Cambridge Student Guides arose out of many requests from A Level
and first year university students for up-to-date and comprehensive
help with the knowledge and skills they need to study Shakespeare.
The series richly provides just such help. Each Guide is written in clear,
jargon-free language. Each enables students to look at the play from
different viewpoints. The guidance provided is open-ended, always concerned
to help students expand and justify their personal responses with confident authority. Each
Guide therefore includes:
Detailed commentaries - Students are guided through the play scene
by scene. Unfamiliar language, key concepts and classical or cultural
references are explained as they occur. The commentary makes clear
the dramatic, thematic and critical relevance of particular lines,
speeches and episodes.
Contexts - Each Guide identifies the historical, social and cultural
contexts in which the play was written. It shows how those contexts
influenced Shakespeare's writing, and helps students evaluate
their significance to Elizabethan and Jacobean audiences.
Language - Students are guided through key features of the language
of the play. Each Guide identifies how Shakespeare uses language
to heighten dramatic effect, create characters, offer multiple opportunities
for performance and interpretation, and to explore important themes
Critical Approaches - A discussion of major critical approaches
to the play makes plain how contemporary interpretations differ
from more traditional 'readings'. Particular attention
is given to matters of gender, class, race and politics. The 'afterlife'
of the play (performance and interpretation since Shakespeares
time) is a special focus.
Organising your responses - Practical guidance is provided on examination
answers and essays to help students organise their writing to produce
persuasive, informed and coherent responses. Structured frameworks
are offered which students can adapt to structure their writing,
whether on an extract from the play or on an essay title.
As with all Cambridge University Press Shakespeare publications,
each Cambridge Student Guide acknowledges that Shakespeare wrote
his plays for performance. The guidance provided throughout is therefore
designed to empower students to identify, evaluate and appreciate
Shakespeare's dramatic craftsmanship.