Rebholz, Ronald A.
Dr. Ronald Rebholz is Professor Emeritus of English at Stanford University. As Rhodes Scholar, he earned his masters and doctorate from Oxford University. His publications include a book on a contemporary of Shakespeare’s, The Life of Fulke Greville, First Lord Brooke, an edition of the poems of Sir Thomas Wyatt, and Shakespeare’s Philosophy of History Revealed in Detailed Analysis of Henry V and Examined in Other History Plays (The Edwin Mellen Press, 2003).2003 0-7734-6572-3
This study begins with a careful reading of Henry V
, and argues that the play’s representation of Henry as a consciously Machiavellian prince, who wages an unjust foreign war to bring about domestic peace, elicits complex responses to the king that are comprehensible within a single interpretative framework. The ‘history’ dramatized in Henry V
and in all of Shakespeare’s plays that deal with the causes or consequences of political revolutions is made intelligible by Shakespeare’s philosophy of history, a view mainly Machiavellian, that dramatizes all post-revolutionary modes of government and warfare as inescapable necessities that have fallen from superior ‘past’ worlds, irrecoverable but eliciting nostalgia for a mythological, medieval world, a nostalgia embraced by the Elizabethan and Jacobean establishment to maintain its power through a putative continuity with an imaginary medievalism. The plays elicit that nostalgia in order to criticize it in acts of subversion that are not, as the New Historicists claim, contained.2006 0-7734-5731-3
With the exception of the three parts of Henry VI
, which are examined in one chapter, each chapter is devoted to the critical analysis of one of Shakespeare’s plays. Each analysis begins with a central idea or question that shapes the entire chapter. Background issues, like the plays’ sources and secondary materials, are introduced only when relevant to the author’s analysis. Taken together, the separate chapters make a larger, coherent whole that reveals the major facets of Shakespeare’s creation in comedy, history plays, tragedy, and romances.