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In Shakespearean scholarship, Henriad refers to a group of William Shakespeare's history plays. It is sometimes used to refer to a group of four plays (a tetralogy), but some sources and scholars use the term to refer to eight plays. In the 19th Century Algernon Charles Swinburne used the term to refer to three plays, but that use is not current.

In one sense, Henriad refers to: Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V — with the implication that these four plays are Shakespeare's epic, and that Prince Harry, who later becomes Henry V, is the epic hero. (This group may also be referred to as the "second tetralogy" or "second Henriad".)[1][2]

In a more inclusive meaning, Henriad refers to eight plays; the tetralogy mentioned above, plus four plays that were written earlier and are based on later historic events – the civil wars known as The War of the Roses: Henry VI, Part 1, Henry VI, Part 2, Henry VI, Part 3, and Richard III.[3]

The second tetralogyEdit

The term Henriad was popularized by Alvin Kernan in his 1969 book The Henriad: Shakespeare’s Major History Plays to suggest that the four plays of the second tetralogy (Richard II; Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; and Henry V), when considered together as a group, or a dramatic tetralogy, have coherence and characteristics that are the primary qualities associated with literary epic: "large-scale heroic action involving many men and many activities tracing the movement of a nation or people through violent change from one condition to another." In this context he sees the four plays as analogous to Homer's Illiad, Virgil's Aeneid, Voltaire's Henriad, and Milton's Paradise Lost. The action of the Henriad follows the dynastic, cultural and psychological journey that England traveled as it left the medieval world with Richard II and moved on to Henry V and the Renaissance. Politically and socially the Henriad represents a "movement from feudalism and hierarchy to the national state and individualism". Kernan similarly discusses the Henriad in psychological, spatial, temporal, and mythical terms. "In mythical terms," he says, "the passage is from a garden world to a fallen world." This group of plays has recurring characters and settings. However, there is no evidence that these plays were written with the intention that they be considered as a group.[4][5][6][7]

The character Falstaff is introduced in Henry IV, pt. 1, he returns in Henry IV, pt. 2, and he dies early in Henry V. Falstaff represents the tavern world, a world which Prince Hal will leave behind.[8] (This group of three plays is occasionally dubbed the "Falstaffiad" by Harold Bloom and others.)[9][10]

Eight-play HenriadEdit

The term Henriad, following after Kernan, acquired an expanded second meaning, which refers to two groups of Shakespearean plays: The tetralogy mentioned above (Richard II; Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; and Henry V), and also four plays that were written earlier and are based on the historic events and civil wars known as The War of the Roses; Henry VI, part 1, Henry VI, part 2, Henry VI, part 3, and Richard III. In this sense, the eight Henry plays are known as the Henriad, and when divided in two may be known as the "first Henriad" with the group that was written later known as the "second Henriad".[11][12]

The two Shakespearean tetralogies share the name Henriad, but only the "second Henriad" has the epic qualities that Kernan had in mind when he uses the term. In this way the two definitions are somewhat contradictory and overlapping. Which meaning is intended can usually be derived by the context.[13]

The eight plays, when considered together, are said to tell a unified story of a significant arc of British history from Richard II to Richard III. These plays cover this history, while going beyond the English chronicle play; they include some of Shakespeare's greatest writing. They are not tragedies, but as history plays they are comparable in terms of dramatic or literary quality and meaning. When considered as a group they contain a narrative pattern: disaster, followed by chaos and a battle of contending forces, followed by the happy ending—the restitution of order. This pattern is repeated in every play, as Britain leaves the medieval world and moves towards the British Renaissance. These plays further express the "Elizabethan world order", or mankind's striving in a world of unity battling chaos, based on the Elizabethan era's philosophies, sense of history, and religion.[14][15][16]

The eight-play Henriad is also known as The First Tetralogy and The Second Tetralogy; a terminology that had been in use,[17] but was made popular by the influential Shakespearean scholar E.M.W. Tillyard in his 1944 book, Shakespeare’s History Plays. The word "tetralogy" is derived from the performance tradition of the Dionysian Festival of ancient Athens, in which a poet was to compose a tetralogy (τετραλογία): three tragedies and one comedic satyr play.[18] Tillyard studied these Shakespearean history plays as combined in a dramatic serial form, and analyzed how, when combined, the stories, characters, historic chronology, and themes are linked and portrayed. After Tillyard's book, these plays have often been combined in performance, and it would be a very rare occurrence for Henry VI, part 2 or 3, for example, to be performed individually. Tillyard considered each tetralogy linked, and that the characters themselves link the stories together when they tell their own history or explain their titles.[19]

