Download Classes (Verso Classics, 16) by Erik Olin Wright PDF

By Erik Olin Wright

ISBN-10: 1859841791

ISBN-13: 9781859841792

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Additional info for Classes (Verso Classics, 16)

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As converting the Chronicles into chronicle plays would be a fair description of what Shakespeare had been doing while engaged in the writing of the Henry VI trilogy, why did he encumber himself with this creative challenge, when he could have simply continued as he had been going? Nothing about the tetralogy required Shakespeare to focus so exclusively on More for the final play (as Joseph Satin makes plain that he does),17 except the fact that he intuited that the Richard More was describing, the inveterate schemer, had known what he himself wanted to know, how to craft a scene.

Shakespeare gives Richard no part in the creation of act 5, a virtual epilogue, the primary purpose of which is to bring the tetralogy to its preordained conclusion, the prophesied triumph of Good over Evil. In the fifth act Shakespeare shows himself able to utilize both Senecan motifs (the parade of ghosts) and medieval ones (the reversion to the allegorical structure of the morality plays). Theater audiences still thrill to the spectacle. But so engaging has been that portion of the play in which Richard offers one tour de force after another, each a showcase piece in which the form of the 180-degree reversal and its advantages are demonstrated, that the pageantry of the finale disappoints more demanding interpreters, to whom the persona of Gloriana so blatantly honored by Shakespeare’s finale no longer evokes the intended response.

As commentators (to our knowledge) have rarely focused attention on this important contrast between More’s episodes and Shakespeare’s transformations of them,3 the subject deserves special consideration. Because logic requires that the catastrophic death of Lord Hastings, which served as the model, be examined before the episodes patterned on it can be discussed, we shall begin with the scene that we believe was written, or at least conceived, first. Let us look at More’s version in the History and then at Shakespeare’s adaptation of it, with the goal of better comprehending how More’s brilliantly structured account of Richard’s treatment of Lord Hastings acted upon Shakespeare’s imagination.

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