Shakespeare’s History Plays

E. M. W. Tillyard, Shakespeare’s History Plays (London: Chatto & Windus, 1944)

Summary from the Publisher:

This is an appraisal of each history play which shows how Shakespeare drew both on learned sources and popular drama to create something uniquely his own. He examines the myths surrounding the Tudors and Elizabethan beliefs about “the great chain of being”, order and disorder and the punishments visited on the children of tyrants and usurpers. Out of all this Shakespeare made a political testament. But as the sequence reached its climax in a portrait of the perfect king, Henry V, Shakespeare turned from great public themes to heroes like Brutus and Hamlet; it is only Macbeth which perhaps should be considered “the epilogue of the Histories”.

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