The theories that consider the eight plays as a group dominated scholarship in the mid 20th century, when the idea was introduced, and have since engendered a great deal of discussion.[20][21][22]

King John is not included in the Henriad because it is said to have a style that is of a different order than the other history plays. King John has great qualities of poetry, freedom and imagination, and is appreciated as a new direction taken by the author. Henry VIII is not included due to unresolved questions regarding how much of it is coauthored, and what of it is written by Shakespeare.[23]

Three-play HenriadEdit

In Algernon Charles Swinburne's book A Study of Shakespeare (1880), he refers to three plays, Henry IV pt. 1, Henry IV pt. 2, and Henry V, as "our English Henriade", and says the, "ripest fruit of historic or national drama, the consummation and the crown of Shakespeare’s labours in that line, must of course be recognised and saluted by all students in the supreme and sovereign trilogy of King Henry IV and King Henry V." They are, according to Swinburne, England's "great national trilogy", and Shakespeare's "perfect triumph in the field of patriotic drama."[24]

H. A. Kennedy writing in 1896 refers to Henry IV pt. 1, Henry IV pt. 2, and Henry V, saying "taken together the three plays form a Henriade, a trilogy, whose central figure is the hero of Agincourt, whose subject is his development from the madcap prince to the conqueror of France".[25]

AuthorshipEdit

Shakespeare is well established as the sole author of the plays of the second Henriad, but there has been speculation regarding possible co-authors of the Henry VI plays of the first Henriad. Since the 18th century Christopher Marlowe has been suggested as a possible contributor. Then in 2016 the editors of the New Oxford Shakespeare, led by Gary Taylor, announced that Marlowe and "anonymous" would be listed on their title pages of Henry VI, Parts 2, and 3 as co-author side-by-side with Shakespeare, and that Marlowe, Thomas Nashe and “anonymous" would be listed as the authors of Henry VI, Part 1, with Shakespeare listed only as the adaptor. This is not universally accepted, but it is the first time a major critical edition of Shakespeare's works has listed Marlowe as a co-author.[26][27][28]

Literary backgroundEdit

The plays that may have influenced, inspired, or provided a tradition for Shakespeare's Henriad plays would include popular morality plays, which contributed to the evolution of British drama. Notable morality plays that focus on British history include John Skelton's Magnificence (1533), David Lyndsay's A Satire of the Three Estates (1552), and John Bale's play King John (c. 1538). Gorboduc (1561) is considered the first Senecan tragedy in the English language, though it is a chronicle play written in blank verse; it has numerous serious speeches, a unified dramatic action, and its violence is kept off-stage.[29][30]

Out of this tradition the English Chronicle play developed to carry on the tradition of the Medieval Moralities, to provide historic stories and memorials of historic figures, and to teach morality. When King Lear was published as a quarto in 1608 it was called a "true English Chronicle". Some notable examples of the English chronicle include George Peele's Edward I, John Lyly’s Midas (1591), Robert Greene's Orlando Furioso, Thomas Heywood’s Edward IV, and Robert Wilson's Three Lords and Three Ladies of London (1590). Holinshed's Chronicles (1587), contributed greatly to the plays of Shakespeare's Henriad, and also advanced the development of the English chronicle play.[31][32]

CriticismEdit

In his book, Shakespeare’s History Plays, E. M. W. Tillyard's mid-20th century theories regarding the eight-play Henriad, have been extremely influential. Tillyard supports the idea of the Tudor myth, which considers England's 15th century to be a dark time of lawlessness and warfare, that after many battles eventually led to a golden age of the Tudor Period. This theory suggests that Shakespeare believed this orthodoxy and promoted it with his Henriad. The Tudor myth is a theory that suggests that Shakespeare, with his history plays, contributes to the idea that the civil wars of the Henriad were all part of a divine plan that would ultimately lead to the Tudors — which in turn would support Shakespeare's monarch, Elizabeth. The argument against Tillyard's theory is that when these plays were written Elizabeth was approaching the end of her life and reign, and how her successor would be determined was causing the idea of a civil war to be a source of concern, not glorification. Plus the lack of an heir to Elizabeth tended to outmode the idea that the Tudors were a divine solution.[33] Critics including Paul Murray Kendall and Jan Kott, challenged the idea of the Tudor myth, and these newer ideas caused the image of Shakespeare to change so much he now seemed to become instead a prophetic voice in the wilderness who saw the existential meaninglessness of this history of warfare.[34][35][36]

