world, and a moral hero may
be found in the person of some bedridden cripple. On the other hand, to
some the inner life is hardly known: familiar perhaps with every other
branch of knowledge they go down to their graves strangers to
themselves.

    All things without, which round about we see,
      We seek to know and how therewith to do;
    But that whereby we reason, live, and be
      Within ourselves, we strangers are thereto.

    We seek to know the moving of each sphere,
      And the strange cause of the ebbs and flows of Nile:
    But of that clock within our breasts we bear,
      The subtle motions we forget the while.

    We, that acquaint ourselves with every zone,
      And pass both tropics, and behold each pole,
    When we come home, are to ourselves unknown,
      And unacquainted still with our own soul.

The antithesis then between the outer and inner life will be among the
ideas which lie at the root of Character-Interpretation.

[_In a simple age it coincides with the distinction of the sexes._]

When the idea is applied to an age like that of Macbeth, the antithesis
between the two lives almost coincides with the distinction of the
sexes: amid the simple conditions of life belonging to such an age the
natural tendency would be for genius in men to find scope in the outer
and practical world, while genius in women would be restricted to the
inner life. And this is the idea I am endeavouring to work out in the
present study:--[_The antithesis the key to the characters of Macbeth
and Lady Macbeth._] that the key to Shakespeare's portraiture of Macbeth
and Lady Macbeth will be found in regarding the two as illustrations of
the outer and inner life. Both possess force in the highest degree, but
the two have been moulded by the exercise of this force in different
spheres; their characters are in the play brought into sharp contrast by
their common enterprise, and the contrast of practical and intellectual
mind is seen maintained through the successive stages of their descent
to ruin.

[_Macbeth as the practical man._]

Thus Macbeth is essentially the practical man, the man of action, of the
highest experience, power, and energy in military and political command,
accustomed to the closest connection between willing and doing. He is
one who in another age would have worked out the problem of free trade,
or unified Germany, or engineered the Suez Canal. On the other hand, he
has concerned himself little with things transcendental; he is poorly
disciplined in thought and goodness; prepared for any emergency in which
there is anything to be _done_, yet a mental crisis or a moral problem
afflicts him with the shock of an unfamiliar situation. This is by no
means a generally accepted view: amongst a large number of readers the
traditional conception of Macbeth lingers as a noble disposition dragged
down by his connection with the coarser nature of his wife. [_His
nobility conventional._] According to the view here suggested the
nobility of Macbeth is of the flimsiest and most tawdry kind. The lofty
tone he is found at times assuming means no more than virtuous education
and surroundings. When the purely practical nature is examined in
reference to the qualities which belong to the intellectual life, the
result is not a blank but ordinariness: the practical nature will
reflect current thought and goodness as they appear from the outside. So
Macbeth's is the morality of inherited notions, retained just because he
has no disposition to examine them; he has all the practical man's
distrust of wandering from the beaten track of opinion, which gives the
working politician his prejudice against doctrinaires, and has raised up
stout defenders of the Church amongst men whose lives were little
influenced by her teaching. And the traditionary morality is more than
merely retained. When the seed fell into stony ground forthwith it
sprang up _because_ it had no deepness of earth: the very shallowness of
a man's character may lend emphasis to his high professions, just as, on
the other hand, earnestness in its first stage often takes the form of
hesitation. So Macbeth's practical genius takes in strongly what it
takes in at all, and gives it out vigorously. But that the nobility has
gone beyond the stage of passive recognition, that it has become
absorbed into his inner nature, there is not a trace; on the contrary,
it is impossible to follow Macbeth's history far without abundant
evidence that real love of goodness for its own sake, founded on
intelligent choice or deep affection, has failed to root a single fibre
in his nature.

First, we have the opportunity of studying Macbeth's character in the
analysis given of it in the play itself by the one person who not only
saw Macbeth in his public life, but knew also the side of him hidden
from the world.

[_Lady Macbeth's analysis of her husband's character._]

[=i.= v. 16-31.]

    _Lady Macbeth._                     I fear thy nature;
        It is too full o' the milk of human kindness
        To catch the nearest way.

I believe that this phrase, the 'milk of human kindness,' divorced from
its context and become the most familiar of all commonplaces, has done
more than anything else towards giving a false twist to the general
conception of Macbeth's character. The words _kind, kindness_ are
amongst the most difficult words in Shakespeare. The wide original
signification of the root, _natural, nature_, still retained in the noun
_kind_, has been lost in the adjective, which has been narrowed by
modern usage to one sort of naturalness, tender-heartedness; though in a
derivative form the original sense is still familiar to modern ears in
the expression 'the _kindly_ fruits of the earth.' In Elizabethan
English, however, the root signification still remained in all usages of
_kind_ and its derivatives. In Schmidt's analysis of the adjective, two
of its four significations agree with the modern use, the other two are
'keeping to nature, natural,' and 'not degenerate and corrupt, but such
as a thing or person ought to be.' Shakespeare delights to play upon the
two senses of this family of words: [_Much Ado,_ =i.= i. 26.] tears of
joy are described as a 'kind overflow of kindness'; the Fool says of
Regan that she will use Lear 'kindly,' i.e. according to her nature;
[_Lr._ =i.= v. 15.] 'the worm will do his kind,' i.e. bite. [_Ant. and
Cleop._ =v.= ii. 264.] How far the word can wander from its modern sense
is seen in a phrase of the present play, [=ii.= i. 24.] 'at your kind'st
leisure,' where it is simply equivalent to 'convenient.' Still more will
the wider signification of the word obtain, when it is associated with
the word _human_; 'humankind' is still an expression for human nature,
and the sense of the passage we are considering would be more obvious if
the whole phrase were printed as one word, not 'human kindness,' but
'humankind-ness':--that shrinking from what is not natural, which is a
marked feature of the practical nature. The other part of the clause,
_milk_ of humankind-ness, no doubt suggests absence of hardness: but it
equally connotes natural, inherited, traditional feelings, imbibed at
the mother's breast. The whole expression of Lady Macbeth, then, I take
to attribute to her husband an instinctive tendency to shrink from
whatever is in any way unnatural. That this is the true sense further
appears, not only from the facts--[=i.= ii. 54.] for nothing in the play
suggests that Macbeth, 'Bellona's bridegroom,' was distinguished by
kindness in the modern sense--but from the context. The form of Lady
Macbeth's speech makes the phrase under discussion a summing up of the
rest of her analysis, or rather a general text which she proceeds to
expand into details. Not one of these details has any connection with
tender-heartedness: on the other hand, if put together the details do
amount to the sense for which I am contending, that Macbeth's character
is a type of commonplace morality, the shallow unthinking and unfeeling
man's lifelong hesitation between God and Mammon.

              Thou would'st be great;
    Art not without ambition, but without
    The illness should attend it: what thou would'st highly
    That would'st thou holily; would'st not play false,
    And yet would'st wrongly win: thou'ldst have, great Glamis,
    That which cries 'Thus thou must do, if thou have it,
    And that which _rather thou dost fear to do
    Than wishest should be undone._'

If the delicate balancing of previous clauses had left any doubt as to
the meaning, the last two lines remove it, and assert distinctly that
Macbeth has no objection to the evil itself, but only a fear of evil
measures which must be associated to a practical mind with failure and
disgrace. [=i.= iv. 48-53.] It is striking that at the very moment Lady
Macbeth is so meditating, her husband is giving a practical confirmation
of her description in its details as well as its general purport. [=i.=
iii. 143, 146.] He had resolved to take no steps himself towards the
fulfilment of the Witches' prophecy, but to leave all to chance; then
the proclamation of Malcolm, removing all apparent chance of succession,
led him to change his mind and entertain the scheme of treason and
murder: the words with which he surrenders himself seem like an echo of
his wife's analysis.

                    Stars, hide your fires;
    Let not light see my black and deep desires:
    The eye wink at the hand; _yet let that be
    Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see._

[_Macbeth's soliloquy: of an eminently practical character._]

But we are not left to descriptions of Macbeth by others. We have him
self-displayed; and that in a situation so framed that if there were in
him the faintest sympathy with goodness it must here be brought into
prominence. [=i.= vii. 1-28.] Macbeth has torn himself away from the
banquet, and, his mind full of the desperate danger of the treason he is
meditating, he ponders over the various motives that forbid its
execution. A strong nobility would even amid incentives _to_ crime feel
the attraction of virtue and have to struggle against it; but surely the
weakest nobility, when facing motives _against_ sin, would be roused to
some degree of virtuous passion. Yet, if Macbeth's famous soliloquy be
searched through and through, not a single thought will be found to
suggest that he is regarding the deep considerations of sin and
retribution in any other light than that of immediate practical
consequences. First, there is the thought of the sureness of retribution
even in this world. It may be true that hope of heaven and fear of hell
are not the highest of moral incentives, but at least they are a degree
higher than the thought of worldly prosperity and failure; Macbeth
however is willing to take his chance of the next world if only he can
be guaranteed against penalties in this life.

    If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
    It were done quickly: if the assassination
    Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
    With his surcease success; that but this blow
    Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
    But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
    We'ld jump the life to come. But in these cases
    We still have judgement here; that we but teach
    Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
    To plague the inventor: this even-handed justice
    Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice
    To our own lips.

So far he has reached no higher consideration, in reference to treason
and murder, than the fear that he may be suggesting to others to use
against himself the weapon he is intending for Duncan. Then his thoughts
turn to the motives against crime which belong to the softer side of our
nature.

                        He's here in double trust,
    First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,
    Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
    Who should against his murderer shut the door,
    Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan,
    Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
    So clear in his great office, that his virtues
    Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
    The deep damnation of his taking-off;
    And pity--

At all events it is clear this is no case of a man blinded for the
moment to the emotions which resist crime; and as we hear him passing in
review kinship, loyalty, hospitality, pity, we listen for the burst of
remorse with which he will hurl from him the treachery he had been
fostering. But, on the contrary, his thoughts are still practical, and
the climax to which this survey of motives is to lead up is no more than
the effect they will have on others: pity

    Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
    That tears shall drown the wind.

And then he seems to regret that he cannot find more incentives to his
villainy.

                              I have no spur
    To prick the sides of my intent, but only
    Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
    And falls on the other.

So Macbeth's searching self-examination on topics of sin and
retribution, amid circumstances specially calculated to rouse
compunction, results in thoughts not more noble than these--that murder
is a game which two parties can play at, that heartlessness has the
effect of drawing general attention, that ambition is apt to defeat its
own object.

[_Macbeth rises with external deeds and sinks with internal conflicts._]

Again: that Macbeth's union of superficial nobility with real moral
worthlessness is connected with the purely practical bent of his mind
will be the more evident the wider the survey which is taken of his
character and actions. It may be observed that Macbeth's spirits always
rise with evil deeds: however he may have wavered in the contemplation
of crime, its execution strings him up to the loftiest tone. [=ii.= i,
from 31; and =iii.= ii, from 39.] This is especially clear in the Dagger
Scene, and in the scene in which he darkly hints to his wife the murder
of Banquo, which is in a brief space to be in actual perpetration. As he
feels the moment of crime draw near, his whole figure seems to dilate,
the language rises, and the imagery begins to flow. Like a poet invoking
his muse, Macbeth calls on seeling night to scarf up the tender eye of
pitiful day. He has an eye to dramatic surroundings for his dark deeds.

            Now, o'er the one half-world
    Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
    The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates
    Pale Hecate's offerings, and wither'd murder,
    Alarum'd by his sentinel, the wolf,
    Whose howl's his watch, thus with his stealthy pace,
    With Tarquin's ravishing strides, towards his design
    Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth,
    Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear
    The very stones prate of my whereabout,
    _And take the present horror from the time,
    Which now suits with it._

The man who had an hour or two before been driven from the table of his
guests by the mere thought of a crime moves to the deed itself with the
exalted language of a Hebrew prophet. On the other hand, in his
spiritual struggles there is a simpleness that sometimes suggests
childishness. [=ii.= ii. 31.] His trouble is that he could not say
'Amen' when the sleepers cried 'God bless us'; his conscience seems a
voice outside him; [=ii.= ii. 35-46.] finally, the hardened warrior dare
not return to the darkness and face the victim he had so exultingly done
to death.

Macbeth, then, is the embodiment of one side of the antithesis with
which we started; his is pre-eminently the practical nature, moulded in
a world of action, but uninfluenced by the cultivation of the inner
life. Yet he is not perfect as a man of action: for the practical cannot
reach its perfection without the assistance of the inner life. [_Two
flaws in Macbeth as an embodiment of the practical: his superstition;_]
There are two flaws in Macbeth's completeness. For one, his lack of
training in thought has left him without protection against the
superstition of his age. He is a passive prey to supernatural
imaginings. [=v.= v. 10.] He himself tells us he is a man whose senses
would cool to hear a night-shriek, and his fell of hair rouse at a
dismal treatise. And we see throughout the play how he never for an
instant doubts the reality of the supernatural appearances: [e.g. =iii.=
iv. 60; =i.= iii. 107, 122.] a feature the more striking from its
contrast with the scepticism of Lady Macbeth, and the hesitating doubt
of Banquo. [_and his helplessness under suspense._] [=iii.= i. 6.]
Again: no active career can be without its periods when action is
impossible, and it is in such periods that the training given by the
intellectual life makes itself felt, with its self-control and passive
courage. All this Macbeth lacks: in suspense he has no power of
self-restraint. [compare =i.= iii. 137, and =iii.= ii. 16.] When we come
to trace him through the stages of the action we shall find that one of
these two flaws springing out of Macbeth's lack of the inner life, his
superstition and his helplessness in suspense, is at every turn the
source of his betrayal.

In the case of Lady Macbeth, the old-fashioned view of her as a second
Clytæmnestra has long been steadily giving way before a conception
higher at least on the intellectual side. [_Lady Macbeth as an
embodiment of the inner life._] The exact key to her character is given
by regarding her as the antithesis of her husband, and an embodiment of
the inner life and its intellectual culture so markedly wanting in him.
She has had the feminine lot of being shut out from active life, and her
genius and energy have been turned inwards; [=v.= i. 58.] her soul--like
her 'little hand'--is not hardened for the working-day world, but is
quick, delicate, sensitive. She has the keenest insight into the
characters of those around her. She is accustomed to moral loneliness
and at home in mental struggles. She has even solved for herself some of
their problems. In the very crisis of Duncan's murder she gives
utterance to the sentiment:

[=ii.= ii. 53.]

                    the sleeping and the dead
    Are but as pictures.

When we remember that she must have started with the superstitions of
her age such an expression, simple enough in modern lips, opens up to us
a whole drama of personal history: we can picture the trembling
curiosity, the struggle between will and quivering nerves, the triumph
chequered with awe, the resurrection of doubts, the swayings between
natural repulsion and intellectual thirst, the growing courage and the
reiterated victories settling down into calm principle. Accordingly,
Lady Macbeth has won the grand prize of the inner life: in the kingdom
of her personal experience her WILL is unquestioned king. It may seem
strange to some readers that Lady Macbeth should be held up as the type
of the inner life, so associated is that phrase to modern ears with the
life fostered by religion. But the two things must not be
confused--religion and the sphere in which religion is exercised. 'The
kingdom of God is within you,' was the proclamation of Christ, but the
world within _may_ be subjugated to other kings than God. Mental
discipline and perfect self-control, like that of Lady Macbeth, would
hold their sway over evil passions, but they would also be true to her
when she chose to contend against goodness, and even against the deepest
instincts of her feminine nature. [_A struggle against not absence of
the softer qualities._] This was ignored in the old conception of the
character, and a struggle _against_ the softer side of her nature was
mistaken for its total absence. But her intellectual culture must have
quickened her finer sensibilities at the same time that it built up a
will strong enough to hold them down; nor is the subjugation so perfect
but that a sympathetic insight can throughout trace a keen delicacy of
nature striving to assert itself. [=i.= v. 41.] In particular, when she
calls upon the spirits that tend on mortal thoughts to unsex and fill
her from crown to toe with direst cruelty, she is thrilling all over
with feminine repugnance to the bloody enterprise, which nevertheless
her royal will insists upon her undertaking. Lady Macbeth's career in
the play is one long mental civil war: and the strain ends, as such a
strain could only end, in madness.

[_The Character-Contrast traced through the action._]

Such is the general conception of Lord and Lady Macbeth from the point
of view of the antithesis between the outer and inner life. We have now
to turn from character to action, and trace the contrasted pair through
the stages of their common career.

[_Situation at the opening of the play._]

The two opposing natures have been united in a happy marriage, the
happier because a link between characters so forceful and so antithetic,
if it held at all, must be a source of interest: [compare =i.= v. 55-60;
=i.= vii. 38; =iii.= ii. 27, 29, 36, 45; =iii.= iv. 141.] the dark
tragedy of this unhappy pair is softened by the tenderness of demeanour
which appears on both sides. Another source of marriage happiness is
added: there is not a trace of self-seeking in Lady Macbeth. Throughout
the play she is never found meditating upon what she is to gain by the
crown; wife-like, she has no sphere but the career of her husband. [_The
original impulse to evil came from Macbeth._] In a picture of human
characters, great in their scale, overwhelmed in moral ruin, the
question of absorbing interest is the commencement of the descent, and
the source from which the impulse to evil has come. This, in the present
case, Shakespeare has carefully hidden from us: before the play opens
the essential surrender of spirit has taken place, and all that we are
allowed to see is its realisation in life and fact. If, however, we use
the slight material afforded us for speculation on this point, it would
appear that the original choice for evil has for both been made by
Macbeth. In the partnership of man and wife it is generally safe to
assume that the initiative of action has come from the husband, if
nothing appears to the contrary. [=i.= vii. 48.] In the present case we
are not left to assumptions, Lady Macbeth distinctly speaks of her
husband as first breaking to her the enterprise of treacherous ambition.

                  What beast was't, then,
    Which made you break this enterprise to me?
                      ... Nor time nor place
    Did then adhere, and yet you would make both.

The reference can only be to a period before the commencement of the
play; and the general drift of the passage suggests that it was no mere
choice, made by Macbeth with deliberation during which he would be open
to conviction, but an impulse of uncontrollable passion that it would
have been vain for his wife to resist, supposing that she had had the
desire to resist it--so uncontrollable, indeed, [=i.= vii. 54.] that it
appears to Lady Macbeth stronger than the strongest of feminine
passions, a mother's love.

                    I have given suck, and know
    How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
    I would, while it was smiling in my face,
    Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
    And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
    Have done to this.

The only sense in which Lady Macbeth can be pronounced the ruin of her
husband is that her firm nature holds him in the path to which he has
committed them both, and will not allow his fatal faltering to lose
both the virtue he has renounced and the price for which he has bartered
it. Denied by her feminine position, the possibility--even if she had
had the desire--of directing the common lot for good, she has recognised
before we make her acquaintance that this lot has been cast for evil,
and she is too well-trained in self-knowledge to attempt the
self-deception her husband tries to keep up. [=i.= vii. 54.] And to this
evil lot she applies her full force. Her children have died, and this
natural outlet for passion is wanting; the whole of her energy is
brought to bear upon her husband's ambition, and she is waiting only an
occasion for concentrating her powers upon some definite project.

[_Four stages in the action._]

With such mutual relations between the hero and the heroine the play
opens: we are to watch the contrasted characters through the successive
stages of the Temptation, the Deed, the Concealment, the Nemesis.

[_The Temptation._]

The Temptation accosts the two personages when separated from one
another, and we thus have the better opportunity of watching the
different forms it assumes in adapting itself to the different
characters. The expedition, which has separated Macbeth from his wife,
is one which must have led him to brood over his schemes of ambition.
Certainly it exhibits to him an example of treason and shows him the
weakness of his sovereign. Probably he sees events shaping in a
direction that suggests opportunity; he may have known that the king
must pass in the direction of his castle, or in some other way may have
anticipated a royal visit; at all events the king's intimation of this
visit in the play itself--

[=i.= iv. 42.]

                  From hence to Inverness,
    And bind us further to you,--

does not look like a first mention of it. [=i.= iii. 38-78.] To a mind
so prepared the supernatural solicitation brings a shock of temptation;
and as the Witches in their greeting reach the promise, 'Thou shalt be
KING hereafter,' Macbeth gives a start that astonishes Banquo:

    Good sir, why do you start; and seem to fear
    Things that do sound so fair?

To Banquo this prediction of the Witches seems no more than curious; for
it must be remembered that Macbeth's position in the kingdom was not
such as to exclude hope of succession to the crown, though the hope was
a remote one. But Macbeth's start tells a tale of his inner thoughts at
the time. This alone should be sufficient to vindicate Shakespeare from
the charge sometimes brought against him of turning a great character
from virtue to vice by demoniac agency; his is the higher conception
that a soul which has commenced the surrender to evil will find in the
powers of darkness agencies ready to expedite its descent, it matters
not what form these agencies assume. Macbeth has been for years playing
with the idea of treason, while never bracing himself up to the point of
acting it: suddenly the thought he fancied so safe within his bosom
appears outside him in tangible form, gleaming at him in the malignant
glances of recognition the Witches are casting at him. To a mind utterly
undefended by culture against superstitious terror this objective
presentation of his own thought proves a Rubicon of temptation which he
never attempts to recross. [=i.= v. 1-55.] On Lady Macbeth the
supernatural incident makes not the slightest impression of any kind; we
see her reading her husband's excited account of the interview with the
most deliberate calmness, weighing its suggestions only with reference
to the question how it can be used upon her husband. To her temptation
comes with the suggestion of _opportunity_. The messenger enters during
her quiet meditation;

    _Mess._ The king comes here to-night.

    _Lady M._                           Thou 'rt mad to say it!

The shock that passes over her is like the shock of chemical change. In
an instant her whole nature is strung up to a single end; the
long-expected occasion for the concentration of a whole life's energy
upon a decisive stroke is come. So rapidly does her imagination move
that she sees the deed before her as already done, and, as she casts her
eyes upwards, the very ravens over her head seem to be croaking the
fatal entrance of Duncan under her battlements.

[_The meeting afterwards._]

[=i.= v, from 55: =i.= vii.]

The stage of Temptation cannot be considered complete without taking in
that important section of the play which intervenes between the meeting
of the two personages after their separate temptations and the
accomplishment of the treason. This is essentially a period of suspense,
and accordingly exhibits Macbeth at his weakest. As he enters his castle
his tell-tale face is as a book where men may read strange matters; and
his utter powerlessness of self-control throws upon his wife's firm will
the strongest of all strains, that of infusing her own tenacity into a
vacillating ally. I have already dealt with the point at which Macbeth's
suspense becomes intolerable, and he leaves the supper-table; and I have
drawn attention to the eminently practical nature of his thoughts even
at this crisis. The scene which follows, when his wife labours to hold
him to the enterprise he has undertaken, illustrates perhaps better than
any other incident in the play how truly this practical bent is the key
to Macbeth's whole character. At first he takes high ground, and rests
his hesitation on considerations of gratitude. Lady Macbeth appeals to
consistency, to their mutual love, and, her anger beginning to rise at
this wavering of will in a critical moment, she taunts her husband with
cowardice. Then it is that Macbeth, irritated in his turn, speaks the
noble words that have done so much to gain him a place in the army of
martyrs to wifely temptations.

                          Prithee, peace:
    I dare do all that may become a man;
    Who dares do more is none.

But it is difficult to share Macbeth's self-deception long. At his
wife's reminder how he had been the one to first moot the undertaking,
and swear to it in spite of overwhelming obstacles, already the noble
attitude looks more like the sour grapes morality of the man who begins
to feel indignation against sin at the precise moment when the sin
becomes dangerous. And the whole truth comes sneaking out at Macbeth's
next rejoinder: 'If we should fail?' Here is the critical point of the
scene. [=i.= vii, from 61.] At its beginning Macbeth is for abandoning
the treason, at its end he prepares for his task of murder with
animation: where does the change come? _The practical man is nerved by
having the practical details supplied to him._ Lady Macbeth sketches a
feasible scheme: how that the King will be wearied, his chamberlains can
by means of the banquet be easily drugged, their confusion on waking can
be interpreted as guilt--before she has half done her husband interrupts
her with a burst of enthusiasm, and completes her scheme for her. The
man who had thought it was manliness that made him shrink from murder
henceforward never hesitates till he has plunged his dagger in his
sovereign's bosom.

[_The Deed_]

[=ii.= i. 31 to =ii.= ii.]

In the perpetration of the Deed itself we have the woman passing from
weakness to strength, the man from strength to weakness. To Lady Macbeth
this actual contact with a deed of blood is the severest point of the
strain, the part most abhorrent to her more delicate nature. For a
single moment she feels herself on the verge of the madness which
eventually comes upon her:

[=ii.= ii. 33.]

              These deeds must not be thought
    After these ways; so, it will make us mad!

And at the beginning of the scene she has been obliged to have recourse
to stimulants in order to brace her failing nerves:

[=ii.= ii. 1.]

    That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold.

And in part the attempt to bring her delicate nature to the repugnant
deed does fail. It is clear that, knowing how little her husband could
be depended upon, she had intended to have a hand in the murder itself:

[=i.= vii. 69; compare =i.= v. 68.]

    What cannot _you and I_ perform upon
    The unguarded Duncan?

But the will which was strong enough to hold down conscience gave way
for a moment before an instinct of feminine tenderness:

[=ii.= ii. 13.]

                    Had he not resembled
    My father as he slept, I had done 't.

The superiority, however, of the intellectual mind is seen in this, that
it can nerve itself from its own agitation, it can draw strength out of
the weakness surrounding it, or out of the necessities of the situation:
_must_ is the most powerful of spells to a trained will. And so it is
that Lady Macbeth rises to the occasion when her husband fails. At first
Macbeth in the perpetration of the murder appears in his proper sphere
of action, and we have already noticed how the Dagger Soliloquy shows no
shrinking, but rather excitement on the side of exultation. The change
in him comes with a moment of suspense, caused by the momentary waking
of the grooms: [=ii.= ii. 24.] 'I stood and heard them.' With this, no
longer sustained by action, he utterly breaks down under the unfamiliar
terrors of a fight with his conscience. His prayer sticks in his throat;
his thoughts seem so vivid that his wife can hardly tell whether he did
not take them for a real voice outside him.

    Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,
    You do unbend your noble strength, to think
    So brainsickly of things.

In his agitation he forgets the plan of action, brings away the daggers
instead of leaving them with the grooms, and finally dares not return to
finish what he has left uncompleted. And accordingly his wife has to
make another demand upon her overwrought nature: with one hysterical
jest,

                          If he do bleed,
    I'll _gild_ the faces of the grooms withal,
    For it must seem their _guilt_,

her nature rallies, and the strength derived from the inner life fills
up a gap in action where the mere strength of action had failed.

[_The first Shock of Concealment._ =ii.= iii, from 68.]

The Concealment of the murder forms a stage of the action which falls
into two different parts: the single effort which faces the first shock
of discovery, and the very different strain required to meet the slowly
gathering evidence of guilt. In the Scene of the Discovery Macbeth is
perfectly at home: energetic action is needed, and he is dealing with
men. His acted innocence appears to me better than his wife's; Lady
Macbeth goes near to suggesting a personal interest in the crime by her
over-anxiety to disclaim it.

    _Macduff._         O Banquo, Banquo,
        Our royal master's murder'd!

    _Lady M._                Woe, alas!
        What, in our house?

    _Banquo._        Too cruel anywhere.

Yet in this scene, as everywhere else, the weak points in Macbeth's
character betray him: for one moment he is left to himself, and that
moment's suspense ruins the whole episode. In the most natural manner in
the world Macbeth had, on hearing the announcement, rushed with Lennox
to the scene of the murder. Lennox quitted the chamber of blood first,
and for an instant Macbeth was alone, facing the grooms still heavy with
their drugged sleep, and knowing that in another moment they would be
aroused and telling their tale: the sense of crisis proves too much for
him, and under an ungovernable impulse he stabs them. He thus wrecks the
whole scheme. How perfectly Lady Macbeth's plan would have served if it
had been left to itself is seen by Lennox's account of what he had seen,
and how the grooms

        stared, and were distracted; no man's life
    Was to be trusted with them.

Nothing, it is true, can be finer than the way in which Macbeth seeks to
cover his mistake and announces what he has done. But in spite of his
brilliant outburst,

    Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious,
    Loyal and neutral, in a moment?

and his vivid word-picture of his supposed sensations, his efforts are
in vain, and at the end of his speech we feel that there has arisen in
the company of nobles the indescribable effect known as 'a sensation,'
and we listen for some one to speak some word that shall be irrevocable.
[=ii.= iii. 124.] The crisis is acute, but Lady Macbeth comes to the
rescue _and faints_! It matters little whether we suppose the fainting
assumed, or that she yields to the agitation she has been fighting
against so long. The important point is that she chooses this exact
moment for giving way: she holds out to the end of her husband's speech,
then falls with a cry for help; there is at once a diversion, and she is
carried out. [=ii.= iii. 132.] But the crisis has passed, and a moment's
consideration has suggested to the nobles the wisdom of adjourning for a
fitter occasion the enquiry into the murder they all suspect: [=ii.= iv.
24-32.] before that occasion arrives the flight of the king's sons has
diverted suspicion into an entirely new channel. Lady Macbeth's fainting
saved her husband.

[_The long Strain of Concealment._ =iii.= i, ii.]

To convey dramatically the continuous strain of keeping up appearances
in face of steadily accumulating suspicion is more difficult than to
depict a single crisis. Shakespeare manages it in the present case
chiefly by presenting Macbeth to us on the eve of an important council,
at which the whole truth is likely to come out.

[= iii.= i. 30.]

    We hear, our bloody cousins are bestowed
    In England and in Ireland, not confessing
    Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers
    With strange invention: but of that to-morrow.

It is enough to note here that Macbeth takes the step--the fatal step,
as was pointed out in the last study--of contriving Banquo's murder
simply because he cannot face the suspense of waiting for the morrow,
and hearing the defence of the innocent princes made in presence of
Banquo, who knows the inducement he had to such a deed. That he feels
the danger of the crime, which nevertheless he cannot hold himself back
from committing, is clear from the fact that he will not submit it to
the calmer judgment of his wife. [=iii.= ii. 45.] The contrast of the
two characters appears here as everywhere. Lady Macbeth can _wait_ for
an opportunity of freeing themselves from Banquo:

[=iii.= ii. 37.]

    _Macb._ Thou know'st that Banquo, and his Fleance, lives.

    _Lady M._ But in them nature's copy's not eterne.

To Macbeth the one thing impossible is to wait; and once more his
powerlessness to control suspense is his ruin.

[_The first Shock of Nemesis._]

We have reviewed the contrasted characters under Temptation, in the Deed
of sin itself, and in the struggle for Concealment: [=iii.= iv.] it
remains to watch them face to face with their Nemesis. In the present
play Shakespeare has combined the nemesis which takes the form of a
sudden shock with the yet severer nemesis of a hopeless resistance
through the stages of a protracted fall. The first Shock of Nemesis
comes in the Banquet Scene. Macbeth has surrendered himself to the
supernatural, and from the supernatural his retribution comes. This is
not the place to draw out the terrible force of this famous scene; for
its bearing on the contrast of character under delineation it is to be
remarked that Macbeth faces his ghostly visitation with unflinching
courage, yet without a shadow of doubt as to the reality of what
nevertheless no one sees but himself. Lady Macbeth is equally true to
her character, and fights on to the last in the now hopeless
contest--her double task of keeping up appearances for herself and for
her husband. Her keen tact in dealing with Macbeth is to be noted. At
first she rallies him angrily, and seeks to shame him into self-command;
a moment shows that he is too far gone to be reached by such motives.
Instantly she changes her tactics, and, employing a device so often
effective with patients of disordered brain, she endeavours to recall
him to his senses by assuming an ordinary tone of voice; hitherto she
has whispered, now, in the hearing of all, she makes the practical
remark:

[=iii.= iv. 83.]

                          My worthy lord,
    Your noble friends do lack you.

The device proves successful, his nerves respond to the tone of everyday
life, and recovering himself he uses all his skill of deportment to
efface the strangeness of the episode, until the reappearance of his
victim plunges the scene in confusion past recovery. In the moment of
crisis Lady Macbeth had used roughness to rouse her husband; [=iii.= iv,
from 122.] when the courtiers are gone she is all tenderness. She utters
not a word of reproach: perhaps she is herself exhausted by the strain
she has gone through; more probably the womanly solicitude for the
physical sufferer thinks only how to procure for her husband 'the season
of all natures, sleep.'

[_The full Nemesis._]

At last the end comes. The final stage, like the first, is brought to
the two personages separately. Lady Macbeth has faced every crisis by
sheer force of nerve; [=v.= i.] the nemesis comes upon her fitly in
madness, the brain giving way under the strain of contest which her will
has forced upon it. In the delirium of her last appearance before us we
can trace three distinct tones of thought working into one another as if
in some weird harmony. There is first the mere reproduction of the
horrible scenes she has passed through.

    One: two: why then 'tis time to do 't.... Yet who would have thought
    the old man to have had so much blood in him.... The thane of Fife
    had a wife: where is she now?

Again there is an inner thought contending with the first, the struggle
to keep her husband from betraying himself by his irresolution.

    No more o' that, my lord, no more o' that: you mar all with this
    starting.... Wash your hands, put on your night-gown; look not so
    pale.... Fie! a soldier and afear'd?

And there is an inmost thought of all: the uprising of her feminine
nature against the foulness of the violent deed.

    Out, damned spot!... Here's the smell of blood still: all the
    perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand--

and the 'sorely charged heart' vents itself in a sigh which the
attendants shudder to hear. On Macbeth Nemesis heaps itself in double
form. The purely practical man, without resources in himself, finds
nemesis in an old age that receives no honour from others.

[=v.= iii. 22.]

                        My way of life
    Is fall'n into the sear, the yellow leaf;
    And that which should accompany old age,
    As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,
    I must not look to have, but, in their stead,
    Curses, not loud, but deep.

Again, as the drunkard finds his refuge in drink, so the victim of
superstition longs for deeper draughts of the supernatural. [=iv.= i.]
Macbeth seeks the Witches, forces himself to hear the worst, [=iv.= i.
110-135.] and suffers nemesis in anticipation in viewing future
generations which are to see his foes on his throne. [from =iv.= i. 80.]
Finally from the supernatural comes the climax of retribution when
Macbeth is seen resting in unquestioning reliance on an ironical oracle:
[=v.= v, from 33; =v.= viii, from 13.] till the shock of revelation
comes, the pledge of his safety is converted into the sign of his doom,
and the brave Macbeth, hero of a hundred battles, [=v.= viii. 22.]
throws down his sword and refuses to fight.



VIII.

JULIUS CÆSAR BESIDE HIS MURDERERS AND HIS AVENGER.

_A Study in Character-Grouping._


[_Character-Grouping._]

EVERY lover of art feels that the different fine arts form not a crowd
but a family; the more familiar the mind becomes with them the more it
delights to trace in them the application of common ideas to different
media of expression. We are reminded of this essential unity by the way
in which the arts borrow their terms from one another. 'Colour' is
applied to music, 'tone' to painting; we speak of costume as 'loud,' of
melody as 'bright,' of orchestration as 'massive.' Two classes of
oratorical style have been distinguished as 'statuesque' and
'picturesque'; while the application of a musical term, 'harmony,' and a
term of sculpture, 'relief,' to all the arts alike is so common that the
transference is scarcely felt. Such usages are not the devices of a
straitened vocabulary, but are significant of a single _Art_ which is
felt to underlie the special _arts_. So the more Drama is brought by
criticism into the family of the fine arts the more it will be seen to
present the common features. We have already had to notice repeatedly
how the idea of pattern or design is the key to dramatic plot. We are in
the present study to see how contrast of character, such as was traced
in the last study between Lord and Lady Macbeth, when applied to a
larger number of personages, produces an effect on the mind analogous to
that of _grouping_ in pictures and statuary: the different personages
not only present points of contrast with one another, but their
varieties suddenly fall into a unity of effect if looked at from some
one point of view. [_The grouping in Julius Cæsar rests on the
antithesis of the practical and inner life._] An example of such
Character-Grouping is seen in the play of _Julius Cæsar_, where the four
leading figures, all on the grandest scale, have the elements of their
characters thrown into relief by comparison with one another, and the
contrast stands out boldly when the four are reviewed in relation to one
single idea.

This idea is the same as that which lay at the root of the
Character-Contrast in _Macbeth_--the antithesis of the practical and
inner life. It is, however, applied in a totally different sphere.
Instead of a simple age in which the lives coincide with the sexes we
are carried to the other extreme of civilisation, the final age of Roman
liberty, and all four personages are merged in the busy world of
political life. Naturally, then, the contrast of the two lives takes in
this play a different form. [_This takes the form of individual
sympathies_ v. _public policy._] In the play of _Macbeth_ the inner life
was seen in the force of will which could hold down alike bad and good
impulses; while the outer life was made interesting by its confinement
to the training given by action, and an exhibition of it devoid of the
thoughtfulness and self-control for which the life of activity has to
draw upon the inner life. But there is another aspect in which the two
may be regarded. The idea of the inner life is reflected in the word
'individuality,' or that which a man has not in common with others. The
cultivation of the inner life implies not merely cultivation of our own
individuality, but to it also belongs sympathy with the individuality of
others; whereas in the sphere of practical life men fall into classes,
and each person has his place as a member of these classes. Thus
benevolence may take the form of enquiring into individual wants and
troubles and meeting these by personal assistance; but a man has an
equal claim to be called benevolent who applies himself to such sciences
as political economy, studies the springs which regulate human society,
and by influencing these in the right direction confers benefits upon
whole classes at a time. Charity and political science are the two forms
benevolence assumes correspondent to the inner life of individual
sympathies and the outer life of public action. Or, if we consider the
contrast from the side of rights as distinguished from duties, the
supreme form in which the rights of individuals may be summed up is
justice; the corresponding claim which public life makes upon us is (in
the highest sense of the term) policy: wherever these two, justice and
policy, seem to clash, the outer and inner life are brought into
conflict. It is in this form that the conflict is raised in the play of
_Julius Cæsar_. To get it in its full force, the dramatist goes to the
world of antiquity, for one of the leading distinctions between ancient
and modern society is that the modern world gives the fullest play to
the individual, while in ancient systems the individual was treated as
existing solely for the state. 'Liberty' has been a watchword in both
ages; but while we mean by liberty the least amount of interference with
personal activity, the liberty for which ancient patriots contended was
freedom of the government from external or internal control, and the
ideal republic of Plato was so contrived as to reduce individual liberty
to a minimum. And this subordination of private to public was most fully
carried out in Rome. 'The common weal,' says Merivale, 'was after all
the grand object of the heroes of Roman story. Few of the renowned
heroes of old had attained their eminence as public benefactors without
steeling their hearts against the purest instincts of nature. The deeds
of a Brutus or a Manlius, of a Sulla or a Cæsar, would have been branded
as crimes in private citizens; it was the public character of the actors
that stamped them with immortal glory in the eyes of their countrymen.'
Accordingly, the opposition of outer and inner life is brought before us
most keenly when, in Roman life, a public policy, the cause of
republican freedom, seems to be bound up with the supreme crime against
justice and the rights of the individual, assassination.

