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by: Priscilla Costello

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, this book offers fresh and exciting insights into the ever-popular works of the world's greatest playwright. It specifically highlights Shakespeare's use of the archetypal language of astrological symbolism in both obvious and subtle ways. Such references would have been commonly known in Shakespeare's time, but their deeper significance is lost to modern-day playgoers and readers. The most unique aspect of this book is the revelation that many of Shakespeare's plays are entirely keyed to a specific zodiacal sign and its associated (or ruling) planet. Shakespeare's audience would have immediately grasped their significance in revealing character, foreshadowing the plot, and establishing key themes for each play.

The first half of the book provides necessary background for understanding the plays by describing the synthesis of both classical and Christian ideas in Shakespeare's time. The seven planets were considered an integral part of the cosmos and were instrumental in shaping human character. The Elizabethan worldview also explains why Shakespeare specifies a certain type of music and uses particular images and symbols in each of his plays.

The second half of the book examines six of Shakespeare's best-loved plays in the light of astrological symbolism. The chosen plays include A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, The Tempest, and King Lear. Each chapter ranges widely, incorporating related and relevant information from astrological tradition, classical and Renaissance philosophy, Greek and Roman mythology, esoteric wisdom, modern psychology (especially that of C. G. Jung), and great literature.