Author(s): Catherine Belsey
Catherine Belsey treats Shakespeare's plays as the location of cultural history rather than as isolated works of art, and analyzes visual and written material side by side, to explore the emergence of family values. Showing that the loving family was an object of propaganda then as now, Belsey points to unexpected affinities between the world of early modern England and the present day. She demonstrates that political and moral claims that the family makes us whole--as well as fears that it can be abusive--are not new, but also dominate the early modern construction of the family.Shakespeare and the Loss of Eden expertly traces representations of the family in three related fields: Shakespeare's plays, the Reformation story and Adam and Eve as founders of the first nuclear family, and the visual imagery that decorates the cultural artifacts of the period, including furniture, tapestries, and tomb sculpture. Detailed readings of the plays reveal a wealth of information on the domestication of desire in marriage, parental love and cruelty, and sibling rivalry. Richly illustrated and written with perception and wit, the book is a major work of both literary criticism and cultural history.