War in Shakespeare's Plays
War in Shakespeare's Plays
The theme of war is a prevalent topic in Shakespeare's plays. Commentators on the subject address a wide range of issues, including Shakespeare's concern with questions of legal, ethical, and religious justifications of war, his representation of ties between church and state in promoting and waging war, and his depiction of the costs of war both in terms of monetary expense as well as the effects on common soldiers and civilian populations. Several critics call attention to Shakespeare's depiction of war against a foreign enemy as a political strategy used to downplay internal problems and unite a nation around a leader whose legitimacy is in question. This is illustrated by Henry IV's advice to Hal “to busy giddy minds / With foreign quarrels” (2 Henry IV). Theodor Meron (1998), taking up the issue of “just war,” contends that Shakespeare's plays show that a nation's rationale for war is often spurious, having more to do with “exaggerated notions of honour” or saving face than with a sound and legitimate motive. Critical evaluation of Shakespeare's portrayal of war principally focuses on the history plays, which chronicle both the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453), when there were periodic military conflicts between England and France, and the Wars of the Roses, the term used to describe the civil strife between the houses of York and Lancaster between 1455 and 1485. Commentators point out that during the course of these conflicts, the cult of militarism changed dramatically and traditional notions of chivalric warfare declined, partly as a result of early modern developments in armaments. Scholars also note that Shakespeare's plays reflect contemporary public debate over whether to employ foreign wars to expand territory, an issue that was hotly contested during the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.
Critics consider Henry V to be Shakespeare's most important play on the topic of war. In her discussion of the legal requirements for a just war, Janet M. Spencer (1996) evaluates the play's perspective on the legitimacy of Henry's invasion of France as well as the legitimacy of his reign. Spencer remarks that although Henry violates moral and legal laws, he is the beneficiary of religious authority that, in effect, absolves him of guilt. Jean-Christophe Mayer (see Further Reading) also addresses the question of the legitimacy of Henry's rule and his war against France. Pointing to the king's use of pretexts and deceptions, Mayer asserts that Shakespeare depicted this war as a political act, not a “holy” undertaking. By contrast, John Mark Mattox (2000) argues that Henry's war is clearly represented as a just one. Mattox reaches this conclusion by examining the war in the context of Western legal traditions that define jus ad bellum (“the justice of war”)—that is, the criteria that must be met before one nation takes military action against another—and jus in bello (“justice in war”)—the standards of conduct that soldiers and their leaders should uphold. Theodor Meron (1993) focuses more narrowly on the legality of Henry's order to kill French prisoners. Meron maintains that this was not a violation of established laws of war and that Shakespeare represented this episode “in the best possible light.” The issue of the connection in Henry V between war and nationalism arises in both commentary on the play and in critiques of film adaptations by Laurence Olivier in 1944 and Kenneth Branagh in 1989. Noting the overtly “patriotic purpose” of the first film, Elizabeth Marsland (1995) argues that Olivier's idealization of Henry's French campaign is based on a national tradition that romanticized war. Though she discerns significantly different cinematic devices in the two adaptations, Marsland contends that Branagh was as committed as Olivier to simplistically depicting Henry as merely a heroic figure. Robert Lane (see Further Reading) similarly regards Branagh's treatment of Henry, asserting that Branagh represented the king and his war from a far more approving perspective than Shakespeare did. In her essay, Ellen C. Caldwell (2000) discusses how, over the centuries, English and French artists and writers have portrayed episodes in the Hundred Years' War, noting that on both sides the depictions have been invariably concerned with the idea of promoting a national ethos. Caldwell describes Shakespeare's Henry V as a much more complex delineation of the war and its effects than is typically found in earlier representations and characterizes Olivier's Henry V film as “a vehicle for nationalistic propaganda.”