[_Brutus's character so evenly developed that the antithesis
disappears._]

Brutus is the central figure of the group: in his character the two
sides are so balanced that the antithesis disappears. This evenness of
development in his nature is the thought of those who in the play gather
around his corpse; giving prominence to the quality in Brutus hidden
from the casual observer they say:

[=v.= v. 73.]

    His life was gentle; and the elements
    So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
    And say to all the world 'This was a man!'

Of another it would be said that he was a poet, a philosopher; of Brutus
the only true description was that he was a man! It is in very few
characters that force and softness are each carried to such perfection.
[_Force of his character._] The strong side of Brutus's character is
that which has given to the whole play its characteristic tone. It is
seen in the way in which he appreciates the issue at stake. Weak men sin
by hiding from themselves what it is they do; Brutus is fully alive to
the foulness of conspiracy at the moment in which he is conspiring.

[=ii.= i. 77.]

                                O conspiracy,
    Shamest thou to show thy dangerous brow by night,
    When evils are most free? O, then by day
    Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough
    To mask thy monstrous visage?

His high tone he carries into the darkest scenes of the play. The use of
criminal means has usually an intoxicating effect upon the moral sense,
and suggests to those once committed to it that it is useless to haggle
over the amount of the crime until the end be obtained. [=ii.= i. 162.]
Brutus resists this intoxication, setting his face against the proposal
to include Antony in Cæsar's fate, and resolving that not one life shall
be unnecessarily sacrificed. He scorns the refuge of suicide; and with
warmth adjures his comrades not to stain--

[=ii.= i. 114.]

    The even virtue of our enterprise,
    Nor the insuppressive mettle of our spirits,
    To think that or our cause or our performance
    Did need an oath; when every drop of blood
    That every Roman bears, and nobly bears,
    Is guilty of a several bastardy,
    If he do break the smallest particle
    Of any promise that hath pass'd from him.

The scale of Brutus's character is again brought out by his relations
with other personages of the play. Casca, with all his cynical
depreciation of others, has to bear unqualified testimony to Brutus's
greatness:

[=i.= iii. 157.]

    O, he sits high in all the people's hearts;
    And that which would appear offence in us,
    His countenance, like richest alchemy,
    Will change to virtue and to worthiness.

[=ii.= i, fin.]

We see Ligarius coming from a sick-bed to join in he knows not what: 'it
sufficeth that Brutus leads me on.' And the hero's own thought, when at
the point of death he pauses to take a moment's survey of his whole
life, [=v.= v. 34.] is of the unfailing power with which he has swayed
the hearts of all around him:

    My heart doth joy that yet in all my life
    I found no man but he was true to me.

Above all, contact with Cassius throws into relief the greatness of
Brutus. [=i.= ii.] At the opening of the play it is Cassius that we
associate with the idea of force; but his is the ruling mind only while
Brutus is hesitating; as soon as Brutus has thrown in his lot with the
conspirators, Cassius himself is swept along with the current of
Brutus's irresistible influence. [Cf. =ii.= i. 162-190; =iii.= i.
140-146, 231-243; =iv.= iii. 196-225, &c.] In the councils every point
is decided--and, so far as success is concerned, wrongly
decided--against Cassius's better judgment. In the sensational moment
when Popilius Lena enters the Senate-house and is seen to whisper Cæsar,
Cassius's presence of mind fails him, [=iii.= i. 19.] and he prepares in
despair for suicide; Brutus retains calmness enough to _watch faces_:

                    Cassius, be constant:
    Popilius Lena speaks not of our purposes;
    For, look, he smiles, and Cæsar doth not change.

[=iv.= iii.]

In the Quarrel Scene Cassius has lost all pretensions to dignity of
action in the impatience sprung from a ruined cause; Brutus maintains
principle in despair. Finally, at the close of the scene, when it is
discovered that under all the hardness of this contest for principle
Brutus has been hiding a heart broken by the loss of Portia, [=iv.= iii,
from 145.] Cassius is forced to give way and acknowledge Brutus's
superiority to himself even in his own ideal of impassiveness:

[=iv.= iii. 194.]

    I have as much of this in art as you,
    But yet my nature could not bear it so.

[_Its softness._]

The force in Brutus's character is obvious: it is rather its softer side
that some readers find difficulty in seeing. But this difficulty is in
reality a testimony to Shakespeare's skill, for Brutus is a Stoic, and
what gentleness we see in him appears in spite of himself. It may be
seen in his culture of art, music, and philosophy, which have such an
effect in softening the manners. Nor is this in the case of the Roman
Brutus a mere conventional culture: these tastes are among his strongest
passions. [=iv.= iii. 256.] When all is confusion around him on the eve
of the fatal battle he cannot restrain his longing for the refreshing
tones of his page's lyre; and, the music over, he takes up his
philosophical treatise at the page he had turned down. [=iv.= iii. 242.]
Again Brutus's considerateness for his dependants is in strong contrast
with the harshness of Roman masters. On the same eve of the battle he
insists that the men who watch in his tent shall lie down instead of
standing as discipline would require. [=iv.= iii, from 252.] An
exquisite little episode brings out Brutus's sweetness of demeanour in
dealing with his youthful page; this rises to womanly tenderness at the
end when, noticing how the boy, wearied out and fallen asleep, is lying
in a position to injure his instrument, he rises and disengages it
without waking him.

    _Bru._ Look, Lucius, here's the book I sought for so;
        I put it in the pocket of my gown.

    _Luc._ I was sure your lordship did not give it me.

    _Bru._ Bear with me, good boy; I am much forgetful.
        Can'st thou hold up thy heavy eyes awhile,
        And touch thy instrument a strain or two?

    _Luc._ Ay, my lord, an't please you.

    _Bru._                               It does, my boy:
        I trouble thee too much, but thou art willing.

    _Luc._ It is my duty, sir.

    _Bru._ I should not urge thy duty past thy might;
        I know young bloods look for a time of rest.

    _Luc._ I have slept my lord, already.

    _Bru._ It was well done; and thou shall sleep again;
        I will not hold thee long: if I do live
        I will be good to thee.               [_Music and a song._
        This is a sleepy tune. O murderous slumber,
        Lay'st thou thy leaden mace upon my boy,
        That plays thee music? Gentle knave, good night;
        I will not do thee so much wrong to wake thee.--
        If thou dost nod, thou break'st thy instrument;
        I'll take it from thee; and, good boy, good night.

[=ii.= i, from 233.]

Brutus's relations with Portia bear the same testimony. Portia is a
woman with as high a spirit as Lady Macbeth, and she can inflict a wound
on herself to prove her courage and her right to share her husband's
secrets. But she lacks the physical nerve of Lady Macbeth; [=ii.= iv.]
her agitation on the morning of the assassination threatens to betray
the conspirators, and when these have to flee from Rome the suspense is
too much for her and she commits suicide. Brutus knew his wife better
than she knew herself, and was right in seeking to withhold the fatal
confidence; yet he allowed himself to be persuaded: no man would be so
swayed by a tender woman unless he had a tender spirit of his own. In
all these ways we may trace an extreme of gentleness in Brutus. [_This
is concealed under stoic imperturbability._] But it is of the essence of
his character that this softer side is concealed behind an
imperturbability of outward demeanour that belongs to his stoic
religion: this struggle between inward and outward is the main feature
for the actor to bring out. [=iii.= ii, from 14.] It is a master stroke
of Shakespeare that he utilises the euphuistic prose of his age to
express impassiveness in Brutus's oration. The greatest of the world has
just been assassinated; the mob are swaying with fluctuating passions;
the subtlest orator of his day is at hand to turn those passions into
the channel of vengeance for his friend: Brutus called on amid such
surroundings to speak for the conspirators still maintains the
artificial style of carefully balanced sentences, such as emotionless
rhetoric builds up in the quiet of a study.

    As Cæsar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at
    it; as he was valiant, I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I
    slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honour
    for his valour; and death for his ambition.

[_The antithesis reappears for Brutus in the action._]

Brutus's nature then is developed on all its sides; in his character the
antithesis of the outer and inner life disappears. It reappears,
however, in the action; [=ii.= i. 10-85.] for Brutus is compelled to
balance a weighty issue, with public policy on the one side, and on the
other, not only justice to individual claims, but further the claims of
friendship, which is one of the fairest flowers of the inner life. And
the balance dips to the wrong side. If the question were of using the
weapon of assassination against a criminal too high for the ordinary law
to reach, this would be a moral problem which, however doubtful to
modern thought, would have been readily decided by a Stoic. But the
question which presented itself to Brutus was distinctly not this.
[=ii.= i. 18-34.] Shakespeare has been careful to represent Brutus as
admitting to himself that Cæsar has done no wrong: he slays him _for
what he might do_.

    The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins
    Remorse from power: and, _to speak truth of Cæsar,
    I have not known when his affections sway'd
    More than his reason_. But 'tis a common proof,
    That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
    Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
    But when he once attains the upmost round,
    He then unto the ladder turns his back,
    Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
    By which he did ascend. So Cæsar may.
    Then, lest he may, prevent. And _since the quarrel
    Will bear no colour for the thing he is,_
    Fashion it thus; that what he is, augmented,
    Would run to these and these extremities:
    And therefore think him as a serpent's egg
    Which hatch'd, would, as his kind, grow mischievous,
    And kill him in the shell.

It is true that Shakespeare, with his usual 'dramatic hedging,' softens
down this immoral bias in a great hero by representing him as both a
Roman, of the nation which beyond all other nations exalted the state
over the individual, and a Brutus, [compare =i.= ii. 159.]
representative of the house which had risen to greatness by leading
violence against tyranny. But, Brutus's own conscience being judge, the
man against whom he moves is guiltless; and so the conscious sacrifice
of justice and friendship to policy is a fatal error which is source
sufficient for the whole tragedy of which Brutus is the hero.

[_Cæsar: discrepancies in his character to be reconciled._]

The character of Cæsar is one of the most difficult in Shakespeare.
Under the influence of some of his speeches we find ourselves in the
presence of one of the master spirits of mankind; other scenes in which
he plays a leading part breathe nothing but the feeblest vacillation and
weakness. It is the business of Character-Interpretation to harmonise
this contradiction; it is not interpretation at all to ignore one side
of it and be content with describing Cæsar as vacillating. The force and
strength of his character is seen in the impression he makes upon
forceful and strong men. The attitude of Brutus to Cæsar seems
throughout to be that of looking up; and notably at one point the
thought of Cæsar's greatness seems to cast a lurid gleam over the
assassination plot itself, and Brutus feels that the grandeur of the
victim gives a dignity to the crime:

[=ii.= i. 173.]

    Let's carve him as a dish fit for the gods.

The strength and force of Antony again no one will question; and Antony,
at the moment when he is alone with the corpse of Cæsar and can have no
motive for hypocrisy, apostrophises it in the words--

[=iii.= i. 256.]

    Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
    That ever lived in the tide of times.

And we see enough of Cæsar in the play to bear out the opinions of
Brutus and Antony. Those who accept vacillation as sufficient
description of Cæsar's character must explain his strong speeches as
vaunting and self-assertion. But surely it must be possible for dramatic
language to distinguish between the true and the assumed force; and
equally surely there is a genuine ring in the speeches in which Cæsar's
heroic spirit, shut out from the natural sphere of action in which it
has been so often proved, leaps restlessly at every opportunity into
pregnant words. We may thus feel certain of his lofty physical courage.

[=ii.= ii. 32.]

    Cowards die many times before their deaths;
    The valiant never taste of death but once.
    Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
    It seems to me most strange that men should fear ...

       *       *       *       *       *

[=ii.= ii. 44.]

                Danger knows full well
    That Cæsar is more dangerous than he:
    We are two lions litter'd in one day,
    And I the elder and more terrible.

A man must have felt the thrill of courage in search of its food,
danger, before his self-assertion finds language of this kind in which
to express itself. In another scene we have the perfect _fortiter in re_
and _suaviter in modo_ of the trained statesman exhibited in the
courtesy with which Cæsar receives the conspirators, [=ii.= ii, from
57.] combined with his perfect readiness to 'tell graybeards the truth.'
[=iii.= i. 35.] Nor could imperial firmness be more ideally painted than
in the way in which Cæsar 'prevents' Cimber's intercession.

                          Be not fond,
    To think that Cæsar bears such rebel blood
    That will be thaw'd from the true quality
    With that which melteth fools; I mean, sweet words,
    Low-crooked court'sies, and base spaniel-fawning.
    Thy brother by decree is banished:
    If thou dost bend and pray and fawn for him,
    I spurn thee like a cur out of my way.
    Know, Cæsar doth not wrong, nor without cause
    Will he be satisfied.

Commonplace authority loudly proclaims that it will never relent: the
true imperial spirit feels it a preliminary condition to see first that
it never does wrong.

[_Reconciliation: Cæsar the highest type of the practical;_]

It is the antithesis of the outer and inner life that explains this
contradiction in Cæsar's character. Like Macbeth, he is the embodiment
of one side and one side only of the antithesis; he is the complete type
of the practical--though in special qualities he is as unlike Macbeth as
his age is unlike Macbeth's age. Accordingly Cæsar appears before us
perfect up to the point where his own personality comes in. The military
and political spheres, in which he has been such a colossal figure, call
forth practical powers, and do not involve introspection and meditation
on foundation principles of thought.

    Theirs not to reason why:
    Theirs but to do.

The tasks of the soldier and the statesman are imposed upon them by
external authority and necessities, and the faculties exercised are
those which shape means to ends. But at last Cæsar comes to a crisis
that does involve his personality; he attempts a task imposed on him by
his own ambition. He plays in a game of which the prize is the world and
the stake himself, and to estimate chances in such a game tests
self-knowledge and self-command to its depths. [_but lacking in the
inner life._] How wanting Cæsar is in the cultivation of the inner life
is brought out by his contrast with Cassius. [=i.= ii. 100-128.] The
incidents of the flood and the fever, retained by the memory of Cassius,
illustrate this. The first of these was no mere swimming-match; the
flood in the Tiber was such as to reduce to nothing the difference
between one swimmer and another. [=i.= ii. 102.] It was a trial of
nerve: and as long as action was possible Cæsar was not only as brave as
Cassius, but was the one attracted by the danger. Then some chance wave
or cross current renders his chance of life hopeless, and no buffeting
with lusty sinews is of any avail; that is the point at which the
_passive_ courage born of the inner life comes in, and gives strength to
submit to the inevitable in calmness. This Cæsar lacks, and he calls for
rescue: Cassius would have felt the water close over him and have sunk
to the bottom and died rather than accept aid from his rival. In like
manner the sick bed is a region in which the highest physical and
intellectual activity is helpless; the trained self-control of a Stoic
may have a sphere for exercise even here; but the god Cæsar shakes, and
cries for drink like a sick girl. [_The conception brought out by
personal contact with Cassius._] It is interesting to note how the two
types of mind, when brought into personal contact, jar upon one
another's self-consciousness. The intellectual man, judging the man of
action by the test of mutual intercourse, sees nothing to explain the
other's greatness, and wonders what people find in him that they so
admire him and submit to his influence. On the other hand, the man of
achievement is uneasily conscious of a sort of superiority in one whose
intellectual aims and habits he finds it so difficult to follow--yet
superiority it is not, for what has he _done_? [=i.= ii. 182-214.]
Shakespeare has illustrated this in the play by contriving to bring
Cæsar and his suite across the 'public place' in which Cassius is
discoursing to Brutus. Cassius feels the usual irritation at being
utterly unable to find in his old acquaintance any special qualities to
explain his elevation.

[=i.= ii. 148.]

    Now, in the names of all the gods at once,
    Upon what meat doth this our Cæsar feed,
    That he is grown so great?

Similarly Cæsar, as he casts a passing glance at Cassius, becomes at
once uneasy. 'He thinks too much,' is the exclamation of the man of
action:

                  He loves no plays,
    As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music.

The practical man, accustomed to divide mankind into a few simple types,
is always uncomfortable at finding a man he cannot classify. Finally
there is a climax to the jealousy that exists between the two lives:
Cæsar complains that Cassius '_looks quite through the deeds of men._'

[_A change in Cæsar and a change in Rome itself._ comp. =i.= i, and
=iii.= iii; =i.= ii. 151, 164; =i.= iii. 82, 105; =iii.= i. 66-70; =v.=
v. 69-72, &c.]

There is another circumstance to be taken into account in explaining the
weakness of Cæsar. A change has come over the spirit of Roman political
life itself--such seems to be Shakespeare's conception: Cæsar on his
return has found Rome no longer the Rome he had known. Before he left
for Gaul, Rome had been the ideal sphere for public life, the arena in
which principles alone were allowed to combat, and from which the
banishment of personal aims and passions was the first condition of
virtue. In his absence Rome has gradually degenerated; the mob has
become the ruling force, and introduced an element of uncertainty into
political life; politics has passed from science into gambling. A new
order of public men has arisen, of which Cassius and Antony are the
types; personal aims, personal temptations, and personal risks are now
inextricably interwoven with public action. This is a changed order of
things to which the mind of Cæsar, cast in a higher mould, lacks the
power to adapt itself. His vacillation is the vacillation of
unfamiliarity with the new political conditions. [=i.= ii. 230.] He
refuses the crown 'each time gentler than the other,' showing want of
decisive reading in dealing with the fickle mob; [=i.= ii. 183.] and on
his return from the Capitol he is too untrained in hypocrisy to conceal
the angry spot upon his face; he has tried to use the new weapons which
he does not understand, and has failed. [=ii.= i. 195.] It is a subtle
touch of Shakespeare's to the same effect that Cæsar is represented as
having himself undergone a change _of late_:

    For he is superstitious grown of late,
    Quite from the main opinion he held once
    Of fantasy, of dreams and ceremonies

To come back to a world of which you have mastered the machinery, and to
find that it is no longer governed by machinery at all, that causes no
longer produce their effects--this, if anything, might well drive a
strong intellect to superstition. And herein consists the pathos of
Cæsar's situation. The deepest tragedy of the play is not the
assassination of Cæsar, it is rather seen in such a speech as this of
Decius:

[=ii.= i. 202.]

                   If he be so resolved,
    I can o'ersway him; for he loves to hear
    That unicorns may be betray'd with trees,
    And bears with glasses, elephants with holes,
    Lions with toils and men with flatterers;
    But when I tell him, he hates flatterers,
    He says he does, being then most flattered.

Assassination is a less piteous thing than to see the giant intellect by
its very strength unable to contend against the low cunning of a
fifth-rate intriguer.

Such, then, appears to be Shakespeare's conception of Julius Cæsar. He
is the consummate type of the practical: emphatically the public man,
complete in all the greatness that belongs to action. On the other hand,
the knowledge of self produced by self-contemplation is wanting, and so
when he comes to consider the relation of his individual self to the
state he vacillates with the vacillation of a strong man moving amongst
men of whose greater intellectual subtlety he is dimly conscious: no
unnatural conception for a Cæsar who has been founding empires abroad
while his fellows have been sharpening their wits in the party contests
of a decaying state.

[_Cassius: his whole character developed and subjected to a
master-passion that is disinterested._]

The remaining members of the group are Cassius and Antony. In Cassius
thought and action have been equally developed, and he has the qualities
belonging to both the outer and the inner life. But the side which in
Brutus barely preponderated, absolutely tyrannises in Cassius; his
public life has given him a grand passion to which the whole of his
nature becomes subservient. Inheriting a 'rash humour' from his mother,
he was specially prepared for impatience of political anomalies; [=iv.=
iii. 120.] republican independence has become to him an ideal dearer
than life.

[=i.= ii. 95.]

    I had as lief not be as live to be
    In awe of such a thing as I myself.

[=i.= ii, iii; =ii.= i; =iii.= i. 177, &c.]

He has thus become a professional politician. Politics is to him a game,
and men are counters to be used; [=i.= ii. 312-319.] Cassius finds
satisfaction in discovering that even Brutus's 'honourable metal may be
wrought from that it is disposed.' He has the politician's low view of
human nature; while Brutus talks of principles Cassius interposes
appeals to interest: he says to Antony,

[=iii.= i. 177.]

    Your voice shall be as strong as any man's
    In the disposing of new dignities.

His party spirit is, as usual, unscrupulous; he seeks to work upon his
friend's unsuspecting nobility by concocted letters thrown in at his
windows; [=i.= ii. 319.] and in the Quarrel Scene loses patience at
Brutus's scruples.

[=iv.= iii. 7, 29, &c.]

    I'll not endure it: you forget yourself,
    To hedge me in; I am a soldier, I,
    Older in practice, abler than yourself
    To make conditions.

At the same time he has a party politician's tact; his advice throughout
the play is proved by the event to have been right, [=iii.= i. 145.] and
he does himself no more than justice when he says his misgiving 'still
falls shrewdly to the purpose.' [_Antony: his whole character developed
and subjected to selfish passion._] Antony also has all the powers that
belong both to the intellectual and practical life; so far as these
powers are concerned, he has them developed to a higher degree than even
Brutus and Cassius. His distinguishing mark lies in the use to which
these powers are put; like Cassius, he has concentrated his whole nature
in one aim, but this aim is not a disinterested object of public good,
it is unmitigated self-seeking. Antony has greatness enough to
appreciate the greatness of Cæsar; hence in the first half of the play
he has effaced himself, choosing to rise to power as the useful tool of
Cæsar. [esp. =i.= ii, from 190; comp. =ii.= i. 165.] Here, indeed, he is
famed as a devotee of the softer studies, but it is not till his patron
has fallen that his irresistible strength is put forth. There seems to
be but one element in Antony that is not selfish: [=iii.= i, from 254;
comp. 194-213.] his attachment to Cæsar is genuine, and its force is
measured in the violent imagery of the vow with which, when alone for a
moment with the corpse, he promises vengeance till all pity is 'choked
with custom of fell deeds.' And yet this perhaps is after all the best
illustration of his callousness to higher feelings; for the one tender
emotion of his heart is used by him as the convenient weapon with which
to fight his enemies and raise himself to power.

[_The Grouping as a whole surveyed._]

Such, then, is the Grouping of Characters in the play of _Julius Cæsar_.
To catch it they must be contemplated in the light of the antithesis
between the outer and inner life. In Brutus the antithesis disappears
amid the perfect balancing of his character, to reappear in the action,
when Brutus has to choose between his cause and his friend. In Cæsar the
practical life only is developed, and he fails as soon as action
involves the inner life. Cassius has the powers of both outer and inner
life perfect, and they are fused into one master-passion, morbid but
unselfish. Antony has carried to an even greater perfection the culture
of both lives, and all his powers are concentrated in one purpose, which
is purely selfish. In the action in which this group of personages is
involved the determining fact is the change that has come over the
spirit of Roman life, and introduced into its public policy the element
of personal aggrandisement and personal risk. The new spirit works upon
Brutus: the chance of winning political liberty by the assassination of
one individual just overbalances his moral judgment, and he falls. Yet
in his fall he is glorious: the one false judgment of his life brings
him, what is more to him than victory, the chance of maintaining the
calmness of principle amid the ruins of a falling cause, and showing how
a Stoic can fail and die. The new spirit affects Cæsar and tempts him
into a personal enterprise in which success demands a meanness that he
lacks, and he is betrayed to his fall. Yet in his fall he is glorious:
the assassins' daggers purge him from the stain of his momentary
personal ambition, and the sequel shows that the Roman world was not
worthy of a ruler such as Cæsar. The spirit of the age effects Cassius,
and fans his passion to work itself out to his own destruction, and he
falls. Yet in his fall he is glorious: we forgive him the lowered tone
of his political action when we see by the spirit of the new rulers how
desperate was the chance for which he played, and how Cassius and his
loved cause of republican freedom expire together. The spirit of the age
which has wrought upon the rest is controlled and used by Antony, and he
rises on their ruins. Yet in his rise he is less glorious than they in
their fall: he does all for self; he may claim therefore the prize of
success, but in goodness he has no share beyond that he is permitted to
be the passive instrument of punishing evil.



IX.


HOW THE PLAY OF JULIUS CÆSAR WORKS TO A CLIMAX AT THE CENTRE.

_A Study in Passion and Movement._


[_Passion and Movement as elements of dramatic effect._]

THE preceding chapters have been confined to two of the main elements in
dramatic effect, Character and Plot: the third remains to be
illustrated. Amongst other devices of public amusement the experiment
has been tried of arranging a game of chess to be played by living
pieces on a monster board; if we suppose that in the midst of such a
game the real combative instincts of the living pieces should be
suddenly aroused, that the knight should in grim earnest plunge his
spear into his nearest opponent, and that missiles should actually be
discharged from the castles, then the shock produced in the feelings of
the bystanders by such a change would serve to bring out with emphasis
the distinction between Plot and the third element of dramatic effect,
Passion. Plot is an interest of a purely intellectual kind, it traces
laws, principles, order, and design in the incidents of life. Passion,
on the other hand, depends on the human character of the personages
involved; it consists in the effects produced on the spectator's
emotional nature as his sympathy follows the characters through the
incidents of the plot; it is War as distinguished from _Kriegspiel_.
Effects of such Passion are numerous and various: the present study is
concerned with its _Movement_. This Movement comprehends a class of
dramatic effects differing in one obvious particular from the effects
considered so far. Character-Interpretation and Plot are both analytical
in their nature; the play has to be taken to pieces and details selected
from various parts have to be put together to give the idea of a
complete character, or to make up some single thread of design.
[_Passion connected with the movement of a drama._] Movement, on the
contrary, follows the actual order of the events as they take place in
the play itself. The emotional effects produced by such events as they
succeed one another will not be uniform and monotonous; the skill of the
dramatist will lie in concentrating effect at some points and relieving
it at others; and to watch such play of passion through the progress of
the action will be a leading dramatic interest. Now we have already had
occasion to notice the prominence which Shakespeare in his dramatic
construction gives to the central point of a play; symmetry more than
sensation is the effect which has an attraction for his genius, and the
finale to which the action is to lead is not more important to him than
the balancing of the whole drama about a turning-point in the middle.
Accordingly it is not surprising to find that in the Passion-Movement of
his dramas a similar plan of construction is often followed; that all
other variations are subordinated to one great Climax of Passion at the
centre. [_The regular arch-form applicable to Passion-Movement._] To
repeat an illustration already applied to Plot: the movement of the
passion seems to follow the form of a regular arch, commencing in
calmness, rising through emotional strain to a summit of agitation at
the centre, then through the rest of the play declining into a calmness
of a different kind. It is the purpose of the two remaining studies to
illustrate this kind of movement in two very different plays. _Julius
Cæsar_ has the simplest of plots; our attention is engaged with a train
of emotion which is made to rise gradually to a climax at the centre,
and then equally gradually to decline. _Lear_, on the contrary, is
amongst the most intricate of Shakespeare's plays; nevertheless the
dramatist contrives to keep the same simple form of emotional effect,
and its complex passions unite in producing a concentration of emotional
agitation in a few central scenes.

[_In Julius Cæsar the movement follows the justification of the
conspirators to the audience:_]

The passion in the play of _Julius Cæsar_ gathers around the
conspirators, and follows them through the mutations of their fortunes.
If however we are to catch the different parts of the action in their
proper proportions we must remember the character of these conspirators,
and especially of their leaders Brutus and Cassius. These are actuated
in what they do not by personal motives but by devotion to the public
good and the idea of republican liberty; accordingly in following their
career we must not look too exclusively at their personal success and
failure. The exact key to the movement of the drama will be given by
fixing attention upon _the justification of the conspirators' cause_ in
the minds of the audience; [_this rises to the centre and declines from
the centre._] and it is this which is found to rise gradually to its
height in the centre of the play, and from that point to decline to the
end. I have pointed out in the preceding study how the issue at stake in
_Julius Cæsar_ amounts to a conflict between the outer and inner life,
between devotion to a public enterprise and such sympathy with the
claims of individual humanity as is specially fostered by the
cultivation of the inner nature. The issue is reflected in words of
Brutus already quoted:

[=ii.= i. 18.]

    The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins
    Remorse from power.

Brutus applies this as a test to Cæsar's action, and is forced to acquit
him: but is not Brutus here laying down the very principle of which his
own error in the play is the violation? The assassin's dagger puts
Brutus and the conspirators in the position of power; while
'remorse'--the word in Shakespearean English means human sympathy--is
the due of their victim Cæsar, whose rights to justice as a man, and to
more than justice as the friend of Brutus, the conspirators have the
responsibility of balancing against the claims of a political cause.
These claims of justice and humanity are deliberately ignored by the
stoicism of Brutus, while the rest of the conspirators are blinded to
them by the mists of political enthusiasm; this outraged human sympathy
asserts itself after Cæsar's death in a monstrous form in the passions
of the mob, which are guided by the skill of Antony to the destruction
of the assassins. Of course both the original violation of the balance
between the two lives and the subsequent reaction are equally corrupt.
The stoicism of Brutus, with its suppression of the inner sympathies,
arrives practically at the principle--destined in the future history of
the world to be the basis of a yet greater crime--that it is expedient
that one man should die rather than that a whole people should perish.
On the other hand, Antony trades upon the fickle violence of the
populace, and uses it as much for personal ends as for vengeance. This
demoralisation of both the sides of character is the result of their
divorce. Such is the essence of this play if its action be looked at as
a whole; but it belongs to the movement of dramatic passion that we see
the action only in its separate parts at different times. Through the
first half of the play, while the justification of the conspirators'
cause is rising, the other side of the question is carefully hidden from
us; from the point of the assassination the suppressed element starts
into prominence, and sweeps our sympathies along with it to its triumph
at the conclusion of the play.

[_First stage: the conspiracy forming. Passion indistinguishable from
mere interest._]

In following the movement of the drama the action seems to divide itself
into stages. In the first of these stages, which comprehends the first
two scenes, the conspiracy is only forming; the sympathy with which the
spectator follows the details is entirely free from emotional agitation;
passion so far is indistinguishable from mere interest. [=i.= i, ii.]
The opening scene strikes appropriately the key-note of the whole
action. [_Starting-point: signs of reaction in the popular worship of
Cæsar._] In it we see the tribunes of the people--officers whose whole
_raison d'être_ is to be the mouthpiece of the commonalty--restraining
their own clients from the noisy honours they are disposed to pay to
Cæsar. [=i.= i.] To the justification in our eyes of a conspiracy
against Cæsar, there could not be a better starting-point than this hint
that the popular worship of Cæsar, which has made him what he is, is
itself reaching its reaction-point. Such a suggestion moreover makes the
whole play one complete _wave_ of popular fickleness from crest to
crest.

[_The Rise begins. The cause seen at its best, the victim at his
worst._]

The second is the scene upon which the dramatist mainly relies for the
_crescendo_ in the justification of the conspirators. It is a long
scene, elaborately contrived so as to keep the conspirators and their
cause before us at their very best, and the victim at his very worst.
[=i.= ii.] Cassius is the life and spirit of this scene, as he is of the
whole republican movement. Cassius is excellent soil for republican
principles. The 'rash humour' his mother gave him would predispose him
to impatience of those social inequalities and conventional distinctions
against which republicanism sets itself. Again he is a hard-thinking
man, to whom the perfect realisation of an ideal theory would be as
palpable an aim as the more practical purposes of other men. He is a
Roman moreover, at once proud of his nation as the greatest in the
world, and aware that this national greatness had been through all
history bound up with the maintenance of a republican constitution. His
republicanism gives to Cassius the dignity that is always given to a
character by a grand passion, whether for a cause, a woman, or an
idea--the unification of a whole life in a single aim, by which the
separate strings of a man's nature are, as it were, tuned into harmony.
In the present scene Cassius is expounding the cause which is his
life-object. Nor is this all. Cassius was politician enough to adapt
himself to his hearers, and could hold up the lower motives to those who
would be influenced by them; but in the present case it is the
'honourable metal' of a Brutus that he has to work upon, and his
exposition of republicanism must be adapted to the highest possible
standard. Accordingly, in the language of the scene we find the idea of
human equality expressed in its most ideal form. Without it Cassius
thinks life not worth living.

[=i.= ii. 95.]

    I had as lief not be as live to be
    In awe of such a thing as I myself.
    I was born free as Cæsar; so were you;
    We both have fed as well, and we can both
    Endure the winter's cold as well as he.

The examples follow of the flood and fever incidents, which show how the
majesty of Cæsar vanished before the violence of natural forces and the
prostration of disease.

[115.]

                     And this man
    Is now become a god, and Cassius is
    A wretched creature and must bend his body,
    If Cæsar carelessly but nod on him.

In the eye of the state, individuals are so many members of a class, in
precisely the way that their names are so many examples of the proper
noun.

[142.]

    Brutus and Cæsar: what should be in that 'Cæsar'?
    Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
    Write them together, yours is as fair a name;
    Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well;
    Weigh them, it is as heavy; conjure with them,
    Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Cæsar.
    Now, in the names of all the gods at once,
    Upon what meat doth this our Cæsar feed,
    That he is grown so great?

And this exposition of the conspirators' cause in its highest form is at
the same time thrown into yet higher relief by a background to the
scene, in which the victim is presented at his worst. [from 182.] All
through the conversation between Brutus and Cassius, the shouting of the
mob reminds of the scene which is at the moment going on in the Capitol,
while the conversation is interrupted for a time by the returning
procession of Cæsar. In this action behind the scenes which thus mingles
with the main incident Cæsar is committing the one fault of his life:
this is the fault of 'treason,' which can be justified only by being
successful and so becoming 'revolution,' whereas Cæsar is failing, and
deserving to fail from the vacillating hesitation with which he sins.
Moreover, unfavourable as such incidents would be in themselves to our
sympathy with Cæsar, yet it is not the actual facts that we are
permitted to see, but they are further distorted by the medium through
which they reach us--the cynicism of Casca which belittles and
disparages all he relates.

[=i.= ii. 235.]

    _Bru._ Tell us the manner of it, gentle Casca.

    _Casca._ I can as well be hanged as tell the manner of it: it was
    mere foolery; I did not mark it. I saw Mark Antony offer him a
    crown;--yet 'twas not a crown neither, 'twas one of these
    coronets:--and, as I told you, he put it by once: but, for all that,
    to my thinking, he would fain have had it. Then he offered it to him
    again; then he put it by again: but, to my thinking, he was very
    loath to lay his fingers off it. And then he offer'd it the third
    time; he put it the third time by: and still as he refused it, the
    rabblement hooted and clapped their chapped hands and threw up their
    sweaty night-caps and uttered such a deal of stinking breath because
    Cæsar had refused the crown that it had almost choked Cæsar; for he
    swounded and fell down at it: and, for mine own part, I durst not
    laugh, for fear of opening my lips and receiving the bad air....
    When he came to himself again, he said, If he had done or said
    anything amiss, he desired their worships to think it was his
    infirmity. Three or four wenches, where I stood, cried, 'Alas, good
    soul!' and forgave him with all their hearts; but there's no heed to
    be taken of them; if Cæsar had stabbed their mothers they would have
    done no less.

[_Second stage: the conspiracy formed and developing. Passion-Strain
begins._]

At the end of the scene Brutus is won, and we pass immediately into the
second stage of the action: the conspiracy is now formed and developing,
and the emotional strain begins. The adhesion of Brutus has given us
confidence that the conspiracy will be effective, and we have only to
_wait_ for the issue. [=i.= iii--=ii.= ii.] This mere notion of
_waiting_ is itself enough to introduce an element of agitation into the
passion sufficient to mark off this stage of the action from the
preceding. [_Suspense one element in the strain of passion._] How
powerful suspense is for this purpose we have expressed in the words of
the play itself:

[=ii.= i. 63.]

    Between the acting of a dreadful thing
    And the first motion, all the interim is
    Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream:
    The Genius and the mortal instruments
    Are then in council; and the state of man,
    Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
    The nature of an insurrection.

[_The background of tempest and supernatural portents a device for
increasing the strain._]

But besides the suspense there is a special device for securing the
agitation proper to this stage of the passion: throughout there is
maintained a Dramatic Background of night, storm, and supernatural
portents.

The conception of nature as exhibiting sympathy with sudden turns in
human affairs is one of the most fundamental instincts of poetry. To
cite notable instances: it is this which accompanies with storm and
whirlwind the climax to the _Book of Job_, and which leads Milton to
make the whole universe sensible of Adam's transgression:

    Earth trembl'd from her entrails, as again
    In pangs, and Nature gave a second groan;
    Sky lowr'd, and muttering thunder, some sad drops
    Wept at completing of the mortal sin
    Original.

