Shakespeare - Essay Example

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Comparing the deposition scenes of Edward II by Christopher Marlowe and Richard II by William Shakespeare. The two plays Edward II by Christopher Marlowe and Richard II by William Shakespeare both deal with the theme of kingship, and what happens when a king is deposed…
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Download file to see previous pages This paper examines the deposition scene in the two plays to draw out each king’s relationship to kingship, his use of language, his mental state, his deployment of the Passion narrative, and his use of the crown as a prop. Following this analysis of the two kings, there is a discussion of the theatrical techniques the authors use to highlight the main issues at stake, for example the setting and role of the other characters in the deposition scene and the way that the drama unfolds on the stage. Finally the similarities and differences between Shakespeare and Marlowe are explained, leading to the conclusion that Shakespeare has borrowed some aspects from Marlowe but at the same time he has pushed Marlowe’s art in a number of new directions. In the deposition scene (Act V, Scene i) Marlowe’s King Edward II makes it very clear that he sees himself as belonging to a category that is very different from ordinary citizens: “The griefs of private men are soon allayed;/ But not of Kings” (Marlowe, lines 8-9). In order to illustrate the different elements in the social hierarchy, Edward uses animal imagery. The people are like “the forest deer” (Marlowe, line 9), while he describes himself as “the imperial lion” (Marlowe, line 11). ...
In Shakespeare’s deposition scene (Act IV, Scene i) the king also assumes an entirely different and superior status, but his approach is much more sophisticated. King Richard makes the religious allusions even more obvious by the analogy of the Passion of Christ. Shakespeare’s King Richard implies that he is like Christ, while the usurper and his many followers are like Judas: “So Judas did to Christ; but he, in twelve,/Found truth in all but one; I, in twelve thousand, none.” (Shakespeare, line 171) The analogy is expanded, as the King accuses the bystanders of being like the Biblical Pontius Pilate: “Though some of you, with Pilate, wash your hands…” (Shakespeare, line 239). Kingship in both plays is seen by the kings as a status that is fundamentally different from ordinary citizenship, and ordained by god, but it is depicted as something affected by the traitorous actions of other people. The two kings use language in different ways to express their reaction to the impending loss of their kingly status. Marlowe’s king Edward II is aware that he is experiencing a great deal of negative feelings when he confesses that “outrageous passions cloy my soul” (Marlowe, line 19) and he shows extreme “rancour and disdain” (Marlowe, line 20) and speaks of “the fury of your king” (Marlowe, line 73). When Winchester addresses him as “My lord” (Marlowe, line 113), Edward answers with short and angry commands: “Call me not lord!/ Away, out of my sight” (Marlowe, lines 114-115) before he relents and realizes that he does not have the power to command any more. Shakespeare’s King Richard is also very grieved by what has happened, but he turns his anger into bitter satire, as for example when he asks to be ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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