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This critical work on Shakespeare attempts to show his complete works - dramatic and poetic - as a single, tightly-integrated, evolving organism. Identifying Shakespeare's use in the poems Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, of the two most significant religious myths of the archaic world, Hughes argues that these myths later provided Shakespeare with templates for the construction of every play from All's Well that Ends Well to The Tempest. He also argues that this development, in turn, represented his poetic exploration of conflicts within the living myth of the English Reformation.