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In search of Richard II: Shakespeare’s use of eyewitness accounts of the revolution (1399-1400)

Conflicting tales and the dramatic structure of the play (III.2-3)
Catherine Lisak
p. 95-128

Résumé

The essay attempts to reawaken the debate over Shakespeare’s use of the French chroniclers of the revolution in his writing of Richard II. Section I shows how critics and scholars are disagreed as to whether contemporary chronicle reports were consulted by Shakespeare and undergoes a thorough survey of the scholarship, the critical literature as well as the sources, with particular focus on the idea of the martyr-king, and the question as to whether these chronicle accounts were accessible in the 16th century. Examination is made of Heyward as borrowing from Shakespeare’s play. One central debate to be considered in the contradictory sources is the problem of a king who abdicated vs one who was deposed: can both versions be brought together ? Section II pays attention to particular words, like “discomfortable”, and considers the “opaque” character of Aumerle. It discusses Northumberland greeting the King alone and analyses Bolingbroke’s “triple courtesy” when he encounters Richard at Flint Castle. The conclusion is that Shakespeare worked on the various imaginative constructs that these sources offered, and found in them the quality of purporting events of the past in dramatical, poetical and memorable fashion, thus safeguarding certain national events from progressive oblivion.

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Catherine Lisak, « In search of Richard II: Shakespeare’s use of eyewitness accounts of the revolution (1399-1400) », Actes des congrès de la Société française Shakespeare, 19 | 2002, 95-128.

Référence électronique

Catherine Lisak, « In search of Richard II: Shakespeare’s use of eyewitness accounts of the revolution (1399-1400) », Actes des congrès de la Société française Shakespeare [En ligne], 19 | 2002, mis en ligne le 01 novembre 2007, consulté le 25 mai 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/shakespeare/918 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/shakespeare.918

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Catherine Lisak

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