Essays in Honour of Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser
Edited By Simon Rosenberg and Sandra Simon
A Mute(d) King: Emotions Inferred in Shakespeare’s Edward III
Marga Munkelt, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster
The Scottish King’s silence in 5.1 of Edward III is paralleled by that of the English Queen. His muteness foregrounds questions of kingship and morality and he can be read as a visualized didactic mirror. To achieve this effect, the emotional and cognitive cooperation of the audience is necessary.
Since the re-admission of King Edward III (E3), in the 1990s, into the Shakespeare canon, most discussions of the play have focussed on authorship questions and stylistic investigations as arguments for or against its inclusion in the canon or for the identification of passages that may have been composed by Shakespeare alone, by others or in collaboration with others. This study assumes the play’s legitimacy and investigates a phenomenon that is, at first sight, a performance problem, but which invites thinking about Shakespeare’s concern with the connection of kingship, morality, and political honesty.
In E3, the second part of Act 5, Scene 1 (ll. 63–243)1 features the appearance of John Copland before King Edward III with his prisoner, King David II of Scotland, and King David remains on stage until the end of the play without any noted verbal or non-verbal response. In technical terms, King David in Act 5 may be, thus, called a mute,2 that is, a character with a “non-speaking rôle.”3
King David’s muteness is unusual in two respects: On the one hand, he...
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