Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

The only human with whom Hooker is able to converse is Will. He tries to talk with other humans, but they do not understand him. Will and Hooker, on the other hand, discourse extensively on many topics, philosophical, literary, social, and amorous. Occasionally, the reader finds them thinking as one, with Will starting a sentence and Hooker completing it or explaining what his master intends to say.

This oneness, this exclusive relationship between the two, suggests that Rooke perceives Will and Hooker as complementary yet antithetical aspects of the artistic psyche, which is in constant creative tension. Will is the bookish, reclusive observer of life; Hooker is the practical, earthy participant. When Hooker, pricked by his conscience, envisions Sir Lucy’s dead deer come alive, he thinks that Will should “lay down his Holinshed and draw stage action” from Hooker’s actual experience. (Will evidently heeds this injunction as a mature playwright, as Hooker would have his readers believe, for phrases from Hooker’s phantom deer’s utterance echo those that appear in one of the speeches of Hamlet’s father’s ghost: “Mark me, mark me! List! List!”) While Will studies poetics in his upper room, Hooker is in the midst of life, observing closely the world of man and nature.

The two have opposing views of the individual’s spiritual and social identities. Hooker insists on the soul’s immortality, while Will believes that “we’re...

(The entire section is 570 words.)