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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: May ::
Street Shakespeare; Revenge Plays; Opinion
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0334.  Friday, 3 May 1996.

(1)     From:   Richard Ahern <
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        Date:   Thursday, 02 May 1996 12:00:03 -0700
        Subj:   Street Shakespeare

(2)     From:   Gareth M. Euridge <
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        Date:   Friday, 03 May 1996 10:06:14 -0400
        Subj:   Revenge Plays

(3)     From:   JeanSebastien LaTour <
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        Date:   Thursday, 2 May 1996 18:17:53 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Your opinion about a paper ...


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Ahern <
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Date:           Thursday, 02 May 1996 12:00:03 -0700
Subject:        Street Shakespeare

Several friends and I wish to perform parts of the plays and the sonnets on the
street as a free entertainment this summer.  While we are fairly comfortable
identifying monlogues that are suitable for the street, i.e. are relatively
straightforward and don't require much in the way of explanation, context, or
set to be entertaining,  we are having less success locating dialogues,
especially between men, which appear interesting or colorful enough for such
informal performance.

We would appreciate any suggestions you might have.  Thank you.

Richard Ahern
Alexandria, Virginia

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gareth M. Euridge <
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Date:           Friday, 03 May 1996 10:06:14 -0400
Subject:        Revenge Plays

Next year I will be teaching a senior seminar on renaissance revenge,
non-shakespearean, starting probably with Kyd (or Seneca!) and meandering
forward to perhaps Shirley and later Fletcherian tragicomedies.  We may even
dilettantize with some prose texts.  My problem.  I want to save my students
some money, and, rather than making them pay for lots of individual texts,
would like to find a suitable core anthology to which I could add a few
selective single texts, even a packet, as necessary.

Any tips regarding texts, contexts, life would be greatly appreciated.  It
might be best to respond directly to me, but if others express an interest,
this public thread could even rival the wondrous longevity of "funeral"!

Before summer whisks many of us away, with thanks, gareth euridge

Denison University

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           JeanSebastien LaTour <
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Date:           Thursday, 2 May 1996 18:17:53 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Your opinion about a paper ...

Hello,

I am a member of the list since a long time, even though it is the first time
that I send a message. This is a paper I had to do for one of my course in New
Jersey. To everybody (but especially the specialists: could you read it and
give me your opinion, any criticism is very welcome. Feel free to put it aside
and read it later if you want.

Thank you

                        The end of a cycle

The usurpation of the throne by Bolingbroke deprives England from a legitimate
king, a legitimate center; the equilibrium is broken. In Richard II,
Shakespeare describes the end of a cycle and introduces two rulers who are
unaware of their roles in this inevitable process.

John of Gaunt is the first to predict Richards fall when he says "Methinks I am
a prophet new inspired, / And thus expiring do foretell of him ..."
(Shakespeare, Richard II, II, i, 31-32). Shakespeare transforms him into a
prophet skilled with an acute perception of the time he lives in since he
perceives the decaying of England. The once edenic England is now at the end of
a cycle, but a new beginning cannot occur until the heart or the principle is
destroyed. Richard as a king is the heart of England. Shakespeare makes this
connection clear when Gaunt (prophet) says  "Now he that made me know I see
thee ill; / Ill in myself to see, and in thee seeing ill. / Thy deathbed is no
lesser than thy land" (II, i, 93-95) Furthermore, Gaunt does not even die in
the presence of  Richard. It is Shakespeares intention to show symbolically
that the King is completely unaware of the process that will end with his fall
and give birth to "Disorder, horror, fear and mutiny in England" (IV, i,
142-143).

However, the gravity of the situation cannot be completely perceived before act
V, scene 3. Indeed, York who has just discovered the treason of his son
Aumerle, asks Bolingbroke for the death of his son. It is only the Duchesss
intervention that can spare Aumerle. Although no one is executed, the episode
hightlights the gravity of the situation. Thus, Shakespeare describes the
development of disorder at different level under Bolingbrokes ruling. The
family nucleus like England is disordered. York is subject to the King and
father of his son, but from now on these two roles become contradictory. The
cohesion within the family, if not the individual, is destroyed.

After the Land of England has been separated from its legitimate King, after
the break within the family, Shakespeare highlights the break between the
Kingship and the ruler. When Bolingbroke has Richard murdered, we perceive
Bolingbrokes misunderstanding of the situation. Richard is already out of
power, and his speeches all through the play make him unlikely to conquer a
throne by actions. By the way, the murder of Richard is more the revenge of a
man than the action of a deserving King. Bolingbroke also is unaware of the
symbolical process that brought him to the throne. However, in a more general
perspective, all the disorders, all the broken equilibrium and all the
contradictions are perfectly justified since every possibility even though
monstruous has to be exploited before a cycle can be really completed. Once
order (Richard and his predecessors) and disorder (Bolingbroke) have passed
away, a new cycle can begin with a great King, like Henry V, at its heart.

                        Works Cited

Shakespeare, William, Richard II, eds Kenneth Muir and Silvan Barnet, Signet
        Classic: New York, 1988.
 

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