Many exposures to primary alchemical material from the post medieval period suggests a possible explanation to account for some of the differences between Shakespeare and Jonson, not only in relation to their dramaturgy, but also with regard to the subsequent reception and appreciation of their respective works. Two modem works of criticism provide the clue along which my argument progresses, and help to ...
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...Jonson's The Alchemist and Shakespeare's The Tempest within the context of the Renaissance conception of alchemy, I have become more and more convinced that while Jonson's play sets forth a largely pessimistic and resigned some would say realistic appreciation of the human situation, Shakespeare's work, on the whole, offers a more hopeful outlook on the possible fate of humanity. Both Shakespeare and Jonson treat of a world which has been hurled topsy-turvy into the ring of eternity, and both attempt to redeem serenity and illumination from the chaos which informs time and space of the here-and-now. However, while Shakespeare, in his last personally completed play, bodies forth the poise and promise of consummation, Jonson's broken compass stands as an abiding monument to the unattainable, though ever-alluring and philosopher's Stone of selfhood and actualisation.
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