Unkept measures : a study of imagery in Shakespeare's Henriade

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Sublette, Jack R.
Eddy, Darlene Mathis, 1937-
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Thesis (D. Ed.)
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The purpose of this study is to examine the imagery of time, identity, order, and power in William Shakespeare's Richard II, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, and Henry V in order to demonstrate that the dramatist's use of imagery both emphasizes the themes of the plays and frequently develops the characterization of those who people the stage: Shakespeare's skillful artistic technique of incorporating imagery into the dramatic text emphasizes, reinforces, and develops both theme and characterization. The terms "image" and "imagery" refer exclusively to figurative language, excluding the constrictive definitions of visual imagery, wordpictures, and iterative words. In this procedure, I recognize that figurative language involves the process of comparison in which each image contains two parts which have been variously called the subject-matter and object-matter, the minor term and the major term, and the vehicle and the tenor. My analysis deals with the effect achieved by the interaction between the two parts of each image. The major sections of the paper are organized, first, according to the image patterns of time and identity and order and power and, second, by individual play.The imagery of time and identity illustrates that these plays are more than dramatizations of political ideas and philosophies. The dramas demonstrate man's continual relationship with time. Because time is a force which affects all human beings, part of man's identity is determined by his position on the wheel of time. More important, however, than man's position on the wheel of time is the behavior of men and the use which they make of the time given to them. The Henriad portrays King Richard II as a human being who wastes time and fails to recognize its force and significance until it is too late for him to restore the order which he has violated. In taking advantage of time, Richard's successor, Henry IV, imagines that an adequate amount of time exists for him to compensate for having taken Richard's crown. However, Henry IV spends his entire reign trying to settle civil disruption and to change Prince Halls behavior. Finally, the cycle of Henry IV comes to an end without his having been able to restore order to his country. The disordered time which was initiated by Richard and Bolingbroke continues throughout the reigns of Henry IV and Henry V. The position of king which Bolingbroke so eagerly seeks and illegally achieves brings him little happiness and finally destroys him. In a world subject to time and fortune, the positions, roles, and identities of men change. The imagery depicts the disordered segments of time and the subsequent effects in the lives of men, all of which occur because of man's interference in the cycle of time and his violation of its order. No matter what his specific role at any time, man's identity, as the imagery illustrates, is determined by the fact that he is no more than a mortal human being with certain moral capacities. Who he is clearly rests upon his use of these in the time given to him. The Henriad demonstrates that each person, from king to common soldier, fulfills the role of human being in the diverse ways he recognizes and meets his human obligations.