A Comparative Study of Shakespeare’s Periods of Division
Donahoe, Harry L.
One of the most effective methods of studying any writer is to read his works in the order in which they were written. Custom in literary history sanctions the practice of studying an author period by period. When a literary artist has worked at his craft for a lifetime, scholars find it conventional to analyze the master’s work into convenient groups or units for detailed study. This process affords critics the opportunity of tracing more clearly the gradual growth of the poet’s mind from one production to another. In English letters this has been the accepted practice for Chaucer, with his French, Italian, and English periods, as well as for Spenser, for Milton, for Dryden, for Pope, for Wordsworth, for most Romantic poets, for Browning, and for Tennyson, to mention only the major poets. Also the academic practice of dividing Shakespeare’s dramatic works into several periods is a helpful device in the study of his development both as an artist and a dramatist.
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