«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 ...»
if a state is to be run on the right lines, every possible step must be taken to prevent anyone, young or old, either saying or being told, whether in poetry or prose, that god, being good, can cause harm or evil to any man. To say so would be sinful, inexpedient, and inconsistent. (135) Similarly, Socrates will not allow that heroes are ever subject to laughter, weeping, despair, or fear of death as poets have claimed. Even if it were true, it is dangerous to have such stories circulating, teaching the young that they need not be ashamed of sins and weaknesses that gods and heroes apparently possess. The question of expediency is crucial. Socrates is not opposed to the guardians telling lies to the people in the interests of the polis but only they must be able to use fiction in this way (131). His offensive against poetry aims to reinforce the status quo by ensuring that the righteousness of the gods and of the guardians is unquestioned.
The perception of the Elizabethan and Jacobean stage as detrimental to civil order and to government was also founded on its debasement of authority. Both Northbrooke and Stubbes deplore the mixture of 'divinity and 'scurrilitie' on the stage in the performance of religious narratives but secular authority was equally undermined by representation. 64 Stubbes refers to players as 'Mockers and flouters of his Maiesty' (236). That such degradation extended down the hierarchical ladder to the magistrate is the complaint of one Lupus in Ben Jonson's Poetaster.
they will rob us, us that are magistrates, of our respect, bring us upon their stages, and make us ridiculous to the plebeians. They will play you or me, the wisest men they can come by still. Me! Only to bring us in contempt with the 54 Treatise, 92. Anatomie, 235-6.
From the depiction of kings to that of poets like Jonson himself,66 the stage was seen as a forum for seditious and degrading 'misrepresentation' In defence of poetry and drama, the repudiation of this charge was central. In his seminal apology, Sir Philip Sidney distinguished between the abuse of poetry when used to defame gods, secular authority, or the principle of Justice, and its proper use. He sought to rescue poetry from the ignominy of Platonic banishment by arguing that Plato himself sought to drive out those wrong opinions of the Deity (whereof now, without further law, Christianity hath taken away all the hurtful belief) perchance (as he thought) nourished by the then esteemed poets. 67 In An Apology for Actors (1612), Thomas Heywood makes a similar distinction to that proposed by Sidney. He argues that plays, 'being possest of their true use', are intended to teach their subjects obedience to their king, to shew the people the untimely ends of such as have moved tumults, commotions, and insurrections, to present them with the flourishing estate of such as live in obedience, exhorting them to allegeance, dehorting them from all trayterous and fellonious stratagems. 68 Socrates had suggested three times that the player and poet should be banished until they 65 Poetaster ed. by Tom Cain (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995). See also an account regarding the Merchant Taylors' School which prohibited playing because its young men were brought 'to such an impudente famyliaritie with theire betters that often tymes greite contempte of maisters, parents, and magistrals foloweth thereof (1574) in The Elizabethan Stage, vol. 2, 75.
66 See for example The Stage-Quarrel between Ben Jonson and the so-called Poetasters by Roscoe Addison Small (1899) ed. by G. L. Kirtredge (New York: AMS Press, 1966) and James P. Bednarz, 'Representing Jonson: Histriomastix and the Origin of the Poets' War', HLQ 54 (1991), 1-30.
67 The Defense of Poesy in Sir Philip Sidney, 239. Sir John Harington. whose defence is largely modelled on Sidney's, restates this point that men are wrong to interpret Plato as 'an enemie of Poetrie, (because he found indeed just fault with the abuses of some comicall Poets of his time, or some that sought to set up new and strange religions)', A Preface, or rather a brief Apologie of Poetrie, Elizabethan Critical Essays vol. 2, 194-222.
68 The School ofAbuse & An Apology for Actors (London: The Shakespeare Society. 1841), 53.
were able to justify their place in 'a well-run society' (438). It is a conclusion to which the anti-theatrical tracts of Elizabethan/Jacobean England repeatedly came, invoking Plato and other banishers of poetry in word and in deed, for example the Roman emperors Augustus, Marcus Aurelius and Nero, and the Church fathers St Augustine, Lactantius and Chrysostome. 69 Banishment seemed to be the punishment ordained for the pernicious poet/player and it only remained for the anti-theatricalist to persuade the authorities to take such action.
