chapter  13
15 Pages

THE SHAKESPEARIAN METAPHYSIC

I next shortly outline a rough metaphysic which emerges from a consideration of these plays as imitations of life.

Two groups must be contrasted: first, plays of the hate-theme, that is: Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida, Othello, King Lear, Timon of Athens; second, plays analysing evil in the human mind: the Brutus-theme in Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and Macbeth. The division cannot be absolute: Hamlet’s mental agony has much of the abysmal and bottomless nightmare fear of Macbeth; Measure for Measure, being related to both sex and temptation, touches both groups. But I shall first notice the two kinds primarily in their difference, laying no emphasis on those points where they blend with each other and are seen to be ultimately two aspects of one reality: at the extremes it will be clear that the divergence is both rigid and important. I shall first make some general remarks to clarify the points at issue with reference to the Macbeth evil.