Show Summary Details

p. 775. Characterlocked

  • Bart van Es

Abstract

In his 1927 study, Aspects of the Novel, E.M. Forster divided characters into two categories: ‘flat’ and ‘round’. Shakespeare’s ability to create distinct, memorable characters has long been singled out for praise. Shakespeare’s most memorable creations—such as Bottom, Falstaff, and Malvolio—tend to have a complicating element of sadness, which can knock comedy off course: there is always an element of unease. How does Shakespeare combine complexity with laughter? And make pathos compatible with farce? One answer is that his characters are shape-shifters. Shakespeare adapts their level of self-awareness to the moment so that, dependant on the requirements of the drama, they can be both ‘flat’ and ‘round’.

Access to the complete content on Very Short Introductions online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.