Download e-book for iPad: Shakespeare’s Culture of Violence by Derek Cohen (auth.)

By Derek Cohen (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0230379443

ISBN-13: 9780230379442

ISBN-10: 1349390836

ISBN-13: 9781349390830

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Additional info for Shakespeare’s Culture of Violence

Example text

As Bolingbroke and his followers exit, a new conspiracy is articulated among Carlisle, the Abbot of Westminster and Aumerle, a conspiracy that is the counterpart and repetition, with variations, of the earlier conspiracy which involved Northumberland, Ross and Willoughby. Reflexiveness achieves a kind of climax in the mirror episode, but that is only its final and most subtle expression. From the moment Richard appears a dividedness of vision impels the attention of all present, on- and offstage spectators alike.

The emphatic terminus implied by Hal's parting words is crassly mocked by Falstaff rising up . The act of cutting Percy's thigh is represented as antithetical to Hal's death-fight with Percy: as the fight was a lucid example of the purifying violence seen only in drama and ritual, so the attack on the corpse affirmed the value of the rite by its implied but debased re-enactment of the encounter. Hal, Hotspur, and Falstaff are, then, related through a ritual of violence, a ritual which exists on its own and through the dark glass of parody and travesty.

Westmoreland's description, however, is couched in the language of revulsion and disgust and completes a passage that pointedly distinguishes between good and evil violence and good and evil rituals of violence. There is, of course, another mutilation of a corpse in the play, and it too is a ritualized act of barbarity that stands as a kind of debasement or travesty of the rituals of socially beneficial violence. In these two acts of mutilation, however, the play intensifies the political divisions between beneficial and harmful violence.

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Shakespeare’s Culture of Violence by Derek Cohen (auth.)


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