We have already referred to the law of 1572 which legislated for the wandering player as a rogue and vagabond. In 1597 an Act against vagabonds and sturdy beggars made banishment from the kingdom a possible penalty for the recalcitrant wandering player. In John Marston's Histriomastix (1599), the players and their resident poet who have been pretending to noble patronage are discovered and banished from the kingdom under the terms of this Act. 70 In / Henry IV, Falstaff as player begs the Prince not to banish him. He is effectively asking the Prince not to withdraw his patronage from the Eastcheap company and, as king, not to banish playing and other kinds of subversive liberty from his kingdom. At the time Shakespeare was writing his play other legislation had been proposed to eradicate the theatre for good. In 1597 an order in the Queen's name was issued for the expulsion of plays within three miles of the city during the summer and for the demolition of the theatre in the same area. Although plays appear to have ceased for a time there was no such suppression. Nevertheless. Stephen Mullaney, who reads the removal of the theatres to the Liberties as a form of Platonic 69 See for example Prynne's Histriomastix, 134-5.
70 Philip J. Finkelpearl 'John Marston's Histno-Mastix as an Inns of Court Play: A H\pothesis' HLQ 29 (1966).
223-34 banishment,71 suggests that this threat may have influenced Shakespeare's work.
In / Henry IV, we find Prince Hal at Eastcheap, within the city of London, but imaginatively outside civic jurisdiction. In this environment, we see him indulging in his taste for theatricals under the tutelage of that consummate player and satirist, Falstaff. Mullaney describes the theatre enriched by the marginal culture it found in the Liberties. He argues that 'no literature achieves vitality or ideological complexity without establishing at least a virtual distance from its reigning culture or ideology...' (57) and that banishment was a vital precondition for the creation of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. According to Hall and Holinshed, Hal may originally have been banished from the court and thus found himself in Eastcheap. 72 Mullaney interprets Hal's presence there as a similarly enriching experience of marginalia.
The Prince's renunciation of this culture for the prescription and rigidity of the court and in particular his banishment of Falstaff may reflect the contemporary suppression of the theatre.
Mullaney only hints at this parallel and does not explore the conscious influence of the Republic in such a drama. But just as it is no coincidence that drama's opponents in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries seemed to imitate Plato, so Shakespeare may also have had such a banishment in mind on writing the Henry IV plays. The banishment of Falstaff is Platonic justice in the sense that it protects authority and the appearance of Justice. Hal 71 In The Place of the Stage, Mullaney suggests that this banishment of the stage from Elizabethan London creates 'an uncanny sense of cultural deja vu' in light of the notorious banishment of the poet and player from the Republic, 56. See introduction.
72 Both Holinshed and Hall describe how Hal was banished from the court by his father after his striking of the Lord Chief Justice. Shakespeare makes no reference to this exile, Narrative and Dramatic Sources, vol. 4, 280.
literally embraces Justice and subsequently rejects the slandering Falstaff. 73 This context may also help to explain the unease which this exile creates in an audience. It is partly the poetical spirit' of Falstaff, his refusal to believe in the permanence or the authority of words or kings, which we regret to see banished by the rigour of the state. This Platonic Poetry which challenges the authoritarian and procrustean Republic may encompass the various kinds of transgression in which Falstaff has been implicated: the moral turpitude, religious dissidence. civic misrule and historical defamation. We have no evidence for how contemporary audiences interpreted Falstaff s banishment. 74 Yet Shakespeare perhaps hints at the dehumanisation which social identity and, in particular, monarchical identity impose in that final scene. Explicitly represented as Henry V's self-renunciation, Falstaff s banishment may signify the loss of 'what is free and vital and pleasurable in life' and in the King's life, as well as what is sceptical, individualistic and rebellious. 75 From the vantage point of Henry V, the remaining Eastcheap companions accept that banishment was necessary but surmise 'The King has killed his heart' (2.1.84). The ambiguity of this possessive, referring either to the dead Falstaff or to the legendary king, seems deliberate.
