"Thy registers and thee I both defy": Shakespeare and the play of history and justice
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AbstractIn this thesis I apply Shakespeare's critique of historical judgment, a critique that anticipates the post-modern re-evaluation of the relationship between history and language, to his own body of plays devoted to the dramatization of English history. If one considers Sonnet 123 a problem that the history plays attempt to resolve (although there is no reason to believe this was ever a conscious formula on Shakespeare's part) then one can observe a shift in Shakespeare's approach to history and historiography as evidenced in his early to late history plays. In order to demonstrate this shift I analyze his early Henry VI plays (1589-1594) alongside Shakespeare's final play, Henry VIII (1613), to discover if and how Shakespeare represents the epistemological challenges associated with history-making and to isolate moments of historical judgment as well as the moments that appear to call for the suspension of the desire to know and judge.
Bibliography: p. 139-145