Shakespeare's History Plays: the Family and the State
Pierce systematically examines the nine history plays of Shakespeare in the 1590s in the approximate sequence of their composition. He discovers in them a constant elaboration and rich development of the correspondence between the family and the state into an ever more subtle and effective dramatic technique. Through a careful analysis of the language, characterization, and plots of the chronicles, Pierce demonstrates how the family served as an analogue of those grave events that marked the turbulent reign of King John and the subsequent terrible century of civil strife and wars with the French that haunted the imaginations of Englishmen more than a hundred years later. At times, he finds, Shakespeare depicts the family as a miniature of the kingdom, and the life of the family becomes a direct or ironic comment on the larger life of the commonwealth. At others, the family is inextricably bound up in a political situation by means of characters who are portrayed both in their public roles and as members of their families.
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abstract Arthur audience bastardy blood Bolingbroke brother character comic contrast corrupted court crown curse death disorder dramatic Duchess of York E. M. W. Tillyard Edward Elizabethan embodies England English episode evil express Falstaff father Faulconbridge figure force formal French Gaunt gives Gloucester Gorboduc grief Hal's heir Hence Henry IV Henry VI plays Henry's heroic Hotspur House of Lancaster ideal ironic irony Jack Cade Joan John Dover Wilson John of Gaunt King Henry King John king's lamentation language London loyalty Machiavellian Margaret marriage moral inheritance mother nature nemesis noble pattern Percy plot poetic political Prince Prodigal Queen rebellion rebels relationship Renaissance rhetoric Rich Richard Richard III Richmond role scene Senecan Shake Shakespeare shows soliloquy son's speech stylized Suffolk suggests symbolic Talbot technique tetralogy thee theme thou throne Tillyard tion traditional Tudor turns unity unnatural villain virtue Warwick weakness wife York's