Ireland and Scotland are marginalised and minoritised, but the experience of Marilyn Reizbaum has provoked different reactions from writers in the two countries. There are very good historical reasons for Scotland and Ireland being averse to one another, to do with Empire and Union. This chapter explores the missing middle of the vernacular in Irish writing, drawing on Edna Longley's perceptive to remark about Tom Paulin's poetic project and the vexed issue of Ulster-Scots. It is ironic that at a time when Edwin Muir was arguing for a Yeatsian model of national literature for Scotland, Irish writers were pursuing a more local/regional line, but with one difference from Scottish writers. Irish writers appear to have adhered more to Muir's insistence on English as the proper language of literary renaissance and resistance than to the opposing view of Hugh MacDiarmid, who championed the vernacular.
This book explores, from a variety of critical perspectives, the playwright's place in Scotland and the place of Scotland in his work. The influence of Scotland on William Shakespeare's writing, and later on his reception, is set alongside the dramatic effects that Shakespeare's work had on the development of Scottish literature. The Shakespeare's work of Scottish literature stretches from the Globe to globalisation, and from Captain Jamy and King James to radical productions at the Citizens' Theatre in Glasgow. Shakespeare have strong Scottish connections by virtue of his theatre company's being brought under the sponsorship of the Scottish king James VI immediately after his accession to the English throne in 1603. Jonathan Goldberg and Alvin Kernan have traced the impact of royal patronage on Shakespeare's work after the Union, finding Scottish themes at play not just in Macbeth, but also in Cymbeline, King Lear, Hamlet, and in other plays. Then, the book outlines some of the issues and problems raised by Scotland and Scottish history for English readers in the last decade of Elizabeth's reign. Shakespeare wrote his English plays in Elizabeth's reign and his British plays after 1603, though Henry V, first performed in 1599, might be regarded as a proto-British play. Unlike Henry V, Shakespeare's most English play, where national identity is of the essence, in Macbeth, Scotland is a blot on the landscape. Shakespeare's political drama moves from a sense of England and Scotland as independent kingdoms into an alignment with the views of Unionist King James.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores the relationship between the personal and the political in King James I's promotion of the Union and shows how this is echoed by William Shakespeare both before and after 1603. It looks at the language question and the Scottishness of a play whose national context is complicated by the downplaying of dialect in its dramatic diction. The book also looks at the text through the lens of the language of law and order, namely the feudal topoi of military service, royal progress, and the need for counsel to be taken by monarchs and husbands. It examines Scottish adaptations of Shakespeare in a vital theatrical location at a moment of radical experimentation, made possible by an innovative and outward-looking company.
The short tenure of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, as Lieutenant of Ireland involved a complex web of connections, linking senior political figures, such as Robert Cecil and Hugh O'Neill, the 'rebel' Earl of Tyrone. In both A View and The Faerie Queene, Ireland figures as a place where militant Protestantism, which Essex was perceived to champion, could confirm the justice of its cause. Shakespeare, like Spenser, possibly regarded Essex as a means to effect regime change. This would explain why play after play contains figures available to be read as policy indicators for Essex. In 1753 Henry Jones's The Earl of Essex: A Tragedy in Five Acts was performed in London. It shows 'Burleigh', Robert Cecil, as a schemer viewing Ireland as exile for Essex but also spawning ground for rebellion and invasion.