This book's underlying claim is that English Renaissance tragedy addresses live issues in the experience of readers and spectators today: it is not a genre to be studied only for aesthetic or “heritage” reasons. The book considers the way in which tragedy in general, and English Renaissance tragedy in particular, addresses ideas of freedom, understood both from an individual and a sociopolitical perspective. Tragedy since the Greeks has addressed the constraints and necessities to which human life is subject (Fate, the gods, chance, the conflict between state and individual) as well as the human desire for autonomy and self-direction. In short, English Renaissance Tragedy: Ideas of Freedom shows how the tragic drama of Shakespeare's age addresses problems of freedom, slavery, and tyranny in ways that speak to us now.
'[Holbrook's] short readings of individual plays ... are fresh, provocative and frequently illuminating ... There is a great deal to engage readers of all sorts in ... this book and it is much to be welcomed.' Around the Globe