The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2235  Wednesday, 26 November 2003

From:           Laurie Richards <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 25 Nov 2003 09:57:16 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2222 Margaret, Rivers and Dorset
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2222 Margaret, Rivers and Dorset

"The characters in this scene generally hold Margaret responsible for
Rutland's death, and Dorset throws his cap in with the others, saying
"no man but prophesied revenge for it". Yet if Dorset was a Lancastrian
at the time of Rutland's death, as he was, then he too would have been a
confederate of the bloody Clifford, and should be considered more
complicit in Rutland's death than qualified to cast judgment for it."

I think there are two primary reasons why Margaret is blamed for
Rutland's death and Dorset isn't. 1) She was the leader of the army and
the losses and victories are often attributed to the leader, hence she's
the responsible party. 2) One of my favorite scenes in all Shakespeare
is the death of York in Henry VI part III 1:4 when Margaret offers York
the cloth steeped in Rutland's blood, indeed, she mocks him with it;
which makes her at least on some level, complicit in Rutland's death; "I
stain'd this napkin with the blood/ That valiant Clifford with his
rapier's point/ Made issue from the bosom of the boy;" shortly
thereafter she stabs York.  Interestingly, on some level this echoes the
death of Rutland; after all, Clifford first stabs Rutland before
Margaret bloodies her hand and then she follows Clifford once again by
stabbing York immediately after Clifford stabs him.

"The second problem is less clear-cut* and concerns the death of Ned
Plantagenet, Margaret's son, murdered by the three York boys (Edward,
Clarence and Richard). Margaret describes Hastings as a stander-by at
this event**, also tarring Rivers and Dorset with this same brush, and
cursing all three. Yet (like the previous problem with the roles
reversed) if Rivers & Dorset were Lancastrians at the time then their
status as standers-by was the same as Margaret's herself***- friends to
the unfortunate Ned who would have saved him but were impotent to do

That is kind of puzzling, and I think I've noticed this before (but then
it's been probably 12-13 years). Here are a couple possible answers:
Shakespeare got lost. Can we blame him? The huge cast of characters is
enough to confuse anyone! It's also possible that they are soldiers
fighting for Edward and not listed as such because they don't play an
important part in the scene. I also suspect this is an issue of
Shakespeare taking creative license because to the best of my knowledge
the Rivers referred to is historically her father (but then, when did
Shakespeare care about being historically accurate?!). But like Warwick
and George Clarence, Shakespeare's Rivers may have switched sides to
keep his family fortune secure. Dorset was fourteen when his mother
married Edward IV, about the same age as Margaret's son if I'm not
mistaken, and possibly he could've been one of the unnamed soldiers
during that particular scene along with Rivers. That's just the way I'm
interpreting it.


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