Etymologically speaking, the words "know" and "narrate" share a common ancestry. Making Sense in Shakespeare examines some of the ways in which this distant kinship comes into play in Shakespearean drama. The argument of the book is that at a time in European cultural history in which the problem of knowledge was a matter of intensifying philosophical concern, Shakespeare too was in his own way exploring the possibilities and shortcomings of the various interpretative models that can be applied to experience so as to make it intelligible. While modes of understanding based upon such notions as those of naturalistic causality or rational human agency are shown to be inadequate in Shakespeare's plays, his characters often impart form and significance to their experience through what are essentially narrative means, projecting stories onto events in order to make sense of them and to direct their activity accordingly. Narrative thus plays a crucial role in the construction of meaning in Shakespeare's plays, although at the same time, as the author emphasizes, his works are no less concerned to illustrate the perils inherent in the narrativizing strategies deployed by their protagonists which often render them self-defeating and even destructive in the end.
Preface Introduction The Cause of Thunder: Why Things Happen in Shakespeare "Patterned by that the poet here describes": Literary Lives in Titus Andronicus Bringing Deformed Forth: Engendering Meaning in Much Ado About Nothing Causes Why and Wherefore: The Enigma of History in King Henry V "The reason of our Caesar's death": Mystifying Motive in Julius Caesar Snakes and Ladders: Killing Metaphors in Julius Caesar "A short tale to make": Narrating Hamlet "After your way his tale pronounc'd": The Appropriation of Story in Shakespeare A Sound of Thunder: The Shakespearean Cause Bibliography Index