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Many scholars have taken up the question of topical meaning in sixteenth-century English drama and most have concentrated on seeking precise historical identities for the dramatic personages. Criticizing this overzealous literary sleuthing, the author contends that topical meaning in terms of political issues, not personalities, was the fundamental ingredient of playwriting in the Tudor age. Examining the plays as literary texts rather than as illustrative historical documents, David Bevington shows how an understanding of contemporary political points of view provides an insight into the growth of dramatic forms, the techniques of characterization, and the definition of genres.