Lecture 5: Shakespeare – Part II
History and Roman plays
– Shakespeare presents every king as a human being.
– Shakespeare brings the kings down to earth; they’re no longer a distant Godlike figure.
– Some of Shakespeare’s kings are weak or strong, clever or not so clever, good or bad.
– Some of the history plays are tragedies.
– The words in the plays show Shakespeare’s concern for his own nation
This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle
– Here’s Young King Henry encouraging his army to fight the enemies
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
– But not all kings are heroic.
– Richard II is the most tragically weak of Shakespeare’s kings.
For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground?And tell sad stories of the death of kings;…?For you have but mistook me all this while:?I live with bread like you, feel want,?Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,?How can you say to me, I am a king?
– “Richard III” is presented as an evil man.
– Critics describe him as a Machiavellian character, one who deceives and tricks.
– Some critics say Shakespeare was always careful not to offend the monarch, or those who financially support him.
– Because of the nature of the Globe and devices like soliloquy, the audience can be closely involved with the characters and their problems.
– Other than the soliloquy and the aside, a character can make a public speech.
– Mark Antony’s
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. (“Julius Caesar”)
– The soliloquy is a private speech.
– “Hamlet” is built around seven soliloquies that show Hamlet’s progress.
– This involvement with the characters makes Shakespeare’s plays different.
– Shakespeare’s plays were written to be performed not to be published.