Shakespeare's Ghost As a Character Term Paper

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Also, in his play, the Enchanted Island, Dryden expands on the prologue from Troilus and Cressida. However, this time Shakespeare is a king whose poetic monologue unveils contemporary anxieties about royal succession (Dobson 74). In this sense, Shakespeare is depicted in this particular play as an old Hamlet (Ibid.), a royal ghost, and a direct reference to contemporary royal turmoil.

This was only the first of Shakespeare's many posthumous appearances on stage as a dramatic character. Shakespeare's metamorphosis into a character in one of his plays represents an endeavor with double meaning. On the one hand, Shakespeare's appearance is synonymous to authority as his direct involvement in his own writings brings a sense of realism and authenticity. On the other hand, by creating a dramatic character out of the writer, he also becomes involved in the process of reviving his works. However, there is more to this transformation. Shakespeare's authority could also be translated into political influence. Shakespeare was not only used as a voice who was able to speak openly about contemporary troubles, but also as a symbol of "fruitfull Britain" (Dobson 75). This is, in fact, a very interesting aspect because Shakespeare would become an important figure in the nationalist movement which was developed in the decades after Dryden's death.

Tate's revision of Coriolanus aims at unifying the audience around sentimental family issues. However, it goes beyond that. Tate's adaptation of Shakespeare's play is filled with political motivation. His revision cannot overlook the fact that Coriolanus is not a viable political leader. His Coriolanus cannot inspire the loyalty that the playwright advocates in his dedication to Lord Herbert because Tate is caught between his ideological allegiance to the monarch and his creative allegiance to the Bard. Relevant, too, is the prologue by Sir George Raynsford, which represents the adaptation of Shakespeare in the language of parliamentary politics: "Our Author do's with modesty submit, to all the Loyal Criticks of the Pit; Not to the Wit-dissenters of the Age, Who in a Civil War do still engage, the antient fundamental Laws o' th' stage: Such who have common Places got, by stealth, From the Sedition of Wits Common-Wealth.
Yet he presumes we may be safe to Day, Since Shakespear gave foundation to the Play: 'Tis Altered - and his sacred Ghost appeas'd; I wish you All as easily were Pleas'd: He only ventures to make Gold from Oar, and turn to Money, what lay dead before." (lines 2-15 in Olsen 46) Both the dedication and prologue to the Ingratitude of a Common-Wealth enlist Shakespeare as a Tory partisan. His "sacred Ghost" is "appeas'd," we are told, by his being appropriated for the objectives of financial gain, dramatic improvement, and service to the royalist cause (Ibid).

Tate is ambivalent in respect to Shakespeare as his forefather. This ambivalence is common to nearly all other adapters of Britain's "national poet." However, Tate compromises his political principles because of his respect for his literary forefather. Despite his attempt to create a dual character which would reflect the affective and political tragedy that was at the core of the English Restoration, Tate does not stray too much from Shakespeare's direction. In this sense, he does not alter the character of Coriolanus, who, similarly to Charles II, was neither an example of enlightened governing nor a likeable character. However, Tate's adaptation of Shakespeare represents a crucial early stage in the long historical process which aimed at the Bard's transformation for contemporary political gain (Olsen: 51).

Branam, George C. Eighteenth-Century Adaptations of Shakespearean Tragedy. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1956.

Dobson, Michael. The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation and Authorship, 1660-1769. Oxford University Press, 1992

Olsen Thomas G. Apolitical Shakespeare; or, the Restoration 'Coriolanus. English Literature, 1500-1900, Vol. 38, 1998.

Scheil, Katherine. The Taste of the Town:….....

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