Shakespeare’s Sceptered Isle

Finding English National Identity in the Plays


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About the Book

This work searches Shakespeare’s history and Roman plays to find the raw materials of English national consciousness and identity. The messages of Shakespeare’s history plays are not principally the plots or “facts” of the dramas but the attitudes and imaginings they elicited in audiences. Reading Shakespeare through the lens of national identity is a study almost as old as the plays themselves, and many scholars have found various articulations of nationhood in Shakespeare’s plays. This book argues that Shakespeare’s histories furnished modern England with a curriculum for constructing a national identity, a confidence of language and culture, and a powerful new medium through which to communicate and express this negotiated identity. Highlighting the application of semiotics, it studies the playwright’s use of symbols, metonymy, symbolic codes, and metaphor. By examining what Shakespeare and playgoers remembered and forgot, as well as the ways ideas were framed, this book explores how a national identity was crafted, contested, and circulated.

About the Author(s)

Brian Carroll, a professor and chair of communication at Berry College in Mount Berry, Georgia, is the author of seven books.

Bibliographic Details

Brian Carroll

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 260
Bibliographic Info: 16 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8582-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4675-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface 1
1. Inscribing a Nation: Patriotism, Nationalism, and National Identity 5
2. The Kingly Bastard and the Bastardly King: The Citizens of King John 32
3. The Making of a King: Prince Hal’s Mastery of Language in Redeeming His Time and Nation 53
4. Others: Henry V’s Shimmering Irishman and Shakespeare’s Spectrum of Exclusion 73
5. Wonder Women: Joan of Arc, Queen Margaret, and Gendering in the Three Parts of Henry VI 95
6. Time: Dream, Myth, and Memory in Richard III 116
7. Unking’d, ­Un-Named, and Undone: Erasure in Richard II 139
8. The Riddle of Cade’s Rebellion: Disorder and Populist Revolt in Henry VI, Part II 162
9. Tyranny and the Crowd: Julius Caesar, Coriolanus and Appropriations of the Roman Past 180
Chapter Notes 203
Bibliography 231
Index 245