Chapter

‘We band of brothers’

Simon Barker

in War and Nation in the Theatre of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780748627653
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652228 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748627653.003.0005
‘We band of brothers’

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This chapter explores the history plays, with particular emphasis on how Shakespeare embodies aspects of militarism in the warlike figures of Richard III and Henry V. It investigates how Shakespeare's theatre dramatised and commented on the issues that are to the fore in the military prose, arguably registering a critique that can be thought of as undermining the force of the prose's polemic. Shakespeare offered mid-twentieth-century audiences both the inspiration for anti-fascist resistance and a study of the kind of psychology that had seduced and misled the German people. Shakespeare connects his Richard to the tail end of a Morality Play tradition that had lately isolated the Vice figure from its former symbolic function as an embodiment of evil and given it a secularised and somewhat aesthetically pleasing role on the English stage. Shakespeare seems to leave the Henry of Harfleur at a considerable distance from the ideal warrior-king.

Keywords: militarism; Shakespeare; Richard III; Henry V; military prose; Harfleur; Morality Play

Chapter.  13883 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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