Whitfield P. Mapping Shakespeare's World
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Shakespeare never set a play in his own Elizabethan London. From the castle in Elsinore where Hamlet avenges his father’s death to Cleopatra’s Alexandria at the height of the Roman Empire to the seaport town in Cyprus where we await the arrival of Othello, each of Shakespeare’s plays is set in a time or space remote from his primary audience. Why is this? How much did the Bard and his contemporaries know about the foreign lands his characters often inhabit? What expectations did an audience have if the curtains rose on a play which claimed to take place in ancient Troy or the Pyrenean kingdom of Navarre in northern Spain?
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