Maskew, Helen Patricia (2009)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This thesis is an appraisal of Shakespeare’s characterisation of Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, colloquially known by his soubriquet ‘kingmaker’. Shakespeare’s reification of the reputations of characters from the regal history of late medieval England substantially maintains our interest in historical figures such as Warwick. By a process of dramatic and literary osmosis, Shakespeare infiltrates the national consciousness with such figures, refreshing individual and collective memory. The majority of the thesis is taken up with an examination of key scenes which I consider most successfully explore the roots of Warwick’s reputation. Finally, I will consider Warwick’s role in performance, though a discourse with three actors who have previously been assigned the role. I will examine their various approaches to the characterisation of the part. In the course of distilling Warwick’s clearly defined characteristics, Shakespeare examines fundamental questions of the delegation of right to rule and the accepted qualities required for effective leadership. In this context, the dramatist follows the course of events by which the Kingmaker achieved the agnomen which continues to define him as a symbol of medieval potency.
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