ABSTRACT

Another way of stating one of the main observations of this book is to say that one of the things that makes Shakespearean drama special is that it is entertaining. What does it mean for something to be entertaining? It means serving as an occasion for an audience to experience certain pleasures. What pleasures? The pleasures of emotional experience; laughter and delight; seeing accurate representations of what we are; hearing music, song, and language; learning, gaining wisdom, and being confirmed in our own wisdom; thinking about life; feeling wonder; feeling exalted, ecstatic, and ennobled. On this definition of “entertaining,” Shakespeare’s plays qualify as entertaining drama, since over the last four centuries many people have claimed to have had, and I believe have had, these pleasures as a result of reading or seeing performances of them. And since I think Shakespeare intended to write plays that were entertaining in this sense, I would also claim that he succeeded in doing one of the main things he intended to do.