Saturday, April 9, 2011

Troilus and Cressida 4 of 9

Troilus and Cressida 4 of 9

The Inns of Court Theory

In 1928-9 Peter Alexander propounded the theory that Troilus And Cressida was written for performance at an Inn of Court, and this has received cautious acceptance from many (and probably most) scholars. The evidence for it is:

1. We know from the S.R. entry of 1603 that the play had been acted somewhere; but the 1609 Epistle tells us not in a public theatre.

2. The play is Shake-Speare at his most intellectual. Though much of it would be acceptable on the public stage, it has two lengthy debates (1.3.1-137 and 2.2.114-207) and a shorter one (3.3.95-123); an academic discussion on love (3.2.61-97); a good deal of other philosophising, some of it rather difficult; and an unusual number of long or rare words. The play would be suitable for an Inn of Court but parts of it would precipitate coughing in the public Theatre. Hence it has been called caviar to the general public.

3. The play has a number of legal allusions. There are 9 of them that are moderately striking, and most of them have the appearance of being dragged in to amuse a legal audience.

For more on the Inns of Court:

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