Is Hamlet really mad or is the world mad ? Are the witches in Macbeth an embarrassment or do they have relevance for a twenty-first-century audience ? Is Othello merely gullible or is there something more profound about his place in society that makes him vulnerable ? Why can there be no happy ending in King Lear ?
In this provocative but scholarly guide to Shakespearian tragedy Fintan O'Toole - Ireland's foremost theatre critic - shows how the plays have been made unintelligible to modern students by being filtered through a series of ideas that have nothing to do with what Shakespeare wrote, and often have everything to do with keeping the world safe for conservative values.
O'Toole challenges the traditional approach towards the study of four key plays - Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth - and provides an entertaining and absorbing appreciation of the dramatic qualities of each.
Shakespeare is Hard, but so is Life is invaluable for students, teachers and parents, and anyone interested in gaining a fresh insight into the work of the world's greatest playwright.