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War and Nation in the Theatre of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries$
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Simon Barker

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748627653

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748627653.001.0001

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In Theatre

In Theatre

(p.24) 2 In Theatre
War and Nation in the Theatre of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries

Simon Barker

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter addresses the relationship between the theatre and warfare. A close connection between Shakespeare and attitudes to war over the centuries is presented. Three general points are provided that can be made about the kind of theory that has overturned many of the assumptions found in the earlier criticism of critics such as Tillyard, Knights and Wilson Knight. Additionally, the representation of war is investigated in the texts of Shakespeare and his contemporaries in terms of this idea of their interrogative nature. In terms of remembrance, there is another connection to the formal tenets of tragedy: the association between war and pity. It may be concluded that the dominant cultural response to warfare is one that at best emphasises the Aristotelian duality of response: that one gaze upon and celebrate the heroes and ‘the fallen’ of war with both pity and an aesthetic pleasure at its terror.

Keywords:   theatre, warfare, Shakespeare, remembrance, pity, tragedy, Tillyard, Knights, Wilson Knight

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