Bloom, Harold. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. New York: Riverhead Books, 1999.
Literary critic Harold Bloom believed that Shakespeare invented the very concept of ‘personality’ as we understand it today. This book develops that argument, devoting a chapter to each of Shakespeare’s plays.
This volume of essays explores Romeo and Juliet from a variety of angles, introducing readers to the most important contemporary approaches. Influential critic Harold Bloom is the editor, and also provides an extensive introduction which includes a synopsis of the play.
Bradbrook, M. C. Themes and Conventions of Elizabethan Tragedy, 2nd edition. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1980.
This important book examines Shakespeare’s tragedies as stage plays belonging to a particular genre. Bradbrook explores how Elizabethan theater differed from modern performances, from the way the stage was set up to the conventions of actors’ performances. Shakespeare is compared to his most important contemporaries.
Dusinberre, Juliet. Shakespeare and the Nature of Women. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, reprint edition 2003.
Dusinberre’s hugely influential study inspired a whole generation of critics and ordinary readers to re-think the role of female characters in Shakespeare. Dusinberre argues that Shakespeare foregrounds the ways in which gender is a socially-constructed phenomenon.
Greenblatt, Stephen. “Introduction to Romeo and Juliet.” The Norton Shakespeare. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1997.
Stephen Greenblatt edited the Norton edition of Shakespeare’s complete works. He also provides the volume’s introduction to Romeo and Juliet, which places the play in its historical context and considers Shakespeare’s use of his source materials.
Halio, Jay L., ed. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: Texts, Contexts and Interpretations. Newark, NJ: University of Delaware Press, 1996.
This volume of essays examines the many ways in which Romeo and Juliet draws on contemporary texts, from the work of Elizabethan satirist Thomas Nashe to the books of duelling etiquette published in England while Shakespeare was writing his play.
Seward, James H. Tragic Vision in Romeo and Juliet. Washington, D.C.: Consortium Press, 1973.
Seward considers Romeo and Juliet in light of Elizabethan attitudes to love, and draws some startling conclusions, amongst them that Shakespeare’s audiences would have been unlikely to approve of Romeo’s “lust.”
Tanselle, G. Thomas. “Time in Romeo and Juliet,” in Shakespeare Quarterly, v.15.4. Washington, D.C.: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1957.
Tanselle’s classic article provides a thorough account of Shakespeare’s use of time in Romeo and Juliet. He attempts to establish exactly how long the play’s action takes, and considers the importance of time and its passing to the mood and themes of the play.
Van Doren, Mark. Shakespeare. New York: Random House, reprint edition 2005.
Poet and critic Mark Van Doren considers Shakespeare’s life and work as a whole, proceeding play by play. His reading of Romeo and Juliet, as Shakespeare’s first truly successful tragedy, remains extremely influential.