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4 - Foreign War

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2021

David Loewenstein
Affiliation:
Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Paul Stevens
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

This chapter explores the scene of conflict with a foreign power in Shakespeare’s plays, particularly the history plays 1 Henry VI, King John, and Henry V, in which war with France provides the testing ground for an exploration of the contrast between foreign and native, or national, values. In these plays, Englishness is largely defined in terms of masculine stoicism and canny tactical knowledge, as opposed to French foppishness. The characterization of the English as providentially favored underdogs up against an overconfident enemy present in Henry V and King John recalls Elizabethan conflicts with Spain and the papacy. Gender identity also factors prominently in Shakespeare’s creation of a sense of the foreign, as he describes England’s island geography as a virginal national space to be defended against invasion. At the same time, Macbeth demonstrates that Shakespeare does not shy away from this conflict between foreign and native on the home front.

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Chapter
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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References

Further Reading

Baker, David J., and Maley, Willy (eds.). British Identities and English Renaissance Literature, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011.Google Scholar
Barker, Simon. War and Nation in the Theatre of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Escobedo, Andrew. Nationalism and Historical Loss in Renaissance England: Foxe, Dee, Spenser, Milton, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 2004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Helgerson, Richard. Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1992.Google Scholar
Hammer, Paul E. J. Elizabeth’s Wars: War, Government and Society in Tudor England, 1544–1604, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hoenselaars, A. J. Images of Englishmen and Foreigners in the Drama of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries: A Study of Stage Characters and National Identity in English Renaissance Drama, 1558–1642, Rutherford, Fairleigh Dickenson Press, 1992.Google Scholar
Howard, Jean, and Rackin, Phyllis. Engendering A Nation: A Feminist Account of Shakespeare’s English Histories, London, Routledge, 1997.Google Scholar
Maley, Willy, and Murphy, Andrew (eds.). Shakespeare and Scotland, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2004.Google Scholar
McEachern, Claire. The Poetics of English Nationhood, 1590–1612, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996.Google Scholar

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