Some critics consider that the plays of the Henriad do not cohere well together. In performance the plays can seem jumbled and tonally mismatched, and narratives are at times oddly dropped and resumed.[37]

Numerous inconsistencies exist between the individual plays of the first tetralogy, which is typical of serialized drama in the early modern playhouses. James Marino suggests, "It is more remarkable that any coherency appears at all in a 'series' cobbled together from elements of three different repertories”. The four plays (of the first tetralogy) variously originated from three different theatre companies: The Queens Men, Pembroke's Men and Chamberlain's Men.[38]

An earlier useEdit

An earlier use of the word "Henriad" to refer to a group of Shakespeare's plays occurs in a book published in 1876 titled Shakespeare’s Diversions; A Medley of Motley Wear. The author doesn't define the word, but indicates that the plays in which the character, Mistress Quickly, hostess of the Boar's Head Tavern, appears include "The English Henriad" as well as The Merry Wives of Windsor; and that the number of plays she appears in is four — "one more than is granted to Falstaff".[39] The four plays that Mistress Quickly appears in are The Merry Wives of Windsor, the two parts of Henry IV and Henry V.

Voltaire’s HenriadeEdit

The French critic and playwright, Voltaire, is known for making extreme criticisms of Shakespeare that he would then balance with more positive comments. For example, Voltaire called Shakespeare a “barbarian” and his works a “huge dunghill” that contains some pearls.[40] Voltaire wrote an epic poem titled La Henriade (1723), which is sometimes translated as Henriade. Voltaire's poem is based on Henry IV of France (1553 – 1610).[41] Algernon Charles Swinburne points out how the two similarly titled works, Shakespeare's and Voltaire's, are dissimilar, in that Shakespeare's “differs from Voltaire’s as Zaïre [a tragedy written by Voltaire] differs from Othello.[42]

