«by JANE ELIZABETH KINGSLEY-SMITH A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts of the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY The ...»
BANISHMENT IN SHAKESPEARE'S PLAYS
JANE ELIZABETH KINGSLEY-SMITH
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts
of the University of Birmingham
for the degree of
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
The Shakespeare Institute
Department of English
Faculty of Arts
University of Birmingham
University of Birmingham Research Archive
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The gates of Paradise were opened, and Lambajan averted his eyes.
I stumbled through them, giddy, disoriented, lost. I was nobody, nothing. Nothing I had ever known was of use, nor could I any longer say that I knew it. I had been emptied, invalidated; I was, to use a hoary but suddenly fitting epithet, ruined. I had fallen from grace, and the horror of it shattered the universe, like a mirror. I felt as though I, too, had shattered; as if I were falling to earth, not as myself, but as a thousand and one fragmented images of myself, trapped in shards of glass.
The banishment of Moraes Zogoiby from The Moor's Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie
TABLE OF CONTENTSIntroduction: Rewriting Exile in Renaissance England The Commonplace in Romeo and Juliet 49 Still-breeding thoughts': RichardII and the Exile's 83 Creative Failure The Banishment of Falstaff in Henry IV Parts One and Two 126 Pastoral Exile and As You Like It 163 Beyond the Realm of Fantasy in King Lear 203 Coriolanus: 'The Buildings of my Fancy 7 252 The Landscape of Exile in The Tempest 299 Marginal Shakespeare: Some Conclusions 341 Bibliography 349
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would first like to acknowledge the financial support of the British Academy that facilitated the writing of this thesis.
The librarians of the Shakespeare Institute, Jim Shaw and Kate Welch, contributed significantly to the ease and pleasure of researching this subject. I am also grateful to Dawn Massey forsuggestions and encouragement early on, and to Kate Chedgzoy at Warwick University, Peter Hinds and James Quinn for reading the final draft.
I am considerably indebted to my supervisor, Stanley Wells, for his encouragement and guidance.
To Margaret and Trevor Kingsley-Smith, I extend my thanks for their patience and support, particularly to Trevor for his assistance with the printing of the thesis. My final thanks inevitably go to James, upon whose wisdom and generosity I have relied in so many ways over the last four years.
SYNOPSIS'Banished' - the word resounds in many Elizabethan and Jacobean plays, particularly in those of Shakespeare. This thesis examines the drama of banishment, that is, the sentence, lamentation, displacement, and metamorphosis of the exile in Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, Henry IV, As You Like It, King Lear, Coriolanus and The Tempest. To appreciate the rich and polysemous nature of 'banished' in Shakespeare's society I have considered a number of legal, historical and literary sources which reveal certain tropes of exile. The poet of Ovid's Tristia and Plato's Republic, the beast/god of Aristotle's Politics, the seventeenth-century colonialist, the Petrarchan lover, are all examples of the archetypes against which Shakespeare's banished characters fashion themselves.
For banishment is a process of annihilation and of self-creation, and as such it raises various questions about identity in Shakespeare's plays. The possibility of its destruction and transformation reveals identity to be a fictional construct, based on ideology not inherent nature or right. This suggestion that the social distinctions between men are equally fictional gives a particular frisson to the juxtaposition of the exiled king and the naked beggar, to the transformation of greatness into barbarousness, that is so often staged on the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage through banishment.
ABBREVIATIONSThe following abbreviations have been used
All dates given for plays indicate their earliest performance according to the Annals of English Drama 975-1700, 3 rd ed., unless specified otherwise.
REWRITING EXILE IN RENAISSANCE ENGLANDAccording to Stephen Dedalus, exile is central to Shakespeare's life-story and to his life's
The note of banishment, banishment from the heart, banishment from home, sounds uninterruptedly from The Two Gentlemen of Verona onward till Prospero breaks his staff, buries it certain fathoms in the earth and drowns his book. 1 Stephen attributes Shakespeare's flight from Stratford to various dramatic events: his wife's adultery; his brother's betrayal; some crime of his own by which Shakespeare was compelled to leave. Stephen, and perhaps some biographers and critics, advance the theory of the poet's banishment in order to identify themselves with an alienated Shakespeare or to valorise work produced from the margins. In the quest to romanticise Shakespeare, perhaps to remake him in Hamlet's image, the possibility that he experienced the 'outcast state' may be a deeply satisfying one. For the critic concerned to demonstrate Shakespeare's peculiarly anachronistic social conscience, exile might explain his sympathy for the marginalised and alien.2 Later we 1 Ulysses by James Joyce (London: Penguin Books Ltd., 1992), 272.
2 I am not here concerned with Shakespeare's depiction of the stranger per se or with the foreign exile in Early Modern England. Leslie A. Fiedler's The Stranger in Shakespeare (London: Croom Helm, 1973) argues that the dramatist mainly subscribed to the public mythology regarding women, Jews, blacks and Indians. Whilst Shakespeare invokes these prejudices, the complex sympathies that Othello for one inspires must problematize this question of ideological stance. Moreover, Fiedler fails to make a connection between Shakespeare's depiction of alienation through banishment and that incurred through race or gender. Although the exiles with whom I am concerned all occupy positions of some eminence and centrality in their societies before banishment, their sufferings may inform an audience's attitude to Shakespeare's other aliens. The passages in Sir Thomas More attributed to Shakespeare include a defence of the resident foreigners in London. More asks the people to imagine themselves as banished men and thus to sympathise with the inhuman treatment afforded England's 'strangers', 11 137-55.
will examine the assumption that Shakespeare's art could only have been produced from society's outposts. But irrespective of personal experience. Shakespeare and his contemporaries evidently found the depiction of exile to be rich in dramatic possibilities.
