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Richard II - Act 2 
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Post Re: Richard II - Act 2
jetsam wrote:
It's the kind of speech you think Winston Churchill might have made. In fact one of Churchill's best known speeches copied its structure from this speech, as well as echoing its strong patriotism and sense of defending an island realm.
"...we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender".


Thanks for this by the way. I'm familiar with this speech by Churchill. I used to use it as an example of anaphora—(repetition of a word or group of words at the beginning of items in a series). This repetition works to emphasize certain points and also to evoke passion (pathos). I had no idea that it was modeled after Shakespeare. And in this play too! Very cool!


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Flann 5, jetsam
Thu Jan 08, 2015 9:28 pm
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Post Re: Richard II - Act 2
Flann 5 wrote:
Red cards all round,I fear.

v. funny Flann, I had to chuckle



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Post Re: Richard II - Act 2
geo wrote:
It's possible that Shakespeare is propagandizing to some extent, playing up to Elizabeth's (and later King James') divinity. Making it clear that deposing monarchs is a very bad idea. But if so, the Bard propagandizes so well and poetically.


I once worked on a newspaper in a monarchy that was, to put it delicately, more absolute than constitutional. One thing you had to be very careful about was stories about kings. Running a story about an incompetent king would be bad enough. Running one about overthrowing a king would be unthinkable. As a result I've always felt that Shakespeare was unusually brave with Richard II, and Elizabeth and her minders unexpectedly tolerant.

I was interested to read Flann's comment that there had been some censorship - I hadn't been aware of that. But still, cutting off Shakespeare's lines here and there doesn't really change the thrust of the story, and is a much milder reaction than cutting off his head.



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Fri Jan 09, 2015 2:58 am
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Post Re: Richard II - Act 2
geo wrote:
Asimov says ...


The comments by Asimov you keep referring to jogged a memory of coming across a big book on Shakespeare by Asimov in a library about 20 years ago and thinking - that looks interesting, maybe I should follow it up - and then promptly forgetting all about it. There was a similar book on the Bible too, I think. Anyway, judging from your comments, it sounds pretty useful - this time I won't forget to check it out. Thanks for the reminder.



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Post Re: Richard II - Act 2
geo wrote:
SCENE IV. A camp in Wales.
Enter EARL OF SALISBURY and a Welsh Captain

This scene is just a conversation between a Welsh captain and the Earl of Salisbury, but one that shows the cosmic significance of a King being deposed, representing a shift in the Great Chain and a world that suddenly goes topsy turvy.
Meteors occlude the stars, the moon appears bloody, rich men look sad and ruffians dance and leap.


I enjoyed reading this segment again here, and I too always enjoy Shakespeare in this mode. But Shakespeare is also capable of poking a bit of fun at this stuff. There's that wonderful passage in Henry IV between Glendower and Harry Percy where Glendower keeps calling up images of meteors, earthquakes and shooting stars, stampeding animals and spirits from the depths, all to impress young Percy, and Percy won't have a bar of it, treating it all as so much mumbo jumbo. Very amusing scene.



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Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:38 am
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Post Re: Richard II - Act 2
jetsam wrote:
geo wrote:
SCENE IV. A camp in Wales.
Enter EARL OF SALISBURY and a Welsh Captain

This scene is just a conversation between a Welsh captain and the Earl of Salisbury, but one that shows the cosmic significance of a King being deposed, representing a shift in the Great Chain and a world that suddenly goes topsy turvy.
Meteors occlude the stars, the moon appears bloody, rich men look sad and ruffians dance and leap.




I enjoyed reading this segment again here, and I too always enjoy Shakespeare in this mode. But Shakespeare is also capable of poking a bit of fun at this stuff. There's that wonderful passage in Henry IV between Glendower and Harry Percy where Glendower keeps calling up images of meteors, earthquakes and shooting stars, stampeding animals and spirits from the depths, all to impress young Percy, and Percy won't have a bar of it, treating it all as so much mumbo jumbo. Very amusing scene.

Hi Jetsam,
I wonder if Shakespeare is parodying a stereotypical view of the Welsh. The Celts are temperamentally different to the Anglo-Saxons.
The Celtic oral Bardic tradition of stories,songs and poetry lent itself to flights of fantasy. You get the impression they are considered fantasists who are practically unreliable.
In both cases the Welsh fail to turn up for the battle proper.
Being Irish myself,I'm well aware of our long history of being on the wrong end of battles with England. I'm not sure who coined the phrase but someone said of the Irish that "all their wars were merry,and all their songs were sad."
This I suppose, reflecting the gusto with which they fought and the same melancholy results most of the time.
Perhaps the most famous of the Irish bards was Turlough 'O Carolan the blind harpist. They were usually commissioned to write pieces for wealthy patrons.
O' Carolan was a sophisticated composer blending classical baroque with traditional styles. Here's a piece which may be of interest to Chris here at booktalk since it was commissioned by a Mr 'O Connor.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htolggwtluE
Shakespeare himself has long been given the monicker "The Bard" so I'm sure he was not completely unsympathetic to the artistically creative side of things.



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geo, jetsam
Fri Jan 09, 2015 8:59 am
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Post Re: Richard II - Act 2
jetsam wrote:
geo wrote:
Asimov says ...

The comments by Asimov you keep referring to jogged a memory of coming across a big book on Shakespeare by Asimov in a library about 20 years ago and thinking - that looks interesting, maybe I should follow it up - and then promptly forgetting all about it. There was a similar book on the Bible too, I think. Anyway, judging from your comments, it sounds pretty useful - this time I won't forget to check it out. Thanks for the reminder.