Evaluating the portrayal of war throughout the Henry VI trilogy, Gregory M. Colón Semenza (2001) suggests that the decay of chivalric ideals, radical changes in the nature of warfare, and the clash of personal rivalries chronicled in the Henry VI trilogy are enhanced by Shakespeare's use throughout these plays of sport as a metaphor for war. The critic points out that allusions to warfare as a kind of competitive sport increase as Henry's nobles discard traditional concern with political principles and the common good in favor of pursuing their own ambitions. R. Chris Hassel, Jr. (1984) focuses on Richard III, the play that chronologically follows the Henry VI trilogy. Noting the need of military leaders to convince their troops that God is on their side, he assesses the relative effectiveness of Richard's and Richmond's addresses to their soldiers before the battle at Bosworth Field. Laurence Lerner (2001) comments on several invocations of God made in King John to defend the legitimacy of rule and war. He also discusses the play's depiction of the wisdom of using either military force or diplomacy to settle the conflict between France and England, pointing out that peace is finally achieved neither by armed combat nor by treaty: instead of culminating in a pivotal battle, the war “simply fizzles out.” Remarking on a similar absence of a crucial battle scene in both Othello and Hamlet, Susan Snyder (1996) notes that Shakespeare did not dramatize the Turkish attack against Cyprus in Othello and represented Fortinbras's invasion of Denmark in Hamlet as a relatively bloodless one. Both tragedies, she contends, depict the enemy within as a greater threat than the foreign antagonist. Michèle Willems (1995) examines Hotspur (in Henry IV, Part 1) and Coriolanus as men who regard military prowess as the principal means of achieving self-fulfillment and honor. Willems calls attention to the way these plays depict the differences between professional warriors and common soldiers, as well as their similar portrayals of the challenges of managing peace when there is no identifiable, external enemy. The critic also argues that both Hotspur and Coriolanus, steeped in the cult of military honor, are victims of the political strategies of other, more pragmatic people. Robin Headlam Wells (see Further Reading) asserts that the principal concern of Coriolanus is the issue of military versus humanist values. In his judgment, the play focuses on the question of whether victory in battle is the most significant factor in defining masculine honor.
In Shakespeare's comedies, as Jonas Barish (1991) observes, war is generally a peripheral issue, a way for young men to acquire fame and honor, gain self-definition, and demonstrate leadership abilities. Indeed, R. B. Parker (1984) remarks that in All's Well That Ends Well, the reasons for the Italian conflict “are not only vague but more than a little dubious” and suggests that the principal function of the conflict is to provide an outlet for Bertram and the other French courtiers to express their aggression, achieve some measure of fame, and—in the case of Bertram—escape responsibilities. Parker also addresses the tension between ideals of love and war in All's Well That Ends Well. Jo Eldridge Carney (1991) comments on the treatment of this theme in The Two Noble Kinsmen, wherein, she concludes, it is never resolved, leaving audiences and readers struggling to accommodate the play's presentation of the rivalry between sexual desire and military obligations. One Shakespearean comedy whose portrayal of war has drawn a great deal of commentary is Troilus and Cressida. Lorraine Helms (1989) focuses on this play's presentation of the violence of war and calls attention to the correspondence between Cressida and the literary tradition that feminized the Trojans, making them active participants in their own victimization. With Cressida's surrender to and collusion with masculine aggression, Helms contends, she becomes a surrogate not only for other Trojan women but for the city as well. Steven Marx (see Further Reading) maintains that Troilus and Cressida marks a pivotal change in Shakespeare's view of war, for here the dramatist attacks the same arguments for pursuing war he endorsed in earlier plays. Marx proposes that in Troilus and Cressida Shakespeare does more than deprecate classical war heroes; he invalidates every value and symbol of Renaissance militarism.
Criticism: Overviews And General Studies
SOURCE: Parker, R. B. “War and Sex in All's Well That Ends Well.” Shakespeare Survey 37 (1984): 99-113.
[In the following essay, Parker addresses the tension between ideals of love and war in All's Well That Ends Well. The critic suggests that the principal function of the war in the play is to provide an outlet for Bertram and the other French courtiers to express their aggression, achieve some measure of fame, and—in the case of Bertram—escape responsibilities.]
I wish to pursue G. Wilson Knight's suggestion that All's Well That Ends Well is built on a conflict between the masculine concept of honour as prowess in war and the feminine concept of honour as chastity in love.1 However, whereas Knight goes on to interpret the conclusion as an almost mystical victory for transcendent chastity in which ‘sanctity aspires to sexuality’ (p. 160), I propose to pick up his puzzling concept of Helena's ‘bisexuality’ to suggest instead that the conflict of the play is resolved by having each ideal—war and love—modify the other, so that the conclusion takes the form of a wry accommodation between them in which the purity of both ideals has had to be abandoned. As in Troilus and Cressida (echoed in All's Well) where there is a similar intercontamination of war and sex, this accommodation is seen through a consciousness of...
