We have come to the end of a long journey — from 1693 to 2013 — and seen many sights, heard many voices, on the way. But the end is also a beginning. The range and variety of the criticism we have considered shows that there can be no final destination in the exploration of Shakespeare’s tragedies; they have the capacity, inherent in their richness of language and their engagement with fundamental themes, to go on generating new meanings for fresh audiences. This is not to say that the new meanings necessarily drive out the old ones, even though it is inevitable, and salutary, that some critical innovators take on the role of magicians who aim to make their predecessors vanish in a puff of stale smoke. But when the smoke clears, the predecessors, if they are any good, are still there and can always come forward again to take a bow — as this Guide has aimed to show. The new meanings may amplify and reanimate the old meanings and the old meanings may pose invigorating questions to the new ones. Moreover, the new meanings in time will become old ones, assimilated to that great conversation around Shakespeare in which it is, at best, a joy and a challenge to participate. We participate by continuing the critical journey.
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