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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Re: Henry
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0593  Wednesday, 31 March 1999.

[1]     From:   Kevin J. Donovan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Mar 1999 09:59:45 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0578 Re: Henry

[2]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Mar 1999 12:38:52 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Henry

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 30 Mar 1999 13:09:32 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0578 Re: Henry


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kevin J. Donovan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Mar 1999 09:59:45 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 10.0578 Re: Henry
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0578 Re: Henry

I've enjoyed the exchange between Ed Taft and Larry Weiss on the
relation between Henry's order to kill the prisoners and Gower's
subsequent speech on the killing of the boys and "luggage" and
destruction of the tents, etc.-"wherefore the King, most worthily, hath
caus'd every soldier to cut his prisoner's throat."  The question was
raised whether the Riverside's punctuation of the clause introduced by
"wherefore" in any establishes a logical connection not present in the
Folio.  The answer is no.  The Folio's punctuation is lighter than the
Riverside's but the logic and emphasis seem the same: "Tis certaine,
there's not a boy left aliue, and the Cowardly Rascalls that ranne from
the battaile ha' done this slaughter: besides they haue burned and
carried away all that was in the Kings Tent, wherefore the King most
worthily hath caus'd euery soldiour to cut his prisoners throat. O 'tis
a gallant King."  That is, the punctuation places at least as much
emphasis on the destruction of property as on the killing of the boys.
No wonder so many critics want to see Henry's glory presented in an
ironic light.

More interesting, though, is the connection between Henry's order and
what immediately precedes it, the "pretty and sweet" description of the
deaths of Suffolk and York.  Psychoanalytical literary criticism often
can be reductive and tendentious, but the discussion of the play in
Barber and Wheeler's The Whole Journey is compelling: "Shakespeare . . .
is ennobling the psychology characteristic of an adolescent gang.  All
tenderness of feeling is turned back into primary male bonds that carry
the latent erotic charge released in Exeter's account.  The sancity of
these bonds is protected and validated by the directing of eroticized
aggression outward against the common enemy, as with the rhetoric of
sexual violation at Harfleur" (227).

Kevin Donovan <
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English Department, Middle Tennessee State University

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Mar 1999 12:38:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Henry

I agree with Sean Lawrence that "the confusion of war" is part of the
reason for the swiftly moving battle scenes and the questions that Larry
and I have been discussing. But I also tend to think that Larry is on to
something when he writes that Henry may be "spinning" events. As another
example, I would point to right after Henry appears in 4.7,b with
prisoners in tow, including Bourbon.  In 4.7.62-64, Henry gives his
order to kill his prisoners AGAIN! Now, he means, I suppose, that he
will kill the NEW prisoners captured as a result of the raid on the
boys' camp, but this order also may be calculated to muddy the waters so
that history may in fact record that he gave his  ORIGINAL order AFTER
the French attacked the boys!  Any politician of Henry's skill can have
more than one reason for doing what s/he does, right Larry?  As Sean
would say,

Cheers,
--Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Tuesday, 30 Mar 1999 13:09:32 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 10.0578 Re: Henry
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0578 Re: Henry

Perhaps Gower's anachronism is one of the multitude of self-references
in the plays-in this case, calling attention to the sleight of hand
required in the writing of a history play cycle in step with the current
hegemonic myth.

Clifford Stetner

p.s. War may be chaos, but good drama usually isn't.
 

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