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SOURCE: Hassel, R. Chris, Jr. “Military Oratory in Richard III.” Shakespeare Quarterly 35, no. 1 (spring 1984): 53-61.
[In the following essay, Hassel compares the rhetorical power and effectiveness of Richard's and Richmond's addresses to their forces before the crucial battle at Bosworth Field in Richard III. Citing sixteenth-century military manuals, the critic evaluates the two leaders' abilities to establish the justice of their cause and inspire their troops.]
Though Richmond's victory over Richard Hunchback at Bosworth Field was memorialized in chronicle and verse throughout the sixteenth century, the question of the aesthetic victory in Shakespeare's Richard III remains alive. Are Richmond's orations to his troops as aesthetically unsatisfying as some of his most vocal critics claim? Are they “flat,” “stiff,” “pious,” and “platitudinous?” Or are they instead ringing assertions of what is right and just, powerful enough to circumscribe even Richard's dramatic and rhetorical power? Does the “artist in evil” continue to beguile us, even as he falls? Or does God's chosen Richmond drown Richard's book, even as he takes his crown?1 Because the interpretive questions involve at least two non disputanda, questions of taste and questions of doctrine, the issue is unlikely ever to be resolved. That adds to its fascination.
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SOURCE: Helms, Lorraine. “‘Still Wars and Lechery’: Shakespeare and the Last Trojan Woman.” In Arms and the Woman: War, Gender, and Literary Representation, edited by Helen M. Cooper, Adrienne Auslander Munich, and Susan Merrill Squier, pp. 25-42. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.
[In the following essay, Helms analyzes Shakespeare's treatment of male and female notions of war and honor in Troilus and Cressida.]
Concidit virgo ac puer. Bellum peractum est.
Throughout Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, Thersites' bitter cry echoes and reechoes: “Lechery, lechery, still wars and lechery; nothing else holds fashion” (5.2.194-95). It is a cry from which Shakespeare scholars long turned in disgust, dismissing Troilus and Cressida as vicious and cynical, a cruel misrepresentation of both Homer's heroic warriors and Chaucer's courtly lovers. For commentators who have turned to Troilus and Cressida in the aftermath of twentieth-century wars, the play has become a “great dispute about the sense and cost of war, about the existence and cost of love”; its action seems “all part of the game of war” and its arguments “all ceremonies of rededication to the code that maintains the war.” On the eroticized battlefields and in the militarized bedchambers of Troilus and Cressida, we have come...
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SOURCE: Barish, Jonas. “War, Civil War, and Bruderkrieg in Shakespeare.” In Literature and Nationalism, edited by Vincent Newey and Ann Thompson, pp. 11-21. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1991.
[In the following essay, Barish discusses the portrayal of war in Shakespeare's histories, comedies, tragedies, and romances, concluding that the dramatist consistently viewed the pursuit of both foreign and domestic wars as a lamentable but natural human activity that almost inevitably ends with a Pyrrhic victory.]
I want to ask who the participants are in some of the wars dramatized by Shakespeare, and what the circumstances are in which war is undertaken, to see if these tell us anything about how Shakespeare viewed war as a human activity.
I start with the observation that Shakespearean wars are often fought between people, or peoples, who may be said to be related to each other, members of the same family—brothers, or cousins, or groups of people sprung from the same stock or living in close proximity to each other—so that wars often seem to boil down to civil wars, as in Romeo and Juliet, ‘where civil blood makes civil hands unclean’, and, moreover, where the whole point about the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues, if it has a point, is that it has no point. Its origins, whatever they may once have been, go back to some unexplained offence which...
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SOURCE: Carney, Jo Eldridge. “The Ambiguities of Love and War in The Two Noble Kinsmen.” In Sexuality and Politics in Renaissance Drama, edited by Carole Levin and Karen Robertson, pp. 95-111. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1991.
[In the following essay, Carney comments on the tensions between love and war and between heterosexual desire and single-sex friendship in The Two Noble Kinsmen, suggesting that these antipathies are never resolved.]
The Two Noble Kinsmen, usually attributed to Shakespeare and Fletcher, is a play seldom examined and seldom produced,1 though perhaps it will receive more attention now that it has been included in the recently published Oxford edition of Shakespeare's Complete Works.2 Most of Shakespeare's editors—from Heminges and Condell to their present-day counterparts—have chosen to omit this play from the canon; it is more frequently claimed as one of Fletcher's works.