So too the other end of the world's history has its appropriate
accompaniments: 'the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give
her light, and the stars shall be falling from heaven.' There is a
_vagueness_ of terror inseparable from these outbursts of nature, so
mysterious in their causes and aims. They are actually the most mighty
of forces--for human artillery is feeble beside the earthquake--yet they
are invisible: the wind works its havoc without the keenest eye being
able to perceive it, and the lightning is never seen till it has struck.
Again, there is something weird in the feeling that the most frightful
powers in the material universe are all _soft things_. The empty air
becomes the irresistible wind; the fluid and yielding water wears down
the hard and massive rock and determines the shape of the earth;
impalpable fire that is blown about in every direction can be roused
till it devours the solidest constructions of human skill; while the
most powerful agencies of all, electricity and atomic force, are
imperceptible to any of the senses and are known only by their results.
This uncanny terror attaching to the union between force and softness is
the inspiration of one of Homer's most unique episodes, in which the
bewildered Achilles, struggling with the river-god, finds the strength
and skill of the finished warrior vain against the ever-rising water,
and bitterly feels the violation of the natural order--

    That strong might fall by strong, where now weak water's luxury
    Must make my death blush.

[=i.= iii; =ii.= ii, &c.]

To the terrible in nature are added portents of the supernatural, sudden
violations of the uniformity of nature, the principle upon which all
science is founded. The solitary bird of night has been seen in the
crowded Capitol; fire has played around a human hand without destroying
it; lions, forgetting their fierceness, have mingled with men; clouds
drop fire instead of rain; graves are giving up their dead; the chance
shapes of clouds take distinctness to suggest tumult on the earth. Such
phenomena of nature and the supernatural, agitating from their appeal at
once to fear and mystery, and associated by the fancy with the terrible
in human events, have made a deep impression upon primitive thought; and
the impression has descended by generations of inherited tradition
until, whatever may be the attitude of the intellect to the phenomena
themselves, their associations in the emotional nature are of agitation.
They thus become appropriate as a Dramatic Background to an agitated
passion in the scenes themselves, calling out the emotional effect by a
vague sympathy, much as a musical note may set in vibration a distant
string that is in unison with it.

This device then is used by Shakespeare in the second stage of the
present play. We see the warning terrors through the eyes of men of the
time, and their force is measured by the fact that they shake the
cynical Casca into eloquence.

[=i.= iii. 3.]

    Are not you moved, when all the sway of earth
    Shakes like a thing unfirm? O Cicero,
    I have seen tempests, when the scolding winds
    Have rived the knotty oaks, and I have seen
    The ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam,
    To be exalted with the threatening clouds:
    But never till to-night, never till now,
    Did I go through a tempest dropping fire.
    Either there is a civil strife in heaven,
    Or else the world, too saucy with the gods,
    Incenses them to send destruction.

And the idea thus started at the commencement is kept before our minds
throughout this stage of the drama by perpetual allusions, however
slight, to the sky and external nature. [compare =ii.= i. 44, 101, 198,
221, 263; =ii.= ii.] Brutus reads the secret missives by the light of
exhalations whizzing through the air; when some of the conspirators step
aside, to occupy a few moments while the rest are conferring apart, it
is to the sky their thoughts naturally seem to turn, and they with
difficulty can make out the East from the West; the discussion of the
conspirators includes the effect on Cæsar of the night's prodigies.
Later Portia remonstrates against her husband's exposure to the raw and
dank morning, to the rheumy and unpurged air; even when daylight has
fully returned, the conversation is of Calpurnia's dream and the
terrible prodigies.

[=i.= iii.]

Against this background are displayed, first single figures of Cassius
and other conspirators; [=ii.= i. 1-85.] then Brutus alone in calm
deliberation: [=ii.= i. 86-228.] then the whole band of conspirators,
their wild excitement side by side with Brutus's immovable moderation.
[=ii.= i, from 233.] Then the Conspiracy Scene fades in the early
morning light into a display of Brutus in his softer relations; [=ii.=
ii.] and with complete return of day changes to the house of Cæsar on
the fatal morning. Cæsar also is displayed in contact with the
supernatural, as represented by Calpurnia's terrors and repeated
messages of omens that forbid his venturing upon public action for that
day. [_Cæsar still seen at a disadvantage;_] Cæsar faces all this with
his usual loftiness of mind; yet the scene is so contrived that, as far
as immediate effect is concerned, this very loftiness is made to tell
against him. The unflinching courage that overrides and interprets
otherwise the prodigies and warnings seems presumption to us who know
the reality of the danger. [=ii.= ii. 8-56.] It is the same with his
yielding to the humour of his wife. Why should he not? his is not the
conscious weakness that must be firm to show that it is not afraid. Yet
when, upon Decius's explaining away the dream and satisfying Calpurnia's
fears, Cæsar's own attraction to danger leads him to persevere in his
first intention, this change of purpose seems to us, [=ii.= i. 202.] who
have heard Decius's boast that he can o'ersway Cæsar with flattery, a
confirmation of Cæsar's weakness. So in accordance with the purpose that
reigns through the first half of the play the victim is made to appear
at his worst: the _passing_ effect of the scene is to suggest weakness
in Cæsar, while it is in fact furnishing elements which, upon
reflection, go to build up a character of strength. [_and the
justification of the conspirators still rising._] On the other hand,
throughout this stage the justification of the conspirators' cause gains
by their confidence and their high tone; in particular by the way in
which they interpret to their own advantage the supernatural element.
[=i.= iii. 42-79.] Cassius feels the wildness of the night as in perfect
harmony with his own spirit.

[=i.= iii. 46.]

    For my part, I have walk'd about the streets,
    Submitting me unto the perilous night,
    And, thus unbraced, Casca, as you see,
    Have bared my bosom to the thunder-stone;
    And when the cross blue lightning seem'd to open
    The breast of heaven, I did present myself
    Even in the aim and very flash of it.

And it needs only a word from him to communicate his confidence to his
comrades.

[=i.= iii. 72.]

    _Cassius._ Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man
        Most like this dreadful night,
        That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars
        As doth the lion in the Capitol,
        A man no mightier than thyself or me
        In personal action, yet prodigious grown
        And fearful, as these strange eruptions are--

    _Casca._ 'Tis Cæsar that you mean; is it not, Cassius?

[_Third stage. The Crisis: the passion-strain rises to a Climax._]

The third stage of the action brings us to the climax of the passion;
the strain upon our emotions now rises to a height of agitation. The
exact commencement of the crisis seems to be marked by the soothsayer's
words at the opening of Act III. [=ii.= iii--=iii.= i. 121.] Cæsar
observes on entering the Capitol the soothsayer who had warned him to
beware of this very day.

    _Cæsar._ The ides of March are come.

    _Sooth._ Ay, Cæsar; but not gone.

Such words seem to measure out a narrow area of time in which the crisis
is to work itself out. There is however no distinct break between
different stages of a dramatic movement like that in the present play;
[_Devices for working up the agitation._] and two short incidents have
preceded this scene which have served as emotional devices to bring
about a distinct advance in the intensification of the strain.
[_Artemidorus_; =ii.= iii. and =iii.= i. 3.] In the first, Artemidorus
appeared reading a letter of warning which he purposed to present to
Cæsar on his way to the fatal spot. In the Capitol Scene he presents it,
while the ready Decius hastens to interpose another petition to take off
Cæsar's attention. Artemidorus conjures Cæsar to read his first for 'it
touches him nearer'; but the imperial chivalry of Cæsar forbids:

    What touches us ourself shall be last served.

[_Portia;_ =ii.= iv.]

The momentary hope of rescue is dashed. In the second incident Portia
has been displayed completely unnerved by the weight of a secret to the
anxiety of which she is not equal; she sends messengers to the Capitol
and recalls them as she recollects that she dare give them no message;
her agitation has communicated itself to us, besides suggesting the fear
that it may betray to others what she is anxious to conceal. Our
sympathy has thus been tossed from side to side, although in its
general direction it still moves on the side of the conspirators.
[_Popilius Lena._] In the crisis itself the agitation becomes painful as
the entrance of Popilius [=iii.= i. 13.] Lena and his secret
communication to Cæsar cause a panic that threatens to wreck the whole
plot on the verge of its success. Brutus's nerve sustains even this
trial, and the way for the accomplishment of the deed is again clear.
Emotional devices like these have carried the passion up to a climax of
agitation; and the conspirators now advance to present their pretended
suit and achieve the bloody deed. To the last the double effect of
Cæsar's demeanour continues. Considered in itself, his unrelenting
firmness of principle exhibits the highest model of a ruler; yet to us,
who know the purpose lurking behind the hypocritical intercession of the
conspirators, Cæsar's self-confidence resembles the infatuation that
goes before Nemesis. [from 58.] He scorns the fickle politicians before
him as mere wandering sparks of heavenly fire, while he is left alone as
a pole-star of true-fixed and resting quality:--and in answer to his
presumptuous boast that he can never be moved come the blows of the
assassins which strike him down; [compare 115.] while there is a flash
of irony as he is seen to have fallen beside the statue of Pompey, and
the marble seems to gleam in cold triumph over the rival at last lying
bleeding at its feet. The assassination is accomplished, the cause of
the conspirators is won: pity notwithstanding we are swept along with
the current of their enthusiasm; [_The justification at its height in
the appeal to all time._] and the justification that has been steadily
rising from the commencement reaches its climax as, their adversaries
dispersing in terror, the conspirators dip their hands in their victim's
blood, and make their triumphant appeal to the whole world and all time.

[111.]

    _Cassius_. Stoop, then, and wash. How many ages hence
        Shall this our lofty scene be acted over
        In states unborn and accents yet unknown!

    _Brutus_. How many times shall Cæsar bleed in sport,
        That now on Pompey's basis lies along,
        No worthier than the dust!

    _Cassius._                So oft as that shall be,
        So often shall the knot of us be call'd
        The men that gave their country LIBERTY!

[_Catastrophe, and commencement of the Reaction._]

_Enter a servant:_ this simple stage-direction is the 'catastrophe,' the
turning-round of the whole action; the arch has reached its apex and the
Reaction has begun. [=iii.= i, from 122.] So instantaneous is the
change, that though it is only the servant of Antony who speaks, yet the
first words of his message ring with the peculiar tone of subtly-poised
sentences which are inseparably associated with Antony's eloquence; it
is like the first announcement of that which is to be a final theme in
music, and from this point this tone dominates the scene to the very
end.

[125.]

                      Thus he bade me say:
    Brutus is noble, wise, valiant, and honest,
    Cæsar was mighty, bold, royal, and loving,
    Say I love Brutus, and I honour him;
    Say I fear'd Cæsar, honour'd him, and lov'd him.
    If Brutus will vouchsafe that Antony
    May safely come to him, and be resolv'd
    How Cæsar hath deserved to lie in death,
    Mark Antony shall not love Cæsar dead
    So well as Brutus living.

In the whole Shakespearean Drama there is nowhere such a swift swinging
round of a dramatic action as is here marked by this sudden up-springing
of the suppressed individuality in Antony's character, [=ii.= i. 165.]
hitherto so colourless that he has been spared by the conspirators as a
mere limb of Cæsar. [=iii.= i. 144.] The tone of exultant triumph in the
conspirators has in an instant given place to Cassius's 'misgiving' as
Brutus grants Antony an audience; [from 164.] and when Antony enters,
Brutus's first words to him fall into the form of apology. The quick
subtlety of Antony's intellect has grasped the whole situation, and with
irresistible force he slowly feels his way towards using the
conspirators' aid for crushing themselves and avenging their victim.
[=iii.= i. 211, compare 177.] The bewilderment of the conspirators in
the presence of this unlooked-for force is seen in Cassius's unavailing
attempt to bring Antony to the point, as to what compact he will make
with them. Antony, on the contrary, reads his men with such nicety that
he can indulge himself in sailing close to the wind, [from 184.] and
grasps fervently the hands of the assassins while he pours out a flood
of bitter grief over the corpse. It is not hypocrisy, nor a trick to
gain time, this conciliation of his enemies. Steeped in the political
spirit of the age, Antony knows, as no other man, the mob which governs
Rome, and is conscious of the mighty engine he possesses in his oratory
to sway that mob in what direction he pleases; when his bold plan has
succeeded, and his adversaries have consented to meet him in contest of
oratory, then ironical conciliation becomes the natural relief to his
pent-up passion.

[220.]

    Friends am I with you all and love you all,
    _Upon this hope, that you shall give me reasons_
    Why and wherein Cæsar was dangerous.

It is as he feels the sense of innate oratorical power and of the
opportunity his enemies have given to that power, that he exaggerates
his temporary amity with the men he is about to crush: it is the
executioner arranging his victim comfortably on the rack before he
proceeds to apply the levers. Already the passion of the drama has
fallen under the guidance of Antony. The view of Cæsar as an innocent
victim is now allowed full play upon our sympathies when Antony, [from
254.] left alone with the corpse, can drop the artificial mask and give
vent to his love and vengeance. [231-243.] The success of the conspiracy
had begun to decline as we marked Brutus's ill-timed generosity to
Antony in granting him the funeral oration; [=iii.= ii, from 13.] it
crumbles away through the cold unnatural euphuism of Brutus's speech in
its defence; [=iii.= ii, from 78.] it is hurried to its ruin when Antony
at last exercises his spell upon the Roman people and upon the reader.
The speech of Antony, with its mastery of every phase of feeling, is a
perfect sonata upon the instrument of the human emotions. [=iii.= ii.
78.] Its opening theme is sympathy with bereavement, against which are
working as if in conflict anticipations of future themes, doubt and
compunction. [95, 109, &c.] A distinct change of movement comes with the
first introduction of what is to be the final subject, [133.] the
mention of the will. But when this new movement has worked up from
curiosity to impatience, [177.] there is a diversion: the mention of the
victory over the Nervii turns the emotions in the direction of historic
pride, [178.] which harmonises well with the opposite emotions roused as
the orator fingers hole after hole in Cæsar's mantle made by the daggers
of his false friends, [200.] and so leads up to a sudden shock when he
uncovers the body itself and displays the popular idol and its bloody
defacement. [243.] Then the finale begins: the forgotten theme of the
will is again started, and from a burst of gratitude the passion
quickens and intensifies to rage, to fury, to mutiny. [_The mob won to
the Reaction._] The mob is won to the Reaction; [=iii.= iii.] and the
curtain that falls upon the third Act rises for a moment to display the
populace tearing a man to pieces simply because he bears the same name
as one of the conspirators.

[_Last stage. Development of an inevitable fate: passion-strain
ceases._]

The final stage of the action works out the development of an inevitable
fate. The emotional strain now ceases, and, as in the first stage, the
passion is of the calmer order, the calmness in this case of pity
balanced by a sense of justice. From the opening of the fourth Act the
decline in the justification of the conspirators is intimated by the
logic of events. The first scene exhibits to us the triumvirate that now
governs Rome, and shows that in this triumvirate Antony is supreme:
[Acts =iv, v. iv.= i.] with the man who is the embodiment of the
Reaction thus appearing at the head of the world, the fall of the
conspirators is seen to be inevitable. [=iv.= ii. 3.] The decline of our
sympathy with them continues in the following scenes. The Quarrel Scene
shows how low the tone of Cassius has fallen since he has dealt with
assassination as a political weapon; and even Brutus's moderation has
hardened into unpleasing harshness. [=iv.= iii. 148, &c.] There is at
this point plenty of relief to such unpleasing effects: [=iv.= iii. from
239.] there is the exhibition of the tender side of Brutus's character
as shown in his relations with his page, [=iv.= iii.] and the display of
friendship maintained between Brutus and Cassius amid falling fortunes.
But such incidents as these have a different effect upon us from that
which they would have had at an earlier period; the justification of the
conspirators has so far declined that now attractive touches in them
serve only to increase the pathos of a fate which, however, our sympathy
no longer seeks to resist. [=iv.= iii. 275.] We get a supernatural
foreshadowing of the end in the appearance to Brutus of Cæsar's Ghost,
[=v.= i. 80.] and the omen Cassius sees of the eagles that had consorted
his army to Philippi giving place to ravens, crows, and kites on the
morning of battle: this lends the authority of the invisible world to
our sense that the conspirators' cause is doomed. [=iv.= iii. 196-230.]
And judicial blindness overtakes them as Brutus's authority in council
overweighs in point after point the shrewder advice of Cassius. Through
the scenes of the fifth Act we see the republican leaders fighting on
without hope. [_Justification entirely vanishes as the conspirators
recognise Cæsar's victory._] The last remnant of justification for their
cause ceases as the conspirators themselves seem to acknowledge their
error and fate. Cassius as he feels his death-blow recognises the very
weapon with which he had committed the crime:

[=v.= iii. 45.]

            Cæsar, thou art revenged,
    Even with the sword that kill'd thee.

And at last even the firm spirit of Brutus yields:

[=v.= v. 94.]

    O Julius Cæsar, thou art mighty yet!
    Thy spirit walks abroad, and turns our swords
    In our own proper entrails.



X.

HOW CLIMAX MEETS CLIMAX IN THE CENTRE OF LEAR.

_A Study in more complex Passion and Movement._


[_The plot of Lear highly complex_.]

IN _Julius Cæsar_ we have seen how, in the case of a very simple play, a
few simple devices are sufficient to produce a regular rise and fall in
the passion. We now turn to a highly elaborate plot and trace how,
notwithstanding the elaborateness, a similar concentration of the
passion in the centre of the play can be secured. _King Lear_ is one of
the most complex of Shakespeare's tragedies; its plot is made up of a
number of separate actions, with their combinations accurately carried
out, the whole impressing us with a sense of artistic involution similar
to that of an elaborate musical fugue. Here, however, we are concerned
only indirectly with the plot of the play: we need review it no further
than may suffice to show what distinct interests enter into it, and
enable us to observe how the separate trains of passion work toward a
common climax at the centre.

Starting from the notion of pattern as a fundamental idea we have seen
how Plot presents trains of events in human life taking form and shape
as a crime and its nemesis, an oracle and its fulfilment, the rise and
fall of an individual, or even as simply a story. [_The main plot
exhibits the Problem form of dramatic action._] The particular form of
action underlying the main plot of _King Lear_ is different from any we
have yet noticed. It may be described as a _Problem Action_. A
mathematician in his problem assumes some unusual combination of forces
to have come about, and then proceeds to trace its consequences: so the
Drama often deals with problems in history and life, setting up, before
the commencement of the play or early in the action, some peculiar
arrangement of moral relations, and then throughout the rest of the
action developing the consequences of these to the personages involved.
Thus the opening scene of _King Lear_ is occupied in bringing before us
a pregnant and suggestive state of affairs: imperiousness is represented
as overthrowing conscience and setting up an unnatural distribution of
power. [_The problem stated._] A human problem has thus been enunciated
which the remainder of the play has to work out to its natural solution.

Imperiousness seems to be the term appropriate to Lear's conduct in the
first scene. This is no case of dotage dividing an inheritance according
to public declarations of affection. The division had already been made
according to the best advice: [=i.= i. 3, &c.] in the case of two of the
daughters 'equalities had been so weighed that curiosity in neither
could make choice of either's moiety'; and if the portion of the
youngest and best loved of the three was the richest, this is a
partiality natural enough to absolute power. The opening scene of the
play is simply the court ceremony in which the formal transfer is to be
made. [38.] Lear is already handing to his daughters the carefully drawn
maps which mark the boundaries of the provinces, [49.] when he suddenly
pauses, and, with the yearning of age and authority for testimonies of
devotion, calls upon his daughters for declarations of affection, the
easiest of returns for the substantial gifts he is giving them, and
which Goneril and Regan pour forth with glib eloquence. [84.] Then Lear
turns to Cordelia, and, thinking delightedly of the special prize he has
marked out for the pet of his old age, asks her:

                What can you say to draw
    A third more opulent than your sisters?

But Cordelia has been revolted by the fulsome flattery of the sisters
whose hypocrisy she knows so well, and she bluntly refuses to be drawn
into any declaration of affection at all. Cordelia might well have found
some other method of separating herself from her false sisters, without
thus flouting her father before his whole court in a moment of
tenderness to herself; or, if carried away by the indignation of the
moment, a sign of submission would have won her a ready pardon. [compare
=i.= i. 131.] But Cordelia, sweet and strong as her character is in
great things, has yet inherited a touch of her father's temper, and the
moment's sullenness is protracted into obstinacy. Cordelia then has
committed an offence of manner; Lear's passion vents itself in a
sentence proper only to a moral crime: now the punishment of a minute
offence with wholly disproportionate severity simply because it is an
offence against personal will is an exact description of imperiousness.

As Lear stands for imperiousness, so conscience is represented by Kent,
who, with the voice of authority derived from lifelong intimacy and
service, interposes to check the King's passion in its headlong course.

[141-190.]

    _Kent._                      Royal Lear,
        Whom I have ever honour'd as my king,
        Loved as my father, as my master follow'd,
        As my great patron thought on in my prayers,--

    _Lear._ The bow is bent and drawn, make from the shaft.

    _Kent._ Let it fall rather, though the fork invade
        The region of my heart: be Kent unmannerly
        When Lear is mad. What wilt thou do, old man?
        Think'st thou that duty shall have dread to speak,
        When power to flattery bows? To plainness honour's bound,
        When majesty stoops to folly. Reverse thy doom....

    _Lear._ Kent, on thy life, no more.

    _Kent._ My life I never held but as a pawn
        To wage against thy enemies, nor fear to lose it,
        Thy safety being the motive....

    _Lear._                         O, vassal! miscreant!

                             [_Laying his hand on his sword._

    _Albany._   } Dear sir, forbear.
    _Cornwall._ }

    _Kent._ Do:
        Kill thy physician, and the fee bestow
        Upon thy foul disease. Revoke thy doom;
        Or, whilst I can vent clamour from my throat,
        I'll tell thee thou dost evil.

In the banishment of this Kent, then, the resistance of Lear's
conscience is overcome, and his imperious passion has full swing in
transferring Cordelia's kingdom to her treacherous sisters.

The opening scene has put before us, not in words but figured in action,
a problem in human affairs: the violation of moral equity has set up an
unnatural arrangement of power--power taken from the good and lodged in
the hands of the bad. Here is, so to speak, a piece of moral unstable
equilibrium, and the rebound from it is to furnish the remainder of the
action. The very structure of the plot corresponds with the simple
structure of a scientific proposition. The latter consists of two
unequal parts: a few lines are sufficient to enunciate the problem,
while a whole treatise may be required for its solution. So in _King
Lear_ a single scene brings about the unnatural state of affairs, the
consequences of which it takes the rest of the play to trace. The
'catastrophe,' or turning-point of the play at which the ultimate issues
are decided, appears in the present case, not close to the end of the
play, nor (as in _Julius Cæsar_) in the centre, but close to the
commencement: at the end of the opening scene Lear's act of folly has in
reality determined the issue of the whole action; the scenes which
follow are only working out a determined issue to its full realisation.

[_The solution of the problem in a triple tragedy._]

We have seen the problem itself, the overthrow of conscience by
imperiousness and the transfer of power from the good to the bad: what
is the solution of it as presented by the incidents of the play? The
consequences flowing from what Lear has done make up three distinct
tragedies, which go on working side by side, and all of which are
essential to the full solution of the problem. First, there is the
nemesis upon Lear himself--the double retribution of receiving nothing
but evil from those he has unrighteously rewarded, [(1) _Tragedy of
Lear._] and nothing but good from her whom, he bitterly feels, he has
cruelly wronged. [(2) _Tragedy of Cordelia and Kent._] But the
punishment of the wrong-doer is only one element in the consequences of
wrong; the innocent also are involved, and we get a second tragedy in
the sufferings of the faithful Kent and the loving Cordelia, who,
through Kent as her representative, watches over her father's safety,
until at the end she appears in person to follow up her devotion to the
death. When, however, the incidents making up the sufferings of Lear, of
Kent, and of Cordelia are taken out of the main plot, there is still a
considerable section left--[(3) _Tragedy of Goneril and Regan._] that
which is occupied with the mutual intrigues of Goneril and Regan,
intrigues ending in their common ruin. This constitutes a third tragedy
which, it will be seen, is as necessary to the solution of our problem
as the other two. To place power in the hands of the bad is an injury
not only to others, but also to the bad themselves, as giving fuel to
the fire of their wickedness: so in the tragedy of Goneril and Regan we
see evil passions placed in improper authority using this authority to
work out their own destruction.

[_An underplot on the same basis as the main plot._]

To this main plot is added an underplot equally elaborate. As in _The
Merchant of Venice_, the stories borrowed from two distinct sources are
worked into a common design: and the interweaving in the case of the
present play is perhaps Shakespeare's greatest triumph of constructive
skill. The two stories are made to rest upon the same fundamental
idea--[compare =i.= i, fin.] that of undutifulness to old age: what
Lear's daughters actually do is that which is insinuated by Edmund as
his false charge against his brother.

[=i.= ii. 76, &c.]

    I have heard him oft maintain it to be fit, that, sons at perfect
    age, and fathers declining, the father should be as ward to the son,
    and the son manage his revenue.

So obvious is this fundamental connection between the main and the
underplot, that our attention is called to it by a personage in the
play itself: [=iii.= vi. 117.] 'he childed as I father'd,' is Edgar's
pithy summary of it when he is brought into contact with Lear. [_The
main and underplot parallel and contrasted throughout._] But in this
double tragedy, drawn from the two families of Lear and of Gloucester,
the chief bond between its two sides consists in the sharp contrast
which extends to every detail of the two stories. In the main plot we
have a daughter, who has received nothing but harm from her father, who
has unjustly had her position torn from her and given to undeserving
sisters: nevertheless she sacrifices herself to save the father who did
the injury from the sisters who profited by it. In the underplot we have
a son, who has received nothing but good from his father, who has,
contrary to justice, been advanced by him to the position of an elder
brother whom he has slandered: nevertheless, he is seeking the
destruction of the father who did him the unjust kindness, when he falls
by the hand of the brother who was wronged by it. Thus as the main and
underplot go on working side by side, they are at every turn by their
antithesis throwing up one another's effect; the contrast is like the
reversing of the original subject in a musical fugue. [_The underplot an
Intrigue Action:_] Again, as the main plot consisted in the initiation
of a problem and its solution, so the underplot consists in the
development of an intrigue and its consequences. The tragedy of the
Gloucester family will, if stated from the point of view of the father,
correspond in its parts with the tragedy in the family of Lear. It must
be remembered, however, that the position of the father is different in
the two cases; Gloucester is not, as Lear, the agent of the crime, but
only a deceived instrument in the hands of the villain Edmund, who is
the real agent; if the proper allowance be made for this difference,
[_involving a triple tragedy parallel with that of the main plot._] it
will be seen that the three tragedies which make up the consequences of
Lear's error have their analogies in the three tragedies which flow from
the intrigue of Edmund. [(1) _Tragedy of Gloucester._] First, we have
the nemesis on Gloucester, and this, in analogy with the nemesis on
Lear, consists in receiving nothing but evil from the son he has so
hastily advanced, and nothing but good from the other son whom, he comes
gradually to feel, he has unintentionally wronged. [(2) _Tragedy of
Edgar._] In the next place we have the sufferings of the innocent Edgar.
[(3) _Tragedy of Edmund._] Then, as we before saw a third tragedy in the
way in which the power conferred upon Goneril and Regan is used to work
out their destruction, so in the underplot we find that the position
which Edmund has gained involves him in intrigues, which by the
development of the play are made to result in a nemesis upon his
original intrigue. And it is a nemesis of exquisite exactness: for he
meets his death in the very moment of his success, at the hands of the
brother he has maligned and robbed, while the father he has deceived and
sought to destroy is the means by which the avenger has been brought to
the scene.

[_Complexity of plot not inconsistent with simplicity of movement._]

We have gone far enough into the construction of the plot to perceive
its complexity and the principal elements into which that complexity can
be analysed. Two separate systems, each consisting of an initial action
and three resulting tragedies, eight actions in all, are woven together
by common personages and incidents, by parallelism of spirit, and by
movement to a common climax; not to speak of lesser Link Actions which
assist in drawing the different stories closer together. As with plot
generally, these separate elements are fully manifest only to the eye of
analysis; in following the course of the drama itself, they make
themselves felt only in a continued sense of involution and harmonious
symmetry. It is with passion, not with plot, that the present study is
concerned; and the train of passion which the common movement of these
various actions calls out in the sympathy of the reader is as simple as
the plot itself is intricate. In the case both of the main plot and the
underplot the emotional effect rises in intensity; moreover at this
central height of intensity the two merge in a common Climax. The
construction of the play resembles, if such a comparison may be allowed,
the patent gas-apparatus, which secures a high illuminating power by
the simple device of several ordinary burners inclined to one another at
such an angle that the apexes of their flames meet in a point. [from
=ii.= iv. 290 to =iii.= vi. with the interruption of =iii.= iii, =iii.=
v.] So the present play contains a Centrepiece of some three scenes,
marked off (at least at the commencement) decisively, in which the main
and underplot unite in a common Climax, with special devices to increase
its effect; [_The different trains of passion focussed in a central
Climax._] the diverse interests to which our sympathy was called out at
the commencement, and which analysis can keep distinct to the end, are
_focussed_, so far as passion is concerned, in this Centrepiece, in
which human emotion is carried to the highest pitch of tragic agitation
that the world of art has yet exhibited.

[_The passions of the main plot gather to a common Climax in the madness
of Lear._]

The emotional effect of the main plot rises to a climax in the madness
of Lear. This, as the highest form of human agitation, is obviously a
climax to the story of Lear himself. It is equally a climax to the story
of Kent and Cordelia, who suffer solely through their devoted watching
over Lear, and to whom the bitterest point in their sufferings is that
they feel over again all that their fallen master has to endure.
Finally, in the madness of Lear the third of the three tragedies, the
Goneril and Regan action, appears throughout in the background as the
cause of all that is happening. If we keep our eye upon this madness of
Lear the movement of the play assumes the form we have so often had to
notice--the regular arch. The first half of the arch, or rise in
emotional strain, we get in symptoms of mental disturbance preparing us
for actual madness which is to come. It is important to note the
difference between passion and madness: passion is a disease of the
mind, madness is a disease extending to the mysterious linking of mind
and body. At the commencement Lear is dominated by the passion of
imperiousness, an imperiousness born of his absolute power as king and
father; he has never learned from discipline restraint of his passion,
but has been accustomed to fling himself upon obstacles and see them
give way before him. Now the tragical situation is prepared for him of
meeting with obstacles which will not give way, but from which his
passion rebounds upon himself with a physical shock. As thus opposition
follows opposition, we see _waves_ of physical, that is of hysterical,
passion, sweeping over Lear, until, as it were, a tenth wave lands him
in the full disease of madness.

[=i.= iv.]

The first case occurs in his interview with Goneril after that which is
the first check he has received in his new life, the insolence shown to
his retinue. Goneril enters his presence with a frown. The wont had been
that Lear frowned and all cowered before him: and now he waits for his
daughter to remember herself with a rising passion ill concealed under
the forced calmness with which he enquires, 'Are you our daughter?'
'Doth any here know me?' But Goneril, on the contrary, calmly assumes
the position of reprover, and details her unfounded charges of insolence
against her father's sober followers, until at last he hears himself
desired

    By her, that else will take the thing she begs,

to disquantity his train. Then Lear breaks out:

                      Darkness and devils!
    Saddle my horses; call my train together.
    Degenerate bastard! I'll not trouble thee:
    Yet have I left a daughter.

In a moment the thought of Cordelia's 'most small fault' and how it had
been visited upon her occurs to condense into a single pang the whole
sense of his folly; and here it is that the first of these waves of
physical passion comes over Lear, its physical character marked by the
physical action which accompanies it:

[=i.= iv. 292.]

                       O Lear, Lear, Lear!
    Beat at this gate, that let thy folly in, [_Striking his head._
    And thy dear judgement out.

It lasts but for a moment: but it is a wave, and it will return. [=i.=
v.] Accordingly in the next scene we see Lear on his journey from one
daughter to the other. He is brooding over the scene he is leaving
behind, and he cannot disguise a shade of anxiety, in his awakened
judgment, that some such scene may be reserved for him in the goal to
which he is journeying. He is half listening, moreover, to the Fool, who
harps on the same thought, that the King is suffering what he might have
expected, that the other daughter will be like the first:--until there
comes another of these sudden outbursts of passion, in which Lear for a
moment half foresees the end to which he is being carried.

[=i.= v. 49.]

    O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven!
    Keep me in temper: I would not be mad!

Imperiousness is especially attached to outward signs of reverence:
[=ii.= iv. 4.] it is reserved for Lear when he arrives at Regan's palace
to find the messenger he has sent on to announce him suffering the
indignity of the stocks. At first he will not believe that this has been
done by order of his daughter and son.

[13.]

    _Kent._               It is both he and she;
        Your son and daughter.

    _Lear._ No.

    _Kent._ Yes.

    _Lear._ No, I say.

    _Kent._ I say, yea.

    _Lear._ No, no, they would not.

    _Kent._ Yes, they have.

    _Lear._ By Jupiter, I swear, no.

    _Kent._ By Juno, I swear, ay.

    _Lear._              They durst not do't;
        They could not, would not do't; 'tis worse than murder,
        To do upon respect such violent outrage.

But he has to listen to a circumstantial account of the insult, and,
further, reminded by the Fool that

    Fathers that wear rags
    Do make their children blind,

he comes at last to realise it all,--and then there sweeps over him a
third and more violent wave of hysterical agitation.

[56.]

    O, how this mother swells up toward my heart!
    Hysterica passio, down, thou climbing sorrow,
    Thy element's below!

[=ii.= iv. 89.]

He has mastered the passion by a strong effort: but it is a wave, and it
will return. He has mastered himself in order to confront the culprits
face to face: his altered position is brought home to him when they
refuse to receive him. And the refusal is made the worse by the
well-meant attempt of Gloucester to palliate it, in which he
unfortunately speaks of the 'fiery quality' of the duke.

    _Lear._ Vengeance! plague! death! confusion!
        Fiery? what quality?

Nothing is harder than to endure what one is in the habit of inflicting
on others; it was Lear's own 'fiery quality' by which he had been
accustomed to scorch all opposition out of his way; now he has to hear
another man's 'fiery quality' quoted to him. But this outburst is only
momentary; the very extremity of the case seems to calm Lear, and he
begins himself to frame excuses for the duke, how sickness and infirmity
neglect the 'office' to which health is bound--until his eye lights
again upon his messenger sitting in the stocks, and the recollection of
this deliberate affront brings back again the wave of passion.

[122.]

    O me, my heart, my rising heart! but, down!

Lear had a strange confidence in his daughter Regan. As we see the two
women in the play, Regan appears the more cold-blooded; nothing in
Goneril is more cruel than Regan's

[204.]

    I pray you, father, being weak, seem so;

or her meeting Lear's 'I gave you all' with the rejoinder,

[253.]

    And in good time you gave it.

But there was something in Regan's personal appearance that belied her
real character; her father says to her in this scene:

[173.]

           Her eyes are fierce, but thine
    Do comfort and not burn.

Judas betrayed with a kiss, and Regan persecutes her father in tears.
But Regan has scarcely entered her father's presence when the trumpet
announces the arrival of Goneril, and [185.] Lear has to see the Regan
[197.] in whom he is trusting take Goneril's hand before his eyes in
token that she is making common cause with her. When following this the
words 'indiscretion,' 'dotage,' reach his ear there is a momentary
swelling of the physical passion within:

[200.]

                    O sides, you are too tough;
    Will you yet hold?

He has mastered it for the last time: for now his whole world seems to
be closing in around him; he has committed his all to the two daughters
standing before him, [from 233.] and they unite to beat him down, from
fifty knights to twenty-five, from twenty-five to ten, to five, until
the soft-eyed Regan asks, 'What need one?' A sense of crushing
oppression stifles his anger, and Lear begins to answer with the same
calmness with which the question had been asked:

    O, reason not the need: our basest beggars
    Are in the poorest thing superfluous:
    Allow not nature more than nature needs,
    Man's life's as cheap as beast's: thou art a lady;
    If only to go warm were gorgeous,
    Why, nature needs not what thou gorgeous wear'st,
    Which scarcely keeps thee warm. But, for true need,--

He breaks off at finding himself actually pleading: and the blinding
tears come as he recognises that the kingly passion in which he had
found support at every cross has now deserted him in his extremity. He
appeals to heaven against the injustice.

    You heavens, give me that patience, patience I need!
    You see me here, you gods, a poor old man,
    As full of grief as age; wretched in both!
    If it be you that stir these daughters' hearts
    Against their father, fool me not so much
    To bear it tamely; touch me with noble anger,
    And let not women's weapons, water-drops,
    Stain my man's cheeks!

The prayer is answered; the passion returns in full flood, and at last
brings Lear face to face with the madness which has threatened from a
distance.

                    No, you unnatural hags,
    I will have such revenges on you both,
    That all the world shall--I will do such things,--
    What they are, yet I know not; but they shall be
    The terrors of the earth. You think I'll weep;
    No, I'll not weep:
    I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
    Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
    Or ere I'll weep. O fool, I SHALL go mad!

[=ii.= iv. 290. _The storm marks off the Centrepiece of the play._]

As Lear with these words rushes out into the night, we hear the first
sound of the storm--the storm which here, as in _Julius Cæsar_, will be
recognised as the dramatic background to the tempest of human emotions;
it is the signal that we have now entered upon the mysterious
Centrepiece of the play, in which the gathering passions of the whole
drama are to be allowed to vent themselves without check or bound. And
it is no ordinary storm: it is a night of bleak winds sorely ruffling,
of cataracts and hurricanoes, of curled waters swelling above the main,
of thought-executing fires and oak-cleaving thunderbolts; a night

[=iii.= i. 12, &c.]

            wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch,
    The lion and the belly-pinched wolf
    Keep their fur dry.

