Of tygers’ hearts and players’ hides
in Shakespeare’s histories and counter-histories
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The play the First Folio styles The third Part of Henry the Sixt generated the earliest surviving notice of William Shakespeare in performance, a review by Robert Greene, writing in A Groats-worth of Witte. Greene's 'Tygers heart wrapt in a Players hide' parodies a line that comes four scenes into 3 Henry VI, at the death of Richard, Duke of York. Greene crafts his analogy to associate the tiger with the crow, the woman with the player, a move that rhetorically slides the woman's monstrous violation of gender off on to the player, troping other violence done upon the order of things. Greene's metaphors degrade Shakespeare to a woman and cast him as an aspiring 'upstart', a 'wannabe' university man. Greene testifies to the power of the theatrical moment that etched upon his unwilling spectatorship and memory, to the extent even of inserting itself into his own writerly performance space.


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