Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Drama, Drama, Drama

"It was one of those midsummer Sundays when everyone sits around saying, "I drank too much last night." You might have heard it whispered by the parishioners leaving church, heard it from the lips of the priest himself, struggling with his cassock in the vestiarium".

These are the first few lines of "The Swimmer" by John Cheever. When I read the first act of Henry V, this is what I thought of. It seems that Shakespeare is emphasizing the violent and bloodthirsty mindset permeating England at this time by highlighting even the priest's focus on going to war. He encourages Henry to "unwind [his] bloody flag!"And just as alcohol and indulgence infused this suburban society, violent dominance was on the minds of everyone within power. What kind of priest encourages bloodshed over such a selfish and frivolous concern? During the relatively peaceful Elizabethan era, Shakespeare's audience most likely enjoyed a dramatization of war, and so it's possible that this bellicose culture is a bit exaggerated.

I also find it interesting that Henry and his advisors are convinced that they're going to war in the name of God and have secured His support. Did Henry believe this to be true because he was convinced to go to war by priests?