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THE RENAISSANCE (II): THE MASKS OF SHAKESPEARE’S TRAGIC CHARACTERS

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THE RENAISSANCE (II): THE MASKS OF




SHAKESPEARE’S TRAGIC CHARACTERS

THE CHRONICLE PLAYS

order of writing: Henry VI ( 3 parts ), Richard III, King John, Richard II, Henry IV (2 parts ), Henry V, Henry VIII.

chronological order: 1377 to 1547 - Richard II, Henry IV ( 2 parts ), Henry V, Henry VI ( 3 parts), Richard III.

the principle of order: the world is seen as a part of the eternal law of order and human events are firmly woven into the total web of things: A Each hath his place and function to attend ( 1H6, I.i.173-175 ). Thus the macrocosm, microcosm, and body politic are inseparable realms and actions in one direction affect the whole world.

the gallery of kings: The weak king – Richard II

the ideal king - Henry V

the evil king – Richard III

Richard II: Thus play I in one person many people,

And none contented. Sometimes am I the king;

Then treason makes me wish myself a beggar,

And so I am. Then crushing penury

Persuades me I was better when a king.

Then am I kinged again, and by and by

Think that I am unkinged by Bolingbroke,

And straight am nothing, but whate`er I be,

Nor I, nor any man that but man is,

With nothing shall be pleased till he be eased

With being nothing.

The music plays

Music do I hear.

Ha, ha; keep time! How sour sweet music is

When time is broke and no proportion kept.

So is it in the music of men`s lives.

And here have I the daintiness of ear

To check time broke in a disordered string;

But for the concord of my state and time

Had not an ear to hear my true time broke.

I wasted time, and now doth time waste me,

For now hath time make me his numb`ring clock.

My thoughts are minutes, and with sights that jar

They watches on unto mine eyes, the outward watch

Whereto my finger, like a dial`s point,

Is pointing still in cleansing them from tears.

Now, sir, the sound that strike upon my heart,

Which is the bell. So sights, and tears, and groans

Show minutes, hours, and times. But my time

Runs posting on in Bolingbroke`s proud joy,

While I stand fooling here, his jack of the clock.



This music mads me. Let sound no more,

For though it have holp madmen to their wits,

It me it seems it will make wise men mad.

The music ceased.

Yet blessing on his heart that gives it me,

For `tis a sign of love, and love to Richard

Is a strange brooch in this all-hating world.

( V. v. 1-66 )

The ideal king Henry V

The villain king: Richard III

Richard Gloucester: Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this son of York;

And all the clouds that loured upon our house

In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,

Our bruised arms hung up for monuments,

   Our stearn alarums changed to merry meetings,

Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.

Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front,

And now-instead of mounting barbed steeds

To fright the souls of fearful adversaries-

He capers nimbly in a lady`s chamber

To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.

But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks

Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass,

I that am rudely stamped and want love`s majesty

To strut before a wanton ambling nymph,

I that am curtailed of this fair proportion,

Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,

Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time

Into this breathing world scarce half made up -

And that so lamely and unfashionable

That dogs bark at me as I halt by them -

Why, I in this weak piping time of peace

Have no delight to pass away the time,

Unless to spy my shadow in the sun

And descant on mine own deformity.

And therefore since I cannot prove a lover

To entertain these fair well-spoken days,

I am determined to prove a villain

And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

Plots have a laid, inductions dangerous,

By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams

To set my brother Clarence and the King

In deadly hate the one against the other.

And if King Edward be as true and just

As I am subtle false and treacherous,

This day should Clarence closely be mewed up

About a prophecy which says that `G`

Of Edward`s heirs the murderer shall be.

( I.i



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