Trojan shadows in Shakespeare’s King John
in Interweaving myths in Shakespeare and his contemporaries
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This chapter argues that Andromache and her suppliant rhetoric stand at the heart of a wider Trojan presence in a play that Francis Meres described as a tragedy in 1598. King John is 'tragical- historical- mythological', a genre overlooked by Polonius. The chapter explains the Trojan matter of the play, which powerfully structures and textures the scenes of the siege of Angiers and, more specifically, the tragic fates of Constance and Arthur. Trojan motifs weave their way through Arthurian and other monarchical romances without much explicit acknowledgement. In King John, such processes include the Hercules/ Richard analogies and are evident in the ways Shakespeare revisits the historical material he found in sources such as Holinshed's Chronicles, and scenographic considerations. As in Heywood's play, the verbal and physical sense of towering verticality is a key to the dramatic tension of a number of scenes in King John.

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