Broadcast productionsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Dobson, Michael. Wells, Stanley. "Henriad". The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare. Oxford University Press (2015) ISBN 9780198708735
  2. ^ Zarin, Cynthia. "Nine Hours of Shakespeare." The New Yorker Magazine. 15 May 2016
  3. ^ Skura, Meredith Anne. Shakespeare the Actor and the Purposes of Playing. University of Chicago Press, 1993. p. 131. ISBN 9780226761800
  4. ^ Kernan, Alvin, B. The Henriad: Shakespeare’s Major History Plays. The Yale Review, p. 55 (1969)
  5. ^ Kernan, Alvin, B. ed. Modern Shakespeare Criticism. Harcourt Brace (1970). pp. 245-75
  6. ^ Danson, Lawrence. Shakespeare’s Dramatic Genres. Oxford University Press (2000). ISBN 9780198711728 p. 149
  7. ^ [1] Voltaire. The Henriad; a Poem. Published by Sydney Smith (1834)
  8. ^ Kernan, Alvin, B. The Henriad: Shakespeare’s Major History Plays. The Yale Review, p. 58 (1969)
  9. ^ Bloom, Harold. Falstaff: Give Me Life. Simon and Schuster. (2017) p. 143. ISBN 9781501164132
  10. ^ Brustein, Robert. Letters to a Young Actor. 2009. p. 22. ISBN 9780786734023
  11. ^ Keyishian, Harry. "The Progress of Revenge in The First Henriad". Pendleton, Thomas A. editor. Henry VI: Critical Essays. Psychology Press, 2001. p. 67-77. ISBN 9780815333012
  12. ^ Arnold, Oliver. The Third Citizen: Shakespeare's Theater and the Early Modern House of Commons. JHU Press, 2007. p. 76-80. ISBN 9780801885044
  13. ^ Marino, James J. Owning William Shakespeare: The King's Men and Their Intellectual Property. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011 ISBN 9780812205770
  14. ^ Tillyard, E. M. W. Shakespeare’s History Plays. Chatto & Windus (1944) ISBN 978-0701111571 pp. 10 - 13, 319-322
  15. ^ Calderwood, James. Metadrama in Shakespeare's Henriad: Richard II to Henry V. University of California Press, 1979. ISBN 9780520036529 p. 1-12
  16. ^ Pendleton, Thomas. Henry VI; Critical Essays. The Progress of Revenge, the First Henriad. Routledge, 2001. ISBN 9781134828388
  17. ^ Henneman, John Bell. Shakespearean and Other Papers. The University Press (1911) p. 11 & 85.
  18. ^ Crane, Mary Thomas. "The Shakespearean Tetralogy". Shakespeare Quarterly. Vol. 36, No. 3. Oxford Univ. Press. (1985), pp. 282-299
  19. ^ [2] Tillyard, E. M. W. Shakespeare’s History Plays. Chatto & Windus (1944) ISBN 978-0701111571
  20. ^ Hawkins, Sherman. "Structural Pattern in Shakespeare's Histories". Studies in Philology. Vol. 88, No. 1 Univ. North Carolina Press. (1991), pp. 16-45
  21. ^ Wilders, John. The Lost Garden; a View of Shakespeare’s English and Roman History Plays. Rownan & Littlefield (1978). pp. vi-xi. ISBN 978-0333244708
  22. ^ Sitwell, Edith. A Notebook on William Shakespeare. Macmillan & Co. Ltd. (1948) P. 185
  23. ^ Tillyard, E. M. W. Shakespeare’s History Plays. Chatto & Windus (1944) ISBN 978-0701111571 p. 215-233
  24. ^ Swinburne, Algernon Charles. A Study of Shakespeare. Library of Alexandria (1880). ISBN 9781465588272 p. 154.
  25. ^ Kennedy, H. A. author."Shakespeare Falstaff & Queen Elizabeth." Knowles, James. editor.The Nineteenth Century, a Monthly Review. (1896) Volume 39. Leonard Scott Publication. p. 319
  26. ^ [3] Alberge, Dalya. "Christopher Marlowe credited as one of Shakespeare's co-writers". The Guardian. 23 October 2016.
  27. ^ Shakespeare, William. The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition. Oxford University Press (2016) p. vii. ISBN 978-0199591152
  28. ^ Pollack-Pelzner, Daniel. "The Radical Argument of the New Oxford Shakespeare". The New Yorker Magazine. 19 February 2017.
  29. ^ Ward, A.W. editor. "Phyllyp Sparowe”. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature’' Cambridge University (1907–21) Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.
  30. ^ Brockett, Oscar G. History of the Theatre. Pearson, 2014., p. 107
  31. ^ Ribner, Irving. (1957) The English History Play In The Age Of Shakespeare, pp. 30-40.
  32. ^ Tillyard, E. M. W. Shakespeare’s History Plays. Chatto & Windus (1944) ISBN 978-0701111571
  33. ^ Burden, Dennis. "Shakespeare History Plays : 1952 - 1983". Shakespeare Survey, volume 38, Cambridge University Press (1985). Wells, Stanley, editor. p. 1-18
  34. ^ Merrix, Robert P. "Shakespeare’s Histories and the New Bardolators". SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500–1900. Vol. 19, No. 2, Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama, pp. 179-196. Rice University Press. (1979)
  35. ^ Kott, Jan. Shakespeare Our Contemporary. Doubleday. (1966)
  36. ^ Tillyard, E. M. W. Shakespeare’s History Plays. Chatto & Windus (1944) ISBN 978-0701111571 p. 10
  37. ^ Green, Jesse. "Theater Review: 13 Hours of Shakespeare’s Henrys, in Brooklyn". Vulture. 6 April 2016.
  38. ^ Marino, James J. Owning William Shakespeare: The King's Men and Their Intellectual Property. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011 ISBN 9780812205770
  39. ^ Jacox, Francis. Shakespeare’s Diversions: A Medley of Motley Wear. Publisher: Daldy, Isbister & Co. 56 Ludgate Hill. (1876). pp. 437-438
  40. ^ Lee, Sidney. A Life of William Shakespeare. Cambridge University Press (2012). ISBN 9781108048194 p. 349.
  41. ^ Voltaire. The Henriade; with the Battle of Fontenoy: Dissertations on Man, Law of Nature, Destruction of Lisbon, Temple of Taste, And Temple of Friendship, From the French of M. De Voltaire; With Notes From All the Commentators. Derby & Jackson (1859)
  42. ^ Swinburne, Algernon Charles. A Study of Shakespeare. Library of Alexandria (1880). ISBN 9781465588272 p. 154.
  43. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-06. Retrieved 2013-10-31. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
tetralogies of "expanded Henriad" approx. dates written years covered plays
First Henriad 1591-1554 1422-1485 Henry VI, Parts 1, 2, 3; Richard III
(Second) Henriad 1595-1599 1398-1415 Richard II; Henry IV, Parts 1,2; Henry V