Perhaps some of the reason for the play's neglect is the confusion engendered by the fact of this dual authorship: some readers categorically resist the idea of Shakespeare as collaborator; others are uncertain about the nature of the collaboration.3 I would suggest that a more important reason for neglect stems from the aura of ambivalence that underscores the play's major themes of love and war, an ambivalence that has...
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SOURCE: Meron, Theodor. “Agincourt: Prisoners of War, Reprisals, and Necessity.” In Henry's Wars and Shakespeare's Laws: Perspectives on the Law of War in the Later Middle Ages, pp. 154-71. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.
[In the following essay, Meron considers Shakespeare's portrayal of Henry V's order to kill the French prisoners (in Act IV, scene vii) in light of medieval rules and customs of war. The critic concludes that Shakespeare depicted the order as both legal and justified.]
The events at Agincourt are comprehensible only if we consider how outnumbered the English forces were and how great their fear must have been. The tension which was felt in the English camp is palpable in the complaint attributed by Shakespeare to Warwick (in the Oxford edition by Wells and Taylor which I am using), or to Westmoreland (in other editions; Westmoreland was not on the Agincourt campaign at all), and in Henry's heroic reply:
O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work today.
What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Warwick? No, my fair cousin.
If we are marked to die, we are enough
To do our country loss; and if to live,
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SOURCE: Willems, Michèle. “‘Women and Horses and Power and War’: Worship of Mars from 1 Henry IV to Coriolanus.” In French Essays on Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, edited by Jean-Marie Maguin and Michèle Willems, pp. 189-202. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1995.
[In the following essay, Willems evaluates Hotspur and Coriolanus as exemplars of the cult of military heroism. The critic compares Henry IV, Part 1 and Coriolanus in terms of their depictions of heroic and antiheroic value systems, differences between professional and common soldiers, disparities between warriors and politicians, and conflicts between masculine and feminine virtues.]
In his famous speech on the seven ages of man, Jaques puts the soldier in the fourth age, after the infant, the schoolboy, and the lover:
Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honor, sudden, and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth.
(As You Like It 2.7.149-53)
The salient characteristics in this vignette are boldness and the pursuit of renown, but the actual soldiers found in Shakespeare's plays go to war reluctantly because they have no choice. For one valiant Feeble, who placidly...
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SOURCE: Marsland, Elizabeth. “Updating Agincourt: The Battle Scenes in Two Film Versions of Henry V.” In Modern War on Stage and Screen, edited by Wolfgang Görtschacher and Holger Klein, pp. 5-19. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1997.
[In the following essay, the published version of a lecture delivered at a conference in Salzburg, Austria, in October 1995, Marsland compares Laurence Olivier's and Kenneth Branagh's representations of the Battle of Agincourt in their cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare's Henry V. Although the critic calls attention to the difference between Olivier's romantic view of war and Branagh's more realistic one, she contends that both directors glossed over the negative attributes of Shakespeare's Henry.]
Shakespeare's Cronicle History of Henry the fift, a play written in 1599 about a battle fought in 1415, may seem an unlikely starting-point for a conference on the representation of modern war. But since part of my purpose is to call into question some of our widely-held tenets concerning the difference between modern and so-called ‘traditional’ warfare, as well as between more recent and older war literature, I believe that Agincourt is indeed an appropriate place to begin.
Possibly because recent wars have been so vividly portrayed to nonparticipants through visual and auditory media, it is easy to believe that the horror of...
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SOURCE: Spencer, Janet M. “Princes, Pirates, and Pigs: Criminalizing Wars of Conquest in Henry V.” Shakespeare Quarterly 47, no. 2 (summer 1996): 160-77.
[In the following essay, Spencer assesses the justice of Henry's invasion of France and the legitimacy of royal power in Henry V, concluding that the play casts a deeply ironic shadow on the king's reliance on religious authority to validate his conquest and absolve him from responsibility for the deaths and violence that ensue. The critic is particularly interested in the way that Shakespeare's many allusions to the legends associated with Alexander the Great, especially his encounter with the pirate Diomedes, enhance the ambiguous presentation of the morality of Henry's actions.]