73 Dover Wilson describes Shakespeare's juxtaposition of the Justice and the knight as reflecting the morality tradition: 'he brings embodiments of the two conflicting principles upon the stage, makes them engage in conversation together, so that we can judge between them for ourselves, and then shows us the Prince choosing between them. Thus during most of Part II the front of the stage is occupied by the portentous figures of Falstaff, who stands for Riot and Misrule, and of the Lord Chief Justice, the official representative of the Rule of Law', The Fortunes of Falstaff, 75.
74 The earliest detailed response included in most critical bibliographies or casebooks is that of Samuel Johnson, 'A Note on Henry IV (1765). Spivack suggests that the Elizabethan audience's response to Falstaff would have been more complex but less problematic than that of the twentieth-century audience: 'our modem sentiment, innocent of the old moral and dramatic convention that survives in him and controls his fate, craves a unified impression consistent with that side of him into which Shakespeare's genius mainly poured - his gorgeous wit and innocuous good fellowship. The Elizabethans, however, habituated by their transitional stage to hybrids of this sort, were completely at home with the double image and the double sentiment', Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil, 204.
75 Jonas A. Barish, The Turning Away of Prince Hal'. Sh. St. 1 (1965), 9-17. 15.
To conclude, we might return to Richard II. Richard attempts to control the way in which he is perceived by banishing Mowbray, the man who sees him as a murderer. Yet the rebels insist that majesty appear more 'like itself. They thus destroy the substance of kingship to replace it with the spectacular Bolingbroke. With the fall of divine kingship, the danger for a king of being misconceived becomes acute. Yet Hal makes it work for him. He deliberately taints his own image, inviting scepticism, disrespect and misrule to be associated with him, only to dramatically cast them off through the spectacle of banishment. Falstaff embodies the principles Henry must reject but his banishment is also a response to the knight's dangerous gaze. Like his former master, Mowbray, 76 Falstaff looks on his king with special knowledge.
Hence, he presents Henry V with an unauthorised and unflattering reflection. However, unlike Mowbray, Falstaff sees not a tainted king but a player-king whose reformation is merely another piece of theatre. More importantly, Falstaff has fostered this selfconsciousness in Hal. Barber describes their association as 'a continuous exercise in the consciousness that comes from playing at being what one is not, and from seeing through such playing.' 77 Hal banishes Falstaff in pursuit of integrity. He anticipates Coriolanus' defiant but ambiguous words, 'Rather say I play/ The man I am' (3.2.14-5). This is exactly Falstaff s accusation against the King and perhaps the most compelling reason for the knight's banishment.
76 Shallow casually reveals in Part Two that Sir John Falstaff was once Thomas Mowbray's page (3.2.23-5). No other source for such an association has been found. Shakespeare pursues the comparison between the two plays in the following scene when Mowbray's son offers a controversial interpretation of his father's banishment. His suggestion that Richard loved his father but banished him out of political necessity (4.1.113-4) ma also reflect upon the banishment of Falstaff to come.
77 Shakespeare's Festive Comedy, 201.
In our consideration of Romeo and Juliet it was suggested that the characters' responses to banishment were partly determined by the play's tragic mode. Its abandonment of comedy on the death of Mercutio, though anticipated from the beginning by the Prologue, defines Romeo's exile as tragic. No metamorphosis other than death is imagined. Yet in As You Like It, Rosalind and Celia are able to transform exile into liberty and the tragic dissolution of identity is replaced by a sense of self-expansion and of fulfilment. Before turning to As You Like It, I want to consider how pastoral conventions might have informed the dramatisation of exile. As a plot device, exile will obviously be shaped by the overarching structure into which it is placed, for example, pastoral convention invariably dictates that exile be reprieved. More importantly, banishment may function as a metaphor for psychological states of alienation, displacement, and loss. If physical exile is finally redressed by the plot, metaphorical exile may be similarly resolved.
Exile is the means by which courtiers and shepherds meet in a bucolic landscape in Renaissance pastoral romance and drama, though such interludes also occur in other genres.
Invariably, a person of high birth, a duke or the heir to a kingdom, is banished for some unjust cause or deposed and forced into exile. Exile is incurred by the younger character in a number of ways: for his/her relation to or support of a deposed ruler (Humour out of Breath.