Yes, I'm referring to "Asimov's Guide To Shakespeare: A Guide To Understanding and Enjoying The Works of Shakespeare," a truly great and worthwhile resource. My copy includes both volumes in one binding—about 1600 pages total—so a big book indeed. Unlike Harold Bloom who critiques and interprets the plays, Asimov mostly paraphrases each play while providing the historic context and other esoteric stuff. Being very science-minded, Asimov also discusses the many passages in Shakespeare that make reference to various celestial events and myths and folklore and other superstitious beliefs that were popular during Shakespeare's time as well.

This is, of course, the same Isaac Asimov, famous science fiction author, who wrote I Robot and the Foundation series among many others. I also own his three-volume set on "Understanding Physics." The guy was an amazingly prolific writer.


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Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:35 am
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Post Re: Richard II - Act 2
jetsam wrote:
geo wrote:
SCENE IV. A camp in Wales.
Enter EARL OF SALISBURY and a Welsh Captain

This scene is just a conversation between a Welsh captain and the Earl of Salisbury, but one that shows the cosmic significance of a King being deposed, representing a shift in the Great Chain and a world that suddenly goes topsy turvy.
Meteors occlude the stars, the moon appears bloody, rich men look sad and ruffians dance and leap.


I enjoyed reading this segment again here, and I too always enjoy Shakespeare in this mode. But Shakespeare is also capable of poking a bit of fun at this stuff. There's that wonderful passage in Henry IV between Glendower and Harry Percy where Glendower keeps calling up images of meteors, earthquakes and shooting stars, stampeding animals and spirits from the depths, all to impress young Percy, and Percy won't have a bar of it, treating it all as so much mumbo jumbo. Very amusing scene.


I do get a sense that Shakespeare wasn't a superstitious guy, and there's a hint of absurdity in the line, when "rich men look sad and ruffians dance and leap." As Flann says, Shakespeare knew what side his bread was buttered on. He was very much indebted to Queen Elizabeth for her patronage and later King James.

Here's a line from A Midsummer Night's Dream where Shakespeare pays homage to the Queen.

"That very time I saw — but thou couldst not —
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all arm'd: a certain aim he took
At a fair vestal throned by the west,
And loos'd his love-shaft smartly from his bow
As it should pierce a hundred-thousand hearts:
But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft
Quench'd in the chaste beams of the watery moon,
And the imperial votaress passed on,
In maiden meditation fancy free." — Act II., Sc. i.

At the time Shakespeare wrote this, Queen Elizabeth had reigned for 37 years and was still unmarried and so presumably a virgin. The Queen's virginity became a source of pride for the Elizabethans (especially when she passed the age of childbirth). And so Shakespeare paints a delicate and respectful image of his "Virgin Queen" suggesting Cupid's arrow was aimed at a "fair vestal throned by the west" but missed and hit a flower instead—the pansy which Oberon in the play calls "love-in-idleness."

Note: this info taken from Asimov's previously mentioned book. :-)


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Post Re: Richard II - Act 2
Hi Geo,
I'm inclined to agree with you about Shakespeare's use of celestial imagery and portents of disaster following the overthrow of kings and the natural order of things.
In fact rarely much good comes of such things at least in the short term.
I think he does lampoon a bit too, and I find it hard to take the warrior "heavy gaited toads" seriously.

geo wrote:
Here's a line from A Midsummer Night's Dream where Shakespeare pays homage to the Queen.

"That very time I saw — but thou couldst not —
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all arm'd: a certain aim he took
At a fair vestal throned by the west,
And loos'd his love-shaft smartly from his bow
As it should pierce a hundred-thousand hearts:
But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft
Quench'd in the chaste beams of the watery moon,
And the imperial votaress passed on,
In maiden meditation fancy free." — Act II., Sc. i.


I probably should get back to the play itself,but in the meantime here's another tangent.
What do you think Shakespeare would have made of this 21st century take on the activities of Cupid?
Eilen Jewell's "Bang,bang,bang!"
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-kw-q_9Poo



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Post Re: Richard II - Act 2
geo wrote:
This is, of course, the same Isaac Asimov, famous science fiction author, who wrote I Robot and the Foundation series among many others. I also own his three-volume set on "Understanding Physics." The guy was an amazingly prolific writer.

I've never read any of his science fiction, actually I probably have but I've forgotten, but I did read a history of Byzantium(!) that he wrote - that I also stumbled across in a the bowels of a library many years ago, and read out of surprise that a science fiction writer would write on such an obscure seeming topic.



Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:33 am
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Post Re: Richard II - Act 2
Flann 5 wrote:
In both cases the Welsh fail to turn up for the battle proper.

Ha - I hadn't picked that up - you're obviously more sensitive to these things :)
You know, I think it's quite possible that Shakespeare was parodying the Welsh (or the stereotype, I'm not sure which). And when you come to think of it, he had a bit of a lend of Harry Percy too.

And it's not beyond the realms of possibility that the "Bard" was also poking fun at himself in Glendower, who as well as his poetic Welsh was a sort of wannabe Prospero.

I enjoyed 'Bang, Bang, Bang'. That's why Cupid missed the Queen - he never bothered to aim.

I think we're ready for Act III.



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Post Re: Richard II - Act 2
Flann 5 wrote:
Eilen Jewell's "Bang,bang,bang!"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-kw-q_9Poo


Love it!


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