Chronology is hard to make sense of in this play ... Bolingbroke is banished for 6 years ... He bids England's ground farewell and is off ... Gaunt is so overcome by saying goodbye to his son that he falls into terminal illness ... dies ... Richard promptly seizes all his property and declares "Tomorrow next we will for Ireland" ... after he leaves the stage, Northumberland reveals that Bolingbroke has gathered a fleet of ships and 3000 men and is making for England's northern coast ... as best we can calculate, he was exiled some twelve hours ago. He has none the less learned of the King's theft of his inheritance and recruited armies in France and England.... On his return, Bolingbroke complains "My father's goods are all distrained and sold".... Moving the House of Lancaster's silver to London and auctioning it off ... has been achieved in a day.... Shakespeare seems to have devised a kind of "warp time".
We may assume one of two things. In the heat of battle Henry gives a command that may not have been carried out - at least not in full. Alternatively, only the unregarded ordinary prisoners of war have been put to the sword. And who cares about them? As well shed tears for the dead horses festering in Agincourt's fields.
Henry's claim to the throne of France, made suspect by the self-interest of its appointed validators, is invalidated by the illegitimacy of Henry's title to the British throne. And ... it's invalidated by the Epilogue.
Recent political events prove that humanity has not lost its readiness to "prey on itself".
Loose ends and red herrings are the stuff of detective fiction, and under the scrutiny of master sleuths John Sutherland and Cedric Watts Shakespeare's plays reveal themselves to be as full of mysteries as any Agatha Christie novel. Is it summer or winter in Elsinore? Do Bottom and Titania make love? Does Lady Macbeth faint, or is she just pretending? How does a man putrefy within minutes of his death? Is Cleopatra a deadbeat Mum? And why doesn't Juliet ask 'O Romeo Montague, wherefore art thou Montague?' As Watts and Sutherland explore these and other puzzles Shakespeare's genuius becomes ever more apparent. Speculative, critical, good-humoured and provocative, their discussions shed light on apparent anachronisms, performance and stagecraft, linguistics, Star Trek and much else. Shrewd and entertaining, these essays add a new dimension to the pleasure of reading or watching Shakespeare.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:58 -0400)