This thesis was written in 1961-62 as a PhD Dissertation for the Department of English, the University of Chicago. As a study of the villain-hero, so early in my career, it highlights a life-time absorption on my part in this central location of creative energy in English literature. It was in my view Shakespeare’s springboard into historical and tragic writing. The thesis has originality in the way Shakespeare and Sir Thomas More have both affinities and differences.
More was relatively close to the actual life of Richard III but took up an aggressive and a critical attitude to his subject. His prose history of Richard III is highlighted by an ingenious sense of irony that Shakespeare as a dramatist had to contend with.
Shakespeare converted Richard almost into a new personality. The thesis also, tentatively and by analogy largely, opens up the hypothesis that Shakespeare’s histories and tragedies are grounded in popular native culture, especially in the religious drama of the Mysteries and Moralities.
Click this link for access to the entire, still unpublished, thesis as first submitted.
One thought on “Richard III: A Study of the Elizabethan Villain-Hero.”
I am so pleased that we have finally managed to get this wonderful piece of work on Shakespeare up and running Jim. I especially like the way you have contextualized Richard III in a far reaching question about the nature of Shakespeare’s own spiritual vision (drawing inspiration from the Miracle and Morality Plays. I look forward to getting my students to use this as a starting point for their exploration of Richard III next year!