Palfrey presents a new vision of character, metaphor, and politics in late Shakespeare. Closely analyzing Shakespeare's use of language and genre, he shows how the plays revamp theatrical decorums. The plays are not courtly, sober, and escapist, as their reputation suggests; rather, they are peculiarly sensitive to the turbulent, unfinished quality of Shakespeare's historical moment. In both court and wilderness, Shakespeare analyzes the violence of authority, the tensions in language, and the origin and prospects of both. Palfrey argues against a conventional sense of the plays' movement towards divinely sanctioned closure; mischief, irony, polysemy remain; romance's political problems are competitive, multiple, and tumescently unpredictable.