triceratops

Cursed fate: the relationship between Thomas Legge’s Richardus Tertius and Shakespeare’s Richard III

TriCollege Digital Repository

Title: Cursed fate: the relationship between Thomas Legge’s Richardus Tertius and Shakespeare’s Richard III
Author: Cook, Jennifer Bly
Type: Thesis
Issue Date: 2011
Abstract: After Harold Bloom’s Anxiety of Influence, questions about influence surrounding Shakespeare rather exploded; feminist readings, post-Foucault readings, and other recent scholarship have all been interested in where Shakespeare’s genius might have come from. When Bloom revised the work, he commented that he was wrong to claim that Shakespeare had no influences and goes into a long discussion about Shakespeare’s relationship to Marlowe – a discussion particularly relevant here, as he finds much “Marlovian” in Shakespeare’s character Richard III. Although I do not deny the importance of Marlowe for creating Richard III, I disagree with Bloom that he was the only influence involved for Shakespeare. The problem with suggesting other influences on Shakespeare’s Richard III is proving them. To “prove” literary influence can be either very difficult or very easy – after all, Bloom does not engage in a great deal of close reading to “prove” his statement that Marlowe influenced Shakespeare’s Richard – he is Harold Bloom; he says it and there are few questions, particularly as the general resemblance is easy to spot. However, I am attempting something closer to a paternity test than an examination of family photographs: I want to demonstrate that Thomas Legge’s Richardus Tertius is a likely influence on Richard III. There is only one way to establish this probability. The two plays share a historiographic inheritance in the form of the chronicles – so we must remove any commonality that can be traced to this common, older source-material. Seneca, too, is a shared “influence” on them both – proved by multiple other scholars, and therefore a fact 3 that I will accept rather than question here. Nevertheless, there are some moments that could come from Legge or Seneca, and those should be examined carefully. But any moments that remain, that belong to neither Seneca nor the chronicles, can be taken, added, quantified, and gathered into proof of influence. Once the issue of influence has been examined, a more complicated one emerges. Both Legge and Shakespeare must find language to handle the audience’s foreknowledge of their plots. Legge uses “fate” as a stand in for history, eliminated the need for strong characters and giving his play an overall feeling of inevitability, and Shakeseare uses “curse,” thereby allowing the strong characters that make Richard III function. Both men must make choices about negotiating the problems of pre-plottedness, and in doing so, create very different play structures despite their multiple connections to each other. Written by Master of Caius College Thomas Legge in 1580, more than six thousand lines that I will accept rather than question here. Nevertheless, there are some moments that could come from Legge or Seneca, and those should be examined carefully. But any moments that remain, that belong to neither Seneca nor the chronicles, can be taken, added, quantified, and gathered into proof of influence.
Subject: Legge, Thomas, 1535-1607. Richardus Tertius. English & Latin
Subject: Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. King Richard III
Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10066/7073

Files in this item

Files Size Format
Cook.J.B.Thesis.pdf 202.6Kb PDF
Cook.J.B.Release.pdf 54.43Kb PDF

Citation

Cook, Jennifer Bly. "Cursed fate: the relationship between Thomas Legge’s Richardus Tertius and Shakespeare’s Richard III". 2011. Available electronically from http://hdl.handle.net/10066/7073.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Search


Advanced Search

Browse

My Account