“The figure who exceeds the law as its master and the one who exceeds it as transgressor,” Christopher Pye explains of Henry V and the traitors Cambridge, Grey, and Scroop, “are indeed bound by an unspoken—perhaps unspeakable—knowledge about the origins of power.”1 In Shakespeare's Henry V, Henry takes great pains to conceal his capacity to exceed the law by seeking religious legitimation of, or by displacing moral responsibility for, decisions based ultimately on royal prerogative. And for a great number of producers, theatergoers, and literary critics he succeeds admirably.2 Nevertheless, his decisions to exercise...
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SOURCE: Snyder, Susan. “‘The Norwegians Are Coming!’: Shakespearean Misleadings.” In Elizabethan Theater, edited by R. B. Parker and S. P. Zitner, pp. 200-13. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1996.
[In the following essay, Snyder remarks on a similar absence of a crucial battle scene in both Othello and Hamlet, noting that Shakespeare did not dramatize the Turkish attack against Cyprus in Othello and represented Fortinbras's invasion of Denmark in Hamlet as a relatively bloodless one. Both tragedies, the critic suggests, depict the enemy within as a greater threat than the foreign antagonist.]
To explore what seems to me a characteristic Shakespearean strategy, I want to consider two battles that don't happen: the Turkish attack against Cyprus in Othello and the invasion of Danish lands by Fortinbras and his Norwegian force in Hamlet. Both of these loom large in the early action of their respective plays. The upcoming wars are the focus for agitated discussion, diplomatic maneuver, and (especially) martial preparation. For a few scenes at least, we have every reason to believe that the Turks/Norwegians will attack and that the ensuing wars will be the main substance of the dramas we are watching. Yet early in act 2 of Hamlet, the ambassadors Voltemand and Cornelius report back to Claudius that Fortinbras has been diverted to Poland. By this...
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SOURCE: Meron, Theodor. “War and Peace.” In Bloody Constraint: War and Chivalry in Shakespeare, pp. 16-46. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
[In the following essay, Meron compares Shakespeare's treatment of war to medieval and Renaissance legal, religious, and chivalric doctrines of “just war.” Focusing on the English histories and Troilus and Cressida, the critic contends that characters in these plays articulate a message that is essentially pacifist.]
In this chapter, I will examine attitudes towards war and demonstrate the anti-war bent of many of Shakespeare's characters. War was a major theme, perhaps the most important theme, in Shakespeare's plays, especially the Histories but also his classical and mythological plays. War provided Shakespeare with a dramatic vehicle through which his characters could highlight and praise such concepts as honour, courage and patriotism. In addition, it was the ideal setting for an articulation of ethical and humanitarian attitudes towards war. Shakespeare's treatment of war cannot be understood without taking into account both the perspective on war provided by the literature of chivalry and the immediate historical context of the period when he was writing, some two centuries after Agincourt.
As Maurice Keen has demonstrated, there was a strong pacifist tradition in the early Christian church. However, the Christian...
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SOURCE: Mattox, John Mark. “Henry V: Shakespeare's Just Warrior.” War, Literature and the Arts 12, no. 1 (spring-summer 2000): 30-53.
[In the following essay, Mattox evaluates Shakespeare's portrait of Henry V in terms of well-established tenets of “just war” theory, arguing that the king has the right to wage war against France and that his conduct of that war meets traditional legal and ethical standards. The critic also maintains that Shakespeare affirmed Henry's claim that he has divine sanction to pursue war.]
Despite the wide spectrum of perspectives that Shakespeare's commentators bring to bear on Henry V,1 they seem to agree that the play is riddled with complexities as large as its popularity. On the one hand, Shakespeare presents Henry V as involved in a war that, in terms of both its declaration and its prosecution, clearly invites a moral-philosophical critique. On the other hand, he represents Henry as “an ideal king”2 who is altogether “politically, morally, and humanly aware.”3 As a result, “the warlike Harry” (Prologue, 5) is also the “mirror of all Christian kings” (2.chorus.6). These two designations seem, on the surface at least, to be terribly incongruent. Although it may be said that “the play's aim is to celebrate heroic actions under a heroic king,”4 it is likewise clear that Shakespeare does not...
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SOURCE: Caldwell, Ellen C. “The Hundred Years' War and National Identity.” In Inscribing the Hundred Years' War in French and English Cultures, edited by Denise N. Baker, pp. 237-65. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000.
