Get help from the best in academic writing.

Comparing the Murder of the King in Hamlet, Richard II, Henry VIII, Macbeth and Julius Caesar

Murder of the King in Hamlet, Richard II, Henry VIII, Macbeth and Julius Caesar

Kings are everywhere in Shakespeare, from Hamlet to Richard the Second, from Henry the Eighth to Macbeth; many of the plays contain a central element of a king or autocratic head of state such as Julius Caesar, for example. They focus more specifically on the nature of that person’s power, especially on the question of removing it; what it means on both a political and psychological level, how it can be achieved, and what will happen afterwards. This is not surprising, considering the times Shakespeare was living in: with the question of who ruled and where their authority came from being ever more increasingly asked in Elizabethan and Jacobean times the observations he makes are especially pertinent.

Kings and kingship also lend themselves well to drama; the king is a symbol of the order (or disorder) of the day and a man who possesses (almost) absolute authority and the status that accompanies that, whilst in contrast he is also a human being with the ordinary weaknesses of that condition. Shakespeare is also said to have loved the drama of killing; according to legend he would “make a speech when he killed a calf” in his father’s abattoir (Richard Wilson: ‘A Brute Part’.) The dramatic image of sacrifice is particularly prevalent in Julius Caesar; Brutus says:

” Let us be sacrificers but not butchers, Caius.

We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar;

And in the spirit of men there is no blood:

O! then that we could come by Caesar’s spirit,

And not dismember Caesar. But, alas!

Caesar must bleed for it. ”

( II.i.166-171 )

Many images of sacrifice are present throughout the play, such as the servant returning…

… middle of paper …

… doubt it; and if it does go something else equally fine will take its place. It will be the same thing in a different dress. You can’t invent anything finer than kingship, the idea of the king. ”

This may be true for many more than just the dramatist, Kings, Queens, and other more modern demagogues remain widespread throughout the world today and we are still far from the fairer, truly democratic world order the revolutionaries of the seventeenth century and many more since then have strived for.

Works Cited.

Craig,E.G./ ON THE ART OF THEATRE Harvester

Dollimore,J./ RADICAL TRAGEDY Harvester.

Freer,C./ POETICS OF JACOBEAN DRAMA Hopkins University Press.

Kirsch,J./ ROYAL SELF Putnams.

Knight,G.W./ IMPERIAL THEME Methuen.

Knight,G.W./ SOVEREIGN FLOWER Methuen.

Mack,M./KILLING THE KING Yale Univ. Press.

Wilson,R./A BRUTE PART (Lecture handout)

New Grub Street as a Microcosm of English Victorian Life

New Grub Street presents the reader with an accurate and comprehensive picture of late Victorian society, despite the fact that it predominantly focuses only on a small group of literary men and women. At first, one may have difficulty locating Gissing’s voice within the narrative. The perspective leaps from character to character, without establishing any clear candidates for the reader’s sympathies. Jasper Milvain is ambivalently portrayed, despite the fact that his moral and literary values were anathematic to Gissing. This is but one example of ambiguity in a novel that is filled with confusion and inversions of the ‘natural order’. The world of New Grub Street is one where the unscrupulous Jasper Milvain triumphs, the mediocre Whelpdale stumbles upon commercial success, while others such as Edwin Reardon, Alfred Yule, and Harold Biffen undisputedly become casualties in the battle of life. What is Gissing trying to say about Victorian England? (Or is literary life his sole intended subject?) Throughout this chaos of view-points are interwoven the themes of money, class, and sex. Yet it is precisely the ubiquity of these themes, and the prevalent disorder of the world that makes the novel reflective of late Victorian society. Whether or not Gissing intended his novel to be purely a study in the changing literary life of the late nineteenth century, New Grub Street is effectively a microcosm of English life in the closing years of Victoria’s reign.

New Grub Street depicts some of the consequences of the structural and compositional changes that were – and had been – taking place in the social and class structures of Victorian England. The increasing size of the middle class1, the reductions in working hours2, an…

… middle of paper …

… Unwin, London, 1968, p. 154.

5 Gross, John, The Rise and Fall of the Man of Letters: English Literary Life Since 1800, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1973, p. 220.

6 Altick, p. 61.

7 Gissing, George, New Grub Street, Wordsworth, Hertfordshire, 1996, ch. XXXIV, p. 393.

8 Gross, p. 220.

9 Gissing, ch., XIV, p. 146.

10 Cited in Gross, pp. 220-1.

11 Ibid., p. 221.

12 Gissing, ch. XIV, p. 146.

13 Gross, p. 149.

14 Gissing, ch. XXXV, p. 402.

15 Ibid., p. 400.

16 Ibid., ch. XXXVII, p. 422.

17 Ibid., Introduction.

18 Ibid., ch. VII, p. 74.

19 Ibid., ch. XXXV, p. 401.

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid., ch. XIV, p. 151.

22 Ibid., ch. XXVII, p. 301.

23 Ibid.

24 Ibid., ch. XXXV, p. 403.

25 Fowles, John, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Vintage, London, 1996, p. 445.

26 Ibid., p. 283.

27 Altick, p. 17.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.