And all of it is needed to harmonise with the whirlwind of human
passions which finds relief only in outscorning its fury. The purpose of
the storm is not confined to this of marking the emotional climax: it is
one of the agencies which assist in carrying it to its height. Experts
in mental disease have noted amongst the causes which convert mere
mental excitement into actual madness two leading ones, external
physical shocks and imitation. Shakespeare has made use of both in the
central scenes of this play. [=iii.= i. 3: =iii.= ii. &c.] For the
first, Lear is exposed without shelter to the pelting of the pitiless
storm, and he waxes wilder with its wildness. [=iii.= iv, from 39.]
Again when all this is at its height he is suddenly brought into contact
with a half-naked Tom o'Bedlam. This gives the final shock. So far he had
not gone beyond ungovernable rage; he had not lost self-consciousness,
and could say, 'My wits begin to turn'; [=iii.= iv. 66.] but the sight
of Edgar completely unhinges his mind, and hallucinations set in; a
moment after he has seen him the spirit of imitation begins to work, and
Lear commences to strip off his clothes. Thus perfect is the regular
arch of effect which is connected with Lear's madness. We have its
gradual rise in the waves of hysterical passion which ebbed after they
had flowed, until, at the point separating the Centrepiece from the rest
of the play, Lear's 'O fool I _shall_ go mad' seems to mark a change
from which he never goes back. Through these central scenes exposure to
the storm is fanning his passion more and more irretrievably into
madness; [=iii.= iii. 39.] at the exact centre of all, imitation of
Edgar comes to make the insanity acute. [_Decline after the Centrepiece
from violent madness to shattered intellect._] After the Centrepiece
Lear disappears for a time, and when we next see him agitation has
declined into what is more pathetic: the acute mania has given place to
the pitiful spectacle of a shattered intellect; there is no longer sharp
suffering, [=iv.= vi. 81.] but the whole mind is wrecked, gleams of
coherence coming at intervals to mark what a fall there has been;
[compare =iv.= vi. 178; =v.= iii. 314.] the strain upon our emotions
sinks into the calm of hopelessness.

                    He hates him much
    That would upon the rack of this tough world
    Stretch him out longer.

[_The passions of the underplot gather to a common Climax in the madness
of Edgar._]

But who is this madman with whom Lear meets at the turning-point of the
play? It is Edgar, the victim of the underplot, whose life has been
sought by his brother and father until he can find no way of saving
himself but the disguise of feigned madness. This feigned madness of
Edgar, as it appears in the central scenes, serves as emotional climax
to the underplot, just as the madness of Lear is the emotional climax of
the main plot. Edgar's madness is obviously the climax to the tragedy of
his own sufferings, but it is also a central point to the movement of
the other two tragedies which with that of Edgar make up the underplot.
One of these is the nemesis upon Gloucester, and this, we have seen, is
double, that he receives good from the son he has wronged and evil from
the son he has favoured. [=iii.= iv. 170.] The turning-point of such a
nemesis is reached in the Hovel Scene, where Gloucester says:

                   I'll tell thee, friend,
    I am almost mad myself: I had a son,
    Now outlaw'd from my blood; he sought my life,
    But lately, very late: I loved him, friend:
    No father his son dearer: truth to tell thee,
    This grief hath crazed my wits!

He says this in the presence of the very Edgar, disguised under the form
of the wretched idiot he hardly marks. Edgar now learns how his father
has been deceived; [compare =iii.= iii. 15.] in his heart he is
re-united to him, and from this point of re-union springs the devotion
he lavishes upon his father in the affliction that presently falls upon
him. [=iii.= iii. 22; =iii.= vii.] On the other hand, that which brings
Gloucester to this Hovel Scene, the attempt to save the King, is
betrayed by Edmund, who becomes thereby the cause of the vengeance which
puts out his father's eyes. Thus from this meeting of the mad Edgar with
the mad Lear there springs at once the final stroke in the misery
Gloucester suffers from the son he has favoured, and the beginning of
the forgiving love he is to experience from the son he has wronged: that
meeting then is certainly the central climax to the double nemesis which
makes up the Gloucester action. The remaining tragedy of the underplot
embraces the series of incidents by the combination of which the success
of Edmund's intrigue becomes gradually converted into the nemesis which
punishes it. Now the squalid wretchedness of a Bedlamite, together with
the painful strain of supporting the assumed character amidst the
conflicting emotions which the unexpected meeting of the Hovel Scene has
aroused, represent the highest point to which the misery resulting from
the intrigue can rise. [=iv.= i, &c.] At the same time the use Edgar
makes of this madness after hearing Gloucester's confession is to fasten
himself in attendance upon his afflicted father, and proves in the
sequel the means by which he is brought to be the instrument of the
vengeance that overtakes Edmund. The central climax of a tragedy like
this of intrigue and nemesis cannot be more clearly marked than in the
incident in which are combined the summit of the injury and the
foundation of the retribution. Thus all three tragedies which together
make up the resultant of the intrigue constituting the underplot reach
their climax of agitation in the scene in which Lear and Edgar meet.

[_The Centrepiece a duet, or by the addition of the Fool, a trio of
madness.]_

It appears, then, that the Centrepiece of the play is occupied with the
contact of two madnesses, the madness of Lear and the madness of Edgar;
that of Lear gathering up into a climax trains of passion from all the
three tragedies of the main plot, and that of Edgar holding a similar
position to the three tragedies of the underplot. Further, these
madnesses do not merely go on side by side; as they meet they mutually
affect one another, and throw up each other's intensity. By the mere
sight of the Bedlamite, Lear, already tottering upon the verge of
insanity, is driven really and incurably mad; while in the case of
Edgar, the meeting with Lear, and through Lear with Gloucester, converts
the burden of feigning idiocy from a cruel stroke of unjust fate into a
hardship voluntarily undergone for the sake of ministering to a father
now forgiven and pitied. And so far as the general effect of the play is
concerned this central Climax presents a terrible _duet of madness_, the
wild ravings and mutual interworkings of two distinct strains of
insanity, each answering and outbidding the other. The distinctness is
the greater as the two are different in kind. In Lear we have the
madness of passion, exaggeration of ordinary emotions; Edgar's is the
madness of idiocy, as idiocy was in early ages when the cruel neglect of
society added physical hardship to mental affliction. In Edgar's frenzy
we trace rapid irrelevance with gleams of unexpected relevance, just
sufficient to partly answer a question and go off again into wandering;
a sense of ill-treatment and of being an outcast; remorse and thoughts
as to close connection of sin and retribution; visions of fiends as in
bodily presence; cold, hunger: these alternating with mere gibberish,
and all perhaps within the compass of a few lines.

[=iii.= iv. 51.]

    Who gives anything to poor Tom? whom the foul fiend hath led through
    fire and through flame, and through ford and whirlipool, o'er bog
    and quagmire; that hath laid knives under his pillow, and halters in
    his pew; set ratsbane by his porridge; made him proud of heart, to
    ride on a bay trotting-horse over four-inched bridges, to course his
    own shadow for a traitor. Bless thy five wits! Tom's a-cold,--O, do
    de, do de, do de. Bless thee from whirlwinds, star-blasting, and
    taking! Do poor Tom some charity, whom the foul fiend vexes: there
    could I have him now,--and there,--and there again, and there.

But this is not all. When examined more closely this Centrepiece
exhibits not a duet but a _trio of madness_; with the other two there
mingles a third form of what may be called madness, the professional
madness of the court fool. [_Institution of the court fool._] This court
fool or jester is an institution of considerable interest. It seems to
rest upon three mediæval and ancient notions. The first is the barbarism
of enjoying personal defects, illustrated in the large number of Roman
names derived from bodily infirmities, Varus the bandy-legged, Balbus
the stammerer, and the like; this led our ancestors to find fun in the
incoherence of natural idiocy, and finally made the imitation of it a
profession. A second notion underlying the institution of a jester is
the connection to the ancient mind between madness and inspiration; the
same Greek word _entheos_ stands for both, and to this day the idiot of
a Scotch village is believed in some way to see further than sane folk.
A third idea to be kept in mind is the mediæval conception of wit. With
us wit is weighed by its intrinsic worth; the old idea, appearing
repeatedly in Shakespeare's scenes, was that wit was a mental game, a
sort of battledore and shuttlecock, in which the jokes themselves might
be indifferent since the point of the game lay in keeping it up as
smartly and as long as possible. The fool, whose title and motley dress
suggested the absence of ordinary sense or propriety, combines in his
office all three notions: from the last he was bound to keep up the fire
of badinage, even though it were with witless nonsense; from the second
he was expected at times to give utterance to deep truths; and in virtue
of the first he had license to make hard hits under protection of the
'folly' which all were supposed to enjoy.

    He that hath a fool doth very wisely hit,
    Doth very foolishly, although he smart,
    Not to seem senseless of the bob.

[_The institution adapted to modern times in Punch._]

The institution, if it has died out as a personal office attached to
kings or nobles, has perhaps been preserved by the nation as a whole in
a form analogous to other modern institutions: the all-embracing
newspaper has absorbed this element of life, and Mr. Punch is the
national jester. His figure and face are an improvement on the old
motley habit; his fixed number of pages have to be filled, if not always
with wit, yet with passable padding: no one dare other than enjoy the
compliment of his notice, under penalty of showing that 'the cap has
fitted'; and certainly Mr. Punch finds ways of conveying to statesmen
criticisms to which the proprieties of parliament would be impervious.
The institution of the court fool is eagerly utilised by Shakespeare,
and is the source of some of his finest effects: he treats it as a sort
of chronic Comedy, the function of which may be described as that of
translating deep truths of human nature into the language of laughter.

In applying, then, this general view of the court fool to the present
case we must avoid two opposite errors. We must not pass over all his
utterances as unmeaning folly, nor, on the other hand, must we insist
upon seeing a meaning in everything that he says: what truth he speaks
must be expected to make its appearance amidst a cloud of nonsense.
[_The function of the Fool in Lear is to keep before us the original
problem:_] Making this proviso we may lay down that the function of the
Fool in _King Lear_ is to keep vividly before the minds of the audience
(as well as of his master) the idea at the root of the main plot--that
unstable moral equilibrium, that unnatural distribution of power which
Lear has set up, and of which the whole tragedy is the rebound. [=i.=
iv.] In the first scene in which he appears before us he is, amid all
his nonsense, harping upon the idea that Lear has committed the folly of
trusting to the gratitude of the ungrateful, and is reaping the
inevitable consequences. As he enters he hands his coxcomb, the symbol
of folly, to the King, and to Kent for taking the King's part. His first
jingling song,

    Have more than thou showest,
    Speak less than thou knowest,
    Lend less than thou owest, &c.,

is an expansion of the maxim, Trust nobody. And however irrelevant he
becomes, he can in a moment get back to this root idea. They tell him
his song is nothing:

    _Fool._ Then 'tis like the breath of an unfee'd lawyer; you gave me
    nothing for 't. Can you make no use of nothing, nuncle?
    _Lear._ Why, no, boy; nothing can be made out of nothing.
    _Fool_ [_to Kent_]. Prithee, tell him, so much the rent of his land
    comes to: he will not believe a fool.

[=i.= i. 92.]

'Nothing will come of nothing' had been the words Lear had used to
Cordelia; now he is bidden to see how they have become the exact
description of his own fortune. No wonder Lear exclaims, 'A bitter
fool!'

    _Fool._ Dost thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool
    and a sweet one?
    _Lear._ No, lad; teach me.
    _Fool._     That lord that counsell'd thee
                       To give away thy land,
                     Come place him here by me,
                       Do thou for him stand:
                     The sweet and bitter fool
                       Will presently appear;
                     The one in motley here.
                       The other found out there.

    _Lear._ Dost thou call me fool, boy?
    _Fool._ All thy other titles thou hast given away; that thou wast
    born with.

Again and again he turns to other topics and comes suddenly back to the
main thought.

[=i.= iv. 195.]

    _Fool._ Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool
    to lie: I would fain learn to lie.

    _Lear._ An you lie, sirrah, we'll have you whipped.

    _Fool._ I marvel what kin thou and thy daughters are: they'll have
    me whipped for speaking true, thou'lt have me whipped for lying; and
    sometimes I am whipped for holding my peace. I had rather be any
    kind o' thing than a fool: and yet I would not be thee, nuncle; thou
    hast pared thy wit o' both sides, and left nothing i' the middle:
    here comes one o' the parings.

[=i.= iv. 207.]

It is Goneril who enters, and who proceeds to state her case in the tone
of injury, detailing how the order of her household state has been
outraged, but ignoring the source from which she has received the power
to keep up state at all: what she has omitted the Fool supplies in
parable, as if continuing her sentence--

                  For, you trow, nuncle,
    The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long,
    That it's had it head bit off by it young,

and then instantly involves himself in a cloud of irrelevance,

    So, out went the candle, and we were left darkling.

[=i.= v.]

In the scene which follows, the Fool is performing a variation on the
same theme: the sudden removal from one sister to the other is no real
escape from the original foolish situation.

[=i.= v. 8.]

    _Fool._ If a man's brains were in 's heels, were 't not in danger of
    kibes?
    _Lear._ Ay, boy.
    _Fool._ Then, I prithee, be merry; thy wit shall ne'er go slip-shod.

To say that Lear is in no danger of suffering from brains in his heels
is another way of saying that his flight is folly. He goes on to insist
that the other daughter will treat her father 'kindly,' that 'she's as
like this as a crab's like an apple.' His laying down that the reason
why the nose is in the middle of the face is to keep the eyes on either
side of the nose, and that the reason why the seven stars are no more
than seven is 'a pretty reason--because they are not eight,' suggests
(if it be not pressing it too far) that we must not look for depth where
there is only shallowness--the mistake Lear has made in trusting to the
gratitude of his daughters. And the general thought of Lear's original
folly he brings out, true to the fool's office, from the most unlikely
beginnings.

[=i.= v. 26.]

    _Fool._ Canst tell how an oyster makes his shell?
    _Lear._ No.

'Nor I neither,' answers the Fool, with a clown's impudence; 'but,' he
adds, 'I can tell why a snail has a house.'

    _Lear._ Why?
    _Fool._ Why, to put his head in; not to give it away to his
    daughters.

[=ii.= iv. 1-128.]

All through the scene in front of the stocks the Fool is harping on the
folly of expecting gratitude from such as Goneril and Regan. It is
fathers who bear bags that see their children kind; the wise man lets go
his hold on a great wheel running down hill, but lets himself be drawn
after by the great wheel that goes up the hill; he himself, the Fool
hints, is a fool for staying with Lear; to cry out at Goneril and
Regan's behaviour is as unreasonable as for the cook to be impatient
with the eels for wriggling; to have trusted the two daughters with
power at all was like the folly of the man that, 'in pure kindness to
his horse, buttered his hay.'

The one idea, then, stationary amidst all the Fool's gyrations of folly
is the idea of Lear's original sin of passion, from the consequences of
which he can never escape; [_but in an emotional form as adapted to the
agitation of the Centrepiece._] only the idea is put, not rationally,
but translated into an emotional form which makes it fit to mingle with
the agitation of the central scenes. The emotional form consists partly
in the irrelevance amid which the idea is brought out, producing
continual shocks of surprise. But more than this an emotional form is
given to the utterances of the Fool by his very position with reference
to Lear. [=iii.= i. 16; =iii.= ii. 10, 25, 68; =iii.= iv. 80, 150.]
There is a pathos that mingles with his humour, where the Fool, a tender
and delicate youth, is found the only attendant who clings to Lear amid
the rigour of the storm, labouring with visibly decreasing vigour to
out-jest his master's heart-struck injuries, and to keep up holiday
abandon amidst surrounding realities. [=i.= iv. 107; =iii.= ii. 68, 72,
&c.] Throughout he is Lear's best friend, and epithets of endearment are
continually passing between them: he has been Cordelia's friend (as
Touchstone was the friend of Rosalind), [=i.= iv. 79.] and pined for
Cordelia after her banishment. Nevertheless he is the only one who can
deliver hard thrusts at Lear, and bring home to him, under protection of
his double relation to wisdom and folly, Lear's original error and sin.
So faithful and so severe, the Fool becomes an outward conscience to his
master: he keeps before Lear the unnatural act from which the whole
tragedy springs, but he converts the thought of it into the emotion of
self-reproach.

[_Summary._]

Our total result then is this. The intricate drama of _King Lear_ has a
general movement which centres the passion of the play in a single
Climax. Throughout a Centrepiece of a few scenes, against a background
of storm and tempest is thrown up a tempest of human passion--a madness
trio, or mutual play of three sorts of madness, the real madness of
passion in Lear, the feigned madness of idiocy in Edgar, and the
professional madness of the court fool. When the elements of this
madness trio are analysed, the first is found to gather up into itself
the passion of the three tragedies which form the main plot; the second
is a similar climax to the passion of the three tragedies which make up
the underplot; the third is an expression, in the form of passion, of
the original problem out of which the whole action has sprung. Thus
intricacy of plot has been found not inconsistent with simplicity of
movement, and from the various parts of the drama the complex trains of
passion have been brought to a focus in the centre.



PART SECOND.

SURVEY OF DRAMATIC CRITICISM AS AN INDUCTIVE SCIENCE.



XI.

TOPICS OF DRAMATIC CRITICISM.


[_Purpose: to survey Dramatic Criticism as an inductive science._]

IN the Introduction to this book I pleaded that a regular inductive
science of literary criticism was a possibility. In the preceding ten
chapters I have endeavoured to exhibit such a regular method at work on
the dramatic analysis of leading points in Shakespeare's plays. The
design of the whole work will not be complete without an attempt to
present our results in complete form, in fact to map out a Science of
Dramatic Art. I hope this may not seem too pretentious an undertaking in
the case of a science yet in its infancy; while it may be useful at all
events to the young student to have suggested to him a methodical
treatment with which he may exercise himself on the literature he
studies. Moreover the reproach against literary criticism is, not that
there has not been plenty of inductive work done in this department, but
that the assertion of its inductive character has been lacking; and I
believe a critic does good service by throwing his results into a formal
shape, however imperfectly he may be able to accomplish his task. It
will be understood that the survey of Dramatic Science is here attempted
only in the merest outline: it is a glimpse, not a view, of a new
science that is proposed. Not even a survey would be possible within the
limits of a few short chapters except by confining the matter introduced
to that previously laid before the reader in a different form. The
leading features of Dramatic Art have already been explained in the
application of them to particular plays: they are now included in a
single view, so arranged that their mutual connection may be seen to be
building up this singleness of view. Such a survey, like a microscopic
lens of low power, must sacrifice detail to secure a wider field. Its
compensating gain will consist in what it can contribute to the orderly
product of methodised enquiry which is the essence of science, and the
interest in which becomes associated with the interest of curiosity when
the method has been applied in a region not usually acknowledging its
reign.

[_Definition of Dramatic Criticism:_]

The starting-point in the exposition of any science is naturally its
definition. But this first step is sufficient to divide inductive
criticism from the treatment of literature mostly in vogue. I have
already protested against the criticism which starts with the assumption
of some 'object' or 'fundamental purpose' in the Drama from which to
deduce binding canons. Such an all-embracing definition, if it is
possible at all, will come as the final, not the first, step of
investigation. [_as to its field and its method._] Inductive criticism,
on the contrary, will seek its point of departure from outside. On the
one hand it will consider the relation of the matter which it proposes
to treat to other matter which is the subject of scientific enquiry; on
the other hand it will fix the nature of the treatment it proposes to
apply by a reference to scientific method in general. That is to say,
its definition will be based upon differentiation of matter and
development in method.

[_Stages of development in inductive method._]

To begin with the latter. There are three well-marked stages in the
development of sciences. The first consists in the mere observation of
the subject-matter. The second is distinguished by arrangement of
observations, by analysis and classification. The third stage reaches
systematisation--the wider arrangement which satisfies our sense of
explanation, that curiosity as to causes which is the instinct specially
developed by scientific enquiry. Astronomy remained for long ages in the
first stage, while it was occupied with the observation of the heavenly
bodies and the naming of the constellations. It would pass into the
second stage with division of labour and the study of solar, lunar,
planetary, and cometary phenomena separately. But by such discoveries as
that of the laws of motion, or of gravitation, the great mass of
astronomical knowledge was bound together in a system which at the same
time satisfied the sense of causation, and astronomy was fully developed
as an inductive science. Or to take a more modern instance: comparative
philology has attained completeness in our own day. Philology was in its
first stage at the Renaissance, when 'learning' meant the mere
accumulation of detailed knowledge connected with the Classical
languages; Grimm's Law may illustrate the second stage, a classification
comprehensive but purely empiric; the principle of phonetic decay with
its allied recuperative processes has struck a unity through the laws of
philology which stamps it as a full-grown science. [_Dramatic Criticism
in the intermediate_] Applying this to our present subject, I do not
pretend that Literary Criticism has reached the third of these three
stages: but materials are ready for giving it a secure place in the
second stage. In time, no doubt, literary science must be able to
explain the modus operandi of literary production, and show how
different classes of writing come to produce their different effects.
But at present such explanation belongs mostly to the region of
speculation; and before the science of criticism is ripe for this final
stage much work has to be done in the way of methodising observation as
to literary matter and form.

Dramatic Criticism, then, is still in the stage of provisional
arrangement. [_or 'topical' stage._] Its exact position is expressed by
the technical term 'topical.' Where accumulation of observations is
great enough to necessitate methodical arrangement, yet progress is
insufficient to suggest final bases of arrangement which will
crystallise the whole into a system, science takes refuge in 'topics.'
These have been aptly described as intellectual pigeon-holes--convenient
headings under which materials may be digested, with strict adherence to
method, yet only as a provisional arrangement until further progress
shall bring more stable organisation. This topical treatment may seem an
unambitious stage in scientific advance, the goal and reward of which is
insight into wide laws and far-reaching systematisations. Still it is a
stage directly in the line of sound method: and the judicious choice of
main and subordinate topics is systematisation in embryo. The present
enquiry looks no further than this stage in its analysis of Dramatic
Art. It endeavours to find convenient headings under which to set forth
its observations of Shakespeare's plays. It also seeks an arrangement of
these topics that will at once cover the field of the subject, and also
carry on the face of it such an economy of mutual connection as may make
the topics, what they ought to be, a natural bridge between the general
idea which the mind forms of Drama and the realisation of this idea in
the details of actual dramatic works.

[_Continuous differentiation of scientific subject-matter._]

But the definition of our subject involves further that we should
measure out the exact field within which this method is to be applied.
Science, like every other product of the human mind, marks its progress
by continuous differentiation: the perpetual subdivision of the field of
enquiry, the rise of separate and ever minuter departments as time goes
on. Originally all knowledge was one and undivided. The name of Socrates
is connected with a great revolution which separated moral science from
physics, the study of man from the study of nature. With Aristotle and
inductive method the process became rapid: and under his guidance
ethics, as the science of conduct, became distinct from mental science;
and still further, political science, treating man in his relations with
the state, was distinguished from the more general science of conduct.
When thought awoke at the Renaissance after the sleep of the Dark Ages,
political science threw off as a distinct branch political economy; and
by our own day particular branches of economy, finance, for example,
have practically become independent sciences. This characteristic of
science in general, the perpetual tendency to separate more confined
from more general lines of investigation, will apply in an especial
degree to literature, [_Dramatic Criticism branches off on the one side
from the wider Literary Criticism._] which covers so wide an area of the
mind and is the meeting-ground of so many separate interests. Thus
Shakespeare is a poet, and his works afford a field for considering
poetry in general, both as a mode of thought and a mode of expression.
Again, no writer could go so deeply into human nature as Shakespeare has
done without betraying his philosophy and moral system. Once more,
Shakespeare must afford a specimen of literary tendencies in general,
and that particular modification of them we call Elizabethan; besides
that the language which is the vehicle of this literature has an
interest of its own over and above that of the thought which it conveys.
All this and more belongs properly to 'Shakespeare-Criticism': but from
Literary Criticism as a whole a branch is being gradually
differentiated, Dramatic Criticism, and its province is to deal with the
question, how much of the total effect of Shakespeare's works arises
from the fact of his ideas being conveyed to us in the form of dramas,
and not of lyric or epic poems, of essays or moral and philosophical
treatises. It is with this branch alone that the present enquiry is
concerned.

[_On the other side from the allied art of Stage-Representation._]

But more than this goes to the definition of Dramatic Criticism. Drama
is not, like Epic, merely a branch of literature: it is a compound art.
The literary works which in ordinary speech we call dramas, are in
strictness only potential dramas waiting for their realisation on the
stage. And this stage-representation is not a mere accessory of
literature, but is an independent art, having a field where literature
has no place, in dumb show, in pantomime, in mimicry, and in the lost
art of Greek 'dancing.'

The question arises then, what is to be the relation of Dramatic
Criticism to the companion art of Stage-Representation? Aristotle, the
father of Dramatic Criticism, made Stage-Representation one of the
departments of the science; but we shall be only following the law of
differentiation if we separate the two. This is especially appropriate
in the case of the Shakespearean Drama. The Puritan Revolution, which
has played such a part in its history, was in effect an attack rather on
the Theatre than on the Drama itself. No doubt when the movement became
violent the two were not discriminated, and the Drama was made a
'vanity' as well as the Stage. Still the one interest was never so
thoroughly dropped by the nation and was more readily taken up again
than the other; so that from the point of view of the Stage our
continuity with the Elizabethan age has been severed, from the point of
view of the literary Drama it has not. The Shakespearean Drama has made
a field for itself as a branch of literature quite apart from the Stage;
and, however we may regret the severance and look forward to a completer
appreciation of Shakespeare, yet it can hardly be doubted that at the
present moment as earnest and comprehensive an interest in our great
dramatist is to be found in the study as in the theatre.

Dramatic Criticism, then, is to be separated, on the one side, from the
wider Literary Criticism which must include a review of language,
ethics, philosophy, and general art; and, on the other hand, from the
companion art of Stage-Representation. But here caution is required; for
all these are so closely and so organically connected with the Drama
that there cannot but exist a mutual reaction. [_Topics common to Drama
and art in general._] Thus we have already had to treat of topics which
belong to the Drama only as a part of literature and art in general. In
the first chapter we had occasion to notice how even the raw material
out of which the Shakespearean Drama is constructed itself forms another
species in literature. When we proceeded to watch the process of working
up this Story into dramatic form we were led on to what was common
ground between Drama and the other arts. In such process we saw
illustrated the 'hedging,' or double process which leaves monstrosity
to produce its full impression and yet provides by special means against
any natural reaction; the reduction of improbabilities, by which
difficulties in the subject-matter are evaded or met; the utilisation of
mechanical details to assist more important effects; the multiplication
and interweaving of different interests by which each is made to assist
the rest. Such points of Mechanical Construction, together with the
general principles of balance and symmetry, are not special to any one
branch of art: in all alike the artist will contrive not wholly to
conceal his processes, but by occasional glimpses will add to higher
effects the satisfaction of our sense of neat workmanship.

[_Drama and its Representation separate in exposition, not in idea._]

Similarly, it may be convenient to make Literary Drama and
Stage-Representation separate branches of enquiry: it is totally
inadmissible and highly misleading to divorce the two in idea. The
literary play must be throughout read _relatively_ to its
representation. In actual practice the separation of the two has
produced the greatest obstacles in the way of sound appreciation.
Amongst ordinary readers of Shakespeare Character-Interest, which is
largely independent of performance, has swallowed up all other
interests; and most of the effects which depend upon the connection and
relative force of incidents, and on the compression of the details into
a given space, have been completely lost. Shakespeare is popularly
regarded as supreme in the painting of human nature, but careless in the
construction of Plot: and, worst of all, Plot itself, which it has been
the mission of the English Drama to elevate into the position of the
most intellectual of all elements in literary effect, has become
degraded in conception to the level of a mere juggler's mystery. It must
then be laid down distinctly at the outset of the present enquiry that
the Drama is to be considered throughout relatively to its acting. Much
of dramatic effect that is special to Stage-Representation will be here
ignored: the whole mechanism of elocution, effects of light, colour and
costume, the greater portion of what constitutes _mise-en-scène_. But in
dealing with any play the fullest scope is assumed for ideal acting. The
interpretation of a character must include what an actor can put into
it; in dealing with effects regard must be had to surroundings which a
reader might easily overlook, but which would be present to the eye of a
spectator; and no conception of the movement of a drama will be adequate
which has not appreciated the rapid sequence of incidents that crowds
the crisis of a life-time or a national revolution into two or three
hours of actual time. The relation of Drama to its acting will be
exactly similar to that of music to its performance, the two being
perfectly separable in their exposition, but never disunited in idea.

[_Fundamental division of Dramatic Criticism into Human Interest and
Action._]

Dramatic Art, then, as thus defined, is to be the field of our enquiry,
and its method is to be the discovery and arrangement of topics. For a
fundamental basis of such analysis we shall naturally look to the other
arts. Now all the arts agree in being the union of two elements,
abstract and concrete. Music takes sensuous sounds, and adds a purely
abstract element by disposing these sounds in harmonies and melodies;
architecture applies abstract design to a concrete medium of stone and
wood; painting gives us objects of real life arranged in abstract
groupings: in dancing we have moving figures confined in artistic bonds
of rhythm; sculpture traces in still figures ideas of shape and
attitude. So Drama has its two elements of Human Interest and Action: on
the one hand life _presented in action_--so the word 'Drama' may be
translated; on the other hand the _action_ itself, that is, the
concurrence of all that is presented in an abstract unity of design. The
two fundamental divisions of dramatic interest, and consequently the two
fundamental divisions of Dramatic Criticism, will thus be Human Interest
and Action. But each of these has its different sides, the distinction
of which is essential before we can arrive at an arrangement of topics
that will be of practical value in the methodisation of criticism.
[_Twofold division of Human Interest._] The interest of the life
presented is twofold. There is our interest in the separate personages
who enter into it, as so many varieties of the _genus homo_: this is
Interest of _Character_. There is again our interest in the experience
these personages are made to undergo, their conduct and fate:
technically, Interest of _Passion_.

  Human Interest { Character.
                 { Passion.

[_Threefold division of Action._]

It is the same with the other fundamental element of art, the working
together of all the details so as to leave an impression of unity: while
in practice the sense of this unity, say in a piece of music or a play,
is one of the simplest of instincts, yet upon analysis it is seen to
imply three separate mental impressions. The mind, it implies, must be
conscious of a unity. It must also be conscious of a complexity of
details without which the unity could not be perceptible. But the mere
perception of unity and of complexity would give no art-pleasure unless
the unity were seen to be _developed_ out of the complexity, and this
brings in a third idea of progress and gradual _Movement_.

         { Unity.
  Action { Complexity.
         { Development or Movement.

[_Application of the threefold division of Action to the twofold
division of Human Interest._]

Now if we apply the threefold idea involved in Action to the twofold
idea involved in Human Interest we shall get the natural divisions of
dramatic analysis. One element of Human Interest was Character: looking
at this in the threefold aspect which is given to it when it is
connected with Action we shall have to notice the interest of single
characters, or _Character-Interpretation_, the more complex interest of
_Character-Contrast_, and in the third place _Character-Development_.
Applying a similar treatment to the other side of Human Interest,
Passion, we shall review single elements of Passion, that is to say,
_Incidents and Effects_; the mixture of various passions to express which
the term _Passion-Tones_ will be used; and again _Passion-Movement_. But
Action has an interest of its own, considered in the abstract and as
separate from Human Interest. This is _Plot_; and it will lend itself to
the same triple treatment, falling into the natural divisions of _Single
Action_, _Complex Action_, and that development of Plot which
constitutes dramatic _Movement_ in the most important sense. At this
point it is possible only to name these leading topics of Dramatic
Criticism: to explain each, and to trace them further into their lesser
ramifications will be the work of the remaining three chapters.

[_Elementary Topics of Dramatic Criticism._]

                            +--Single Character-Interest, or
                            | _Character-Interpretation_.
               +--Character +--Complex Character-Interest, or
               |            | _Character-Contrast_.
               |            +--_Character-Development._
               |
               |          +--Single Passion-Interest, or
  The Literary |          | _Incident and Effect_.
  Drama        +--Passion +--Complex Passion-Interest, or
               |          | _Passion-Tone_.
               |          +--_Passion-Movement._
               |
               |                +--_Single Action._
               +--Plot (or Pure +--_Complex Action._
                     Action)    +--_Plot-Movement._



XII.

Interest of Character.


[_Unity applied to Character: Character Interpretation._]

OF the main divisions of dramatic interest Character stands first for
consideration: and we are to view it under the three aspects of unity,
complexity, and movement. The application of the idea unity to the idea
character suggests at once our interest in single personages. This
interest becomes more defined when we take into account the medium
through which the personages are presented to us: characters in Drama
are not brought out by abstract discussion or description, but are
presented to us concretely, self-pourtrayed by their own actions without
the assistance of comments from the author.

Accordingly, the leading interest of character is _Interpretation_, the
mental process of turning from the concrete to the abstract: from the
most diverse details of conduct and impression Interpretation extracts a
unity of conception which we call a character. [_Interpretation of the
nature of an hypothesis._] Interpretation when scientifically handled
must be, we have seen, of the nature of an hypothesis, the value of
which depends upon the degree in which it explains whatever details have
any bearing upon the character. Such an hypothesis may be a simple idea:
and we have seen at length how the whole portraiture of Richard
precipitates into the notion of Ideal Villainy, ideal on the subjective
side in an artist who follows crime for its own sake, and on the
objective side in a success that works by fascination. But the student
must beware of the temptation to grasp at epigrammatic labels as
sufficient solutions of character; in the great majority of cases
Interpretation can become complete only by recognising and harmonising
various and even conflicting elements.

[_Canons of Interpretation._]

Incidentally we have noticed some of the principles governing careful
Interpretation. [_It must be Exhaustive._] One of these principles is
that it must take into consideration all that is presented of a
personage. It is unscientific on the face of it to say (as is repeatedly
said) that Shakespeare is 'inconsistent' in ascribing deep musical
sympathies to so thin a character as Lorenzo. Such allegation of
inconsistency means that the process of Interpretation is unfinished; it
can be paralleled only by the astronomer who should complain of eclipses
as 'inconsistent' with his view of the moon's movements. In the
particular case we found no difficulty in harmonising the apparent
conflict: the details of Lorenzo's portraiture fit in well with the not
uncommon type of nature that is so deeply touched by art sensibilities
as to have a languid interest in life outside art. [_It must take in
indirect evidence;_] Again: Interpretation must look for _indirect_
evidence of character, such as the impression a personage seems to have
made on other personages in the story, or the effect of action outside
the field of view. It is impatient induction to pronounce Bassanio
unworthy of Portia merely from comparison of the parts played by the two
in the drama itself. It happens from the nature of the story that the
incidents actually represented in the drama are such as always display
Bassanio in an exceptional and dependent position; but we have an
opportunity of getting to the other side of our hero's character by
observing the attitude held to him by others in the play, an attitude
founded not on the incidents of the drama alone, but upon the sum total
of his life and behaviour in the Venetian world. This gives a very
different impression; and when we take into consideration the force with
which his personality sways all who approach him, from the strong
Antonio and the intellectual Lorenzo to giddy Gratiano and the rough
common sense of Launcelot, then the character comes out in its proper
scale. [_and the degree to which the character is displayed._] As a
third principle, it is perhaps too obvious to be worth formulating that
Interpretation must allow for the degree to which the character is
displayed by the action: that Brutus's frigid eloquence at the funeral
of Cæsar means not coldness of feeling but stoicism of public demeanour.
[_Interpretation reacting on the details._] It is a less obvious
principle that the very details which are to be unified into a
conception of character may have a different complexion given to them
when they are looked at in the light of the whole. It has been noticed
how Richard seems to manifest in some scenes a slovenliness of intrigue
that might be a stumbling-block to the general impression of his
character. But when in our view of him as a whole we see what a large
part is played by the invincibility that is stamped on his very
demeanour, it becomes clear how this slovenliness can be interpreted by
the analyst, and represented by the actor, not as a defect of power, but
as a trick of bearing which measures his own sense of his
irresistibility. Principles like these flow naturally from the
fundamental idea of character and its unity. Their practical use however
will be mainly that of tests for suggested interpretations: to the
actual reading of character in Drama, as in real life, the safest guide
is sympathetic insight.

[_Complexity applied to Character._]

The second element underlying all dramatic effect was complexity; when
complexity is applied to Character we get Character-Contrast.
[_Character-Foils._] In its lowest degree this appears in the form of
_Character-Foils_: by the side of some prominent character is placed
another of less force and interest but cast in the same mould, or
perhaps moulded by the influence of its principal, just as by the side
of a lofty mountain are often to be seen smaller hills of the same
formation. Thus beside Portia is placed Nerissa, beside Bassanio
Gratiano, beside Shylock Tubal; Richard's villainy stands out by
comparison with Buckingham, Hastings, Tyrrel, Catesby, any one of whom
would have given blackness enough to an ordinary drama. It is quite
possible that minute examination may find differences between such
companion figures: but the general effect of the combination is that the
lesser serves as foil to throw up the scale on which the other is
framed. The more pronounced effects of Character-Contrast depend upon
differences of kind as distinguished from differences of degree.
[_Character-Contrast._] In this form it is clear how _Character-Contrast_
is only an extension of Character-Interpretation: it implies that some
single conception explains, that is, gives unity to, the actions of more
than one person. A whole chapter has been devoted to bringing out such
contrast in the case of Lord and Lady Macbeth: to accept these as types
of the practical and inner life, cast in such an age and involved in
such an undertaking, furnishes a conception sufficient to make clear and
intelligible all that the two say and do in the scenes of the drama.
[_Duplication._] Character-Contrast is especially common amongst the
minor effects in a Shakespearean drama. In the case of personages
demanded by the necessities of the story rather than introduced for
their own sake Shakespeare has a tendency to double the number of such
personages for the sake of getting effects of contrast. We have two
unsuccessful suitors in _The Merchant of Venice_ bringing out, the one
the unconscious pride of royal birth, the other the pride of intense
self-consciousness; two wicked daughters of Lear, Goneril with no
shading in her harshness, Regan who is in reality a degree more
calculating in her cruelty than her sister, but conceals it under a
charm of manner, 'eyes that comfort and not burn.' [=iii.= i.] Of the
two princes in _Richard III_ the one has a gravity beyond his years,
while York overflows with not ungraceful pertness. Especially
interesting are the two murderers in that play. [=i.= iv, from 84.] The
first is a dull, 'strong-framed' man, without any better nature. The
second has had culture, and been accustomed to reflect; his better
nature has been vanquished by love of greed, and now asserts itself to
prevent his sinning with equanimity. [110.] It is the second murderer
whose conscience is set in activity by the word 'judgment'; and he
discourses on conscience, deeply, [124-157.] yet not without humour, as
he recognises the power of the expected reward over the oft-vanquished
compunctions. [167.] He catches, as a thoughtful man, the irony of the
duke's cry for wine when they are about to drown him in the butt of
malmsey. [165.] Again, instead of hurrying to the deed while Clarence is
waking he cannot resist the temptation to argue with him, and so, as a
man open to argument, [263.] he feels the force of Clarence's unexpected
suggestion:

                      He that set you on
    To do this deed will hate you for the deed.

