The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0969 Tuesday, 31 October 2006
From: Harvey Roy Greenberg <
Date: Sunday, 29 Oct 2006 20:04:20 EST
Subject: 17.0955 The Archbishop Wasn't There? So Forth.
Comment: Re: SHK 17.0955 The Archbishop Wasn't There? So Forth.
I am concerned that somewhere along the way -- regarding my questions
about various historical reference in the A of C's oration, Henry 5, Act
1, Sc 2 -- re Saxon and Frankish history, who the devil was Pharamond, so
forth -- that I am more concerned with 'actual' history than the reception
of the oration by Elizabethan audiences, which is my first concern in
approaching the speech dramaturgically. I believe, at least on the basis
of what I have been able to winkle out, that audience members both 'high'
and 'low' -- and I gather that a preponderant number were middle to upper
class, and often not uneducated -- would have closely followed the
oration, and, at the very least, would have gotten its gist. I surmise
that dynastic and succession issues were on viewers' minds, at least in
terms of the Lopez and Babbington conspiracies -- indeed, I would wonder
if there were more than a few people who saw Lopez' ghastly death and
applauded it, would several years down the line be applauding H5. The more
educated, I would guess, would know about the dynastic struggles of the
War of the Roses. I also would guess that even an illiterate viewer would
be used to sundry proclamations, sermonizing, et cetera, would have known
about Lopez, Babbington by oral transmission etc. At least, the
'groundlings' would have gotten the gist of Canterbury's speech, and
indeed may have found the tune of his narration quite pleasing, if not
quite getting the words, in terms of the sermonizing 'begattings' they
were used to. Can't forget about the Armada either and the general sense
of triumphalism, vindication of the Tudor myth otra vez.
As far as whether or not Canterbury was at Leicester to give the speech,
I've come to the conclusion -- and much helped by various correspondents
-- that it don't signify ultimately in terms of performance etc. From all
evidence -- and again -- I am not a Shakespearean scholar -- Holinshed was
not deceiving anyone: he thought Canterbury was there, and drew the speech
itself from sources I know not, but which he assumed were reliable.
The real issue for me, is how to perform the oration before a non
Elizabethan audience, notably of today, not much caring about, or
certainly informed about hoary dynastic issues, the Law Salique, so forth.
Thanks for the responses; they've been quite helpful.
Harvey Roy Greenberg
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