Shakespeare: The Jacobean Plays by Philip C. McGuire (auth.)
By Philip C. McGuire (auth.)
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Extra resources for Shakespeare: The Jacobean Plays
3-4, 7) to compromise his generalship, withdraws from the fight and follows the fleeing Cleopatra, he violates those qualities that, from a Roman perspective at least, define a man as great. He not only flees himself, but in the process he also flees from - and loses - himself, ceasing to be a man who possesses a specifically martial and masculine form of greatness. 58), to execute deftly what the play's first audiences regarded as the distinctively Roman action of suicide. Informed that Cleopatra has killed herself, he asks the selVant he has freed, appropriately named Eros, to kill him.
James's life also offers evidence of a pattern of events like the one particularly prominent in Pericles and The Winter's Tale: a ruler's eventual triumph over extreme and sustained adversity. 9G--I). James became king of Scotland while still an infant, due to the deposition of his mother Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, and during his first months as Scotland's putative sovereign, a band of disgruntled noblemen kidnapped him for an extended period. He survived that experience to rule Scotland in his own right.
Some have speculated that during 1603 Shakespeare endured a personal crisis of some sort, perhaps even a nervous breakdown, that kept him from writing and then altered what he subsequently wrote. Such possibilities cannot be ruled out, but at least one alternative explanation, involving professional rather than personal or artistic considerations, is also pertinent. Shakespeare may have written no new play during 1603 because there would have been no opportunity to perform it at the Globe. In the spring of 1603, authorities closed all commercial theatres in the London area because of an outbreak of the plague so severe that the general public was banned from James's coronation (25 July 1603) and his first royal progress through the city was postponed until March 1604.