University of Virginia Library


As there are no cuts introduced in F whose length is of 2-3 lines, the actual cuts may conveniently be divided into two groups: single-line cuts and those of four lines and more. The latter are almost certainly deliberate measures taken to bring the text into conformity with the promptbook. They are usually described as 'theatrical' cuts, as though this is all we know, and all we need to know. But to say that the cuts are theatrical in historical fact ( represent the text as performed) does not prove that they are theatrical in origin ( made by others, without Shakespeare's approval), or that they are 'theatrical' in nature ( cheap, melodramatic, coarse, or inartistic). Cuts made in the theatre by Shakespeare's company could have been made by Shakespeare himself, resident dramatist and sharer; even if he did not initiate them, it can be assumed


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(in the absence of evidence to the contrary) that he approved of them and lent them his authority by so doing.[24] There are five of these longer cuts: 1.3.129-133, 1.3.239-242, 1.3.268-293, 3.2.29-32 and 4.1.52-59 (following TLN 426, 531, 557, 1388 and 1974). The single-line cuts may have similar authority, but as they could easily arise through compositorial error, they are less reliable as evidence of manuscript consultation.[25]