Admit me Chorus to this history : Shakespeare’s M.C.s and Choric Commentators—How Medieval, How Early Modern?

Michael INGHAM*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

Abstract

My paper discusses the relationship between typical medieval and Tudor prologues and epilogues, in which a moralistic and didactic tone is common, and Shakespeare’s more nuanced early modern use of framing devices. The latter’s approach, I argue, is driven more by a heightened sense of poetics and dramatic functionality than by didacticism or homiletic sentiment. Nevertheless, a distinctly medieval ethos is palpable in his framing speeches, and my paper will explore the balance between such medieval elements and an early modern dramatic application. This begs the question why Shakespeare avails himself of the choric device in some plays but not in others. I make the case for the history and romance genres being associated with choric devices in Shakespeare’s dramas, to a much greater degree than comedy and tragedy. Through textual analysis of language, such as the use of archaism, as well as diction and versification choices in his framing speeches, this article charts Shakespeare’s skilful creation and deployment of a medieval and early modern hybrid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-271
Number of pages17
JournalNeophilologus
Volume103
Issue number2
Early online date1 Oct 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

Fingerprint

language usage
history
theology
didactics
drama
functionality
genre
language
History
William Shakespeare
Medieval Period
Chorus
Diction
Ethos
Drama
Romance
Comedy
Poetics
Functionality
Tragedy

Keywords

  • Choric devices
  • Early modern
  • Generative narrator
  • Liminality
  • Medieval
  • Shakespeare

Cite this

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title = "Admit me Chorus to this history : Shakespeare’s M.C.s and Choric Commentators—How Medieval, How Early Modern?",
abstract = "My paper discusses the relationship between typical medieval and Tudor prologues and epilogues, in which a moralistic and didactic tone is common, and Shakespeare’s more nuanced early modern use of framing devices. The latter’s approach, I argue, is driven more by a heightened sense of poetics and dramatic functionality than by didacticism or homiletic sentiment. Nevertheless, a distinctly medieval ethos is palpable in his framing speeches, and my paper will explore the balance between such medieval elements and an early modern dramatic application. This begs the question why Shakespeare avails himself of the choric device in some plays but not in others. I make the case for the history and romance genres being associated with choric devices in Shakespeare’s dramas, to a much greater degree than comedy and tragedy. Through textual analysis of language, such as the use of archaism, as well as diction and versification choices in his framing speeches, this article charts Shakespeare’s skilful creation and deployment of a medieval and early modern hybrid.",
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Admit me Chorus to this history : Shakespeare’s M.C.s and Choric Commentators—How Medieval, How Early Modern? / INGHAM, Michael.

In: Neophilologus, Vol. 103, No. 2, 04.2019, p. 255-271.

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

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