chapter  10
THEFINAL PLAYS
Pages 41

These resemblances have naturally given rise to a great many different explanations. For example, it is argued that the implausibility and looseness of the plays are evidence that the author was feeling very serene or rather bored or merely playful. There may be a grain of truth in this, but one would need to express it differently: there is an element of play in the Romances, as of a master examining his medium in an unusually detached, experimental way. Another group of interpreters, thinking more of the positive resemblances, provides more or less allegorical explanations, assuming that Shakespeare had, like Yeats in his last years,

a marvellous thing to say, A certain marvellous thing-

but that, unlike Yeats, he left no prose work to tell us what it was, so that impassioned guesswork is our sole resource. There is a long tradition of allegorical interpretation. The Tempest perhaps encourages this kind of attention more than the others, and it has long been read as a veiled farewell to the stage, or to poetry, but also as-for example-an Eleusinian or crypto-Masonic ritual. Allegory flourishes anew in the epoch of modern mythography, with modern anthropology, psychology and typology to sanction it; and the other Romances no longer escape. For Wilson Knight says they are 'myths of immortality', and D. G. James calls them failed myths. The Winter's Tale has lately been elaborately explained in at least three different ways as a Christian allegory.