Summer 1943 • Vol. V No. 3 Book ReviewsJuly 1, 1943 |

Shakespeare Allegorized

Shakespeare and the Nature of Man by Theodore Spencer. Macmillan. $2.75 Mr. Spencer undertakes three critical tasks. He presents his pattern of the Renaissance intellectual background, relates Shakespeare’s plays to this pattern, and thus deduces Shakespeare’s philosophical autobiography and its implicit allegory. To speak plainly at the beginning, I disagree with all of the author’s larger interpretations, and I find myself for the most part uninformed by his smaller interpretations. But before discussing these I shall state his thesis more fully. Shakespeare’s plays are interpreted in terms of Mr. Spencer’s formula of the Renaissance conflict between "appearance” (by which he means the Renaissance optimistic view of man’s nature, allying him with the angels) and "reality" (the pessimistic view, which emphasized the evil in man and the hopelessness of the human microcosm in a crumbling macrocosm). In the early plays the "most attractive and appealing characters

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