Shakespeare's History Plays: the Family and the State

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Ohio State University Press, 1971 - Domestic drama, English - 261 pages
Pierce systematically examines the nine history plays of Shakespeare in the 1590s in the approximate sequence of their composition. He discovers in them a constant elaboration and rich development of the correspondence between the family and the state into an ever more subtle and effective dramatic technique. Through a careful analysis of the language, characterization, and plots of the chronicles, Pierce demonstrates how the family served as an analogue of those grave events that marked the turbulent reign of King John and the subsequent terrible century of civil strife and wars with the French that haunted the imaginations of Englishmen more than a hundred years later. At times, he finds, Shakespeare depicts the family as a miniature of the kingdom, and the life of the family becomes a direct or ironic comment on the larger life of the commonwealth. At others, the family is inextricably bound up in a political situation by means of characters who are portrayed both in their public roles and as members of their families.

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