David Riggs: The World of Christopher Marlowe(Faber and Faber: London, 2004)
If you squint, you’ll see that this was one of the books I bought as retail therapy a short while back. I tackled this one first owing to my commitments to teach Edward II again this coming school year – I was hoping to get a few additional nuggets about Marlowe‘s private life.
The book has turned out to be an absolute revelation …
Abstract for the busy:this paradigm crystallises or articulates my recent thinking about kingship/leadership as it applies in Shakespeare’s plays and, I increasingly suspect, beyond.It gained critical mass after teaching Richard IIIat Key Stage 5 (Age 16-17) in Autumn 2016, where I found myself returning again and again to questions of Legitimacy, Authority and Dynasty, in plotting not just Richard’s journey and motives, but Richmond’s and, in fact, Queen Elizabeth’s.
If this is the first time you’ve read an essay here, please take a look at this post before proceeding.
Without superstition, Richard III would have been reduced to a relatively mundane and propaganda-tinged retelling of the familiar Tudor ascent to power. Shakespeare’s skilful exploitation of the complex Elizabethan mix of secular and religious beliefs, via Margaret, transforms the play into compelling drama for contemporary and modern audiences.
“The population of Renaissance England was, by modern standards, fervently religious. ‘Atheist’ was an insult too extreme and too ludicrous to be taken seriously.” (Lisa Hopkins and Matthew Steggle: Renaissance Literature and Culture, 2006)
Despite an unwavering belief in the Christian God, the early modern period was remarkably superstitious. Explore how and why Shakespeare uses superstition in the early parts of Richard III (Acts 1-2) Indicative length: 1,000 words.
AO1: Personal Response (30%)
AO2: Analysis of Writer’s Methods (40%)
AO3: Understanding of the role of and influence of Context (10%)
AO5: Exploring different interpretations of the text (20%)