This study explores Shakespeare's representation of various kinds of physical and intellectual work in plays ranging from Hamlet and King Lear through Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus and Timon of Athens to the four late romances, King Henry VIII, and The Two Noble Kinsmen. Of special interest is the analysis of Shakespeare's portrayal of birth labor, especially with regard to artistic creation and playwrighting in particular. The conflict of idleness versus arduous work becomes progressively more prominent in Shakespeare's Jacobean plays. Reformation Protestantism, the court of King James, and early modern English working conditions provide contexts for appreciating the contemporary importance of this conflict.
The Author: Professor of English at Baylor University, Maurice Hunt is also the author of Shakespeare's Romance of the Word (1990), Approaches to Teaching Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' and Other Late Romances (1992), 'The Winter's Tale': Critical Essays (1995), and 53 articles on the plays of Shakespeare and other English Renaissance dramatists. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan and holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.