Thus he exhibits the weakness of all thinking men in a moment of action,
the capacity to see two sides of a question; and, trying at the critical
moment to alter his course, [284.] he ends by losing the reward of crime
without escaping the guilt.

[_Character-Grouping._]

Character-Contrast is carried forward into _Character-Grouping_ when the
field is still further enlarged, and a single conception is found to
give unity to more than two personages of a drama. A chapter has been
devoted to showing how the same antithesis of outer and inner life which
made the conception of Macbeth and his wife intelligible would serve,
when adapted to the widely different world of Roman political life, to
explain the characters of the leading conspirators in _Julius Cæsar_, of
their victim and of his avenger: while, over and above the satisfaction
of Interpretation, the Grouping of these four figures, so colossal and
so impressive, round a single idea is an interest in itself. [_Dramatic
Colouring._] The effect is carried a stage further still when some
single phase of human interest tends, in a greater or less degree, to
give a common feature to all the personages of a play; the whole
dramatic field is _coloured_ by some idea, though of course the
interpretative significance of such an idea is weakened in proportion to
the area over which it is distributed. The five plays to which our
attention is confined do not afford the best examples of Dramatic
Colouring. It is a point, however, of common remark how the play of
_Macbeth_ is coloured by the superstition and violence of the Dark Ages.
The world of this drama seems given over to powers of darkness who can
read, if not mould, destiny; witchcraft appears as an instrument of
crime and ghostly agency of punishment. We have rebellion without any
suggestion of cause to ennoble it, terminated by executions without the
pomp of justice; we have a long reign of terror in which massacre is a
measure of daily administration and murder is a profession. With all
this there is a total absence of relief in any picture of settled life:
there is no rallying-point for order and purity. The very agent of
retribution gets the impulse to his task in a reaction from a shock of
bereavement that has come down upon him as a natural punishment for an
act of indecisive folly.

[compare =iv.= iii. 26; =iv.= ii. 1-22.]

There are, then, three different effects that arise when complexity
enters into Character-Interest. The complexity is one never separable
from the unity which binds it together: in the first effect the
diversity is stronger than the unity, and the whole manifests itself as
Character-Contrast; in Character-Grouping the contrast of the separate
figures is an equal element with the unity which binds them all into a
group; in the third case the diversity is lost in the unity, and a
uniformity of colouring is seized by the dramatic sense as an effect
apart from the individual varieties without which such colouring would
not be remarkable.

[_Movement applied to Character: Character-Development._]

When to Character-Interpretation, the formation of a single conception
out of a multitude of concrete details, the further idea of growth and
progress is added, we get the third variety of Character-Interest--
_Character-Development_. In the preceding chapters this has received
only negative notice, its absence being a salient feature in the
portraiture of Richard. For a positive illustration no better example
could be desired than the character of Macbeth. Three features, we have
seen, stand out clear in the general conception of Macbeth. There is his
eminently practical nature, which is the key to the whole. And the
absence in him of the inner life adds two special features: one is his
helplessness under suspense, the other is the activity of his
imagination with its susceptibility to supernatural terrors. Now, if we
fix our attention on these three points they become three threads of
development as we trace Macbeth through the stages of his career. His
practical power developes as capacity for crime. Macbeth undertook his
first crime only after a protracted and terrible struggle; the murder of
the grooms was a crime of impulse; the murder of Banquo appears a thing
of contrivance, in which Macbeth is a deliberate planner directing the
agency of others, [=iii.= ii. 40, &c.] while his dark hints to his wife
suggest the beginning of a relish for such deeds. This capacity for
crime continues to grow, until slaughter becomes an end in itself:

[=iv.= iii. 4.]

                    Each new morn
    New widows howl, new orphans cry:

and then a mania:

[=v.= ii. 13.]

    Some say he's mad; others that lesser hate him
    Do call it valiant fury.

We see a parallel development in Macbeth's impatience of suspense. Just
after his first temptation he is able to brace himself to suspense for
an indefinite period:

[=i.= iii. 143.]

    If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me,
    Without my stir.

[=i.= vii.]

On the eve of his great crime the suspense of the few hours that must
intervene before the banquet can be despatched and Duncan can retire
becomes intolerable to Macbeth, and he is for abandoning the treason.
In the next stage it is the suspense of a single moment that impels him
to stab the grooms. From this point suspense no longer comes by fits and
starts, but is a settled disease: [=iii.= ii. 13, 36, &c.] his mind is
as scorpions; it is tortured in restless ecstasy. Suspense has
undermined his judgment and brought on him the gambler's fever--the
haunting thought that just one more venture will make him safe; in spite
of the opposition of his reason--[=iii.= ii. 45.] which his
unwillingness to confide the murder of Banquo to his wife betrays--he is
carried on to work the additional crime which unmasks the rest. And
finally suspense intensifies to a panic, and he himself feels that his
deeds--

[=iii.= iv. 140.]

    must be acted ere they may be scann'd.

The third feature in Macbeth is the quickening of his sensitiveness to
the supernatural side by side with the deadening of his conscience.
Imagination becomes, as it were, a pictorial conscience for one to whom
its more rational channels have been closed: the man who 'would jump the
world to come' accepts implicitly every word that falls from a witch.
Now this imagination is at first a restraining force in Macbeth: [=i.=
iii. 134.] the thought whose image unfixes his hair leads him to abandon
the treason. When later he has, under pressure, delivered himself again
to the temptation, there are still signs that imagination is a force on
the other side that has to be overcome:

[=i.= iv. 50.]

                      Stars, hide your fires;
    Let not light see my black and deep desires:
    The eye wink at the hand.

Once passed the boundary of the accomplished deed he becomes an absolute
victim to terrors of conscience in supernatural form. [=ii.= ii. 22-46.]
In the very first moment they reach so near the boundary that separates
subjective and objective that a real voice appears to be denouncing the
issue of his crime:

    _Macbeth._ Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more.'...
    _Lady M._ Who was it that thus cried?

In the reaction from the murder of Banquo the supernatural
appearance--which no eye sees but his own--[=iii.= iv.] appears more
real to him than the real life around him. And from this point he
_seeks_ the supernatural, [=iv.= i. 48.] forces it to disclose its
terrors, and thrusts himself into an agonised vision of generations that
are to witness the triumph of his foes.



XIII.

INTEREST OF PASSION.


[PASSION.]

HUMAN Interest includes not only varieties of human nature, or
Character, but also items of human experience, or Passion. Passion is
the second great topic of Dramatic Criticism. It is concerned with the
life that is lived through the scenes of the story, as distinguished
from the personages who live it; not treating this with the abstract
treatment that belongs to Plot, but reviewing it in the light of its
human interest; it embraces conduct still alive with the motives which
have actuated it--fate in the process of forging. The word 'passion'
signifies primarily what is suffered of good or bad; secondarily the
emotions generated by suffering, whether in the sufferer or in
bystanders. Its use as a dramatic term thus suggests how in Drama an
experience can be grasped by us through our emotional nature, through
our sympathy, our antagonism, and all the varieties of emotional
interest that lie between. To this Passion we have to apply the
threefold division of unity, complexity, and movement.

[_Unity applied to Passion._]

When unity is applied to Passion we get a series of details bound
together into a singleness of impression as an Incident, a Situation, or
an Effect. The distinction of the three rests largely on their different
degrees of fragmentariness. [_Incident._] _Incidents_ are groups of
continuous details forming a complete interest in themselves as
ministering to our sense of story. The suit of Shylock against Antonio
in the course of which fate swings right round; the murder of Clarence
with its long-drawn agony; Richard and Buckingham with the Lord Mayor
and Citizens exhibiting a picture of political manipulation in the
fifteenth century; the startling sight of a Lady Anne wooed beside the
bier of her murdered husband's murdered father, by a murderer who rests
his suit on the murders themselves; Banquo's Ghost appearing at the
feast at which Banquo's presence had been so vehemently called for;
Lear's faithful Gloucester so brutally blinded and so instantly
avenged:--all these are complete stories presented in a single view, and
suggest how Shakespeare's dramas are constructed out of materials which
are themselves dramas in miniature. [_Situation._] In _Situation_, on
the other hand, a series of details cohere into a single impression
without losing the sense of incompleteness. The two central personages
of _The Merchant of Venice_, around whom brightness and gloom have been
revolving in such contrast, at last brought to face one another from the
judgment-seat and the dock; Lorenzo and Jessica wrapped in moonlight and
music, with the rest of the universe for the hour blotted out into a
background for their love; Margaret like an apparition of the sleeping
Nemesis of Lancaster flashed into the midst of the Yorkist courtiers
while they are bickering through very wantonness of victory; Shylock
pitted against Tubal, Jew against Jew, the nature not too narrow to mix
affection with avarice, mocked from passion to passion by the nature
only wide enough to take in greed; Richard waking on Bosworth morning,
and miserably piecing together the wreck of his invincible will which a
sleeping vision has shattered; Macbeth's moment of rapture in following
the airy dagger, while the very night holds its breath, to break out
again presently into voices of doom; the panic mist of universal
suspicion amidst which Malcolm blasts his own character to feel after
the fidelity of Macduff; Edgar from his ambush of outcast idiocy
watching the sad marvel of his father's love restored to him:--all these
brilliant Situations are fragments of dramatic continuity in which the
fragmentariness is a part of the interest. Just as the sense of
sculpture might seek to arrest and perpetuate a casual moment in the
evolutions of a dance, so in Dramatic Situation the mind is conscious of
isolating something from what precedes and what follows so as to extract
out of it an additional impression; the morsel has its purpose in
ministering to a complete process of digestion, but it gets a sensation
of its own by momentary delay in contact with the palate.

[_Effect._]

Of a still more fragmentary nature is _Dramatic Effect_--Effect strictly
so called, and as distinguished from the looser use of the term for
dramatic impressions in general. Such Effect seems to attach itself to
single momentary details, though in reality these details owe their
impressiveness to their connection with others: the final detail has
completed an electric circle and a shock is given. No element of the
Drama is of so miscellaneous a character and so defies analysis: all
that can be done here is to notice three special Dramatic Effects.
[_Irony as an Effect._] _Dramatic Irony_ is a sudden appearance of
double-dealing in surrounding events: a dramatic situation accidentally
starts up and produces a shock by its bearing upon conflicting states of
affairs, both known to the audience, but one of them hidden from some of
the parties to the scene. This is the special contribution to dramatic
effect of Greek tragedy. The ancient stage was tied down in its
subject-matter to stories perfectly familiar to the audience as sacred
legends, and so almost excluding the effect of surprise: in Irony it
found some compensation. The ancient tragedies harp upon human blindness
to the future, and delight to exhibit a hero speculating about, or
struggling with, or perhaps in careless talk stumbling upon, the final
issue of events which the audience know so well--Oedipus, for example,
through great part of a play moving heaven and earth to pierce the
mystery of the judgment that has come upon his city, while according to
the familiar sacred story the offender can be none other than himself.
Shakespeare has used to almost as great an extent as the Greek
dramatists this effect of Irony. His most characteristic handling of it
belongs to the lighter plays; yet in the group of dramas dealt with in
this work it is prominent amongst his effects. It has been pointed out
how _Macbeth_ and _Richard III_ are saturated with it. There are casual
illustrations in _Julius Cæsar_, as when the dictator bids his intended
murderer

[=ii.= ii. 123.]

    Be near me, that I may remember you;

or in _Lear_, when Edmund, intriguing guiltily with Goneril, in a chance
expression of tenderness unconsciously paints the final issue of that
intrigue:

[=iv.= ii. 25.]

    Yours in the ranks of death!

A comic variety of Irony occurs in the Trial Scene of _The Merchant of
Venice_, [=iv.= i. 282.] when Bassanio and Gratiano in their distracted
grief are willing to sacrifice their new wives if this could save their
friend--little thinking these wives are so near to record the vow. The
doubleness of Irony is one which attaches to a situation as a whole:
[=iii.= ii. 60-73.] the effect however is especially keen when a scene
is so impregnated with it that the very language is true in a double
sense.

    _Catesby._ 'Tis a vile thing to die, my gracious lord,
        When men are unprepared and look not for it.

    _Hastings._ O monstrous, monstrous! and so falls it out
        With Rivers, Vaughan, Grey: _and so 'twill do
        With some men else, who think themselves as safe
        As thou and I._

[_Nemesis as an Effect._]

_Nemesis_, though usually extending to the general movement of a drama,
and so considered below, may sometimes be only an effect of detail--a
sign connecting very closely retribution with sin or reaction with
triumph. [=v.= iii. 45.] Such a Nemesis may be seen where Cassius in the
act of falling on his sword recognises the weapon as the same with which
he stabbed Cæsar. [_Dramatic Foreshadowing._] Another special variety of
effect is _Dramatic Foreshadowing_--mysterious details pointing to an
explanation in the sequel, a realisation in action of the saying that
coming events cast their shadows before them. [=i.= i. 1.] The
unaccountable 'sadness' of Antonio at the opening of _The Merchant of
Venice_ is a typical illustration. [=iii.= i. 68.] Others will readily
suggest themselves--[=i.= i. 39.] the Prince's shuddering aversion to
the Tower in _Richard III_, [=v.= i. 77-90.] the letter G that of
Edward's heirs the murderer should be, the crows substituted for
Cassius's eagles on the morning of the final battle. A more elaborate
example is seen in _Julius Cæsar_, [=i.= ii. 18.] where the soothsayer's
vague warning 'Beware the Ides of March'--a solitary voice that could
yet arrest the hero through the shouting of the crowd--is later on
found, not to have become dissipated, but to have gathered definiteness
as the moment comes nearer:

[=iii.= i. 1.]

    _Cæsar._ The Ides of March are come.
    _Soothsayer._ Ay, Cæsar; but not gone.

These three leading Effects may be sufficient to illustrate a branch of
dramatic analysis in which the variety is endless.

[_Complexity applied to Passion._]

We are next to consider the application of complexity to Passion, and
the contrasts of passion that so arise. Here care is necessary to avoid
confusion with a complexity of passion that hardly comes within the
sphere of dramatic criticism. [=iii.= i.] In the scene in which Shylock
is being teased by Tubal it is easy to note the conflict between the
passions of greed and paternal affection: such analysis is outside
dramatic criticism and belongs to psychology. In its dramatic sense
Passion applies to experience, not decomposed into its emotional
elements, but grasped as a whole by our emotional nature: there is still
room for complexity of such passion in the appeal made _to different
sides of our emotional nature, the serious and the gay_.
[_Passion-Tone._] In dealing with this element of dramatic effect a
convenient technical term is _Tone_. The deep insight of metaphorical
word-coining has given universal sanction to the expression of emotional
differences by analogies of music: our emotional nature is exalted with
mirth and depressed with sorrow, we speak of a chord of sympathy, a
strain of triumph, a note of despair; we are in a serious mood, or pitch
our appeal in a higher key. These expressions are clearly musical, and
there is probably a half association of music in many others, such as a
theme of sorrow, acute anguish and profound despair, response of
gratitude, or even the working of our feelings. Most exactly to the
purpose is a phrase of frequent occurrence, the 'gamut of the passions,'
which brings out with emphasis how our emotional nature in its capacity
for different kinds of impressions suggests a _scale_ of
passion-contrasts, [_Scale of Passion-Tones._] not to be sharply defined
but shading off into one another like the tones of a musical
scale--Tragic, Heroic, Serious, Elevated, Light, Comic, Farcical. It is
with such complexity of tones that Dramatic Passion is concerned.

[_Mixture of Tones:_]

Now the mere _Mixture of Tones_ is an effect in itself. For the present
I am not referring to the combination of one tone with another in the
same incident (which will be treated as a distinct variety): I apply it
more widely to the inclusion of different tones in the field of the same
play. Such mixture is best illustrated by music, which gives us an
adagio and an allegro, a fantastic scherzo and a pompous march, within
the same symphony or sonata, though in separate movements. In _The
Merchant of Venice_, as often in plays of Shakespeare, every tone in the
scale is represented. [=iv.= i.] When Antonio is enduring through the
long suspense, and triumphant malignity is gaining point after point
against helpless friendship, we have travelled far into the Tragic;
[=iv.= i. 184.] the woman-nature of Portia calling Venetian justice from
judicial murder to the divine prerogative of mercy throws in a touch of
the Heroic; a great part of what centres around Shylock, [=ii.= v;
=iii.= i, &c.] when he is crushing the brightness out of Jessica or
defying the Christian world, is pitched in the Serious strain; [=ii.= i,
vii; =ii.= ix.] the incidents of the unsuccessful suitors, the warm
exuberance of Oriental courtesy and the less grateful loftiness of
Spanish family pride, might be a model for the Elevated drama of the
English Restoration; [=i.= i, &c.] the infinite nothings of Gratiano,
prince of diners-out, [=i.= ii.] the more piquant small talk of Portia
and Nerissa when they criticise the man-world from the secrecy of a
maiden-bower--these throw a tone of Lightness over their sections of the
drama; [=ii.= ii, iii; =iii.= v, &c.] Launcelot is an incarnation of the
conventional Comic serving-man, [=ii.= ii, from 34.] and his Comedy
becomes broad Farce where he teases the sand-blind Gobbo and draws him
on to bless his astonishing beard. [_a distinction of the modern
Drama._] How distinct an effect is this mere Mixture of Tones within the
same play may be seen in the fact that the Classical Drama found it
impossible. The exclusive and uncompromising spirit of antiquity carried
caste into art itself, and their Tragedy and Comedy were kept rigidly
separate, and indeed were connected with different rituals. The spirit
of modern life is marked by its comprehensiveness and reconciliation of
opposites; and nothing is more important in dramatic history than the
way in which Shakespeare and his contemporaries created a new departure
in art, by seizing upon the rude jumble of sport and earnest which the
mob loved, and converting it into a source of stirring passion-effects.
For a new faculty of mental grasp is generated by this harmony of tones
in the English Drama. If the artist introduces every tone into the story
he thereby gets hold of every tone in the spectators' emotional nature;
the world of the play is presented from every point of view as it works
upon the various passions, and the difference this makes is the
difference between simply looking down upon a surface and viewing a
solid from all round:--the mixture of tones, so to speak, makes passion
of three dimensions. Moreover it brings the world of fiction nearer to
the world of nature, which has never yet evolved an experience in which
brightness was dissevered from gloom: half the pleasure of the world is
wrung out of others' pain; the two jostle in the street, house together
under every roof, share every stage of life, and refuse to be sundered
even in the mysteries of death.

Quite a distinct class of effects is produced when the contrasting tones
are not only included in the same drama but are further brought into
immediate contact and made to react upon each other. [_Tone-Play._]
_Tone-Play_ is made by simple variety and alternation of light and
serious passions. It has been pointed out in a previous chapter what a
striking example of this is _The Merchant of Venice_, in which scene by
scene two stories of youthful love and of deadly feud alternate with one
another as they progress to their climaxes, [=iii.= ii. 221.] until from
the rapture of Portia united to Bassanio we drop to the full realisation
of Antonio in the grasp of Shylock; and again the cruel anxiety of the
trial [=iv.= i. 408.] and its breathless shock of deliverance are
balanced by the mad fun of the ring trick [=v.= i.] and the joy of the
moonlight scene which Jessica feels is too deep for merriment.
[_Tone-Relief._] A slight variation of this is _Tone-Relief_: in an
action which is cast in a uniform tone the continuity is broken by a
brief spell of a contrary passion, the contrast at once relieving and
intensifying the prevailing tone. One of the best examples
(notwithstanding its coarseness) is the introduction in _Macbeth_ of the
jolly Porter, [=ii.= iii. 1.] who keeps the impatient nobles outside in
the storm till his jest is comfortably finished, making each furious
knock fit in to his elaborate conceit of Hell-gate. This tone of broad
farce, with nothing else like it in the whole play, comes as a single
ray of common daylight to separate the agony of the dark night's murder
from the agony of the struggle for concealment. [_Tone-Clash._] The
mixture of tones goes a stage further when opposing tones of passion
_clash_ in the same incident and are _fused_ together. These terms are,
I think, scarcely metaphorical: as a physiological fact we see our
physical susceptibility to pleasurable and painful emotions drawn into
conflict with one another in the phenomena of hysteria; and their mental
analogues must be capable of much closer union. As examples of these
effects resting upon an appeal to opposite sides of our emotional
nature at the same time may be instanced the flash of comic irony,
[=iv.= i. 288, &c.] already referred to more than once, that starts up
in the most pathetic moment of Antonio's trial by his friend's allusion
to his newly wedded wife. Of the same double nature are the strokes of
pathetic humour in this play; [=iii.= iii. 32.] as where Antonio
describes himself so worn with grief that he will hardly spare a pound
of flesh to his bloody creditor; or again his pun,

[=iv.= i. 280.]

          For if the Jew do cut but deep enough
    I'll pay it presently with all my heart!

Shakespeare is very true to nature in thus borrowing the language of
word-play to express suffering so exquisite as to leave sober language
far behind. [_Tone-Storm._] Finally Tone-Clash rises into _Tone-Storm_
in such rare climaxes as the centrepiece of _Lear_, [=iii.= i-vi.] where
against a tempest of nature as a fitting background we have the conflict
of three madnesses, passion, idiocy, and folly, bidding against one
another, and inflaming each other's wildness into an inextricable whirl
of frenzy.

[_Movement applied to Passion._]

The idea of movement has next to be applied to Passion. Passion is
experience as grasped by our emotional nature: this will be sensitive
not only to isolated fragments of experience, but equally to the
succession of incidents. The movement of events will produce a
corresponding movement in our emotional nature as this is variously
affected by them; and as the succession of incidents seems to take
direction so the play of our sympathies will seem to take form. Again,
events cannot succeed one another without suggesting causes at work and
controlling forces: when such causes and forces are of a nature to work
upon our sympathy another element of Passion will appear. [_Motive Form
and Motive Force._] Under Passion-Movement then are comprehended two
things--_Motive Form_ and _Motive Force_. [page 278.] The first of these
is a thing in which two of the great elements of Drama, Passion, and
Plot, overlap, and it will be best considered in connection with Plot
which takes in dramatic form as a whole. Here we have to consider the
Motive Forces of dramatic passion. The dramatist is, as it were, a God
in his universe, and disposes the ultimate issues of human experience at
his pleasure: what then are the principles which are found to have
governed his ordering of events? to personages in a drama what are the
great determinants of fate?

[_Poetic Justice a form of art-beauty._]

The first of the great determinants of fate in the Drama is _Poetic
Justice_. What exactly is the meaning of this term? It is often
understood to mean the correction of justice, as if justice in poetry
were more just than the justice of real life. But this is not supported
by the facts of dramatic story. An English judge and jury would revolt
against measuring out to Shylock the justice that is meted to him by the
court of Venice, though the same persons beholding the scene in a
theatre might feel their sense of Poetic Justice satisfied; unless,
indeed, which might easily happen, the confusion of ideas suggested by
this term operated to check their acquiescence in the issue of the play.
A better notion of Poetic Justice is to understand it as the
modification of justice by considerations of art. This holds good even
where justice and retribution do determine the fate of individuals in
the Drama; in these cases our dramatic satisfaction still rests, not on
the high degree of justice exhibited, but on the artistic mode in which
it works. A policeman catching a thief with his hand in a neighbour's
pocket and bringing him to summary punishment affords an example of
complete justice, yet its very success robs it of all poetic qualities;
the same thief defeating all the natural machinery of the law, yet
overtaken after all by a questionable ruse would be to the poetic sense
far more interesting.

[_Nemesis as a dramatic motive._]

Treating Poetic Justice, then, as the application of art to morals, its
most important phase will be _Nemesis_, which we have already seen
involves an artistic link between sin and retribution. The artistic
connection may be of the most varied description. [_Varieties of
Nemesis._] There is a Nemesis of perfect equality, Shylock reaping
measure for measure as he has sown. [compare =iii.= i. 118 and 165.]
When Nemesis overtook the Roman conspirators it was partly its
suddenness that made it impressive: within fifty lines of their appeal
to all time they have fallen into an attitude of deprecation. For
Richard, on the contrary, retribution was delayed to the last moment: to
have escaped to the eleventh hour is shown to be no security.

               Jove strikes the Titans down
    Not when they first begin their mountain piling,
    But when another rock would crown their work.

Nemesis may be emphasised by repetition and multiplication; in the world
in which Richard is plunged there appears to be no event which is not a
nemesis. Or the point may be the unlooked-for source from which the
nemesis comes; as when upon the murder of Cæsar a colossus of energy and
resource starts up in the time-serving and frivolous Antony, [=ii.= i.
165.] whom the conspirators had spared for his insignificance. Or again,
retribution may be made bitter to the sinner by his tracing in it his
own act and deed: from Lear himself, and from no other source, Goneril
and Regan have received the power they use to crush his spirit. Nay, the
very prize for which the sinner has sinned turns out in some cases the
nemesis fate has provided for him; as when Goneril and Regan use their
ill-gotten power for the state intrigues which work their death. And
most keenly pointed of all comes the nemesis that is combined with
mockery: [=iii.= i. 49.] Macbeth, if he had not essayed the murder of
Banquo as an _extra_ precaution, might have enjoyed his stolen crown in
safety; [=iv.= iii. 219.] his expedition against Macduff's castle slays
all _except_ the fate-appointed avenger; [=iv.= ii. 46.] Richard
disposes of his enemies with flawless success until _the last_, Dorset,
escapes to his rival.

Such is Nemesis, and such are some of the modes in which the connection
between sin and retribution may be made artistically impressive. Poetic
Justice, however, is a wider term than Nemesis. The latter implies some
offence, as an occasion for the operation of judicial machinery.
[_Poetic Justice other than Nemesis._] But, apart from sin, fate may be
out of accord with character, and the correction of this ill
distribution will satisfy the dramatic sense. But here again the
practice of dramatic providence appears regulated, not with a view to
abstract justice, but to justice modified by dramatic sympathy: Poetic
Justice extends to the exhibition of fate moving in the interests of
those with whom we sympathise and to the confusion of those with whom we
are in antagonism. [=iv.= i. 346-363.] Viewed as a piece of equity the
sentence on Shylock--a plaintiff who has lost his suit by an accident of
statute-law--seems highly questionable. On the other hand, this sentence
brings a fortune to a girl who has won our sympathies in spite of her
faults; it makes provision for those for whom there is a dramatic
necessity of providing; above all it is in accord with our secret liking
that good fortune should go with the bright and happy, and sever itself
from the mean and sordid. Whether this last is justice, I will not
discuss: it is enough that it is one of the instincts of the
imagination, and in creative literature justice must pay tribute to art.

[_Pathos as a dramatic motive._]

But however widely the term be stretched, justice is only one of the
determinants of fate in the Drama: confusion on this point has led to
many errors of criticism. The case of Cordelia is in point. Because she
is involved in the ruin of Lear it is felt by some commentators that a
consideration of justice must be sought to explain her death: they find
it perhaps in her original resistance to her father; or the ingenious
suggestion has been made that Cordelia, in her measures to save her
father, invades England, and this breach of patriotism needs atonement.
But this is surely twisting the story to an explanation, not extracting
an explanation from the details of the story. It would be a violation of
all dramatic proportion, needing the strongest evidence from the details
of the play, if Cordelia's 'most small fault' betrayed her to dramatic
execution. [=iv.= iv. 27.] And as to the sin against patriotism, the
whole notion of it is foreign to the play itself, [=ii.= ii. 170-177[4];
=iii.= i, v.] in which the truest patriots, such as Kent and Gloucester,
are secretly confederate with Cordelia and look upon her as the hope of
their unhappy country; [=iv.= ii. 2-10 (compare 55, 95); =v.= i. 21-27.]
while even Albany himself, however necessary he finds it to repel the
invader, yet distinctly feels that justice is on the other side. The
fact is that in Cordelia's case, as in countless other cases, motives
determine fate which have in them no relation to justice; fiction being
in this matter in harmony with real life, where in only a minority of
instances can we recognise any element of justice or injustice as
entering into the fates of individuals. When in real life a little child
dies, what consideration of justice is there that bears on such an
experience? Nevertheless there is an irresistible sense of beauty in
the idea of the fleeting child-life arrested while yet in its
completeness, before the rude hand of time has begun to trace lines of
passion or hardness; the parent indeed may not feel this in the case of
his own child, but in art, where there is no mist of individual feeling
to blind, the sense of beauty comes out stronger than the sense of loss.
It is the mission of the Drama thus to interpret the beauty of fate: it
seeks, as Aristotle puts it, to purify our emotions by healthy exercise.
The Drama does with human experience what Painting does with external
nature. There are landscapes whose beauty is obvious to all; but it is
one of the privileges of the artist to reveal the charm that lies in the
most ordinary scenery, until the ideal can be recognised everywhere, and
nature itself becomes art. Similarly there are striking points in life,
such as the vindication of justice, which all can catch: but it is for
the dramatist, as the artist in life, to arrange the experience he
depicts so as to bring out the hidden beauties of fate, until the
trained eye sees a meaning in all that happens;--until indeed the word
'suffering' itself has only to be translated into its Greek equivalent,
and _pathos_ is recognised as a form of beauty. Accumulation of Pathos
then must be added to Poetic Justice as a determinant of fate in the
Drama. And our sensitiveness to this form of beauty is nowhere more
signally satisfied than when we see Cordelia dead in the arms of Lear:
fate having mysteriously seconded her self-devotion, and nothing, not
even her life, being left out to make her sacrifice complete.

[_The Supernatural as a dramatic motive._]

There remains a third great determinant of fate in the Drama--the
Supernatural. I have in a former chapter pointed out how in relation to
this topic the modern Drama stands in a different position from that of
ancient Tragedy. In the Drama of antiquity the leading motive forces
were supernatural, either the secret force of Destiny, or the
interposition of supernatural beings who directly interfered with human
events. We are separated from this view of life by a revolution of
thought which has substituted Providence for Destiny as the controller
of the universe, and absorbed the supernatural within the domain of Law.
[_The Supernatural rationalised in modern Drama._] Yet elements that had
once entered so deeply into the Drama would not be easily lost to the
machinery of Passion-Movement; supernatural agency has a degree of
recognition in modern thought, and even Destiny may still be utilised if
it can be stripped of antagonism to the idea of a benevolent Providence.
To begin with the latter: the problem for a modern dramatist is to
reconcile Destiny with Law. The characteristics which made the ancient
conception of fate dramatically impressive--its irresistibility, its
unintelligibility, and its suggestion of personal hostility--he may
still insinuate into the working of events: only the destiny must be
rationalised, that is, the course of events must at the same time be
explicable by natural causes.

[_As an objective force in Irony._]

First: Shakespeare gives us Destiny acting objectively, as an external
force, in the form of _Irony_, already discussed in connection with the
standard illustration of it in _Macbeth_. In the movement of this play
Destiny appears in the most pronounced form of mockery: every difficulty
and check being in the issue converted into an instrument for furthering
the course of events. Yet this mockery is wholly without any suggestion
of malignity in the governing power of the universe; its effect being
rather to measure the irresistibility of righteous retribution. This
Irony makes just the difference between the ordinary operations of Law
or Providence and the suggestion of Destiny: yet each step in the action
is sufficiently explained by rational considerations. [=i.= iv. 37.]
What more natural than that Duncan should proclaim his son heir-apparent
to check any hopes that too successful service might excite? [=i.= iv.
48.] Yet what more natural than that this loss of Macbeth's remote
chance of the crown should be the occasion of his resolve no longer to
be content with chances? [=ii.= iii. 141.] What more natural than that
the sons of the murdered king should take flight upon the revelation of
a treason useless to its perpetrator as long as they were living? Yet
what again more natural than that the momentary reaction consequent upon
this flight should, [=ii.= iv. 21-41.] in the general fog of suspicion
and terror, give opportunity to the object of universal dread himself to
take the reins of government? The Irony is throughout no more than a
garb worn by rational history.

[_As a subjective force in Infatuation._]

Or, again, Destiny may be exhibited as a subjective force in
_Infatuation_, or _Judicial Blindness_: 'whom the gods would destroy
they first blind.' This was a conception specially impressive to ancient
ethics; the lesson it gathered from almost every great fall was that of
a spiritual darkening which hid from the sinner his own danger, obvious
to every other eye, till he had been tempted beyond the possibility of
retreat.

    Falling in frenzied guilt, he knows it not;
        So thick the blinding cloud
    That o'er him floats; and Rumour widely spread
    With many a sigh repeats the dreary doom,
        A mist that o'er the house
        In gathering darkness broods.

Such Infatuation is very far from being inconsistent with the idea of
Law; indeed, it appears repeatedly in the strong figures of Scriptural
speech, by which the ripening of sin to its own destruction--a merciful
law of a righteously-ordered universe--is suggested as the direct act of
Him who is the founder of the universe and its laws. By such figures God
is represented as hardening Pharaoh's heart; or, again, an almost
technical description of Infatuation is put by the fervour of prophecy
into the mouth of God:

    Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and
    shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their
    ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

[=v.= viii. 13.]

In the case of Macbeth the judicial blindness is maintained to the last
moment, and he pauses in the final combat to taunt Macduff with certain
destruction. Yet, while we thus get the full dramatic effect of
Infatuation, it is so far rationalised that we are allowed to see the
machinery by which the Infatuation has been brought about: [=iii.= v.
16.] we have heard the Witches arrange to deceive Macbeth with false
oracles. A very dramatic, but wholly natural, example of Infatuation
appears at the turning-point of Richard's career, where, when he has
just discovered that Richmond is the point from which the storm of
Nemesis threatens to break upon him, [=iv.= ii. 98, &c.] prophecies
throng upon his memory which might have all his life warned him of this
issue, had he not been blind to them till this moment. [=i.= iii. 131.]
Again, Antonio's challenge to Shylock to do his worst is, as I have
already pointed out, an outburst of _hybris_, the insolence of
Infatuation: but this is no more than a natural outcome of a conflict
between two implacable temperaments. In Infatuation, then, as in all its
other forms, Destiny is exhibited by Shakespeare as harmonised with
natural law.

[_Supernatural agencies._]

Besides Destiny the Shakespearean Drama admits direct supernatural
agencies--witches, ghosts, apparitions, as well as portents and
violations of natural law. It appears to me idle to contend that these
in Shakespeare are not really supernatural, but must be interpreted as
delusions of their victims. There may be single cases, such as the
appearance of Banquo to Macbeth, where, as no eye sees it but his own,
the apparition may be resolved into an hallucination. But to determine
Shakespeare's general practice it is enough to point to the Ghost in
_Hamlet_, which, as seen by three persons at once and on separate
occasions, is indisputably objective: and a single instance is
sufficient to establish the assumption in the Shakespearean Drama of
supernatural beings with a real existence. Zeal for Shakespeare's
rationality is a main source of the opposite view; but for the
assumption of such supernatural existences the responsibility lies not
with Shakespeare, but with the opinion of the age he is pourtraying. A
more important question is how far Shakespeare uses such supernatural
agency as a motive force in his plays; how far does he allow it to enter
into the working of events, for the interpretation of which he is
responsible? On this point Shakespeare's usage is clear and subtle: he
uses the agency of the supernatural to intensify and to illuminate human
action, not to determine it.

[_Intensifying human action._]

Supernatural agency intensifying human action is illustrated in
_Macbeth_. No one can seriously doubt the objective existence of the
Witches in this play, or that they are endowed with superhuman sources
of knowledge. But the question is, do they in reality turn Macbeth to
crime? In one of the chapters devoted to this play I have dwelt on the
importance of the point that Macbeth has been already meditating treason
in his heart when he meets the Witches on the heath. His secret
thoughts--which he betrays in his guilty start--[=i.= iii. 51.] have
been an invitation to the powers of evil, and they have obeyed the
summons: Macbeth has already ventured a descent, and they add an impulse
downward. To bring this out the more clearly, Shakespeare keeps Banquo
side by side with Macbeth through the critical stages of the temptation:
Banquo has made no overtures to temptation, and to him the tempters have
no mission. It is noticeable that where the two warriors meet the
Witches on the heath it is Banquo who begins the conversation.

[=i.= iii. 38-50.]

    _Banquo._ How far is 't called to Forres?

No answer. The silence attracts his attention to those he is addressing.

                            What are these
    So wither'd and so wild in their attire,
    That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth,
    And yet are on 't?

Still no answer.

                     Live you? or are you aught
    That man may question?

They signify in dumb show that they may not answer.

                   You seem to understand me,
    By each at once her chappy finger laying
    Upon her skinny lips: you should be women,
    And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
    That you are so.

Still he can draw no answer. At last Macbeth chimes in:

    Speak, if you can: what are you?

The tamperer with temptation has spoken, and in a moment they break out,
'All hail, Macbeth!' and ply their supernatural task. [57.] Later on in
the scene, when directly challenged by Banquo, they do respond and give
out an oracle for him. But into his upright mind the poison-germs of
insight into the future fall harmlessly; it is because Macbeth is
already tainted that these breed in him a fever of crime. [=iii.= v. and
=iv.= i.] In the second incident of the Witches, so far from their being
the tempters, it is Macbeth who seeks them and forces from them
knowledge of the future. Yet, even here, what is the actual effect of
their revelation upon Macbeth? It is, like that of his air-drawn dagger,
only to marshal him along the way that he is going. [=iv.= i. 74.] They
bid him beware Macduff: he answers, 'Thou hast harp'd my fear aright.'
They give him preternatural pledges of safety: are these a help to him
in enjoying the rewards of sin? [=iv.= iii. 4, &c.] On the contrary, as
a matter of fact we find Macbeth, in panic of suspicion, seeking
security by means of daily butchery; the oracles have produced in him
confidence enough to give agony to the bitterness of his betrayal, but
not such confidence as to lead him to dispense with a single one of the
natural bulwarks to tyranny. The function of the Witches throughout the
action of this play is exactly expressed by a phrase Banquo uses in
connection with them: [=i.= iii. 124.] they are only 'instruments of
darkness,' assisting to carry forward courses of conduct initiated
independently of them. Macbeth has made the destiny which the Witches
reveal.

