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How Shakespeare Put Politics on the StagePower and Succession in the History Plays$
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Peter Lake

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300222715

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300222715.001.0001

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Richard III: political ends, providential means

Richard III: political ends, providential means

(p.149) Chapter 6 Richard III: political ends, providential means
How Shakespeare Put Politics on the Stage

Peter Lake

Yale University Press

This chapter looks at Shakespeare's Richard III. If 1 Henry VI imposed a sort of closure on the two earlier plays by suggesting how the outcomes depicted therein might have been avoided, Richard III imposed a rather more conventional sense of an ending by depicting what actually happened next. In so doing, it departed from the modes of exposition and explanation adopted in the Henry VI plays. As Donald Watson observes, ‘the play provides us with essentially two approaches to explaining Richard's triumph, one on the level of providential ritual and the other through the making and unmaking of political factions’. Working, as it were, from both the inside and the outside, the play privileges neither of these modes of explanation but rather seeks to fit the one within the other.

Keywords:   Richard III, providential ritual, political factions

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