If some Shakespeare plays are particularly good grist for the mill of identity politics, others—notably the histories and tragedies—naturally invite association with the politics of statecraft, nationhood, and the power to rule. Few combine these concerns better than the second tetralogy (Richard II, Henry IV part 1, Henry IV part 2,and Henry V) with its preoccupation with the getting and maintaining of power in the face of enemies foreign and domestic, and the last play in the sequence is a particular flashpoint for competing ideological views focused through the lens of kingship. As elsewhere, the importance of this play as a consideration of power and an especially British nationalism has been shaped as much by the cultural legacy surrounding the play as by the lines within it, and any consideration of recent productions in political terms must be placed in a larger context, notably the long and potent shadow cast by the film version of Henry V made in 1944 by Laurence Olivier.
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- “Who talks of my nation?” Challenging the Establishment
Andrew James Hartley
- Macmillan Education UK
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