This chapter, which is the main focus of the book, is placed last, as the primary function of the preceding chapters has been to provide the necessary foundation upon which we may now consider the play in performance. Given the cultural pre-eminence accorded to Shakespeare’s works, it is impossible to approach any of the plays without a pre-formed idea, drawn from a variety of sources, of how the play should be performed. Our task is to consider the meanings that have been created through the play’s reception as a whole, the dramatic structure formed by all the scenes, and each scene in turn, with the aim of raising questions regarding the ways in which the play may be performed.
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