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Keys to Shakespeare's
A Series of Ques-
Mrs. Charles Tidwell Phelan
At the first blush, so pretentious a title as the one chosen for the following series of questions may appear to mean no more than rashness and gross presumption on the part of the compiler, that all the intellectual wealth of Shakespeare lies under
lock and key, and that she alone has the means of throwing open ! the doors to the world. But it will be noticed that "Keys"the plural-is used, and this is the compiler's salvation.
For thereby is implied any number of locked doors and any number of keys, and refuge may always be taken behind the in. disputable fact, that all the keys have never been gathered into one hand. His genius so measured the expanse and plumbed the depths of all humanity, that nothing less than the entire world of mankind can respond to his infinitely various touches; but it is possible to take advantage of the labors of those who have devoted years of study to these dramas, and by the method adopted, gain a wider knowledge and a quickened appreciation of the work for ourselves. Hence, this series.
The object is to search for the impulse behind the thought; or, in other words, to penetrate as far as possible toward the spring that controls the engine. To do this means to study everything in the drama, in its relation to every other thing. In Shakespeare there are no non-essentials. The following questions aim at the heart of the drama; they are given, not merely to outline the skeleton of the play, but to invest the skeleton with muscle, life and soul.
Discovering the importance of things in their given place is like studying finality-once the habit fastens itself to you, there is no getting away from it. Why leave for another to do that which you can do yourself? Men do not succeed one another; each has his own place in life, and ought to fill it.
If the student is directed into paths hitherto hidden from him, or overlooked; if the general reader obtains a wider comprehension of the master mind, and is inspired to a real appreciation of what it gave to the world, the purpose of this work is to some