Language and Politics in the Sixteenth-Century History Play by D. Cavanagh

By D. Cavanagh

Language and Politics within the Sixteenth-Century background Play examines a key preoccupation of historic drama within the interval 1538-1600: the possibility provided via uncivil language. 'Unlicensed' speech informs the presentation of political debate in Tudor background performs and it's also the topic in their so much bold political speculations. through interpreting performs by means of John Bale, Thomas Norton, Thomas Sackville, and Robert Greene, in addition to Shakespeare, this research additionally argues for a extra inclusive method of the style.

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For example, there is his shockingly explicit depiction of the four orders of the church as irredeemably corrupt (ll. 805–13). This culminates in his pithy depiction of Usurped Power’s authority as ‘neyther good ner trewe’ (l. 812), provoking the Pope’s response: ‘under hevyn ys not, a mor knave in condycyon’ (l. 814). Such tolerance soon evaporates as Sedition launches a battery of derisive comments at his own comrades. When Dissimulation seeks blessing and 32 Language and Politics in the Sixteenth-Century History Play absolution from Usurped Power, Sedition peppers his obeisance with sardonic asides: Dyssymulacyon: for godes sake wytsave, to geve me yowr blyssyng here a pena et culpa, that I may stand this day clere Sedicyon: from makyng cuckoldes?

98–9). From its outset, the play presents the struggle of the responsible speech of John and England to be heard against a presumptuous register of derision and unseemly speculation: Englande: thes vyle popych swyne, hath clene exyled my hosband King Johan: who ys thy husbond, telme good gentyll yngland Englande: for soth god hym selfe, the spowse of every sort that seke hym in fayth, to ther sowlys helth and comfort Sedicyon: he ys scant honest, that so many wyfes wyll have (ll. 107–11) The Paradox of Sedition in John Bale’s King Johan 25 Moreover, Sedition soon turns from profane scorn to threats of action.

In particular, Philander plots a dialectical relationship between obedience and rule. As with Arostus, he insists it is the king’s responsibility to inculcate in his children an ethic of restraint: ‘Whoso obeyeth not with humbleness / Will rule with outrage and with insolence’ (229–30). Again he is careful to disavow, credibly, any ‘envy or reproach’ in his concern for the ‘common weal’ (211; 242). As this interpretation demonstrates, a more patient attention to the detail of rhetorical debate in Gorboduc reveals it as being far from predictable in its political evaluations.

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