Origins[ edit ] The concept for the series originated in with Cedric Messinaa BBC producer who specialised in television productions of theatrical classics, while he was on location at Glamis Castle in AngusScotland, shooting an adaptation of J. By the time he had returned to London, however, his idea had grown considerably, and he now envisioned an entire series devoted exclusively to the dramatic work of Shakespeare; a series which would adapt all thirty-seven Shakespearean plays.
Towards the Problem Play. Tillyard in England and W. Wimsatt and Monroe C. The audience is singular and plural. Psychoanalytical criticism has made us more aware that literary and dramatic texts are complex interactions of the conscious and unconscious.
To state the division between author and reader in terms familiar to the Renaissance: This rhetorical relation can involve communication and persuasion, a sharing of common assumptions or a manipulation of one party by another. Rhetoric was at the centre of the education of writers like Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton and existed well before Aristotle helped codify its rules, so that its importance to poetry and criticism is as great as it is to politics and the law.
Broadly speaking, all texts represent the problems that exist between the author and audience, but problem plays draw attention to that debate as well as to the difficulties of genre, of representation itself.
Whether Shakespeare was divided in his representation of the reign of Henry the Fifth, as the culmination of that of the previous divided reigns in the Second Tetralogy, or whether readers, especially in our century, are divided in their reception of the way Shakespeare represents history, patriotism, love and war, becomes a dilemma that is, perhaps, unanswerable.
Contrary to the wish of theorists like E. The present can only use its own language, no matter how much derived from the past, to speak about past events, as the previous sentence implies. This essay will, then, assume that the text represents signs that can be interpreted and will discuss the problems Henry V represents rather than deciding what may be undecidable: Problems also occur in the earlier plays of the Second Tetralogy.
If Richard II tends towards tragedy but extends that tragic fall from the individual to the state and includes the comic episode of the Aumerle conspiracy; if 1 Henry IV develops the comic communal element but also contains the germs of satiric isolation and self-criticism in the tavern parodies of Hotspur and Glendower as well as in the division between Hal and Falstaff; if 2 Henry IV represents the negative discipline, blind fallenness and increasing incommunication of satire because Hal and Falstaff meet seldom but also includes a mixture of the tragic and the comic as well as a crisis in the relation of fiction and history in the rejection of Falstaff; Henry V continues this generic friction that is characteristic of the problem play, its crisis being especially apparent in the disjunction between the comic marriage of Henry and Katherine and the tragic fall that the Epilogue describes.
In part, Henry V attempts to sum up the earlier plays of the second group of histories. It represents the problems of unity and division, offering a problematic ending to the Second Tetralogy, attempting to give its manykinded histories a unified shape.
Although each of these plays contains less prominent aspects of other genres in them, it is Henry V that balances or, rather, makes the different genres collide more equally. Shakespearian scholars recognize several other aspects—which I take to be subsidiary to pressing at the bounds of the genre—that characterize problem plays.
Henry V goes beyond its predecessors in this respect and is the play in the Second Tetralogy that most resembles a problem play. Although no critic seems to have developed an interpretation of the strong elements of the problem play in Henry V, a few scholars have pointed to 1 and 2 Henry IV as containing the origins of the problem play, or at least some of its effects.
Other subsidiary resemblances to the problem plays also occur in Henry V. Like Troilus and Cressida, this play shows the seamy side of war and questions the kind of heroism that had been exalted since classical times—Fluellen comically likens Pistol to Mark Antony III.
Troilus also explores sex and war whereas Measure for Measure looks at the relation of sex and government. Measure, too, has a theatrically achieved ending and although not comic, the ending of Troilus also appears unable to resolve the proceeding action with satisfaction.
Like the Duke in Measure, Henry is a disguised ruler who manipulates other characters, but by doing so is brought to a more profound idea of his own responsibility. The fall of Richard creates problems and the fall of Falstaff creates more.
Other falls over the course of these plays also represent the difficulty of a human redemption of history. By inverting, reversing, contrasting and blending tragic, comic and satiric conventions and tones, Shakespeare also raises questions about the multiple, ambiguous and, therefore, ironic nature of history itself.
Henry the Fifth would be the hero Richard was not but he cannot achieve unmitigated heroism. In the end is the beginning. The irony in Henry V represents the history play as problem play because it depicts the problem of writing history not only in this play but also in the Second Tetralogy with hints back to the First Tetralogy.
This irony has implications for writing and for writing history generally, for the complex relation and interpenetration of history and fiction. As in the earlier plays of the tetralogy, multiplicity in Henry V extends beyond the established limits of the genre to which each history play is most closely related—in this case the problem play—and explores the study of history and historiography as well as the nature of the history play itself.
Although the problem element cannot include all the implications of Henry V, it is important for an understanding of the play.
More specifically, we should turn to the ways irony of theatre, structure and words, as well as a close examination of IV. That the main action and the Chorus qualify each other also raises questions about the relation of narrative and represented action in the history play.
He challenges the playgoers to do the literally impossible so that they exercise their imaginations as fully as possible. They become part of the meaning of the play and of history.
The Chorus realizes the complexity of historical shaping. The Chorus to Act Five repeats the view that the play is unable to express actual historical events.
Shakespeare displaces a conceit and humility on to his Chorus to this history:The Reader's Encyclopedia of Shakespeare (); M.
R. Martin and R. C. Harrier, The Concise Encyclopedic Guide to Shakespeare (); M. Spevack, A Complete and Systematic Concordance to the Works of Shakespeare (6 vol., ) and The Harvard Concordance to Shakespeare (); bibliographies ed.
by G. R. Smith (), E. Quinn et al. (), and L. S. Champion (). Shakespeare's Portrayal of Female Characters in The Merchant of Venice and Henry V Shakespeare's presentation and portrayal of his female characters in The Merchant of Venice and Henry V follows a typical pattern that is present in all of the Shakespearean plays that I have read so far.
hypocritical “mirror of all Christian kings” (Henry V ). However, despite any perceived “daring” of the audience on Shakespeare’s part, it is important to remember that Shakespeare’s works are routinely quite adept in the portrayal of complexity, plurality, and multiplicity of meaning, and Henry V is no exception.
Scholars are also concerned with Shakespeare’s treatment of “foreignness” in Henry V, and have examined his depiction of the Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and French. Performances of the play, notably the film adaptations directed by Laurence Olivier in and Kenneth Branagh in , also examine such issues as Henry's character and the nationalistic elements of the play.
A Transformational Analysis of Leadership in Shakespeare's Henry V Jelena Walker there is a fundamental dichotomy in Shakespeare's portrayal of Henry: while he exhibits many possibility for interpreting Shakespeare's text from different perspectives.
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