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Love Through the Ages

11. Shakespeare: Key Themes and Ideas

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About this Lecture


In this module, we attempt to tie together some of the key themes and ideas that Shakespeare explores in his drama and his poetry. We start with the idea of harmony and its corollary, chaos, which we have already seen in Love’s Labour’s Lost and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and which can also be detected in Othello and King Lear. After that, we turn again to the threat to love posed by time and the assertion that poetry about love can make love timeless – a theme that is seen in Sonnets 18 and 19.


This course explores the theme of love from the earliest English literature to the present day – from authors that you have likely heard of, such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Byron and Keats, to authors that are perhaps less well-known. This is a course that celebrates love in all it forms and between all kinds of people.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2018, August 15). Love Through the Ages - Shakespeare: Key Themes and Ideas [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Love Through the Ages – Shakespeare: Key Themes and Ideas." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,