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Shakespeare's Arguments With History by Ronald Knowles

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By Ronald Knowles

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He trembles at the name of God and his prophecies are eventually fulfilled. 17 However, the disappearance of the spirit and the arrest of the malfactors return us to the encompassing plot of the imposture on behalf of Suffolk and the Cardinal. What is of great significance is King Henry’s judgment, in the light of this, at Eleanor’s trial. 2), says the king. 181) a compromising irony emerges. In sight of the audience the ‘mischiefs’ of the ‘wicked ones’ are not so much the sins of Eleanor but the controlling machinations of Suffolk and the Cardinal, who have used justice for political ends.

131–4). 4,10): a telling structural contrast with Richard Plantagenet’s reinstatement of act 3, scene 1, discussed above. The chivalric emphasis develops in the next scene after Henry’s coronation, when the hero confronts the coward. Talbot tears the Garter from Sir John Falstaff’s leg, thereby initiating ritualistic debasement. 40) and the foundation of the Order of the Garter. 1) are just two of the many ceremonial scenes in Shakespeare’s histories, but they are not merely ceremonial in the modern somewhat reductive sense of colourful aristocratic pageantry.

46–51). Foot-cloths were the conspicuously sumptuous coverings that distinguished the privileged aristocratic mount. Cade’s charge turns the logic of hierarchy against itself again. The implicit proposition is that though God created some men of higher degree than others, all men are created superior to animals: yet we see that the aristocrat treats his horse as superior to men of lower station. Furthermore, Say’s criminal betrayal of office thereby renders him inferior to those ‘honester men’ who fulfil the role they were born into.

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