Henry IV #
Henry V # 1413 – 1422 aged 35. Many scholars believe Henry V as the model of a good king. Several recent scholars such as Michael Bogdanov, have disobliging views, seeing in Shakespeare’s Prince Hal the archetype of the Machiavellian political animal. Others have a more balanced views. As the oldest son of Henry IV, considered by many as a usurper of Richard II’s throne, Hal lost and regained his father’s favor.
Richard II # From the 19th century and up to World War II, Shakespeare’s histories were seen as a patriotic panorama underscoring the glories of empire and the superiority of England. But subsequent horrors such as Hiroshima, the Holocaust and the misery of the Cold War soured perceptions of the romance of military conquest. Polish critic Jan Kott, with his seminal 1974 book Shakespeare Our Contemporary, ripped away the veil of romantic nostalgia that tradition had draped over the history plays.
The character of Richard III # Shakespeare introduces Richard, the duke of Gloucester, to us directly so that we share his most intimate thoughts by having him speak to the audience directly. The effect of this is multiple; it is a fundamental alienating device to simultaneously engage us and yet detach us from him. We feel close to him, admire his candour, yet ambivalently despise him for his naked aggressive machinations and treachery.
The Characters # Development of Character Shakespeare’s dramatic achievement comes to the fore in creating and depicting distinctive and credible characters who reveal themselves through consistent actions and dialogue. We must remember that **character creation **is a construct; an artefact and central ones do not necessarily represent the author. Characters are either portrayed sympathetically or unsympathetically. The former are called protagonists, heroes or good guys while the latter are antagonists, villains or bad guys.
Context and Background - Richard III # History Plays became a device to bring the cultural and national inheritance to the common illiterate masses. Through entertainment, it helped the common people appreciate the famous victories and noble heroes of a great nation. None was more admired than Henry V. The War of the Roses began as the result of a family dispute between rival cousins, grandsons of Edward III, for the crown of England.
Richard III as Tragedy # Some critics challenge the acceptance of Richard as a tragedy. It differs in many ways from a classic concept of what constitutes a tragedy. Aristotle’s Definition: # Tragedy is an imitation of characters above the level of the world; high action, sad and catastrophic. The bare facts of alone should make us shudder so the dramatist must elevate the audience’s fear, terror and pity (Pathos) into a higher level creating Katharsis, (Catharsis) transforming and cleansing us so that we feel emotionally purged.
Language of Richard III # There is only one reason why Shakespeare’s plays are still alive and read 400 years after they were written; his mastery of clear, powerful visual language. As we have seen most of his plots are not original, but it is ability to revitalise old stories and histories, shape them into compelling dramas with syncopated plots and revitalise them with resonant forceful language that still appeals to us today.
Introduction to Richard III # Some people will do anything to get to the top Navigating the corridors of power is easy if you know how to take a few short cuts. Richard III tells the story of an obsessed man with twisted ambitions, who manipulates, marries and murders his way to the top. Set as a contemporary political thriller, this gripping production dissects the corruption of power in testing times; when peace is abandoned and enemies mount in the minds of the paranoid.
Richard III on Trial # The fact that historians do not share Shakespeare’s biases on Richard III does not detract from Richard III as a dramatic work of art. We have to remember that Shakespeare worked for a Company sponsored by the Tudor Monarchy and he may be producing propaganda to show the Tudors in a good light while smearing the House of York. All histories are written by the victors so must be treated with great skepticism.
Themes, Concerns in Richard III # Most of Shakespeare’s plays raise multiple issues and a variety of themes, however, Richard III appears to be focussed singularly on Power and how it is achieved and maintained. It poses situations of unashamed evil and how it is justified. There are a multitude of theories on the basis or source of power. Early societies believed all power derived from the gods, the sun or the earth and these had to be appeased by sacrifice if the tribe was to survive.