Afterword: The Last Plays

  • Janette Dillon


It may initially seem strange that a book on solitude should not involve a study of Shakespeare’s last plays. The reason for omitting them here is not their irrelevance to the theme of solitude in general terms, but the fact that they seem to demand a different frame of reference from the kinds of solitude analysed in this book. They seem to embody a conviction of the inevitability of solitude, which is quite absent from Shakespeare’s earlier work and very different from, if not unrelated to, the more specific solitude deliberately cultivated by individuals or imposed on them by particular circumstances. The method of this book has been to concentrate on the solitary figure or figures in a given play and examine their position in relation to the wider frame of reference implied by the play; such a method would be impossible to apply to the last plays, where solitude becomes part of the frame of reference, an unalterable absolute in men’s lives.


Notorious Line Wide Frame Play Character Lonely Existence Aesthetic Pleasure 
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  1. 4.
    It is possible that the notorious difficulty of Leontes’s early speech at I. ii. 138ff., for example, is intentionally incomprehensible in order to make the point that Leontes is walled in in a secret, incommunicable world. Cf. A. F. Bellette’s argument in ‘Truth and Utterance in The Winter’s Tale’, ShS, 31 (1978), 65–75.Google Scholar

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© Janette Dillon 1981

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  • Janette Dillon

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