[_Illuminating human action._]

Again, supernatural agency is used to illuminate human action: the
course of events in a drama not ceasing to obey natural causes, but
becoming, by the addition of the supernatural agency, endowed with a new
art-beauty. [_The Oracular Action._] The great example of this is the
_Oracular Action_. This important element of dramatic effect--how it
consists in the working out of Destiny from mystery to clearness, and
the different forms it assumes--has been discussed at length in a former
chapter. The question here is, how far do we find such superhuman
knowledge used as a force in the movement of events? As Shakespeare
handles oracular machinery, the conditions of natural working in the
course of events are not in the least degree altered by the revelation
of the future. The actor's belief (or disbelief) in the oracle may be
one of the circumstances which have influenced his action--as it would
have done in the real life of the age--but to the spectator, to whom the
Drama is to reveal the real governing forces of the world, the oracular
action is presented not as a force but as a light. It gives to a course
of events the illumination that can be in actual fact given to it by
History, the office of which is to make each detail of a story
interesting in the light of the explanation that comes when all the
details are complete. Only it uses the supernatural agency to project
this illumination into the midst of the events themselves, which History
cannot give till they are concluded; and also it carries the art-effect
of such illumination a stage further than History could carry it, by
making it progressive in intelligibility, and making this progress keep
pace with the progress of the events themselves. Fate will allow none
but Macduff to be the slayer of Macbeth. True: but Macduff (who moreover
knows nothing of his destiny) is the most deeply injured of Macbeth's
subjects, and as a fact we find it needs the news of his injury to rouse
him to his task; [=iv.= iii.] as he approaches the battle he feels that
the ghosts of his wife [=v.= vii. 15.] and children will haunt him if he
allows any other to be the tyrant's executioner. Thus far the
interpretation of History might go: but the oracular machinery
introduced points dimly to Macduff before the first breath of the King's
suspicion has assailed him, and the suggestiveness becomes clearer and
clearer as the convergence of events carries the action to its climax.
The natural working of human events has been undisturbed: only the
spectator's mind has been endowed with a special illumination for
receiving them.

[_The Supernatural as Dramatic Background._]

In another and very different way we have supernatural agency called in
to throw a peculiar illumination over human events. In dealing with the
movement of _Julius Cæsar_ I have described at length the _Supernatural
Background_ of storm, tempest, and portent, which assist the emotional
agitation throughout the second stage of the action. These are clearly
supernatural in that they are made to suggest a mystic sympathy with,
and indeed prescience of, mutations in human life. Yet their function is
simply that of illumination: they cast a glow of emotion over the
spectator as he watches the train of events, though all the while the
action of these events remains within the sphere of natural causes. In
narrative and lyric poetry this endowment of nature with human
sympathies becomes the commonest of poetic devices, personification; and
here it never suggests anything supernatural because it is so clearly
recognised as belonging to expression. But 'expression' in the Drama
extends beyond language, and takes in presentation; and it is only a
device in presentation that tumult in nature and tumult in history, each
perfectly natural by itself, are made to have a suggestion of the
supernatural by their coincidence in time. After all there is no real
meaning in storm any more than in calm weather, only that contemplative
observers have transferred their own emotions to particular phases of
nature: it would seem, then, a very slight and natural reversal of the
process to call in this humanised nature to assist the emotions which
have created it.

In these various forms Shakespeare introduces supernatural agency into
his dramas. In my discussion of them it will be understood that I am not
in the least endeavouring to explain away the reality of their
supernatural character. My purpose is to show for how small a proportion
of his total effect Shakespeare draws on the supernatural, allowing it
to carry further or to illustrate, but not to mould or determine a
course of events. It will readily be granted that he brings effect
enough out of a supernatural incident to justify the use of it to our
rational sense of economy.


FOOTNOTES:

[4] The text in this passage is regarded as difficult by many editors,
and is marked in the Globe Edition as corrupt. I do not see the
difficulty of taking it as it stands, if regard be had to the general
situation, in which (as Steevens has pointed out) Kent is reading the
letter in disjointed snatches by the dim moonlight. Commentators seem to
me to have increased the obscurity by taking 'enormous' in its rare
sense of 'irregular,' 'out of order,' and making it refer to the state
of England. Surely it is used in its ordinary meaning, and applies to
France; the clause in which it occurs being part of the _actual words_
of Cordelia's letter, who naturally uses 'this' of the country from
which she writes. Inverted commas would make the connection clear.

    Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
    That by thy comfortable beams I may
    Peruse this letter!--'Nothing almost sees miracles'--
    'But misery'--I know 'tis from Cordelia,
    Who hath 'most fortunately been inform'd'
    Of my 'obscured course, and shall find time
    From this enormous state'--'seeking to give
    Losses their remedies,' &c.

I.e. Cordelia promises she will find leisure from the oppressive cares
of her new kingdom to remedy the evils of England. Kent gives up the
attempt to read; but enough has been brought out for the dramatist's
purpose at that particular stage, viz. to hint that Kent was in
correspondence with Cordelia, and looked to her as the deliverer of
England.



XIV.

INTEREST OF PLOT.


[_Idea of Plot as the application of design to human life._]

WE now come to the third great division of Dramatic Criticism--Plot, or
the purely intellectual side of action. Action itself has been treated
above as the mutual connection and interweaving of all the details in a
work of art so as to unite in an impression of unity. But we have found
it impossible to discuss Character and Passion entirely apart from such
action and interworking: the details of human interest become dramatic
by being permeated with action-force. When however this mutual relation
of all the parts is looked at by itself, as an abstract interest of
design, the human life being no more than the material to which this
design is applied, then we get the interest of Plot. So defined, I hope
Plot is sufficiently removed from the vulgar conception of it as
sensational mystery, which has done so much to lower this element of
dramatic effect in the eyes of literary students. If Plot be understood
as the extension of design to the sphere of human life, threads of
experience being woven into a symmetrical pattern as truly as
vari-coloured threads of wool are woven into a piece of wool-work, then
the conception of it will come out in its true dignity. What else is
such reduction to order than the meeting-point of science and art?
Science is engaged in tracing rhythmic movements in the beautiful
confusion of the heavenly bodies, or reducing the bewildering variety of
external nature to regular species and nice gradations of life.
Similarly, art continues the work of creation in calling ideal order
out of the chaos of things as they are. And so the tangle of life, with
its jumble of conflicting aspirations, its crossing and twisting of
contrary motives, its struggle and partnership of the whole human race,
in which no two individuals are perfectly alike and no one is wholly
independent of the rest--this has gradually in the course of ages been
laboriously traced by the scientific historian into some such harmonious
plan as evolution. But he finds himself long ago anticipated by the
dramatic artist, who has touched crime and seen it link itself with
nemesis, who has transformed passion into pathos, who has received the
shapeless facts of reality and returned them as an ordered economy of
design. This application of form to human life is Plot: and Shakespeare
has had no higher task to accomplish than in his revolutionising our
ideas of Plot, until the old critical conceptions of it completely broke
down when applied to his dramas. The appreciation of Shakespeare will
not be complete until he is seen to be as subtle a weaver of plots as he
is a deep reader of the human heart.

[_Unity applied to Plot._]

We have to consider Plot in its three aspects of unity, complexity, and
development. [_The Single Action._] The simplest element of Plot is the
_Single Action_, which may be defined as any train of incidents in a
drama which can be conceived as a separate whole. Thus a series of
details bringing out the idea of a crime and its nemesis will constitute
a Nemesis Action, an oracle and its fulfilment will make up an Oracular
Action, a problem and its solution a Problem Action. Throughout the
treatment of Plot the root idea of _pattern_ should be steadily kept in
mind: in the case of these Single Actions--the units of Plot--we have as
it were the lines of a geometrical design, made up of their details as a
geometrical line is made up of separate points. [_Forms of Dramatic
Action._] The _Form_ of a dramatic action--the shape of the line, so to
speak--will be that which gives the train of incidents its
distinctiveness: the nemesis, the oracle, the problem. An action may get
its distinctiveness from its tone as a Comic Action or a Tragic Action;
or it may be a Character Action, when a series of details acquire a
unity in bringing out the character of Hastings or Lady Macbeth; an
action may be an Intrigue, or the Rise and Fall of a person, or simply a
Story like the Caskets Story. Finally, an action may combine several
different forms at the same time, just as a geometrical line may be at
once, say, an arch and a spiral. The action that traces Macbeth's career
has been treated as exhibiting a triple form of Nemesis, Irony, and
Oracular Action; further, it is a Tragic Action in tone, it is a
Character Action in its contrast with the career of Lady Macbeth, and it
stands in the relation of Main Action to others in the play.

[_Complexity applied to Action: a distinction of Modern Drama._]

Now what I have called Single Action constituted the whole conception of
Plot in ancient Tragedy; in the Shakespearean Drama it exists only as a
unit of Complex Action. The application of complexity to action is
rendered particularly easy by the idea of pattern, patterns which appeal
to the eye being more often made up of several lines crossing and
interweaving than of single lines. Ancient tragedy clung to 'unity of
action,' and excluded such matter as threatened to set up a second
interest in a play. Modern Plot has a unity of a much more elaborate
order, perhaps best expressed by the word _harmony_--a harmony of
distinct actions, each of which has its separate unity. The illustration
of harmony is suggestive. Just as in musical harmony each part is a
melody of itself, though one of them leads and is _the_ melody, so a
modern plot draws together into a common system a Main Action and other
inferior yet distinct actions. Moreover the step from melody alone to
melody harmonised, or that from the single instruments of the ancient
world to the combinations of a modern orchestra, marks just the
difference between ancient and modern art which we find reflected in the
different conception of Plot held by Sophocles and by Shakespeare.
Shakespeare's plots are federations of plots: in his ordering of
dramatic events we trace a common self-government made out of elements
which have an independence of their own, and at the same time merge a
part of their independence in common action.

[_Analysis of Action._]

The foundation of critical treatment in the matter of Plot is the
_Analysis_ of Complex Action into its constituent Single[5] Actions.
This is easy in such a play as _The Merchant of Venice_. Here two of the
actions are stories, a form of unity readily grasped, and which in the
present case had an independent existence outside the play. These
identified and separated, it is easy also to see that Jessica
constitutes a fresh centre of interest around which other details gather
themselves; that the incidents in which Launcelot and Gobbo are
concerned are separable from these; while the matter of the rings
constitutes a distinct episode of the Caskets Story: already the
junction of so many separate stories in a common working gratifies our
sense of design. In other plays where the elements are not stories the
individuality of the Single Actions will not always be so positive: all
would readily distinguish the Lear Main plot from the Underplot of
Gloucester, but in the subdivision of these difference of opinion
arises. [_Canons of Analysis._] In an Appendix to this chapter I have
suggested schemes of Analysis for each of the five plays treated in this
work: [_Analysis tentative not positive._] I may here add four remarks.
(1) Any series of details which can be collected from various parts of a
drama to make up a common interest may be recognised in Analysis as a
separate action. It follows from this that there may be very different
modes of dividing and arranging the elements of the same plot: such
Analysis is not a matter in which we are to look for right or wrong, but
simply for better or worse. No scheme will ever exhaust the wealth of
design which reveals itself in a play of Shakespeare; and the value of
Analysis as a critical process is not confined to the scheme it
produces, but includes also the insight which the mere effort to analyse
a drama gives into the harmony and connection of its parts. [_Design as
the test of Analysis._] (2) The essence of Plot being design, that will
be the best scheme of Analysis which best brings out the idea of
symmetry and design. [_Analysis exhaustive._] (3) Analysis must be
exhaustive: every detail in the drama must find a place in some one of
the actions. [_The elementary actions not mutually exclusive._] (4) The
constituent actions will of course not be mutually exclusive, many
details being common to several actions: these details are so many
meeting-points, in which the lines of action cross one another.--With
these sufficiently obvious principles I must leave the schemes of
analysis in the Appendix to justify themselves.

[_The Enveloping Action._]

In the process of analysis we are led to notice special forms of action:
in particular, the _Enveloping Action_. This interesting element of Plot
may be described as the fringe, or border, or frame, of a dramatic
pattern. It appears when the personages and incidents which make up the
essential interest of a play are more or less loosely involved with some
interest more wide-reaching than their own, though more vaguely
presented. It is seen in its simplest form where a story occupied with
private personages connects itself at points with public history: homely
life being thus wrapped round with life of the great world; fiction
having reality given to it by its being set in a frame of accepted fact.
We are familiar enough with it in prose fiction. Almost all the Waverley
Novels have Enveloping Actions, Scott's regular plan being to entangle
the fortunes of individuals, which are to be the main interest of the
story, with public events which make known history. Thus in _Woodstock_
a Cavalier maiden and her Puritan lover become, as the story proceeds,
mixed up in incidents of the Commonwealth and Restoration; or again, the
plot of _Redgauntlet_, which consists in the separate adventures of a
pair of Scotch friends, is brought to an issue in a Jacobite rising in
which both become involved. The Enveloping Action is a favourite element
in Shakespeare's plots. In the former part of the book I have pointed
out how the War of the Roses forms an Enveloping Action to _Richard
III_; how its connection with the other actions is close enough for it
to catch the common feature of Nemesis; and how it is marked with
special clearness by the introduction of Queen Margaret and the Duchess
of York to bring out its opposite sides. In _Macbeth_ there is an
Enveloping Action of the supernatural centring round the Witches: the
human workings of the play are wrapped in a deeper working out of
destiny, with prophetic beings to keep it before us. _Julius Cæsar_, as
a story of political conspiracy and political reaction, is furnished
with a loose Enveloping Action in the passions of the Roman mob: this is
a vague power outside recognised political forces, appearing at the
beginning to mark that uncertainty in public life which can drive even
good men to conspiracy, while from the turning-point it furnishes the
force the explosion of which is made to secure the conspirators'
downfall. A typical example is to be found in _Lear_, all the more
typical from the fact that it is by no means a prominent interest in the
play. The Enveloping Action in this drama is the French War. The seeds
of this war are sown in the opening incident, [=i.= i. 265.] in which
the French King receives his wife from Lear with scarcely veiled insult:
[=i.= ii. 23.] it troubles Gloucester in the next scene that France is
'in choler parted.' Then we get, in the second Act, a distant hint of
rupture from the letter of Cordelia read by Kent in the stocks. [=ii.=
ii. 172.] In the other scenes of this Act the only political question is
of 'likely wars toward' between the English dukes; [=ii.= i. 11.] but at
the beginning of the third Act Kent directly connects these quarrels of
the dukes with the growing chance of a war with France: [=iii.= i.
19-34.] the French have had intelligence of the 'scattered kingdom,' and
have been 'wise in our negligence.' In this Act Gloucester confides to
Edmund the feeler he has received from France, [=iii.= iii.] and his
trustfulness is the cause of his downfall; [=iii.= iii. 22.] Edmund
treacherously reveals the confidence to Cornwall, [=iii.= v. 18.] and
makes it the occasion of his rise. Gloucester's measures for the safety
of Lear have naturally a connection with the expected invasion, [=iii.=
vi. 95-108.] and he sends him to Dover to find welcome and protection.
[=iii.= vii. 2, &c.] The final scene of this Act, devoted to the cruel
outrage on Gloucester, shows from its very commencement the important
connection of the Enveloping Action with the rest of the play: the
French army has landed, and it is this which is felt to make Lear's
escape so important, and which causes such signal revenge to be taken on
Gloucester. Throughout the fourth Act all the threads of interest are
becoming connected with the invading army at Dover; if this Act has a
separate interest of its own in Edmund's intrigues with both Goneril and
Regan at once, [=iv.= ii. 11, 15; =iv.= v. 12, 30 &c.] yet these
intrigues are possible only because Edmund is hurrying backwards and
forwards between the princesses in the measures of military preparation
for the battle. The fifth Act has its scene on the battlefield, and the
double issue of the battle stamps itself on the whole issue of the play:
the death of Lear and Cordelia is the result of the French defeat,
while, on the other hand, [=v.= iii. 238, 256.] all who were to reap the
fruits of guilt die in the hour of victory. Thus this French War is a
model of Enveloping Action--outside the main issues, yet loosely
connecting itself with every phase of the movement; originating in the
incident which is the origin of the whole action; the possibility of it
developed by the progress of the Main story, alike by the cruelty shown
to Lear and by the rivalry between his daughters; the fear of it playing
a main part in the tragic side of the Underplot, and the preparation for
it serving as occasion for the remaining interest of intrigue; finally,
breaking out as a reality in which the whole action of the play merges.

[_Economy: supplementary to Analysis._]

From Analysis we pass naturally to _Economy_. Considered in the
abstract, as a phase of plot-beauty, Economy may be defined as that
perfection of design which lies midway between incompleteness and waste.
Its formula is that a play must be seen to contain all the details
necessary to the unity, no detail superfluous to the unity, and each
detail expanded in exact proportion to its bearing on the unity. In
practice, as a branch of treatment in Shakespeare-Criticism, Economy,
like Analysis, deals with complexity of plot. The two are supplementary
to one another. The one resolves a complexity into its elements, the
other traces the unity running through these elements. Analysis
distinguishes the separate actions which make up a plot, while Economy
notes the various bonds between these actions and the way in which they
are brought into a common system: it being clear that the more the
separateness of the different interests can be reduced the richer will
be the economy of design.

[_Economic Forms._]

It will be enough to note three Economic Forms. [_Connection_] The first
is simple _Connection_: the actual contact of action with action, the
separate lines of the pattern meeting at various points. In other words,
the different actions have details or personages in common. Bassanio is
clearly a bond between the two main stories of _The Merchant of Venice_,
in both of which he figures so prominently; and it has been pointed out
that the scene of Bassanio's successful choice is an incident with which
all the stories which enter into the action of the play connect
themselves. [_and Linking._] There are _Link Personages,_ who have a
special function so to connect stories, and similarly _Link Actions_:
Gloucester in the play of _Lear_ and the Jessica Story in _The Merchant
of Venice_ are examples. Or Connection may come by the interweaving of
stories as they progress: they alternate, or fill, so to speak, each
other's interstices. [from =ii.= i. to =iii.= ii. 319.] Where the Story
of the Jew halts for a period of three months, the elopement of Jessica
comes to occupy the interval; or again, scenes from the tragedy of the
Gloucester family separate scenes from the tragedy of Lear, until the
two tragedies have become mutually entangled. Envelopment too serves as
a kind of Connection: the actions which make up such a play as _Richard
III_ gain additional compactness by their being merged in a common
Enveloping Action.

[_Dependence._]

Another Form of Economy is _Dependence_. This term expresses the
relation between an underplot and main plot, or between subactions and
the actions to which they are subordinate. [compare =i.= i. 35, 191.]
The fact that Gloucester is a follower of Lear--he would appear to have
been his court chamberlain--makes the story of the Gloucester family
seem to spring out of the story of the Lear family; that we are not
called upon to initiate a fresh train of interest ministers to our sense
of Economy.

[_Symmetry._]

But in the Shakespearean Drama the most important Economic Form is
_Symmetry_: between different parts of a design symmetry is the closest
of bonds. [_Balance._] A simple form of Symmetry is the _Balance_ of
actions, by which, as it were, the mass of one story is made to
counterpoise that of another. If the Caskets Story, moving so simply to
its goal of success, seems over-weighted by the thrilling incidents of
the Jew Story, we find that the former has by way of compensation the
Episode of the Rings rising out of its close, while the elopement of
Jessica and her reception at Belmont transfers a whole batch of
interests from the Jew side of the play to the Christian side. Or again,
in a play such as _Macbeth_, which traces the Rise and Fall of a
personage, the Rise is accompanied by the separate interest of Banquo
till he falls a victim to its success; to balance this we have in the
Fall Macduff, who becomes important only after Banquo's death, and from
that point occupies more and more of the field of view until he brings
the action to a close. Similarly in _Julius Cæsar_ the victim himself
dominates the first half; Antony, his avenger, succeeds to his position
for the second half. [_Parallelism and Contrast._] More important than
Balance as forms of Symmetry are _Parallelism_ and _Contrast_ of
actions. Both are, to a certain extent, exemplified in the plot of
_Macbeth_: the triple form of Nemesis, Irony, and Oracular binding
together all the elements of the plot down to the Enveloping Action
illustrates Parallelism, and Contrast has been shown to be a bond
between the interest of Lady Macbeth and of her husband. But Parallelism
and Contrast are united in their most typical forms in _Lear_, which is
at once the most intricate and the most symmetrical of Shakespearean
dramas. A glance at the scheme of this plot shows its deep-seated
parallelism. A Main story in the family of Lear has an Underplot in the
family of Gloucester. The Main plot is a problem and its solution, the
Underplot is an intrigue and its nemesis. Each is a system of four
actions: there is the action initiating the problem with the three
tragedies which make up its solution, there is again the action
generating the intrigue and the three tragedies which constitute its
nemesis. The threefold tragedy in the Main plot has its elements exactly
analogous, each to each, to the threefold tragedy of the Underplot: Lear
and Gloucester alike reap a double nemesis of evil from the children
they have favoured, and good from the children they have wronged; the
innocent Cordelia has to suffer like the innocent Edgar; alike in both
stories the gains of the wicked are found to be the means of their
destruction. Even in the subactions, which have only a temporary
distinctness in carrying out such elaborate interworking, the same
Parallelism manifests itself. [e.g. =i.= iv. 85-104; =ii.= ii, &c.] They
run in pairs: where Kent has an individual mission as an agency for
good, Oswald runs a course parallel with him as an agency for evil;
[e.g. =iv.= ii. 29; =v.= iii, from 59.] of the two heirs of Lear,
Albany, after passively representing the good side of the Main plot, has
the function of presiding over the nemesis which comes on the evil
agents of the Underplot, while Cornwall, who is active in the evil of
the [=iii.= vii.] Main plot, is the agent in bringing suffering on the
good victims of the Underplot; [=iv.= ii; =iv.= v; =v.= iii. 238.] once
more from opposite sides of the Lear story Goneril and Regan work in
parallel intrigues to their destruction. Every line of the pattern runs
parallel to some distant line. Further, so fundamental is the symmetry
that we have only to shift the point of view and the Parallelism becomes
Contrast. If the family histories be arranged around Cordelia and
Edmund, as centres of good and evil in their different spheres, we
perceive a sharp antithesis between the two stories extending to every
detail: though stated already in the chapter on _Lear_, I should like to
state it again in parallel columns to do it full justice.

  In the MAIN PLOT a Daughter,  In the UNDERPLOT a Son,

    Who has received nothing    Who has received nothing
    but Harm from her father,   but Good from his father,

    Who has had her position    Who has, contrary to justice, been
    unjustly torn from her      advanced to the position of an
    and given to her            innocent elder Brother he had maligned,
    undeserving elder Sisters,

    Nevertheless sacrifices     Nevertheless is seeking the destruction
    herself to save the Father  of the Father who _did_ him the
    who _did_ the injury from   unjust kindness, when he falls by the
    the Sisters who _profited_  hand of the Brother who _was wronged_
    by it.                      by it.

The play of _Lear_ is itself sufficient to suggest to the critic that in
the analysis of Shakespeare's plots he may safely expect to find
symmetry in proportion to their intricacy.

[_Movement applied to Plot: Motive Form._]

Movement applied to Plot becomes _Motive Form_: without its being
necessary to take the play to pieces Motive Form is the impression of
design left by the succession of incidents in the order in which they
actually stand. [_Simple Movement: the Line of Motion a straight line._]
The succession of incidents may suggest progress to a goal, as in the
Caskets Story. This is preeminently Simple[6] Movement: the Line of
Motion becomes a straight line. [_Complicated Movement: the Line of
Motion a curve._] We get the next step by the variation that is made
when a curved line is substituted for a straight line: in other words,
when the succession of incidents reaches its goal, but only after a
diversion. This is what is known as _Complication and Resolution_. A
train of events is obstructed and diverted from what appears its natural
course, which gives the interest of Complication: after a time the
obstruction is removed and the natural course is restored, which is the
Resolution of the action: the Complication, like a musical discord,
having existed only for the sake of being resolved. No clearer example
could be desired than that of Antonio, whose career when we are
introduced to it appears to be that of leading the money-market of
Venice and extending patronage and protection all around; by the
entanglement of the bond this career is checked and Antonio turned into
a prisoner and bankrupt; then Portia cuts the knot and Antonio becomes
all he has been before. [=iii.= ii. 173.] Or again, the affianced
intercourse of Portia and Bassanio begins with an exchange of rings;
[=iv.= ii.] by the cross circumstances connected with Antonio's trial
one of them parts with this token, and the result is a comic
interruption to the smoothness of lovers' life, [=v.= i. 266.] until by
Portia's confession of the ruse the old footing is restored.

[_Action-Movement distinguished from Passion-Movement._]

Such Complicated Movement belongs entirely to the Action side of
dramatic effect. It rests upon design and the interworking of details;
its interest lies in obstacles interposed to be removed, doing for the
sake of undoing, entanglement for its own sake; in its total effect it
ministers to a sense of intellectual satisfaction, like that belonging
to a musical fugue, in which every opening suggested has been
sufficiently followed up. We get a movement of quite a different kind
when the sense of design is inseparable from effects of passion, and the
movement is, as it were, traced in our emotional nature. In this case a
growing strain is put upon our sympathy which is not unlike
Complication. But no Resolution follows: the rise is made to end in
fall, the progress leads to ruin; in place of the satisfaction that
comes from restoring and unloosing is substituted a fresh appeal to our
emotional nature, and from agitation we pass only to the calmer emotions
of pity and awe. There is thus a _Passion-Movement_ distinct from
_Action-Movement_; and, analogous to the Complication and Resolution of
the latter, Passion-Movement has its _Strain and Reaction_. [_The Line
of Passion a Regular Arch,_] The Line of Passion has its various forms.
A chapter has been devoted to illustrating one form of Passion-Movement,
which may be called the _Regular Arch_--if we may found a technical term
on the happy illustration of Gervinus. The example was taken from the
play of _Julius Cæsar_, the emotional effect in which was shown to pass
from calm interest to greater and greater degree of agitation, until
after culminating in the centre it softens down and yields to the
different calmness of pity and acquiescence. [_an Inclined Plane_] The
movement of _Richard III_ and many other dramas more resembles the form
of an _Inclined Plane_, [=iv.= ii. 46.] the turn in the emotion
occurring long past the centre of the play. [_or a Wave Line._] Or
again, there is the _Wave Line_ of emotional distribution, made by
repeated alternations of strain and relief. This is a form of
Passion-Movement that nearly approaches Action-Movement, and readily
goes with it in the same play; in _The Merchant of Venice_ the union of
the two stories gives such alternate Strain and Relief, and the Episode
of the Rings comes as final Relief to the final Strain of the trial.

[_For 'Comedy,' 'Tragedy,' substitute, in the case of Shakespeare,_]

The distinction between Action-Movement and Passion-Movement is of
special importance in Shakespeare-Criticism, inasmuch as it is the real
basis of distinction between the two main classes of Shakespearean
dramas. Every one feels that the terms Comedy and Tragedy are
inadequate, and indeed absurd, when applied to Shakespeare. The
distinction these terms express is one of Tone, and they were quite in
place in the ancient Drama, in which the comic and tragic tones were
kept rigidly distinct and were not allowed to mingle in the same play.
Applied to a branch of Drama of which the leading characteristic is the
complete Mixture of Tones the terms necessarily break down, and the
so-called 'Comedies' of _The Merchant of Venice_ and _Measure for
Measure_ contain some of the most tragic effects in Shakespeare. The
true distinction between the two kinds of plays is one of Movement, not
Tone. In _The Merchant of Venice_ the leading interest is in the
complication of Antonio's fortunes and its resolution by the device of
Portia. In all such cases, however perplexing the entanglement of the
complication may have become, the ultimate effect of the whole lies in
the resolution of this complication; and this is an intellectual effect
of satisfaction. In the plays called Tragedies there is no such return
from distraction to recovery: our sympathy having been worked up to the
emotion of agitation is relieved only by the emotion of pathos or
despair. Thus in these two kinds of dramas the impression which to the
spectator overpowers all other impressions, and gives individuality to
the particular play, is this sense of intellectual or of emotional unity
in the movement:--is, in other words, Action-Movement or
Passion-Movement. [_'Action-Drama,' 'Passion-Drama.'_] The two may be
united, as remarked above in the case of _The Merchant of Venice_; but
one or the other will be predominant and will give to the play its unity
of impression. The distinction, then, which the terms Comedy and Tragedy
fail to mark would be accurately brought out by substituting for them
the terms Action-Drama and Passion-Drama.

[_Compound Movement._]

With complexity of action comes complexity of movement. _Compound
Movement_ takes in the idea of the relative motion amongst the different
actions into which a plot can be analysed. A play of Shakespeare
presents a system of wheels within wheels, like a solar system in motion
as a whole while the separate members of it have their own orbits to
follow. [_Its three Modes of Motion: Similar Motion,_] The nature of
Compound Movement can be most simply brought out by describing its three
leading Modes of Motion. In _Similar Motion_ the actions of a system are
moving in the same form. The plot of _Richard III_, for example, is a
general rise and fall of Nemesis made up of elements which are
themselves rising and falling Nemeses. Such Similar Motion is only
Parallelism looked at from the side of movement. A variation of it
occurs when the form of one action is distributed amongst the rest: the
main action of _Julius Cæsar_ is a Nemesis Action, the two subactions
are the separate interests of Cæsar and Antony, which put together
amount to Nemesis.

[_Contrary Motion,_]

In _Contrary Motion_ the separate actions as they move on interfere with
one another, that is, each acts as complicating force to the other,
turning it out of its course; in reality they are helping one another's
advance, seeing that complication is a step in dramatic progress. _The
Merchant of Venice_ furnishes an example. The Caskets Story progresses
without check to its climax; in starting it complicates the Jew
action--for before Bassanio can get to Belmont he borrows of Antonio the
loan which is to entangle him in the meshes of the Jew's revenge; then
the Caskets Story as a result of its climax resolves this complication
in the Story of the Jew--for the union of Portia with Bassanio provides
the deliverer for Bassanio's friend. But in thus resolving the Story of
the Jew the Caskets Story, in the new phase of it that has commenced
with the exchange of betrothal rings, itself suffers complication--the
circumstances of the trial offering the suggestion to Portia to make the
demand for Bassanio's ring. Thus of the two actions moving on side by
side the one interferes with and diverts the other from its course, and
again in restoring it gets itself diverted. This mutual interference
makes up Contrary Motion.

[_Convergent Motion._]

A third mode of Compound movement is _Convergent Motion_, by which
actions, or systems of actions, at first separate, become drawn together
as they move on, and assist one another's progress. Once more the play
of _Lear_ furnishes a typical example. This play, it will be
recollected, includes two distinct systems of actions tracing the story
of two separate families. Moreover the main story after its opening
incident presents, so far as movement is concerned, three different
sides, according as its incidents centre around Lear, Goneril, or Regan.
The first link between these diverse actions is Gloucester, the central
personage of the whole plot. [=i.= i. 35, 191.] Gloucester has been the
King's chamberlain and his close friend, [=ii.= i. 93.] the King having
been godfather to his son. Accordingly, in the highly unstable political
condition of a kingdom divided equally between two unprincipled sisters,
Gloucester represents a third party, the party of Lear: he holds the
balance of power, and the effort to secure him draws the separate
interests together. [=i.= v. 1.] Thus as soon as Lear and Goneril have
quarrelled Lear sends Kent to Gloucester, and our actions begin to
approach one another. [=ii.= i. 9.] Before this messenger can arrive we
hear of 'hints and ear-kissing arguments' as to rupture between the
dukes, and we see Regan and her husband making a hasty journey--'out of
season threading dark-eyed night'--[=ii.= i. 121.] in order to be the
first at Gloucester's castle; [=ii.= iv. 192.] when Goneril in
self-defence follows, all the separate elements of the main plot have
found a meeting-point. But this castle of Gloucester in which they meet
is the seat of the underplot, and the two systems become united in the
closest manner by this central linking. [=ii.= i. 88-131, esp. 112.]
Regan arrives in time to use her authority in furthering the intrigue
against Edgar as a means of recommending herself to the deceived
Gloucester; the other intrigue of the underplot, [=iii.= v, &c.] that
against Gloucester himself, is promoted by the same means when Edmund
has betrayed to Regan his father's protection of Lear; while the meeting
of both sisters with Edmund lays the foundation of the mutual
intriguing which forms the further interest of the entanglement between
underplot and main story. All the separate lines of action have thus
moved to a common centre, and their concentration in a common focus
gives opportunity for the climax of passion which forms the centrepiece
of the play. Then the Enveloping Action comes in as a further binding
force, and it has been pointed out above how throughout the fourth and
fifth Acts all the separate actions, whatever their immediate purpose,
have an ultimate reference to Dover as the landing-place of the invading
army: in military phrase Dover is the common _objective_ on which all
the separate trains of interest are concentrating. In this way have the
actions of this intricate plot, so numerous and so separate at first,
been found to converge to a common centre and then move together to a
common _dénouement_.

[_Turning-points._]

The distinction of movement from the other elements of Plot leads also
to the question of _Turning-points_, an idea equally connected with
movement and with design. In the movement of every play a Turning-point
is implied: movement could not have dramatic interest unless there were
a change in the direction of events, and such change implies a point at
which the change becomes apparent. Changes of a kind may be frequent
through the progress of a play, but one notable point will stand out at
which the ultimate issues present themselves as decided, the line of
motion changing from complication to resolution, the line of passion
from strain to reaction. [_The Catastrophe: or Focus of Movement._] Such
a point is technically a _Catastrophe_: a word whose etymological
meaning suggests a turning round so as to come down. [_The Centre of
Plot._] In Shakespeare's dramatic practice we find a not less important
Turning-point in relation to the design of the plot. This is always at
the exact centre--the middle of the middle Act--and serves as a
balancing-point about which the plot may be seen to be symmetrical: it
is a _Centre of Plot_ as the Catastrophe is a Focus of Movement. The
Catastrophe of _The Merchant of Venice_ is clearly Portia's judgment in
the Trial Scene, by which in a moment the whole entanglement is
resolved. [=iv.= i. 305.] In an earlier chapter it has been pointed out
how the union of Portia and Bassanio--[=iii.= ii.] at the exact centre
of the play--is the real determinant of the whole plot, uniting the
complicating and resolving forces, and constituting a scene in which all
the four stories find a meeting-point. In _Richard III_, [=iv.= ii. 45.]
while the Catastrophe comes in the hero's late recognition of his own
nemesis, yet there has been, before this and in the exact centre, a turn
in the Enveloping Action, [=iii.= iii. 15.] which includes all the rest,
shown by the recognition that Margaret's curses have now begun to be
fulfilled. The exact centre of _Macbeth_, as pointed out above, [=iii.=
iv. 20.] marks the hero's passage from rise to fall, that is from
unbroken success to unbroken failure: the corresponding Catastrophe in
this play is double, [=iii.= iv. 49; =v.= viii. 13.] a first appearance
of Nemesis in Banquo's ghost, its final stroke in the revelation of
Macduff's secret of birth. [=iii.= i. 122.] _Julius Cæsar_ presents the
interesting feature of the Catastrophe and Central Turning-point exactly
coinciding, in the triumphant appeal of the conspirators to future
history. _Lear_, according to the scheme of analysis suggested in this
work, has its Catastrophe at the close of the initial scene, by which
time the problem in experience has been set up in action, and the
tragedies arising out of it thenceforward work on without break to its
solution. [=iii.= iv. 45.] A Centre of Plot is found for this play
where, in the middle Scene of the middle Act, the third of the three
forms of madness is brought into contact with the other two and makes
the climax of passion complete. This regular union by Shakespeare of a
marked catastrophe, appealing to every spectator, with a subtle
dividing-point, interesting to the intellectual sense of analysis,
illustrates the combination of force with symmetry, which is the genius
of the Shakespearean Drama: it throughout presents a body of warm human
interest governed by a mind of intricate design.

[_Conclusion._]

The plan laid down for this work has now been followed to its
completion. The object I have had in view throughout has been the
_recognition_ of inductive treatment in literary study. For this purpose
it was first necessary to distinguish the inductive method from other
modes of treatment founded on arbitrary canons of taste and comparisons
of merit, so natural in view of the popularity of the subject-matter,
and to which the history of Literary Criticism has given an unfortunate
impetus. This having been done in the Introduction, the body of the work
has been occupied in applying the inductive treatment to some of the
masterpieces of Shakespeare. The practical effect of such exposition has
been, it may be hoped, to intensify the reader's appreciation of the
poet, and also to suggest that the detailed and methodical analysis
which in literary study is usually reserved for points of language is no
less applicable to a writer's subject-matter and art. But to entitle
Dramatic Criticism to a place in the circle of the inductive sciences it
has further appeared necessary to lay down a scheme for the study as a
whole, that should be scientific both in the relation of its parts to
one another, and in the attainment of a completeness proportioned to the
area to which the enquiry was limited and the degree of development to
which literary method has at present attained. The proper method for the
nascent science was fixed as the enumeration and arrangement of topics;
and by analogy with the other arts a simple scheme for Dramatic
Criticism was found, in which all the results of the analysis performed
in the first part of the book could be readily distributed under one or
other of the main topics--Character, Passion, and Plot. Incidentally the
discussion of Shakespeare has again and again reminded us of just that
greatness in the modern Drama which judicial criticism with its
inflexibility of standard so persistently missed. Everywhere early
criticism recognised our poet's grasp of human nature, yet its almost
universal verdict of him was that he was both irregular in his art as a
whole, and in particular careless in the construction of his plots. We
have seen, on the contrary, that Shakespeare has elevated the whole
conception of Plot, from that of a mere unity of action obtained by
reduction of the amount of matter presented, to that of a harmony of
design binding together concurrent actions from which no degree of
complexity was excluded. And, finally, instead of his being a despiser
of law, we have had suggested to us how Shakespeare and his brother
artists of the Renaissance form a point of departure in legitimate
Drama, so important as amply to justify the instinct of history which
named that age the Second Birth of literature.


