A nest of hollow bosoms. (CHORUS, Henry V: II.0.18-21)
Henry VI II: Act I
It’s a strange thing, patriotism.
I’ll try to make this the final time I mention how I don’t feel especially patriotic towards England as opposed to Britain, but the beginning of the play causes me to examine my attitudes again.It probably says something about my pedantic nature that I can’t simply conflate the two.Or maybe it’s simply the fact that my Welsh girlfriend would probably dump me!Either way, I suddenly became acutely aware of an inchoate fear for the country.Ye-e-es, there was some fear for Henry, about to be eaten alive by his Queen like a hapless spider, but the sympathy I felt for Henry as a child effectively evaporated in the white heat of his ineffectuality.It facilitated of the betrayal of my new Shakespearean heroes, the Talbots, and so isn’t easily forgiven or forgotten.So it wasn’t what Margaret might or might not do to Henry that worried me.It was how she might treat England …
[please note– I’ve only ever listened to just four of those albums.Promise.I hope you can infer which they are!]
As I approach the first monthly instalment of my Arden Amble, what are my expectations from a work I know relatively little about?Why start the journey of a thousand steps with a month reading and blogging about Henry VI Part 1?
I’ve been toying with the idea of a Shakespeare readathon for a while, and am trying to justify it to myself. When I do work out the ‘why?’, I’ll post …
In the meantime, a friend received a full set of BBC Shakespeare on DVD for Christmas. This worried me quite a bit: mostly because I had a small (and I DO mean small) cameo in the gift’s selection. But, what if she hates them, or simply finds them staid and sooo-1980s? Their overwhelmingly earnest nature and general quaintness – which I find as endearing as original series Star Trek – might pall quickly.
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%)