Bottom of the barrel: I’ve liked King John least of the twelve plays I’ve read thus far in the project. I’ve like this least of the five histories I’ve read.
It’s repetitious. It’s talky. It’s got no real hero (even the Bastard is less than well-developed, without a true objective). And dare I say it,
say it, Bill, say it…
as the first of the histories, but written later than those which discuss later events, I’m tempted to call this Shakespeare’s The Phantom Menace, but that would be an insult to George Lucas…
and that, my friends, is saying something…
The sooner I forget about this experience, the better.
Bring on Shylock the Jew!
In King John, the Bastard has the final say. He has just pledged his loyalty and “faithful services” (V.vii.104) to the new king, young Henry III; Salisbury (remember him, he lead a rebellion of English lords against Henry’s father, our titular John) follows suit. Henry responds by saying, “I have a kind soul that would give you thanks // And knows not how to do it but with tears” (V.vii.108-109). His two lines are riddled with curious phrases for a king: “kind soul,” “give…thanks,” and “with tears.” Not exactly awe-inspiring (or, for that matter, just plain inspiring) stuff.
Continue reading “Rah Rah… Goooooooo England”
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This week’s podcast concludes our month-long discussion of King John with a review of the one and only King John available on DVD, a really brief discussion of concepts and casts, and we’ll finish off with discussion of this week’s blog entries.
Continue reading “Podcast 51: King John… DVD Review, Concepts, Casts, and Wrap-Up”
Taking a day off (well, the entire weekend actually) to attend the Southern California Writers Conference, so not much today save for this:
Shakespeare has been none to throw in an anachronism or two in his plays (a clock in Julius Caesar, for example), and we have one here in King John, as well. When Eleanor and Constance are raging against one another before Angiers, King John tries to quiet them, crying, “Bedlam, have done” (II.i.183). He calls the women lunatics, as if they deserve imprisonment in the famed asylum of St. Mary of Bethlehem (Bedlam)…
Only one problem, the site didn’t open as a priory until 1247, and didn’t start treating the mentally ill until 1330. And this scene takes place in 1200.
In Act Five of King John, the wounded French Lord Melun comes from the battlefield to tell the Lords Pembroke and Salisbury, who had joined the French side of the fight because of King John’s ordered murder of Arthur, to
Unthread the rude eye of rebellion
And welcome home again discarded faith.
Seek out King John and fall before his feet;
For if the French be lords of this loud day,
He means to recompense the pains you take
By cutting off your heads: thus hath he sworn
Who is the “he” that plans to behead the English lords if the French win?
The Dauphin… what a scumbag.
Just another Shakespearean example of how the French suck.
In King John, just as in most other Shakespearean histories, the French are incompetent soldiers and fools, worthy of ridicule.
How to explain, then, the Bastard’s loss of half his army? The weather, of course:
I'll tell tree, Hubert, half my power this night,
Passing these flats, are taken by the tide.
These Lincoln Washes have devoured them.
Myself, well mounted, hardly have escaped.
Only weather, Nature, and God above can defeat the English.
Uh, yeah… right.
What King John lacks in manly men (there’s the Bastard and… well, there’s the Bastard), it (sorta) makes up in animal imagery.
Continue reading “Lions, Tigers, and Bears… Oh, My! (and toss in a swan, as well)”
We’ve discussed the role of women before in selected plays: The Comedy of Errors , The Second and Third Parts of Henry the Sixth, Love’s Labor’s Lost, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and of course The Taming of the Shrew (pretty much the whole damn month).
Well, we get four women in King John. What to make of them?
Continue reading “Not So Little Women”