FOOTNOTES:

[5] See note on page 74.

[6] See note on page 74.



TABULAR DIGEST OF THE PRINCIPAL TOPICS IN DRAMATIC SCIENCE.


                       +--Single Character-Interest  +--Interpretation
                       | or Character-Interpretation |  as an hypotheis
                       |                             +--Canons of
                       |                               Interpretation
           +--Character|
           |           |                             +--Character-Contrast
           |           |                             |  and Duplication
           |           +--Complex Character-Interest +--Character-Grouping
           |           |                             +--Dramatic Colouring
           |           +--Character-Development
           |                                    +--Incident and Situation
           |         +--Single Passion-Interest |         +--Irony
           |         |                          +--Effect +--Nemesis
           |         |                                    +--Dramatic
           |         |                                     Foreshadowing
           |         |                           +--Scale of Passion-Tones
           |         +--Complex Passion-Interest +--Mixture of Tones
           |         | or Passion-Tone           +--Tone-Play and
           |         |                           |  Tone-Relief
           |         |                           +--Tone-Clash and
           |         |                              Tone-Storm
           +--Passion|           +--Poetic Justice: or Retribution as a
           |         |           |  form of Art-beaty
           |         |           |  Pathos: or [unretributive] Fate as a
           |         |           |  form of Art-beauty
           |         |           |
  Dramatic |         +--Movement |                   +--Destiny
  Criticism|            [Motive  |                   | rationalised
           |            Force]   |                   |    +--Objectively
           |                     |                   |    |  in Irony
           |                     |                   |    +--Subjectively
           |                     |                   |    in Infatuation
           |                     +--The Supernatural |
           |                                         +--Supernatural
           |                                            Agency
           |                                             +--Intensifying
           |                                             |  human action
           |                                             +--Illuminating
           |                                             |  human action
           |                                             +--The Oracular
           |                                             +--Supernatural
           |                                                Background
           |
           |       +--Single Action +--General conception of Single
           |       |                |   Actions
           |       |                +--Forms of Dramatic Action
           |       |
           |       |                 +--General conception of Complex
           |       |                 | Action
           |       |                 +--Analysis of Complex Action
           |       |                 |  into Single Actions, with
           |       |                 |  Canons of Analysis
           |       +--Complex Action |
           |       |                 |                    +--Contact
           |       |                 |                      and Linking
           |       |                 |          +--Connection
           |       |                 |          |         +--Interweaving
           |       |                 +--Economy |         +--Envelopment
           |       |                            +--Dependence
           |       |                            |
           |       |                            |           +--Balance
           +--Plot |                            +--Symmetry +--Parallelism
                   |                                          and Contrast
                   |
                   |             +--Simple Movement: the Line of Motion a
                   |             |   straight line
                   |             +--Action-Movement or Complication and
                   |             |  Resolution: the Line of Motion a curve
                   |             +--Passion Movement or Strain and
                   +--Movement   |  Reaction: the Line of Passion a
                   [Motive Form] |                     +--Regular Arch
                                 |                     +--Inclined Plane
                                 |                     +--Wave Line
                                 |
                                 |                     +--Similar Motion
                                 +--Compound (or       +--Contrary Motion
                                 |  Relative Movement) +--Convergent Motion
                                 |
                                 |                 +--Catastrophe:
                                 +--Turning-points | or Focus of Movement
                                                   +--Centre of Plot
  To which may be added +--Mechanical Construction [belonging to Art in
                           general]
                        +--Story as Raw Material [belonging to Literary
                           History]



APPENDIX TO CHAPTER XIV.

TECHNICAL ANALYSIS OF THE PLOT OF THE FIVE PLAYS.



THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.

AN ACTION-DRAMA.


_Scheme of Actions_.

            +--First Main =Cross Nemesis= Action: Story of the Jew:
            |  complicated and resolved.
            |
            |+--Sub-Action to First Main, also Link       |
            | Action: Jessica and Lorenzo: simple         |
            | movement.                                   |
  Main Plot.|+--_Comic Relief Action: Launcelot;          +--Underplot.
            |   stationary_[7].                           |
            |+--Sub-Action to Second Main: Episode of the |
            |  Rings: complicated and resolved.           |
            |
            +--Second Main =Problem= Action: Caskets Story: simple
              movement.

    External Circumstance[8]: The (rumoured) Shipwrecks.

_Economy_.

    Two Main Actions connected by Common Personage [Bassanio] and by
      Link Action [Jessica].

    General Interweaving.

    Balance. The First Main Action, which is complicated, balances the
      Second, which is simple, by the additions to the latter of the
      Jessica interest transferred to it, and the Episode of the Rings
      generated out of it. [Pages 82, 88.]

_Movement_.

    Action-Movement: with Contrary Motion between the two Main Actions.
      The First Main complicated and resolved by the Second

    Main [hero of Second, Bassanio, is Complicating Force; heroine of
      Second, Portia, is Resolving Force], the Complication assisted by
      the External Circumstance of the Shipwrecks--in process of
      resolving the First generates a Complication to the Second in the
      form of the Episode of the Rings, which is self-resolved.
      [Pages 66, 282.]

    Passion-Movement in the background: Wave-Line of Strain and Relief
      by alternation of the two main Stories; the Episode of the Rings
      is Final Relief to the Final Strain of the Trial.

_Turning-points._

    Centre of Plot: Scene of Bassanio's Choice (=iii.= ii.) in which the
      Complicating and Resolving Forces are united and all the Four
      Actions meet. [Pages 67-8.]

    Catastrophe: Portia's Judgment in the Trial (=iv.= i, from 299).


FOOTNOTES:

[7] Stationary, as having no place in the movement of the plot: its
separateness from the rest of the Jessica Action only for purposes of
Tone-effect, as Comic Relief.

[8] 'External' as not included in any Action, 'Circumstance' because it
presents itself as a single detail instead of the series of details
necessary to make up an Action. An External Circumstance is analogous to
an Enveloping Action: outside the other Actions, yet in contact with
them at certain points.



RICHARD THE THIRD.

A PASSION-DRAMA.


_Scheme of Actions._

Main =Nemesis= Action: Life and Death of Richard.

                         +--CLARENCE has betrayed the Lancastrians
                         |  for the sake of the House of York:
                         |
                         |            He falls by a treacherous death
                         |            from the KING of the House of
                         |            York.--To this the QUEEN and her
                         |            kindredh ave been assenting
                         |            parties [=ii.= ii. 62-5]:
                         |
                         +--The shock of Clarence's death as announced
                         |  by Gloster kills the King (=ii.= i. 131),
                         |  leaving the Queen and her kindred at the
                         |  mercy of their enemies.--Unseemly Exultation
  Underplot: System of   |  of their great enemy HASTINGS:
  =Cross Nemesis=        |
  Actions connecting     |            The same treachery step by step
  Main with YORK side    |            overtakes Hastings in his
  of Enveloping Action.  |            Exultation [=iii.= iv. 15-95].--In
                         |            this treacherous casting off of
                         |            Hastings when he will no longer
                         |            support them BUCKINGHAM has
                         |            been a prime agent [=iii.= i,
                         |            from 157, =iii.= ii. 114]:
                         |
                         +--By precisely similar treachery Buckingham
                         | himself is cast off when he hesitates to go
                         | further with Richard [=iv.= ii. and =v.= i.]

Link =Nemesis= Action connecting Main with LANCASTER side of Enveloping
Action: Marriage of Richard and Anne (p. 113).

Enveloping =Nemesis= Action: The War of the Roses [the Duchess of York
introduced to mark the York side, Queen Margaret to mark the Lancastrian
side].

_Economy_.

    All the Actions bound together by the Enveloping Action of which
      they make up a phase.

    Parallelism: the common form of Nemesis.

    Central Personage: Richard.

_Movement_.

    Passion-Movement, with Similar Motion [form Nemesis repeated
      throughout (page 282)].

_Turning-points_.

    Centre of Plot: Realisation of Margaret's Curses [turn of Enveloping
      Action] in =iii.= iii. 15.

    Catastrophe: Realisation of Nemesis in the Main Action: =iv.= ii,
      from 45.



MACBETH.

A PASSION-DRAMA.


_Scheme of Actions._

  +--Main =Character= Action: Rise and Fall of Macbeth.
  +--=Character= Counter-Action: Lady Macbeth.

    +--=Character= Sub-Action: covering and involved in the Rise:
    |  Banquo.
    +--=Character= Sub-Action: covering and involving the Fall:
         Macduff. [Pages 129, 142.]

  Enveloping =Supernatural= Action: The Witches.

_Economy._

    Parallelism: Triple form of Nemesis, Irony and Oracular Action
      extending to the Main Action, to its parts the Rise and Fall
      separately, and through to the Enveloping Action.

    Contrast as a bond between the Main and Counter-Action.

    Balance: the Rise by the Fall, the Sub-Action to the Rise by the
      Sub-Action to the Fall. [Page 276.]

_Movement._

    Passion Movement, with Similar Motion between all.

_Turning-points._

    Centre of Plot: Change from unbroken success to unbroken failure:
      =iii.= iii. 18. [Page 127.]

  Catastrophe: Divided: First Shock of Nemesis; Appearance of Banquo's
                        Ghost: =iii.= iv.

                        Final Accumulation of Nemesis: Revelation of
                        Macduff's birth: =v.= viii. 12.



JULIUS CÆSAR.

A PASSION-DRAMA.


_Scheme of Actions._

Main =Nemesis= Action: Rise and Fall of the Republican Conspirators.

  +--Sub-Action to the Rise [=Character-decline=]: The Victim Cæsar.
  +--Sub-Action to the Fall [=Character-rise=]: The Avenger Antony.

Enveloping Action: the Roman Mob.

_Economy._

    Balance about the Centre: the Rise by the Fall, the Sub-Action to
      the Rise by the Sub-Action to the Fall.

_Movement._

    Passion-Movement, with Similar Motion between the Main and
      Sub-Actions. [The form of the Main is distributed between the two
      Sub-Actions: compare page 282.]

_Turning-points._

    The Centre of Plot and Catastrophe coincide: =iii.= i. between 121
    and 122.



KING LEAR.

A PASSION-DRAMA.


_Scheme of Actions._

  Main Plot: a =Problem= Action: Family of Lear: falling into

  Generating Action: Lear's unstable settlement of the kingdom,
  [the Problem].     power transferred from the good to the bad.

                      +--=Double Nemesis= Action: Lear receiving
                      |  good from the injured and evil from the
                      |  favoured children.
                      |
  System of Tragedies +--=Tragic= Action: Cordelia: Suffering of the
  [the Solution].     |  innocent.
                      |
                      +--=Tragic= Action: Goneril and Regan: Evil
                      |  passions endowed with power using it
                      |  to work their own destruction.

  Underplot: an =Intrigue= Action: Family of Gloucester: falling into

  Generating Action: Gloucester deceived into reversing the positions
  [the Intrigue].    of Edgar and Edmund.

                       +--=Double Nemesis= Action: Gloucester receiving
                       | good from the injured and evil from the favoured
                       | child.
                       |
  System of Tragedies  +--=Tragic= Action: Edgar: Suffering of the
  [its Nemesis].       |  innocent.
                       |
                       +--=Tragic= Action: Edmund: Power gained
                       | by intrigue used for the destruction of
                       | the intriguer.

Central Link Personage between Main Plot and Underplot: Gloucester (page
283).

                                +--From the good side of |
                       +--First | the Main: Kent.        +--Crossing
                       | Pair:  |                        | & complicating
                       |        +--From the evil side of | one another.
                       |        | the Main: Oswald.      |
                       |
                       |         +--From the good side of the Main
  Sub-Actions, linking |         | assisting Nemesis on Evil Agent
  Main and Underplot,  +--Second | of the Underplot: Albany.
  or different         | Pair:   |
  elements of the      |         +--From the evil side of the Main
  Main together.       |         | assisting Nemesis on Good Victim
                       |         | of the Underplot: Cornwall.
                       |
                       +--Third Pair: Cross Intrigues between
                       |   the Evil sides of Main and Underplot
                       |   {Goneril and Edmund}
                       |   {Regan and Edmund  } culminating in
                       |   destruction of all three (=v.= iii. 96, 221-7,
                       |   and compare 82 with 160).

_Farcical Relief Action: The Fool: Stationary._

Enveloping Action: The French War: originating ultimately in the Initial
Action and becoming the Objective of the _Dénouement_. [Page 273.]

_Economy._

    The Underplot dependent to the Main (page 276).

    Especially: Parallelism and Contrast (page 277).

    Central Linking by Gloucester.

    Interweaving: Linking by Sub-Actions, &c., and movement to a common
      Objective.

    Envelopment in Common Enveloping Action.

_Movement._

    Passion-Movement, with Convergent Motion between the Main and
      Underplot, and their parts: the Lear and Gloucester systems by the
      visit to Gloucester's Castle drawn to a Central Focus and then
      moving towards a common Objective in the Enveloping Action. [Page
      282.]

_Turning-points._

    Catastrophe: at the end of the Initial Action, the Problem being set
      up in practical action. [Page 205.]

    Centre of Plot: the summit of emotional agitation when three
      madnesses are brought into contact (page 223).



INDEXES.



GENERAL INDEX.


_For particular Characters or Scenes see under their respective plays._

  Abbott, Dr., quoted 15.

  Academy, French 18.

  Achilles and the River-god 193.


  Action a fundamental element of Drama 234-6
    its threefold division 235
    Plot as pure Action 236
    or the intellectual side of Action 268.

  Action, Analysis of: 271-4
    canons of Analysis 271-2
    Enveloping Action 272-4
    =Illustrations= of Enveloping Action: _Richard III_ 273, _Macbeth_
    273, _Julius Cæsar_ 273, _King Lear_ 273-4.

  'Action-Drama' as substitute for 'Comedy' 280-1.

  Action, Economy of: 274-8.
    General notion and connection with Analysis 274-5
    Economic Forms 275-8
    Connection and Linking 275
    Dependence 276
    Symmetry 276-8
    Balance 276
    Parallelism and Contrast 276-8
    Economy in Technical Analyses of the five plays 291-8.

  Actions, focussing of: 209.

  Action, Forms of Dramatic: 269-70, 125, 202.

  Action, Schemes of in Technical Analyses, 291-8.

  Action, Single and Complex 236, 270, &c.

  Action, Systems of: 108, 110, 208.

  Action, Unity of: 14, 235, 269-71
    unity of action in Modern Drama becomes harmony 270.

  Actions, Varieties of: Character-Action 270; Comic Action 270,
  291; Farcical 291; Generating 297; Initial and Resultant 208;
  Intrigue 270, 207; Irony 269; Link 81, 208; Main and Subordinate
  270; Nemesis 269 &c.; Oracular 269 &c.; Problem 269, 202; Relief
  291, 298; Rise and Fall 270, 119, 127; Stationary 291; Story 270;
  Tragic 270, 297; Triple 270, 125, 142.


  Actor, Acting 98, 231. [_See_ Stage-Representation.]

  Addison:
    on scientific progress 5
    his Critique of _Paradise Lost_ 16
    his list of English poets 16
    his _Cato_ 17, 19
    on rules of art 20
    on Rymer 21.

  Analysis as a stage in scientific development 228-9.

  Analysis, Dramatic: 227, 271. [_See_ Action, Analysis of.]

  Ancient Drama 125, 259-60
    Mixture of Tones an impossibility 252
    the Supernatural its leading Motive 259
    its unity of action different from that of the Modern Drama 270.

  Ancient Thought, points of difference from Modern: 44, 125-7, 137.

  Antithesis of Outer and Inner (or Practical and Intellectual) Life
    144-6
    as an element in Character-Interpretation 146
    applied to the age of Macbeth 147
    key to the portraiture of Macbeth and his wife 147-167
    applied to the age of Julius Cæsar in the form of policy _v._
    justice 168-71
    connected with character of Antony 182, Brutus 171-6, Cæsar 176-81,
    Cassius 181
    applied to the group as a whole 183-4.

  Apparitions:
    _Richard III_ 122,
    _Macbeth_ 135-6, 140, 167, 262-4. [_See_ Supernatural.]

  Apuleianism 15.

  Arch as an illustration of dramatic form 127, 280
    applied to the Movement in Julius Cæsar 186, 280
    to King Lear: Main Plot 209,
      Underplot 215-17.

  Aristotle: his criticism inductive 16
      judicial 16
    his position in the progress of Induction 230
    made Stage-Representation a division of Dramatic Criticism 231
    on the purification of our emotions in the Drama 259.

  Art applied to the repulsive and trivial 90
    common terms in the different arts 168
    Dramatic Art 40, 227 &c.
    topics common to the Drama and other arts 232
    Art in general affords a fundamental basis for the Analysis of Drama
    234
    concrete and abstract elements in all the arts alike 234.


  Background of Nature as an element in dramatic effect 192-4
    its widespread use in poetry 192
    analysed 192
    illustrated in _Julius Cæsar_ in connection with the Supernatural
    193-6
    used in Centrepiece of King Lear 214
    considered as an example of the Supernatural illuminating human
    action 266.

  Bacon 28.

  Balance 82, 233
    as an Economic form 276
    in Technical Analyses 291, 295, 296.

  Barbarism of enjoying personal defects 218.

  Beaumont and Fletcher 13.

  _Betrothed, The_: as example of Oracular Action 132.

  Biblical citations: _Psalm_ II (Irony) 138
    conclusion of _Job_ (Dramatic Background) 192.

  Blank Verse 13.

  Boileau on Terence 16
    on Corneille 18.

  Bossu 17, 18.

  Brontë, Charlotte: 30.

  Buckingham 17.

  Byron 14.


  Caro, Hannibal: 17.

  Catastrophe, or Focus of Movement: 284-5
    =Examples=: _Merchant of Venice_ 285; _Richard III_ 285, 120;
    _Macbeth_ 285; _Julius Cæsar_ 285, 198; _King Lear_ 285, 205
    in Technical Analyses 291-8.

  Central Personages 119
    Gloucester in _King Lear_ 206, 207
    Richard 291.

  Centre, Dramatic: 67, 186
    Shakespeare's fondness for central effects 186, 284.

  Centre of Plot 284
    =Examples= 285
    in Technical Analyses 291-8.


  Character: as an element in Judgment  56
    as an Elementary Topic of Dramatic Criticism 235
    subdivided 235.

  Character, Interest of: 237 and Chapter XII. Character in Drama
  presented concretely 237.
    Unity in Character-Interest 237-9
      Complexity in Character-Interest 239-242
      Development in Character-Interest 242-5.
    Character-Interpretation 237-9.
    Character-Foils 239
      Contrast 240
      Duplication 240
      Grouping 241
      Dramatic Colouring 241.
    Character-Development 242-5.

  Character-Contrast as a general term 239-42
    strictly so-called 240, 144 and Chapter VII
    general and from special standpoints 144
    from standpoint of Outer and Inner Life 144-7, 168-71
    as an Elementary Topic of Dramatic Criticism 236
    =Illustrations=: _Merchant of Venice_ 82-7 _Macbeth_ 144 and Chapter
    VII _Julius Cæsar_ 178, &c.

  Character-Development 242-5
    =Illustration=: _Macbeth_ ib.

  Character-Duplication 240
    =Illustrations=: Murderers in _Richard III_ &c. 240-1.

  Character-Foils 239
    Illustrations: Jessica to Lorenzo 85
      Jessica and Lorenzo to Portia and Bassanio 86
      Cassius and Cæsar 179.

  Character-Grouping described 168
    =Illustration=: _Julius Cæsar_ 169 and Chapter VIII.

  Character-Interpretation 236, 237-9
    of the nature of a scientific hypothesis 237
    canons of interpretation 238-9
    applied to more than one Character becomes Character-Contrast 240
    analytical in its nature 186
    has swallowed up other elements of dramatic effect in the popular
    estimation of Shakespeare 233
    =Illustration=: _Richard III_ 90 and Chapter IV.


  Chess with living pieces, an illustration of Passion 185.

  Cibber 17.

  Ciceronianism 15.

  Circumstance External 291.

  Clash of Tones: 253. [_See_ Tone.]

  Classical Drama: _see_ Ancient.

  Classification a stage in development of Inductive Method 228, 229.

  Climax in Passion-Movement 185-7
    applied to _Julius Cæsar_ 186-8 and Chapter IX.
    Illustrated in _King Lear_ 202 and Chapter X.
    Gradual rise to the climax of the Main Plot 209-15
      the climax itself 215
      climax of Underplot 215-8
      climax of the play double 217
      and triple 218, 223.

  Coleridge 11.

  Collier, Jeremy: 35.

  Colouring. Dramatic: 241-2.
    =Illustration=: _Macbeth_ ib.

  'Comedy' unsuitable as a term in Shakespeare-Criticism 280-1.

  Comic as a Tone 251-2.

  Complex distinguished from Complicated 74 (note)
    applied to Plot of _Merchant of Venice_ 74 and Chapter III
    Complexity distinguishes the plot of _King Lear_ as compared with
    that of _Julius Cæsar_ 186
    traced in plot of _King Lear_ 202, 208-9, &c.
    not inconsistent with simplicity 208, 74
    an element of Action 235, 236
    applied to Character 239, Passion 250, Plot 270.

  Complicated distinguished from Complex 74 (note)
    Complicated Movement 279.

  Complicating Force 67.

  Complication and Resolution 66, 279
    =Illustration=: _Merchant of Venice_ 67.

  Connection as an Economic form 275
    by Link Personages and Actions 275
    by Interweaving _ib._
    by common Envelopment 276.

  Construction and Creation as processes in Character-Painting 30.

  Contrast as an Economic form 277, 295-8. [_See_ Character-Contrast.]

  Corneille: the Corneille Incident 18
    his _Clitandre_ ib.

  Courage, active and passive 146, 179.

  Cowley 16.

  Creation and Construction as processes in Character-Painting 30.


  Criticism _à priori_ 24, 37. [_See_ Criticism Judicial.]

  Criticism, Dramatic: as an Inductive Science 40, 227, &c.
    surveyed in outline 227
    indirectly by Studies _ib._
    its definition 228-34
    its method 228-30
    its field 230-4
    distinguished from Literary Criticism in general 231
    need not include Stage-Representation 231-2
    common ground between Literary and Dramatic Criticism 232
      between Dramatic Art and Stage-Representation 232-3
    Drama and Representation separable in exposition not in idea 233-4
    fundamental divisions of Dramatic Criticism 234-6
    its elementary Topics tabulated 236
    General Table of its Topics 288.

  Criticism: History of 7-21. [_See_ Criticism, Judicial,
  Shakespeare-Criticism.]

  Criticism, Inductive: distinguished from Judicial 2
    the two illustrated by the case of Ben Jonson 2-4
    confusion of the two 4
    gradual development of Inductive method in the history of Criticism
    17-21
    sphere of Inductive Criticism separate from that of the Criticism of
    Taste 21
    three main points of contrast between Inductive and Judicial
    Criticism 27-40
      (1) as to comparisons of merit 27-32
      (2) as to the 'laws' of Art 32-7
      (3) as to fixity of standard 37-40.
    =Difficulties= of Inductive Criticism: want of positiveness in the
    subject-matter 23-5
      absence of 'design' in authors 26
      objection as to the ignoring of moral purpose 35
      arbitrariness of literary creation 35-7.
    =Principles= and =Axioms= of Inductive Criticism. Its foundation
    Axiom: _Interpretation is of the nature of a scientific hypothesis_
    25
      its antagonism to comparisons of merit 27-9
      concerned with differences of kind rather than degree 29-32
    Axiom: _Its function to distinguish literary species_ 32
        principle that each writer is a species to himself 30-2
        the laws of Art: scientific laws 32-7
        Inductive Criticism has no province to deal with faults 34
      Axiom: _Art a part of Nature_ 36
      Axiom: _Literature a thing of development_ 36
        development to be applied equally to past and new literature 38.
    =Illustrations= of Inductive Criticism. Applied by Addison 16, 20;
    Aristotle 16; Fontenelle 19; Perrault 19; Gervinus 20; Dr. Johnson
    16.
      Applied to the character of Macbeth 24; Music 29; to Charlotte
      Brontë and George Eliot 30; Beethoven 34.

  Criticism, Judicial: distinguished from Inductive 2
    the two illustrated by the case of Ben Jonson 2-4
    confusion of the two 4
    three main points of contrast between Judicial and Inductive
    Criticism 27-40
      (1) as to comparisons of merit 27-32
      (2) as to the 'laws' of Art 32-7
      (3) as to fixity of standard 37-40.
    Illegitimate supremacy of Judicial method in Criticism 4
      connected with influence of the Renaissance 4
        and Journalism 5
      defence: Theory of Taste as condensed experience 6
    the theory examined: judicial spirit a limit on appreciation 6.
    =History= of Judicial Criticism a triumph of authors over critics 7-21.
      Case of Shakespeare-Criticism 7-11
      other authors 11-13
      defeat of Judicial Criticism in the great literary questions 13-15
      its failure to distinguish the permanent and transitory 15
      its tendency to become obsolete 16
      its gradual modification in the direction of Inductive method
      17-21.
    Proper sphere of Judicial Criticism 21
      outside science _ib._
      and belonging to creative literature _ib._
    Vices of Judicial Criticism:
      its arbitrary method of eliminating variability of impression in
      literary effect 24
      its fondness for comparisons of merit 27
      its attempt to limit by 'laws' 32-5
      its assumption of fixed standards 37-9
      its confusion of development with improvement 39.
    =Illustrations= of Judicial Criticism: applied by the French Academy
    18; Aristotle 16; Boileau 16, 18; Byron 14; Dennis 19; Dryden 9, 12,
    13, 17; Edwards 9; Hallam 12; Heywood 10; Jeffrey 12; Dr. Johnson
    10, 12, 16, 19, 20; Lansdowne 9; Macaulay 13; Otway 9; Pope 10, 19;
    Rymer 8, 14, 17; Steevens 12, 15; Theobald 10; Voltaire 9, 14, 17.
    Applied to Addison's _Cato_ 17; Beethoven 34; Brontë 30; Buckingham
    17; Eliot (Geo.) 30; Gray 12; Greek Drama 30; Herodotus 39; Jonson
    (Ben) 2, 17; Keats 12; Milton 11, 12, 14, 17, 39; Montgomery 13;
    Roscommon 17; Shakespeare's Plays 8-11, &c.; Shakespeare's Sonnets
    12; Spenser 12, 17; Taylor (Jeremy) 39; Waller 17; Walsh 17;
    Waverley Novels 12; Wordsworth 12.

  Criticism of Assaying 2, 6. [_See_ Criticism, Judicial.]

  Criticism of Taste 2, 6, 21-2. [_See_ Criticism, Judicial.]

  Cross Nemeses 291, 293, 47, 51.


  Dancing (Greek) 231.

  Dennis 19.

  Dependence as an Economic form 276.

  Design, its significance in Criticism 26.

  Destiny interwoven with Nemesis in _Macbeth_ 125 and Chapter VI
    conception of it in Ancient and Modern Thought 125, 259-60
    phases of Destiny in Modern Drama 127
    the Oracular Action one phase of Destiny 130
    Irony as a phase of Destiny 137-43
    Destiny acting objectively 260
    rationalised in Modern Drama 260
    as a subjective force, Infatuation 261-2
    rationalised in Shakespeare _ib._

  Development in literature 37-9
    as an element of Action 235, 236
    applied to Character 242.

  Devices for increasing emotional strain 196.

  Differentiation of matter accompanying progress of Inductive Science
  230
    applied to Dramatic Criticism 231-4.

  Dover as the objective of the plot in _King Lear_ 274, 284.

  Drama: the word 'drama' 234
    Drama a compound art 231
    the Shakespearean a branch of the Romantic Drama 43
    its relations with Stage-Representation 231-2, 233-4, 98
    one of its purposes to interpret the beauty of fate 259.

  Dramatic Satire 3.

  Dryden on Spenser 12, 17
    on Blank Verse 13
    his _Essay on the Drama_ ib.
    his _Essay on Satire_ ib.
    on Milton's Blank Verse 17
    on Shakespeare's English 15.

  Duplication 240.


  Economy of Action 274-8 [_see_ Action]
    an economy in Richard's Villainy 100.

  Edwards 9.

  Effect as a general term in Dramatic Criticism 248
    strictly so-called _ib._
    an element of Passion _ib._
    distinguished from Situation and Incident 246
    described 248-50
    special Effects: Irony 248, Nemesis 249, Dramatic Foreshadowing 249.

  Elevated as a Tone 251.

  Eliot (Geo.) 30.

  Emerson, quoted 7.

  Emotion as a barrier to crime 93.

  Enveloping Action 273-4, 111
    =Illustrations=: _Richard III_ 111-12; _King Lear_ 273-4 Analogous
    to External Circumstance 291 note in Technical Analyses 291-8.

  Envelopment as a kind of Connection 276.

  Euphuism utilised in Brutus's oration 175.

  Eusden 17.

  External Circumstance 291.


  Farcical as a Tone 251, 252.

  Fascination as an element in human influence 97.

  Fate, determinants of in Drama 255 [_see_ Motive Force]
    fate other than retributive included in Poetic Justice 257
    function of Drama to interpret beauty of fate 259.

  Fault as a critical term 32, 34.

  Focussing of trains of passion in _King Lear_ 209.

  Foils 239. [_See_ Character.]

  Fontenelle 19.

  Foreshadowing, Dramatic: 249, 201.

  Free Trade and Free Art 35.


  Gervinus 11, 20, 127, 280.

  Gloucester: _see King Lear_ and _Richard III_.

  Goethe 11.

  Goldsmith 33.

  Gray 12.

  Grouping 241. [_See_ Character.]


  Hallam 11, 12.

  _Hamlet_, Play of 262.

  Hedging, Dramatic: 60, 78, 232-3.
    =Illustrations=: Shylock 58-61; Richard III, 105; Brutus 176.

  Heraclitus 28.

  Herodotus 39.

  Heroic as a Tone 251.

  Heroic couplet 30.

  Heywood 10.

  Hippolyta 111.

  Hippolytus 45, 126.

  History, its interpretation of events compared with the effect of
  the Oracular Action 265.

  Hogarth 7.

  Homer: Episode of Achilles and the River-god 193
    _Iliad_ 23.

  Hugo, Victor: 11.

  Human Interest one of the two leading divisions of Drama 234
    further divided, 235.

  Humour in agony 162-3
    an example of Tone-Clash 254.

  Hybris 49, 262.

  Hysterical passion in _King Lear_ 210-15.


  Iago compared with Richard III 92
    self-deceived 101.

  Idealisation as a dramatic effect 51
    applied to the Caskets Story 51-4
    of Incident 97.

  _Iliad_ 23, 193.

  Imitation as a force in developing madness 214-15.

  Incident as a division of Passion 246
    distinguished from Situation and Effect _ib._
    =Illustrations=: 246-7.

  Inclined Plane as a form of Passion-Movement 280.

  Inconsistency in characters a mark of unfinished Interpretation 238.

  Indirect elements of Character-Interpretation 238, 86.

  Individuality of authorship corresponds to differentiation of
  species 39
    individuality an element in the Inner Life 169.

  Induction: its connection with facts 1
    application to literature 22-40. [_See_ Criticism Inductive.]
    Stages in the development of Inductive Science 228-9
      its progress accompanied by differentiation of subject-matter 230
      application to Science of Dramatic Criticism 227 and Chapters XI
      to XIV
        to the definition of Dramatic Criticism 228.

  Infatuation: Destiny acting as a subjective force 261
    prominence in Ancient Ethics 261
    traces in Scripture expression 261
    rationalised by Shakespeare 261-2.
    =Illustrations=: Antonio 262, 49; Cæsar 197; Macbeth 261-2.

  Inner Life 144-6. [_See_ Antithesis of, &c.]

  Interpretation by the actor an element in dramatic analysis 98
    _see_ Character-Interpretation.

  Interweaving of Stories 43-4, 58, 66-73, 74 and Chapter III, 81-2, 87-8
    of light and serious Stories 69-73. [_See_ Story.]
    Interweaving as a kind of Connection 275
      in Technical Analyses 291, 298.

  Intrigue Action 207-8
    the Underplot of _King Lear_ 207-8
    Intrigues of Goneril and Regan, 206, 298.

  Irony as a phase of Destiny 137-9
    the word 'irony' 137
    Irony of Socrates, _ib._
    illustrated by Story of Oedipus 138
    in language of Scripture 138
    modified in modern conception 138-9
      connected with Oracular Action 139
      combined with Nemesis 256
      as an objective presentation of Destiny 260-1.
    Dramatic Irony as example of mixed Passion 73
      as a mode of emphasising Nemesis 115-119, 120
      as one of the triple Forms of Action in _Macbeth_ 139-42
      as  a Dramatic Effect 248-9
      this a contribution of the Greek Stage 248.
    Dramatic Irony extended to the language of a scene 249
      Comic Irony 249.
    =Illustrations=: in _Merchant of Venice_ 73, 249; _Richard III_
    115-19, 120, 121, 249, 256; _Macbeth_ 139-142, 256; Macduff 143;
    Banquo 142; the Witches Action 143; proclamation of Cumberland 260;
    _Julius Cæsar_ 249, 197; _King Lear_ 249; Story of Oedipus 248.


  Jeffrey 12.

  Jester 218. [_See_ King Lear: Fool.]

  Jew, Story of: 44, &c. [_See_ Story.]
    Feud of Jew and Gentile 60
    Jews viewed as social outcasts, 83.

  Job, Book of: its conclusion as an example of Dramatic Background of
  Nature 192.

  Johnson, Dr.: on Shakespeare 10-11, 20
    on Milton's minor poems  11
    on Blank Verse 14
    on Metaphysical Poetry 16
    on Addison's _Cato_ 19
    on the Unities 20.

  Jonson, Ben: 2-4
    his Dramatic Satires 3
    his Blank Verse 13
    his _Catiline_ 17.

  Journalism: its influence on critical method 5
    place of Reviewing in literary classification 21-2.

  Judicial Blindness 201, 261. [_See_ Infatuation.]


  _Julius Cæsar_, Play of: 168-201, Chapters VIII and IX. As an example
  of Character-Grouping 168 and Chapter VIII, 241
    example of Enveloping Action 273
    Balance 276
    Regular Arch Movement 280
    Similar Motion 282
    Turning-points 285
    Technical Analysis 296.

  _Julius Cæsar_, Characters in:
    Antony balances Cæsar 129
      spared by the Conspirators 171
      contrasted by Cæsar with Cassius 179-80
      his general character 182-3
      its culture 179-80
      self-seeking 182
      affection for Cæsar 183, 199
      his position in the group of characters 183, 184
      peculiar tone of his oratory 198
      dominant spirit of the reaction 198
      upspringing of a character in him 198
      his ironical conciliation of the conspirators 199
      his oration 199-200
    Antony's servant 198.
    Artemidorus 196.
    Brutus: general character 171-6
      its equal balance 171-5
      its force 171
      softness 173
      this concealed under Stoicism 173, 174-5, 239
      his culture 173
      relations with his Page 173-4
      with Portia 173, 174
      with Cæsar 175
      slays Cæsar for what he might become 175
      position in the State 176
      relations with Cassius 172, 173, 182
      overrules Cassius in council 172
      his general position in the Grouping 183.
    Cæsar: a balance to Antony 129
      general discussion of his character 176-81
        its difficulty and contradictions 176-8
      his vacillation 176-7
        explained by the antithesis of Practical and Inner Life 178
      Cæsar pre-eminently the Practical man 178-9
      strong side of his character 176-7
      lacking in the Inner Life 178-9
      compared with Macbeth 178
      a change in Cæsar and his world 180-1
      his superstition 180-1
      position in the Grouping 183
      different effect of his personality in the earlier and later half
      of the play 188, 195, 197.
    Calpurnia 194-5.
    Casca 172, 194, 195.
    Cassius: his relations with Brutus 172, 182
      brings out the defective side of Cæsar 179
      contrasted by Cæsar with Antony 179-80
      his character discussed 181-2
      Republicanism his grand passion, _ib._
      a professional politician 182
      his tact 182
      his position in the Grouping 183-4
      his relish for the supernatural portents 195
      his nemesis 249
      Cassius and the eagles 250.
    Decius 181, 195.
    Ligarius 172.
    Page of Brutus 173-4, 201.
    Popilius Lena 172, 197.
    Portia 173, 174, 196.
    Roman Mob 188, 200.
    Soothsayer 196, 250.
    Trebonius 249.

  _Julius Cæsar_, Incidents and Scenes.
    Capitol Scene 196-200
    Conspiracy Scene 171, 172, 176, 181
      its connection with storm and portents 193-4
    Incidents of the Fever and Flood 178, 179
    Funeral and Will of Cæsar 175, 199-200, 239.

  _Julius Cæsar_, Movement of: compared with movement of _King Lear_ 186
    its simplicity and form of Regular Arch 186, 280
    key to the movement the justification of the conspirators' cause 187.
    Stages of its Movement: Rise 188-96
      Crisis 196-8
      Catastrophe and Decline 198-201.
    Starting-point in popular reaction against Cæsar 188
      Crescendo in the Rise 189-91
      the Conspiracy formed and developing the Strain begins 191-6
      suspense an element in Strain 191
      Strain increased by background of the Supernatural 192-6, 266
      the conspirators and the victim compared in this stage 194-6.
    Crisis, the Strain rising to a climax 196-200
      exact commencement of the Crisis is marked 196
      devices for heightening the Strain 196
      the conspirators and victim just before the Catastrophe 197
      the justification at its height 197
      Catastrophe and commencement of the Decline 198
      Antony dominating the Reaction 198
      the Mob won to the Reaction 200.
    Final stage of an Inevitable Fate: the Strain ceasing 200-1
      the representative of the Reaction supreme 200
      the position of Conspirators and Cæsar reversed 201
      judicial blindness 201
      the justification ceases 201.


