Shakespeare the Playwright: A Companion to the Complete Tragedies, Histories, Comedies, and Romances

By Victor L. Cahn | Go to book overview

THE FIRST TETRALOGY

The plays that make up the first of Shakespeare's two tetralogies based on English history are among his very earliest dramatic works, and as such they have flaws. Speakers tend to sound alike, and their language is not often memorably poetic. Few characters have depth or offer any complication; virtually all their ideas and emotions are on the surface. The result is that at too many moments we are left to watch plot develop mechanically, and amidst exposition and recitation we sometimes lose drama.

Yet these works have points of considerable interest. First, the scope of the story is massive. Perhaps only an inexperienced playwright would have had the gall to attempt to cover the panorama of sixty years in a single series of four plays, and for that reason Shakespeare's comparative innocence and youthful exuberance may have been vital to the creative process. Second, the plays themselves have an undeniable theatricality. So much territory is covered, and so many characters roam the stage that the drama seems to progress as if by the playwright's energy alone. Third, even if some scenes and acts are awkwardly composed, certain moments loom powerfully, and flashes of the Shakespeare to come emerge.

Most important, these plays are essential to an appreciation of Shakespeare's view of history and politics. Here he dramatizes a loss of national unity to be redeemed only through the rise of the Tudors, and his perspective on this era has ramifications that extend throughout his entire career.

Opinion concerning the authorship of these plays is not unanimous, for some critics believe Shakespeare collaborated with other playwrights on various sections. But the unity of style and theme suggests that the tetralogy is the product of one creative mind, and that conclusion underlies the discussion that follows.

No single figure or group of figures dominates all four plays. Henry himself is too weak and ineffectual to hold sway. Thus we shall focus on a succession of characters, including Joan of Pucelle, Talbot, Gloucester, Margaret, Suffolk, Edward, and Richard III.

-287-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Shakespeare the Playwright: A Companion to the Complete Tragedies, Histories, Comedies, and Romances
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 865

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.