Exploring new depths

Shakespeare is nothing if not many-faceted. Any apparent opinion of his pinned down in some play must face continual modification from reading others. The positive view of understanding and reason emerging from
A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, King Lear and Timon of Athens is qualified and refined in Othello, and further modified in Hamlet. Serious criticism of nature can be found in Othello and Romeo and Juliet; nature will, however, meet us again in a different light in The Tempest.

The differences between men and women have been addressed in such plays as
Antony and Cleopatra, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night. We have skipped two plays well worth a discussion: All's Well That Ends Well preaches patience and forgiveness; The Merchant of Venice measures the distance of care and consideration from hardhearted revenge. In both plays the male protagonists represent greed, anger and ingratitude, while the women show magnanimous understanding. But Shakespeare has also written two plays about men who become heroes. We will examine their achievements in chapters 12 and 13.