This, rather than any experience of exile, may be the reason why that drama was so frequently presented on the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage. Fourteen out of Shakespeare's thirty-eight plays represent the banishment of one or more central characters. When we include minor characters and self-imposed exile that number increases considerably. Among his contemporaries, Marston and Webster are notable devotees of this device. Antonio and Mellida (1599), Antonio 's Revenge (1600) and The Malcontent (1604) all feature banishment as a tragic fate, to be variously lamented or Stoically endured, whilst Webster sees fit to open The White Devil (1612) with Lodovico's cry of 'Banished!' In Thomas Heywood's The Foure Prentices of London (1600), a father, his four sons and one daughter are all banished from France. Two of the sons are then banished again during this exile. Banishment was dramatic almost to excess. The proclamation is a climactic moment on the stage whether mimed, as in The Duchess of Malfi (1614), or vocally performed. The words T banish you' have a direct performative power which reflects on the eminence of kings and upon language in general.
The exile's response to his or her fate provides an opportunity for a highly wrought, highly emotional lament. The exile may express grief, anger, despair or resignation. His fate may provoke revenge or even madness but it will almost certainly require the adoption of disguise and a journey into an alien environment. Banishment expands the horizons of the play itself, perhaps allowing for a change of location and of society, whilst the absences and separations it creates in the exile's place of origin alter the dynamics of that world.
There are abundant reasons for the dramatist's deployment of exile. Yet I would suggest that what Shakespeare returns to again and again is the drama of self-annihilation and of selfcreation that banishment encapsulates. The man cast out from society is deprived of the roles by which he has known himself. He becomes the antithesis to social role-playing for he is identified as uncivilised, unnatural and inhuman. He is the wolf snarling in the wilderness beyond the city walls. He is the scapegoat, thrust beyond the town's limits with all its evils on his back. In Elizabethan and Jacobean England, the exile may be a Catholic, gypsy, vagabond or strolling player. Society may use the exile to redefine its own limits but this does not leave the victim himself with any positive definition by which to live. Indeed, the fracturing or dissolution of identity attendant upon exile seems to be expressed in the conventional association of banishment with death. 3 In response to this threat, the Shakespearean exile must rewrite him- or her- self. This usually begins with the throwing off of the stigma of exile. Thus, the enforced journey will be imagined as liberty, pleasure, self-fulfilment or revenge. By redefining the experience of exile, the victim finds a new role to play. This sense of theatricality is inherent in many representations of exile on the Renaissance stage, as we will later see in Anthony Munday's play The Downfall of Robert, Earl of Huntington (1598). The exile who survives invariably does so because of the ability to take control of his identity by adopting disguise, language and gesture to recreate himself. Banishment in Shakespeare can be an experience of selffulfilment. The performance of another role paradoxically develops and externalises the 3 This may also be a legal convention. In T. E. Tomlins' Law Dictionary- (London: C. Baldwin, 1820), 3 rd ed., 2 vols., vol 1, banishment is described as 'a kind of civil death 1.
character's sense of self whilst the landscape of exile may assist in the realisation of his most worldly ambitions.
To say that Shakespeare is primarily interested in banishment because of the possibilities it offers to explore dramatic character and human subjectivity is to leave oneself open to attack from those critics who insist that subjectivity at this time is an anachronism. Catherine Belsey argues that we impose upon these characters a unity and a continuous selfhood that they do not possess, for no such meaning is available to the sixteenth- or seventeenth-century subject. 4 She suggests that the self-affirmatory speeches one might cite as examples of an
inviolable identity can be taken as ironic, if not pathetic or even monstrous:
Antony's assertion of his identity also marks the loss of it, and here too it is clear that identity is not distinct from political place in a world of meaning where public and private, social and personal, are not yet fully differentiated [...] The loss of political place finally entails the dissolution of the self: 'here I am Antony,/ Yet cannot hold this visible shape' (IV.xiv.13-4). 5 But if, as Kay Stockholder also suggests, 'one's place in the world was identical to one's selfdefinition, and to "know oneself was [...] to know the duties entailed by one's membership in an order on the hierarchical ladder', then it is the subsequent crisis of identity when that place is lost that Shakespeare dramatises through banishment.6 For it is not given to all of 4 Catherine Belsey, The Subject of Tragedy: Identity and Difference in Renaissance Drama (London and New York: Methuen, 1985), 26-54. Critics who engage with Belsey's argument but defend some concept of inferiority by drawing on various nondramaric sources include Katherine Eisamann Maus, Inwardness and Theater in the English Renaissance (Chicago and London: Chicago University Press, 1995), and Elizabeth Hanson, Discovering the Subject in Renaissance England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998). Peter B.
Murray proposes that Shakespeare's plays 'invite us to construct his characters as imagined persons' and that 'the intelligibility of their psychology was implicitly important to [Shakespeare]', Shakespeare's Imagined Persons: The Psychology of Role-Playing and Acting (Basingstoke and London: Macmillan Press, 1996), 1.
These are very much the assumptions behind this study.
5 The Subject of Tragedy, 39-40.
6 Kay Stockholder, "Yet Can He Write': Reading the Silences in The Spanish Tragedy", American Imago 47 (1990), 3-124. quoted by Maus in Inwardness and Theater, 2-3.
Shakespeare's exiles to refashion themselves with playful insouciance. Rather the dependence of the private identity upon public recognition, of the person upon the office as Philip Edwards puts it, is fundamental to the tragic expression of exile in Shakespeare's plays. 7 Coriolanus, Richard II, King Lear, and even Romeo do not survive the destruction of those identities which were imposed upon them at birth and which they have perfectly performed.
Despite attesting to a private integrity, these banished men are unable to impose a shape on their existence.