This 1996 book offers an original approach to Shakespeare's so-called 'problem plays' by contending that they can be viewed as experiments in the Mannerist style. The plays reappraised here are Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida, All's Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure. How can a term used to define a movement in art history be made relevant to theatrical analysis? Maquerlot shows how famous painters of sixteenth-century Italy cultivated structural ambiguity or dissonance in reaction to the classical canons of the High Renaissance. Close readings of Shakespeare's plays, from the period 1599 to 1604, reveal intriguing analogies with Mannerist art and the dramatist's response to Elizabethan formalism. Maquerlot concludes by examining Othello, which marks the end of Shakespeare's Mannerist experiments, and the less equivocal use of artifice in his late romances.