The dramatic language of Shakespeare's Henry VI : a stylistic and theatrical study
In this thesis I attempt to reconcile academic assessment and theatrical experience in relation to Shakespeare's Henry VI. 'Dramatic language' signifies the combination of verbal and non-verbal ingredients (spectacle, grouping, interruption, silence) that makes up the dramatist's means of communication. Chapters I-III deal with critical approaches; Chapters IV-VI with the art of verbal persuasion; Chapters VII-XI with the 'traffic of the stage'. Chapter I surveys the main trends in Henrician criticism - character-scrutiny, thematic study, 'metadramatic' interpretation - and describes the liberating effect of the uncut 1977 production by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Chapter II defends the choice of the 1623 First Folio (F) as my text for examination; its light pointing avoids the restrictive quality imposed by normalisation. Chapter III sketches the background of classical and Renaissance rhetorical prescription familiar to Shakespeare, and gives special attention to the persuasive modes of logos, pathos, ethos and their associated figures. In Part II I carry out rhetorical analysis. Chapter IV examines the use of oratory for purposes of deception and enticement. Chapter V deals with taunts and challenges. Chapter VI is concerned with King Henry's language: a medium for candour and revelation that provides a remarkable blending of logos, pathos, ethos. Throughout these chapters I relate individual figures to their dramatic operation. Part III uses unpublished as well as published sources. Chapter VII covers the Stratford productions from 1889 to 1977. Chapter VIII deals with interrupted and undermined ceremony and the importance of 'dumb significants' (unspeaking but eloquent signs). Chapter IX illustrates the dramatic uses of heraldry. Chapter X is devoted to an account of stillness and ritual in 3 Henry VI, II. v. I conclude with a brief description of the manner in which Adrian Noble's production of The Plantagenets (Stratford, 1988) accommodates the ingredients of Shakespeare's compound dramatic language.