  Justice Poetic, as a Dramatic Motive 255-7
    the term discussed 255
    Nemesis as a form of Poetic Justice 255-6
    Poetic Justice other than Nemesis 256-7.


  Keats 12.

  'Kindness': the word discussed 149-50, 222
    'milk of human kindness' 149-50.


  _King Lear_, Play of: as a study in complex Passion and Movement 202
  and Chapter X
    compared with _Julius Cæsar_ 186
    affording examples of Plot-Analysis 271
      of Enveloping Action in the French War 273-4
      of Parallelism and Contrast 277-8
      of Convergent Motion 283-4
    Turning-points 285
    Technical Analysis 297-8.

  _King Lear_, Characters in.
    Cordelia: her conduct in the Opening Scene 203-4
      her Tragedy 206
      friendship for the Fool 223
      question of her patriotism 257-8
      an illustration of Pathos as a Dramatic Motive 257-9
      connection with the Enveloping Action 274.
    Cornwall 212.
    Edgar: his Tragedy 208
      his feigned madness and position in the Centrepiece 215-8, 223
      his contact with his father and Lear in the hovel 215-8, 247
      his madness an emotional climax to the Underplot 216.
    Edmund compared with Richard III 92
      his charge against Edgar 206
      an agent in the Underplot 207-8
      his Tragedy 208, 216
      example of Irony 249
      connected with the Enveloping Action 274.
    The Fool: Institution of the Fool or Jester 218-20
      modern analogue in _Punch_ 219
      utilised by Shakespeare 219
      function of the Fool in _King Lear_ 220-3
      his personal character 223
      friendship with Lear and Cordelia 223.
    Gloucester: the central Personage of the Underplot 206-7
      Link Personage between Main and Underplot 275
      the Chamberlain and friend of Lear 276
      his connection with the Enveloping Action 274, 298
      with the Convergent Motion of the Play 283-4, 298.
    Goneril 203, 206, 210, 213, 240, 256, 274, 283-4.
    Kent represents Conscience in the Opening of the Problem 204-5
      his Tragedy 206.
    Lear: his conduct in the opening scene an
      example of imperiousness 203-5, 211
      his nemesis double 205-6
      gradual on-coming of madness 209-15
      Lear in the Centrepiece of the play 214-5
      after the centre madness gives place to shattered intellect 215
      his connection with the Fool 220-3
      with the Enveloping Action 274.
    Regan 203, 206, 212, 213, 240, 256, 274, 283-4.

  _King Lear_, Incidents and Scenes of:
    Opening Scene 203-5
    Stocks Scene 211, 258
    Outrage on Gloucester 247
    Hovel Scene 215-8, 247.

  _King Lear_, Movement of: 202 and Chapter X
    its simplicity 208-9
    Lear's madness a common climax to the trains of passion in the Main
    Plot 209
    Rise of the Movement in the waves of on-coming madness 209-15
    form of movement a Regular Arch, _ib._
    connection of the Fool with the Rise of the Movement 220-23
    passage into the Central Climax marked by the Storm 214-5
    Central Climax of the Movement 214-8
    effect on Lear of the Storm 214
    of contact with Edgar 215
    Edgar's madness a common Climax to the trains of passion in the
    Underplot 215-7
    the Central Climax a trio of madness 217-23
    an example of Tone-Storm 254.

  _King Lear_, Plot of:
    The Main Plot a Problem Action 202-6
      the Problem enunciated in action 203-5
      Solution in a triple Tragedy 205-6
      Parallelism between Main and Underplot 206-8, 277-8, 297.
    The Underplot an Intrigue Action 207-8
      its Initial Action 207
      its resultant a triple Tragedy parallel with that of the Main Plot
      207-8
    Main and Underplot drawn together by common Central Climax 208
      by Dependence 276
      by Convergent Motion 282-4, 298.


  Kriegspiel 185.


  Laius 134.

  Lansdowne 9.

  Laureate, Poets preceding Southey: 17.

  Law as a term in Criticism and Science generally 32-7.

  Legal evasions 65.

  Lessing 11.

  Light as a Tone 251, 252.

  Line of Motion 278-9.

  Line of Passion 280.

  Linking 275.

  Lycurgus 45.

  Lyrics of Prose 22.


  Macaulay 2, 3, 13
    on active and passive courage 146.


  _Macbeth_, Play of:
    affords examples of Dramatic Colouring 241-2
    Enveloping Action (the Witches) 273
    Balance 276
    Parallelism and Contrast 277
    Technical Analysis 295.

  Macbeth, Character of:
    an illustration of methodical analysis 24
    compared with Richard 92
      with Julius Cæsar 178
    an example of Character-Development 243-5.
    General Analysis 147-154, 161, 243-5.
    Macbeth as the Practical Man 147-54
      his nobility superficial 148, 161
      his character as analysed by his wife 148-50
      illustrated by his soliloquy 151-3
      compared in action and in mental conflicts 153, 162
      flaws in his completeness as type of the practical 154
      Macbeth's superstition 154, 159, 162, 165-6, 167, 243-5
      his inability to bear suspense 154, 160, 162, 163, 164-5, 243-5.
    Macbeth under temptation 158
      in the deed of murder 161
      his break-down and blunder 162
      in the Discovery Scene 163
      his blunder in stabbing the grooms 163
      under the strain of concealment 164
      confronted with the Ghost of Banquo 165
      nemesis in his old age 167
      and his trust in the false oracles 167.
    Macbeth an example of Infatuation 261-2
      relations with the Witches 263-4
      not turned from good to evil by their influence 263.

  Macbeth (Lady), Character of: 154-6
    type of the Inner Life 154-6
    her tact 155, 161, 164, 165
    her feminine delicacy 156, 161, 162, 166
    her wifely devotion 156.
    Lady Macbeth under temptation 159
      in the deed of murder 161
      in the discovery 163
      her fainting 164
      under the strain of concealment 165
      her tact in the Ghost Scene 165
      her gentleness to Macbeth 166
      her break-down in madness 166.

  Macbeth, Lord and Lady, as a Study in Character-Contrast 144 and
  Chapter VII, 240
    rests on the Antithesis of the Practical and Inner Life 147-56.
    The Contrast traced through the action of the play 156-67
      relations at the beginning of the play 156-8
      first impulse to crime from Macbeth 156
      the Temptation 158-61
      the meeting after their separate temptations 160-1
      the Deed 161-3
      the Concealment 163-5
      the Nemesis 165-7.

  _Macbeth_, other Characters in.
    Banquo: his attitude to the supernatural compared with Macbeth's
    154, 159, 263
      the attempt against Banquo and Fleance the end of Macbeth's success
      and beginning of his failure 127
        binds together the Rise and Fall 137
        Macbeth's exultation over it 153
      the Banquo Action balances the Macduff Action 129
        gives unity to the Rise 127-9
        partakes the triple form of the whole play 142.
    Fleance: _see_ Banquo.
    Lennox 128, 163.
    Macduff: massacre of his family 130, 141
      his position in the scene with Malcolm 140, 247
      the Macduff Action balances the Banquo Action 129
        gives unity to the Fall 129-30
        partakes triple form of the whole play 142
        example of Oracular Action 265-6.
    Malcolm 139, 247.
    The Porter 253.
    The Witches 129, 134, 135, 136, 137, 139, 141
      their use to rationalise Macbeth's Infatuation 262
      an example of the Supernatural intensifying human action 263-4
      their different behaviour to Macbeth and Banquo 263-4
      their exact function in the play 264
      the Witches Action an Enveloping Action 295, 143
      partakes the triple form of the whole play 143.

  _Macbeth_, Incidents and Scenes in:
    Witches Scene 158-9, 263-4
    Apparitions Scene 130, 135, 140
    Ghost Scene 165-6, 247
    Proclamation of Cumberland 135, 151, 260
    Dagger Scene 153, 247
    Discovery Scene 163
    Flight of Duncan's Sons 139, 164, 261
    Macduff with Malcolm in England 140, 247
    the Sleep-walking 166-7
    Final Combat 261.

  _Macbeth_, Movement of:  its four Stages 158-67
    The Temptation 158-61
    The Deed 161-3
    The Concealment 163-5
    The Nemesis 165-7.

  _Macbeth_, Plot of: the interweaving of Nemesis and Destiny 127 and
  Chapter VI
     its Action multiple in form 127, 270.
    _Macbeth_ as a Nemesis Action 127-30
      the Rise 127
      the Fall 129
      the Rise and Fall together 127.
    _Macbeth_ as an Oracular Action 130-7
      the Rise 134
      the Fall 135
      the Rise and Fall together 136.
    _Macbeth_ as an Irony Action 139-43
      the Rise 139
      the Fall 140
      the Rise and Fall together 141.


  Madness distinguished from Passion 209
    connected with inspiration 218
    madness of Lear: its gradual oncoming in waves of hysterical passion
    209
      change in its character after the Centrepiece 215
      it makes the Passion-Climax of the main Plot 209
      the madness of passion 217
    madness of Edgar: the madness of idiocy 217-8
      feigned 216
      common Climax of the passions of the Underplot 215-8
    madness of the Fool: professional madness 218-23
      madness-duett 217-8
      madness-trio 218, 223.

  Malone 15.

  _Measure for Measure_, Play of: 281.

  Mechanical Construction 233, and Chapters II and III generally.

  Mechanical Details utilised 77, 233.

  Mechanical Difficulties, their Reduction: 76-7
    the three months' interval in the Story of the Jew 77
    the loss of Antonio's ships 77
    not always necessary to solve these 77.

  Mechanical Personages 75
    their multiplication in Romantic Drama _ib._

  Melodrama 118.

  Mephistopheles compared with Richard 92.


  _Merchant of Venice, The_, Play of: as an illustration of the
  construction of Drama out of Story 43-89
    Story as the Raw Material of the Romantic Drama 43
    the two main Stories in the _Merchant of Venice_ considered as Raw
    Material 43
    Story of the Jew gives scope for Nemesis 44-51
    Antonio side of the Nemesis 47-9
    Shylock side of the Nemesis 49-51
    Caskets Story gives scope for Idealisation 51-7
    Problem of Judgment by Appearances idealised 52-4
      its solution: Character as an element in Judgment 54-7
        characters of the three Suitors 55-6.
    Working up of the two Main Stories 58 and Chapter II.
    Reduction of Difficulties 58-66
      Monstrosity in Shylock's Character met by Dramatic Hedging 58-61
      Difficulties as to the pound of flesh 61-6
      significance of the discussion on interest 61-4.
    Interweaving of the two Stories 66-73
      assistance it gives to the movement of the play 66
        to the symmetry of the plot 67-9
      union of a light and serious story 69-73.
    Further multiplication of Stories by the addition of an Underplot 74
    and Chapter III.
    Paradox of simplicity by means of complexity 74-5
      uses of the Jessica Story 75-87
      characters of Jessica and Lorenzo 82-7
      uses of the Rings Episode 87-9.
    The play illustrates every variety of Tone 251-2
      Tone-Play 253
      Turning-points 285, 68
      Complication and Resolution 279, 66-7
      Central effects 67-8
      Interweaving 275-6
      Wave Form of Passion-Movement 280
      Contrary Motion 282.
    Plot analysed 271
      Technical Analysis 291-2.

  _Merchant of Venice_, Characters in:
    Antonio 247
      his nemesis 47-9
      general character 47
      friendship with Bassanio 47, 85
      conduct in Bond Scene 48-9, 61, 262
      centre of the serious side of the play 69-70
      the loss of his ships 77
      his sadness 250
      his pathetic humour 254.
    Arragon 55, 240, 251.
    Bassanio: friendship with Antonio 47, 85
      as a suitor 56
      his part in the Bond Scene 61
        in the Trial 73
        in the Rings Episode 72, 88
      a scholar 76
      set off by Lorenzo 86
      a Link Personage 88, 275
      seen at a disadvantage in the play 86, 238
      example of Tone-Clash 254.
    Bellario 66.
    Duke 64, 65.
    Gobbo 76, 252.
    Gratiano 60, 76, 84, 239, 249, 252.
    Jessica, her Story 75-87, 68, &c.
      her character 82-7
      a compensation to Shylock 80
      her attraction to Portia 87
      foil to Portia 86
      in Moonlight Scene 247.
    Launcelot 76, 83, 84, 252.
    Lorenzo: his character 85-7
      its alleged inconsistency 238
      a foil to Bassanio 86
      in Moonlight Scene 247.
    Morocco 55, 240, 251.
    Nerissa 76, 239, 252.
    Portia as centre of the lighter side of the play 69-70, 252
      in the Trial Scene 49-51, 65-6, 70-3
      her plea an evasion 65
      playing with the situation 70-2
      her outburst on mercy 73, 251
      the Rings Stratagem 72
      relations with Jessica 85-6
      her character 88-9.
    Salarino 48, 60, 76, 84.
    Salanio 60, 76.
    Salerio 76.
    Shylock as a study of Nemesis 49-51
      in the Trial Scene 49-51, 247
      his character 59-61
      sentence on him 60, 80, 257
      relation with Jessica 78-81, 83.
    Tubal 60, 76, 79, 239, 247.

  _Merchant of Venice_, Incidents and Scenes in:
    Bond Scene 48-9, 61-4, 262
    Scene of Bassanio's Choice 55, 56, 68, 253, 275
    Scene between Shylock and Tubal 79, 247
    Trial Scene 49
      its difficulties 64-6
      its mixture of passions 70-2, 73
      as an Incident 246
      its Comic Irony 249
      its Tone-Clash 254
      sentence on Shylock 257.
    Moonlight Scene 247.


  Merivale on Roman Life 170.

  _Midsummer Night's Dream_, Play of 111.

  'Milk of human kindness' 149-50.

  Milton's _Paradise Lost_ 11
    minor poems 11, 12
    versification 12, 13, 14
    his Satan 123
    on the Inner Life 144
    his use of the Background of Nature 192.

  Mixture of Tones 251-3. [_See_ Tone.]

  Mob in _Julius Cæsar_ 296, 188, 200.

  Molière 16.

  Montgomery, Robert 13.


  Motion, Line of: 278-9.

  Motion, Modes of: 281-4
    Similar Motion 282, 294, 295, 296
    Contrary Motion 282, 291
    Convergent Motion 282-4, 298. [_See_ also Movement.]

  Motive, Dramatic: 255-67. [_See_ Motive Force.]

  Motive Force, or Dramatic Motive: 254-67
    General idea 254-5
    distinguished from Motive Form _ib._
    =Leading Motive Forces=: Poetic Justice 255-7
      Pathos 257-9
      the Supernatural 259-67.
    Motive Force in _Richard III_ is Nemesis 119
    in _Macbeth_ the original oracle of the Witches 137.

  Motive Form distinguished from Motive Force 254
    general exposition 278-87.

  Movement: as an element in Drama 185
    Arch form applied to 186
      simple in _Julius Cæsar_, complex in _King Lear_ 186, 202
      traced in _Julius Cæsar_ 185 and Chapter IX
      in _King Lear_ 202 and Chapter X.
    Movement as one division of Action 235, 236
      applied to Character as Character-Development 242
      applied to Passion 254 [_see_ Motive Force]
      applied to Plot 278 [_see_ Motive Form].
    Movement shown in the Technical Analyses 291-8.

  Movement, Centre of, Focus of: 284-5. [_See_ Catastrophe.]

  Movement, Single[9] 278-81
      its division into Simple and Complicated 278-9
      Action-Movement and Passion-Movement 279-80
        this distinction the basis of the main division of Shakespeare's
        plays 279-81
        varieties of Passion-Movement 280.
    Compound Movement 281-4
      general idea 281
      its three Modes of Motions:
        Similar Motion 282
        Contrary Motion 282
        Convergent Motion 282-4.

  Movement, Varieties of:
    Single[9] 278
    Compound 281-4
    Simple[9] and Complicated[9] 278-9
    Action and Passion 279-81, 291-8
    Regular Arch 280
    Inclined Plane 280
    Wave 280
    Similar 282
    Contrary 282
    Convergent 282-4.


  Multiplication of Actions 269-71
    of Stories 74. [_See_ Story.]


  Nemesis as a dramatic idea 44
      ancient and modern conception 44-5
      its change with change in the idea of Destiny 126
      its distinction from Justice 44
      connection with Fortune 44
      with risk 45
      proverbs of Nemesis 46
      connection with _hybris_ 49.
    Nemesis needed to counterbalance Richard's Villainy 106
      woven into history in _Richard III_ 107 and Chapter V
      a system of Nemesis Actions in the Underplot of _Richard III_ 108-119
      modes of emphasising 114-18
      its multiplication a suitable background to Richard's character 118.
    Nemesis interwoven with Destiny in _Macbeth_ 125 and Chapter VI
      applied to the plot of _Macbeth_ 127-30.
    Nemesis as a Dramatic Effect 249
      as a Dramatic Motive 255-6.

  Nemesis, Varieties of:
    Surprise 47
    Expectation and Satisfaction 49
    Unlooked-for Source 256
    Equality, or Measure for Measure 49, 120, 127, 208, 256
    Sureness or Delay 120, 256
    Suddenness 198, 256
    Repetition and Multiplication 256, 107 and Chapter V generally
    Self-inflicted 256
      the Prize of Guilt 256
    Combined with Mockery 256 and compare 115-9
    Double 47, 205-6, 207-8
    Cross Nemeses 291, 293, compare 47, 51.

  Nemesis, =Illustrations= of:
    Anne 113
    Antonio 47
    Buckingham 109
    Cæsar 197
    Cassius 249
    Clarence 108
    the Conspirators in _Julius Cæsar_ 201, 256
    Edmund 208, 216-7
    King Edward IV 108
    Gloucester (in _King Lear_) 207-8, 216-7
    Goneril and Regan 206, 256
    Hastings 109
    Hippolytus 45
    in the Story of the Jew 46
    Lear 205-6, 209-15, 220-3, 256
    Lycurgus 45
    Macbeth 217-30, 165-7, 256
    Lady Macbeth 166
    Macduff 129
    Pentheus 45
    Polycrates 45
    Queen and her kindred (_Richard III_) 108
    Regan 206, 256
    Richard III 119-24, 256
    Shylock 49, 256
    Wars of the Roses 111-3.


  Objective to the plot of _King Lear_ 284, 298.

  Observation as a Stage of Inductive Science 228-9.

  Oedipus as an example of Oracular Action 134
    of Irony 138.

  Omens 193, 201. [_See_ Supernatural.]

  Oracular Action 130-4
    applied to Macbeth 134-7
    as an example of Supernatural agency illuminating human action 265-6
    compared with the illumination of history 265.
    =Illustrations=:
      of the first type 131, 134, 135
      of the second 132, 134
      of the third 133, 136.

  _Othello_, play of: Rymer on 8, 9
    Iago 92, 101.

  Otway 9.

  Outer and Inner Life 144-6. [_See_ Antithesis.]

  Overwinding as an illustration for the Movement of _Macbeth_ 137.


  Paradox of simplicity by means of complexity 74.

  Parallelism 276-8 [_see_ Action, Economy of]
    between Main and Underplot in _King Lear_ 206-9, 277-8, 297
    other illustrations in the Technical Analyses 291, 295.


  Passion 246
    as an element in Drama 185-6
    its connection with Movement _ib._
    as an Elementary Topic in Dramatic Criticism 235
    subdivided 236. =Examples:= _Julius Cæsar_ 185 and Chapter IX;
    _Lear_ 202 and Chapter X.

  'Passion-Drama' as substitute for 'Tragedy' 280-1, 293, 295, 296, 297.

  Passion, Interest of: 246 and Chapter XIII
    general description 246
    unity in Passion-Interest 246-50 [_see_ Incident, Situation, and
    Effect]
    complexity in Passion-Interest 250-4 [_see_ Tone]
    Movement applied to Passion 254-67, 236 [_see_ Motive Force].

  Passion, Line of: 280.

  Passion-Movement 254-67, 236. [_See_ Motive Force.]

  Passion-Strain 186
    Strain and Reaction 280.
    =Examples:= _Julius Cæsar_ 191-201; _King Lear_ 208, 215.


  Pathos as a Dramatic Motive 257-9.

  St. Paul and Nemesis 47.

  Pentheus 45.

  Perrault 19.

  Perspective in Plot 118.

  Pharaoh an example of Infatuation 261.

  Physical passion or madness in Lear 210-5
    external shocks as a cause of madness 214.

  Plato's _Republic_ and its treatment of liberty 170.


  Plot as an Elementary Topic in Dramatic Criticism 236
    the intellectual side of Action, or pure Action 236
    Shakespeare a Master of Plot 69, 269
    close connection between Plot and Character illustrated by _Richard
    III_ 107 and Chapter V
    this play an example of complexity in Plot 107
    perspective in Plot 118
    _Macbeth_ an example of subtlety in Plot 125, 142
    Plot analytical in its nature 186
    simple in _Julius Cæsar_, complex in _King Lear_ 202
    effect on the estimation of Plot of dissociation from the theatre 233
    the most intellectual of all the elements of Drama 233
    Technical Analyses of Plots 291-8.

  Plot, Interest of: 268 and Chapter XIV.
    Definition of Plot 268-9
      its connection with design and pattern 268, 269, 270, 272, 108,
      111, 118, 202
      its dignity 268.
    Unity applied to Plot 269-70 [_see_ Action Single; Action, Forms of]
      complexity applied to Plot 270-8 [_see_ Action Analysis, Economy]
      complexity of Action distinguishes Modern Drama from Ancient 270
      Unity of Action becomes in Modern Drama Harmony of Actions 270
      Shakespeare's plots federations of plots 271.
    Movement applied to Plot, or Motive Form 278-85. [_See_ Action
    Single and Compound, Turning-points.]


  Poetic Justice 255-7. [_See_ Justice.]

  Polycrates 45, 126.

  Pope 10, 17, 19.

  Portia: see _Merchant of Venice_
    _Julius Cæsar_.

  Practical Life 144-6. [_See_ Antithesis.]

  Problem Action 202-6, 224, 269
    of Judgment by Appearances 52-6.

  Prometheus 122-3.

  _Proverbs_, Book of: quoted 144.

  Proverbs of Nemesis 46.

  Providence as modern analogue of Destiny 125.

  Puritan Revolution, its effect on Dramatic Criticism 232.

  Pye 17.


  Quilp compared with Richard III 92, 94.


  _Rambler_ 17.

  Raw Material of the Romantic Drama 43, 232.

  Reaction 198. [_See_ Passion-Strain.]

  Reduction of Difficulties an element in Dramatic workmanship 58, 233
    illustrated: _Merchant of Venice_ 58-66.

  Reed 8.

  Relief 253. [_See_ Tone.]

  Renaissance and its influence on critical method 4, 18, 230
    Shakespeare a type 287.

  Representation 231. [_See_ Stage.]

  Resolution 67, 279. [_see_ Complication.]
    Resolving Force 67.

  Reviewing, the lyrics of prose 22.

  Rhymed couplet 30
    its usage by Shakespeare 135.


  _Richard III_, Play of: an example of the intimate relation between
  Character and Plot 107
    treated from the side of Character 90 and Chapter IV
      from the side of Plot 107 and Chapter VI
    its Enveloping Action, the wars of the Roses 273, 276
    its Turning-points 285
    its form of Passion-Movement 280
    affords examples of Situations 247
      of Dramatic Foreshadowing 250
      of Similar Motion 282.

  Richard III, Character of: 90 and Chapter IV
    Ideal Villainy 90-1, 237
      in scale 91
      development 91, 243
      not explained by sufficient motive 92
      an end in itself 93.
    Richard as an Artist in Villainy 93-6
      absence of emotion 93
      intellectual enjoyment of Villainy 95-6.
    His Villainy ideal in its success 96-103
      fascination of irresistibility 97, 103
      use of unlikely means 98
      economy 99
      imperturbability and humour 100-1
      fairness 101
      recklessness suggesting resource 101, 239
      inspiration as distinguished from calculation 102
      his keen touch for human nature 102.
    Ideal and Real Villainy 104
    Ideal Villainy and Monstrosity 105. [Also called Gloster.]

  _Richard III_, Characters in:
    Anne 94, 113, 115 [_see_ Wooing Scene]
    Buckingham 91, 96, 100, 109, 115, 118, 121, 240
    Catesby 117, 240
    Clarence 108, 114, 116
      his Children 109
      his Murderers 240-1
    Derby 117
    Dorset 120
    Elizabeth 121
    Ely 100, 121
    Hastings 91, 98, 109, 114, 115, 117, 240, 249
    King Edward IV 99, 108, 114, 117
    King Edward V 100, 240, 250
    Lord Mayor 99
    Margaret 94, 112, 115, 247
    Queen and her kindred 98, 108, 114, 115, 116
    Richmond 120, 121
    Stanley 117, 123
    Tyrrel 94, 240
    York 99, 240
    Duchess of York 95, 111.

  _Richard III_, Incidents and Scenes in:
    Wooing Scene 247
      analysed 103-4
      an example of fascination 94, 97
      Richard's blunders 102, 239.
    Margaret and the Courtiers 94, 247
    Reconciliation Scene 99, 117
    Murder of Clarence 116, 240-1, 246.

  _Richard III_, Plot of: 107 and Chapter V.
    How Shakespeare weaves Nemesis into History _ib._
    Its Underplot as a system of Nemesis 108
      its Enveloping Action a Nemesis 111
      further multiplication of Nemesis 112
      special devices for neutralising the weakening effect of such
      multiplication 114-8
      the multiplication needed as a background to the villainy 118
    Motive Force of the whole a Nemesis Action 119.
    Fall of Richard 119-23
      protracted not sudden 119, 256
    Turning-point delayed 120
      tantalisation and mockery in Richard's fate 121-4
    Climax in sleep and the Apparitions 122
      final stages 123
      play begins and ends in peace 123.


  Roman political life 169-71 and Chapter VIII generally
    its subordination of the individual to the State 170
    a change during Cæsar's absence 180, 183.

  Romantic Drama:
    Shakespeare its Great Master 40, 43
    its connection with Stories of Romance 43.

  _Romeo and Juliet_, Play of: 9.

  Roscommon 17.

  Rowe 17.

  Rymer the champion of 'Regular' Criticism 8
    on Portia 8
    and _Othello_ generally 8
    on _Paradise Lost_ 11
    on Blank Verse 14
    on Modern Drama 17
    on _Catiline_ 17
    on Classical Standards 18
    his _Edgar_ 21.


  Satire, Dramatic 3.

  Scale of Passion-Tones 251.

  Schlegel 11.

  Science of Dramatic Art 40, 227. [_See_ Criticism.]

  Scudéry 18.

  Serious as a Tone 251.

  Shadwell 17.

  Shakespeare-Criticism, History of, in five stages 8-11.

  Shakespeare's English 15
    his Sonnets 12.

  Situation, Dramatic: 247-8.

  Socrates 230.

  Sophocles 270.

  Spenser 12, 17, 30.

  Sprat 16.

  Stage-Representation: an element in Interpretation 98
    an allied art to Drama 231
    separated in the present treatment 231-2
    in exposition but not in idea 233-4.

  Stationary Action 291 note.

  Steevens 12, 15.

  Stoicism 144, 173, 174, 175, 179, 188.

  Storm in _Julius Cæsar_ 192-6, 214 [_see_ Background of Nature]
    in _King Lear_ 214-5.


  Story as the Raw Material of the Shakespearean Drama 43 and Chapter
  I, 232
    construction of Drama out of Stories illustrated in _The Merchant of
    Venice_ 43-89
    two Stories worked into one design in _The Merchant of Venice_ 58
    and Chapter II
    in _King Lear_ 206
    Multiplication and Interweaving of Stories 66-73
      effects on Movement 66-7
      of Symmetry 67-9
      interweaving of a Light with a Serious Story 69-73
      effects of
    Human Interest 70
    of Plot 70
    of Passion 70-3.

  Story of the Jew 43, 44-51.
    Its two-fold Nemesis 46-51
    its difficulties met 58-66
    Complicated and Resolved 67
    connection with the Central Scene 68
    its mechanical difficulties 76-7.

  Story of the Caskets 44, 51-6.
    An illustration of Idealisation 51
    careful contrivance of inscriptions and scrolls 53, 54
    its problem 52
    and solution 54
    connection with the central scene 68.

  Story of Jessica 75-87.
    Its connection with the central scene 68
    an Underplot to _The Merchant of Venice_ 75-87
    its use in attaching to Plot the Mechanical Personages 75
    and generally assisting Mechanism 76-7
    helps to reduce difficulties in the Main Plot 77-80
    a Link Action 81
    assists Symmetry and Balance 82
    assists Characterisation 82-7.

  Story [or Episode] of the Rings: its uses in the Underplot of _The
  Merchant of Venice_ 87-9
    compare 68, 72.

  Strain of Passion 186. [_See_ Passion-Strain.]

  Sub-Actions:
    Launcelot 76, 291
    Cæsar and Antony 282, 296
    in Technical Analyses 291-8.

  Supernatural, The, as a Dramatic Motive 259-67.
    Different use in Ancient and Modern Drama 259
      rationalised in Modern Drama 260.
    In an objective form as Destiny 260-1
      in a subjective form as Infatuation 261-2.
    Supernatural Agencies 262-7
      not to be explained as hallucinations 262
      Shakespeare's usage of Supernatural Agency:
        to intensify human action 263-4
        to illuminate human action 263-4
        the Oracular 265-6
      the Dramatic Background of Nature 266.
    =Illustrations=:
      the Apparitions to Richard 122
      the Ghost of Banquo 165-6
      the Apparitions in _Macbeth_ 135, &c.
      the Witches 158, 263
      portents in _Julius Cæsar_ 193-4
      the Ghost of Cæsar 201
      omen of Eagles to Cassius 201.

  Symmetry as a dramatic effect 68, 233
    as a form of Economy 276-8.
    =Illustrations=: _Merchant of Venice_ 67-8; _King Lear_ 207-9,
    277-8.

  Systematisation as a Stage of scientific progress 228, 229.


  Table of Elementary Topics 236
    of general Topics 288.

  Taste as condensed experience 6. [_See_ Criticism.]

  Tate 17.

  Taylor (Jeremy) 39.

  _Tempest_, Play of: 10.

  Terence 16.

  Thackeray on the Inner Life 144.

  Themistocles, Story of: 131.

  Theobald 10.

  Theseus and Hippolyta 111.

  Tieck 11.

  Tito Melema compared with Richard 91.

  Tone as a dramatic term:
    the application of complexity to Passion 236
      Passion-Tones 250-4
      Scale of Tones 251.
    Mixture of Tones 251-4
      this unknown to the Ancient Drama 252
      mere mixture in the same field 251-2
      mixture in the same Incident:
        Tone-Play 253
        Tone-Relief _ib._
        Tone-Clash _ib._
        Tone-Storm 254.

  Topics as a technical term in science 229-30
    topical stage of development in sciences 229
    applied to Dramatic Criticism 229-30 and Chapter XI
    Elementary Topics of Dramatic Criticism 236
    General Table of Topics 288
    Topics common to Dramatic and other arts 232.

  Touchstone 223.

  'Tragedy' or 'Passion-Drama' 280-1
    Tragedies of Lear 205-6, &c., 209-15, 220-3
    of Cordelia and
    Kent 206
    of Goneril and Regan 206
    of Gloucester 207-8, 216-7
    of Edgar 208, 216-7
    of Edmund 208, 216-7
    Systems of Tragedies 208-9.

  Tragic as a Tone 251.

  Turning-points 284-5, 291-8.
    Double in Shakespeare's plays: Catastrophe or Focus of Movement and
    Centre of Plot 284-5.
    =Illustrations= 284-5, compare 68, 120, 127, 186, 198, 205, 216-7.

  Tyrtæus 132.


  Ulrici 11, 26.

  Underplot 74 and Chapter III
    =Illustrations=: _Merchant of Venice_ 74 and Chapter III, 291
    _Richard III_ 108-19, 293
    Lear 206-9, 215-8, 223, 271, 283-4, 297-8.

  Union of Light and Serious Stories 69-73.

  Unity as an element of Action 235
    applied to Character 237
    to Passion 246
    to Plot (Action) 270-71
    the 'three unities' 14.

  Unstable equilibrium in morals 45, 205.

  Utilisation of the Mechanical 76-8, 233.


  _Variorum Shakespeare_ 8.

  Villainy as a subject for art treatment 90
    Ideal Villainy 90 and Chapter IV.

  Voltaire 9, 14, 17.


  Waller 17.

  Walsh 17.

  Warton 17.

  Wave-form of Passion-Movement 280, 292
    waves of hysterical passion in Lear 210-5.

  _Waverley Novels_ 12.

  Whitehead 17.

  Wit as a mental game 219.

  Wordsworth 12.

  Workmanship, Dramatic: 58 and Chapter II, 233.


FOOTNOTES:

[9] The reader will remember that 'Single' is used as antithetical to
'Complex,' and 'Simple' to 'Complicated.' See note to page 74.



INDEX OF SCENES

ILLUSTRATED IN THE FOREGOING CHAPTERS.

_Clarendon type is used where the passage referred to approaches the
character of an analysis of the scene._


  JULIUS CÆSAR.

  Act I.

  Sc. i. 180, =188-9=.
      ii. 172, =178-80=, 180, =189-91=.
      iii. =191-4=, =195-6=.

  Act II.

  Sc. i. 171-2, 172, 174, =175-6=, 176, 180-1, 187, 191, =194=.
      ii. 177, =194-5=.
      iii. 196.
      iv. 196-7

  Act III.

  Sc. i. 172-3, 177, 177-8, 182, 183, =196-9=, 285.
      ii. 175, =199-200=.
      iii. 180, 200.

  Act IV.

  Sc. i. 200.
      ii. and iii. 172, 173-4, 182, =200-1=.

  Act V.

  Scs. iii, v. 171, 172, 201.


  KING LEAR.

  Act I.

  Sc. i. =203-5=, 206, 285.
      ii. 206.
      iv. =210=, =220-1=.
      v. =210-1=, =221-2=.

  Act II.

  Sc. i. 283.
      ii. 258, note.
      iv. 209, =211-4=, =222-3=, 283.

  Act III.

  Sc. i. 209, 214, 215, 223.
      ii. 209, 215, 223.
      iii. 209, =215=, 216.
      iv. 209, 215, =216=, 217-8, 223, 285.
      v. 209, 283.
      vi. 207, 209.
      vii. 209, 216, 247.

  Act IV.

  Sc. i. 216, 217.
      vi. 215.

  Act V.

  Sc. iii. 208, 215, 259.


  MACBETH.

  Act I.

  Sc. iii. =135=, 136, 141, 154, =158-9=, 244, =263-4=.
      iv. =135=, 150-1, 244, 260.
      v. =149-50=, 156, =159-60=.
      vii. =151-3=, 157, =160-1=.

  Act II.

  Sc. i. =153-4=.
      ii. 154, 155, =161-3=, 244.
      iii. =139-40=, =163-4=, 253, 260.
      iv. =140=, 164.

  Act III.

  Sc. i. 129, 154, =164-5=.
      ii. 154, =164-5=, 244.
      iii. =127=, 285.
      iv. 130, 154, =165-6=, 285.
      v. 262, 264.
      vi. =128-9=.

  Act IV.

  Sc. i. 130, =135-6=, 140, 167, 264.
      ii. 130, 140.
      iii. =140-1=.

  Act V.

  Sc. i. =166-7=.
      iii. 167.
      v. 167.
      vii. and viii. 130, 167, 285.


  MERCHANT OF VENICE.

  Act I.

  Sc. i. 48, 61, 70, 76.
      ii. 54, 56, 70.
      iii. 48-9, =61-4=, 262.

  Act II.

  Sc. i. 53.
      ii. 76.
      iii. 76, 84.
      iv. 84, 85.
      v. 60, 76, =83=.
      vi. 84, 85.
      vii. 53, 55.
      viii. 78.
      ix. 55-6.

  Act III.

  Sc. i. 60, 76, 78, 79, 85.
      ii. 54-5, 56, =67-9=, 76, 78.
      iii. 60, 76, 78.
      iv. 85, 86.
      v. 76, 85.

  Act IV.

  Scs. i. and ii. =49-51=, 60, =64-6=, =70-3=, 80, 87-8, 88-9, 254,
  257, 285.

  Act V.

  Sc. i. 85, 247.


  RICHARD III.

  Act I.

  Sc. i. 92-3, 96, 100, 101, 123.
      ii. 93, 94, =96=, =97-8=, 99, 101, 102, =103-4=, 113.
      iii. 95, 96, =111-3=, 115.
      iv. 108, 114, =116=, 240-1.

  Act II.

  Sc. i. 99, 101, 108, 116, 117-8.
      ii. 95, 100, 109, 111-2.

  Act III.

  Sc. i. 91, 99, 100.
      ii. 109, =117=, 249.
      iii. 114, 115, 120, 285.
      iv. 98, 100, 114, 115.
      v, vii. 96, 99.

  Act IV.

  Sc. i. 104, 111-2, 116.
      ii. 110, 262, 280, 285.
      iii. 94, =120-1=.
      iv. 91, 95, 111-2, 115, =121-2=.

  Act V.

  Sc. i. 115, 118.
      iii. 95, =122-3=.
      iv. and v. 123.



Corrections.

The first line indicates the original, the second the correction.


p. 64:

  It has further been ushered in in a manner
  It has further been ushered in a manner


p. 310:

  his inability to bear suspense 154, 160, 162, 163, 163, 164-5, 243-5.
  his inability to bear suspense 154, 160, 162, 163, 164-5, 243-5.





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