[In the following essay, Caldwell analyzes Henry VI, Part 2 and Henry V in the context of French and English historians' and artists' representations of the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453).]
The sequence of invasions and expulsions known since the nineteenth century as the Hundred Years' War may be read in such divergent historical narratives today as to question whether those narratives refer to the same events. Their differences depend largely on the historian's nationality or national alliance, beliefs about the legitimacy or necessity of that war or of war in general, and historical circumstances. Popular representations of that war in art and literature are no less divergent, and at this remove from the events, it is clear that the popular and professional representations have become dependent on one another in complex ways. Further, whether their provenance is from the historical or popular arena, representations of the Hundred Years' War have become intertwined with constructions of nationalism both by the English and the French. To underline the extent of nationalistic influence on those representations and the commentaries they prompt, I should like...
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SOURCE: Lerner, Laurence. “King John, König Johann: War and Peace.” Shakespeare Survey 54 (2001): 213-22.
[In the following essay, Lerner compares Shakespeare's King John with Friedrich Dürrenmatt's König Johann (1968), an adaptation of Shakespeare's work with marked changes in tone and characterization. The critic considers such issues as the more overt cynicism of Dürrenmatt's play with respect to political motivations for the pursuit of war and Shakespeare's subtle treatment of whether to use military force or diplomacy to settle the conflict between France and England.]
Friedrich Dürrenmatt's König Johann, published in 1968,1 is described as a Bearbeitung (reworking or adaptation): it departs considerably from Shakespeare's original, inventing and modernizing freely, and sometimes inserting material from The Troublesome Reign of John, King of England.2
Dürrenmatt's version is certainly more cynical (or at least more openly cynical) than Shakespeare's. There is, for instance, the arrival of the Archduke of Austria as ally to the French at the beginning of Act 2. Since he was responsible for the death of Richard Coeur de Lion, he might not seem an appropriate person to help restore the English crown to Richard's nephew Arthur: in Shakespeare we are told, by the French king, that he is doing this to make amends (no...
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SOURCE: Colón Semenza, Gregory M. “Sport, War, and Contest in Shakespeare's Henry VI.” Renaissance Quarterly 54, no. 2 (winter 2001): 1251-72.
[In the following essay, Colón Semenza suggests that the decay of chivalric ideals, radical changes in the nature of warfare, and the clash of personal rivalries chronicled in the Henry VI trilogy are enhanced by Shakespeare's use throughout these plays of sport as a metaphor for war. The critic points out that allusions to warfare as a kind of competitive sport increase as Henry's nobles discard traditional concern with political principles and the common good in favor of pursuing their own ambitions.]
When, in 1 Henry VI, a Messenger of the Countess of Auvergne requests that Talbot visit his lady's castle, Burgundy derisively remarks:
I see our wars Will turn unto a peaceful comic sport, When ladies crave to be encountered with.
Burgundy's scoff seizes upon one contemporary signification of sport as amorous dalliance,2 and suggests how Talbot's warlike heroism might be compromised or even undermined by his encounter with a woman. The adjective “peaceful comic” indicates a sort of sport that actually differs from war, as though the two phenomena are otherwise linked by some inextricable bond. Burgundy's warning that war will become indistinguishable...
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Arnold, Margaret J. “‘Monsters in Love's Train’: Euripides and Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida.” Comparative Drama 18, no. 1 (spring 1984): 38-53.
Compares Euripides' several plays focusing on the Trojan War with Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. Both dramatists, Arnold contends, present a grimly realistic view of war and depict self-divided characters struggling to retain their idealism in a world where moral relativism prevails and events are beyond their control.
Baldo, Jonathan. “Wars of Memory in Henry V.” Shakespeare Quarterly 47, no. 2 (summer 1996): 132-59.
Demonstrates the ways in which the sixteenth-century movement in England toward national unity is reflected in Henry V.
Bowen, Barbara E. “‘Read My Labia: U.S. Out of Saudi Arabia’: Gender in the Theater of War.” In Gender in the Theater of War: Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida,” pp. 161-78. New York: Garland, 1993.
Links the misogyny and dialectics of Troilus and Cressida to the war in the Persian Gulf in the early 1990s.
Bulman, James C. “Coriolanus and the Matter of Troy.” In Mirror up to Shakespeare, edited by J. C. Gray, pp. 242-60. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984.
Compares Shakespeare's portrait of...
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