The Life and Death of King John
One of Shakespeare's most unpopular history plays, King John deals with the life and death of King John, who reigned from 1199 to 1216. This is as early as Shakespeare goes in his treatment of English history, concentrating more successfully on the later 14th and 15th centuries in the plays which stretch from Richard II to Henry VI. As a result King John suffers from being so historically distant in time, as well as offering a rather weak and vacillating king, who lacks the charisma and authority of Richard III or Henry V. The play begins with King John struggling to retain his throne, under attack from rebellious courtiers and Philip, the king of France. As the quarrel escalates into war with France, the play begins to take on a contemporary Elizabethan flavour--the feared invasion from a foreign (Catholic) nation, and the extent to which such an invasion is based on the questionable paternity of King John (like Queen Elizabeth, John is accused of being a bastard and is excommunicated). The play is saved from its rather colourless political machinations by Philip the Bastard, John's favourite, a dramatic forerunner of dubious but charismatic malcontents like Edmund in King Lear. It is also Philip who is given the most powerful and patriotic lines, when he claims that "This England never did, nor never shall, /Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror". King John's mysterious and anticlimactic death through illness at the end of the play deflates expectations - something that could be said of the play as a whole.
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Date and Sources
Early Records On 8 November 1623 Edward Blount and Isaac Jaggard leading members of the syndicate that would soon publish the Folio paid to e...
Copy for King John in the Folio A manuscript play might take several formsfoul papers fair copy promptbook private transcript and so on in theory ...
Act and Scene Division It is generally agreed that act or in many cases act and scenei divisions were retrospectively imposed upon many plays printe...
Revision A hypothetical revision or interpolation might have caused the confusion we have just examined stonger evidence of revision or interpolati...
A Critical Introduction
Now say Chatillon what would France with us ?2 This directness continues through the next twentynine lines of question iWhat
against approximately 2570 lines in the Folio Garricks version has 1905 Kembles 1690 Macreadys 183O2
Theatrical Reputation and Stage History2 Popular even controversial from the early eighteenth century to the early twentieth King John has since bee...
Abbreviations and References
The Life and Death of King John
SPEECHPREFIXES IN ACT 2
AN ANGEL SPAKE 52641
primogeniture the eldest sons right to inherit his fathers real property makes Philip the heir Robert the younger son adopts the legal formula son and ...
the second tetralogy is as plainly organized in terms of fathers and sons as it is in terms of usurpation rebellion and legitimate succession2 King John ...
like Richard King John declines like Bolingbroke the Bastard rises4 John loses political sensitivity and his earlier decisiveness and he decays first into ...
Early Stage History Besides Francis Meress mention in 1598 allusions to King John some more some less convincing appear to confirm that it was pe...
LINEATION AND SPEECH ASSIGNMENTS AT 56I6
APPENDIX E 571I7I8
Other editions - View all
actor Actus Secundus Angers appears Arthur Arthur's death Austria Bastard Blanche blood breath Bussy D'Ambois Cambridge CAPELL CARDINAL PANDULPH character citing claim Compositor Constance Constance's copy Dent dialogue doth dramatic DYCE edition editors Edward Elizabethan emendation England English Enter example Exeunt Exit father Faulconbridge fear Folio France French hand hast hath heaven Henry Henry VI History Holinshed Honigmann honour Hubert hyphenated in F James Gurney John's King John KING PHILIP Lady lords LOUIS THE DAUPHIN malesty manuscript meaning Melun Messenger night nobles oath ODEP Oxford Pandulph peace Pembroke perhaps Philip Faulconbridge phrase play's political POPE Prince proverb quarto QUEEN ELEANOR Richard Richard II Robert royal Salisbury Scaena Secunda scene Shakespeare Shakespearian Smallwood Spanish Tragedy speak speech headings stage direction sublect Tamburlaine theatre theatrical thee THEOBALD thine Thirlby thou Tilley Tragedy Troublesome Reign vols W. W. Greg word