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Shakespeare's Festive ComedyA Study of Dramatic Form and Its Relation to Social Custom$
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Cesar Lombardi Barber

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691149523

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691149523.001.0001

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Rule and Misrule in Henry IV

Rule and Misrule in Henry IV

(p.219) Eight Rule and Misrule in Henry IV
Shakespeare's Festive Comedy

C. L. Barber

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines Shakespeare's Henry IV. The two parts of Henry IV are an astonishing development of drama in the direction of inclusiveness, a development possible because of the range of the traditional culture and the popular theater, but realized only because Shakespeare's genius for construction matched his receptivity. Early in his career, Shakespeare made brilliant use of the long standing tradition of comic accompaniment and counterstatement by the clown. Now suddenly he takes the diverse elements in the potpourri of the popular chronicle play and composes a structure in which they draw each other out. The implications of the saturnalian attitude are more drastically and inclusively expressed here than anywhere else, because here misrule is presented along with rule and along with the tensions that challenge rule. Shakespeare dramatizes not only holiday but also the need for holiday and the need to limit holiday.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, plays, Henry IV, holiday, saturnalian attitude, misrule, drama, inclusiveness

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