Cover image for Shakespeare's histories
Shakespeare's histories
Bloom, Harold.
Publication Information:
Broomall, PA : Chelsea House Publishers, [2000]

Physical Description:
117 pages ; 24 cm.
Biography of William Shakespeare -- Plot summary of Richard III -- List of characters in Richard III -- Critical views on Richard III: -- August Wilhelm Schlegel on the play's poetical justice -- Bruce W. Young on parental blessings in the play -- William C. Carroll on ritual and succession in the play -- E. Pearlman on the invention of Richard of Gloucester -- Marie A. Plasse on corporeality and the opening of the play -- Ian Frederick Moulton on Richard's unruly masculinity -- Plot summary of Henry IV, part 1 -- List of characters in Henry IV, part 1 -- Critical views on Henry IV, part 1: -- Robert N. Watson on King Henry's guilt and Hal's incorrigibility -- Graham Holderness on Falstaff as a political and moral foil to the King -- Paul M. Cuteta on Falstaff's convenient deaths -- Alexander Leggatt on deception in Henry IV, part 1 -- Ralph Berry on social life in part 1 -- Barbara Hodgdon on Falstaff's feminine characteristics -- Bernard J. Paris on King Henry, Hal, and Hotspur -- Plot summary of Henry IV, part 2 -- List of characters in Henry IV, part 2 -- Critical views on Henry IV, part 2: -- Sigurd Burckhardt on the play's overturning of the "Tudor Myth" of history -- James Winny on the autonomy of parts 1 and 2 -- David Bergeron on Falstaff and the concept of "Ahistory" in part 2 -- Theodore Weiss on Prince Hal and comedy in the plays -- James Black on the setting of figure against form in the plays -- Jonathan Crewe on reforming Prince Hal in part 2 -- Robert B. Bennett on nature's reclaiming of humanity in part 2 -- Matthew H. Wikander on Hal's "Unknowable real self" -- Plot summary of Henry V -- List of characters in Henry V -- Critical views on Henry V: -- Samuel Johnson comments on the play, 1765 -- August Wilhelm Schlegel on the chorus as dramatic device in the play -- Larry S. Champion on the structural devices of the play -- Andrew Gurr on the theme of brotherhood in the play -- Jonathan Hart on the play's "Self-Conscious Theatricality" -- P.K. Ayers on Harry as "Chameleon Linguist" -- Harold Bloom on the irony of power in the play.
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PR2982 .S49 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



It is said that Shakespeare captured what is permanent and universal to all human beings at all times. Examine his histories, including Richard III ; Henry IV, Part I ; Henry IV, Part II ; and Henry V .

Author Notes

Harold Bloom was born on July 11, 1930 in New York City. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Cornell in 1951 and his Doctorate from Yale in 1955.

After graduating from Yale, Bloom remained there as a teacher, and was made Sterling Professor of Humanities in 1983. Bloom's theories have changed the way that critics think of literary tradition and has also focused his attentions on history and the Bible. He has written over twenty books and edited countless others. He is one of the most famous critics in the world and considered an expert in many fields. In 2010 he became a founding patron of Ralston College, a new institution in Savannah, Georgia, that focuses on primary texts.

His works include Fallen Angels, Till I End My Song: A Gathering of Last Poems, Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life and The Shadow of a Great Rock: A Literary Appreciation of The King James Bible.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 10^-12. This title in Bloom's Major Dramatists series focuses on several of Shakespeare's frequently studied plays: Richard III, Henry IV, parts 1 and 2, and Henry V. Bloom's brief introduction, rather than provide an overview, champions Falstaff's character; however, the clear, concise Shakespeare biography offers some historical context and highlights the writer's diverse literary talents. Accessible, well-abstracted plot and character summaries are followed by excerpted critical essays, past and present, on themes and topics within each play, among them, "Richard's Unruly Masculinity" by Ian Frasier Moulton. The essays' generally academic, dense prose is geared toward the serious student; and although this is certainly no substitute for reading the original works, it will be useful for navigating the complex mazes of plots and characters, particularly for exam reviews and paper topics. Essays include author introduction, brief summary, and publishing information; at book's end are a list of Shakespeare's works, a lengthy bibliography of titles predominantly targeted at adults, and an index of themes and ideas. --Shelle Rosenfeld

School Library Journal Review

Gr 12 Up-This impressive title contains criticism on Richard III, Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V. Discussion of the individual plays is prefaced by an introduction and a three-page biography of Shakespeare. The entry on each play gives a succinct plot summary, brief descriptions of major characters, and six to eight critical excerpts. A list of the Bard's works, further reading, and indexes of themes and ideas complete this comprehensive volume. However, the language in the essays is too sophisticated for a high school audience. Even honors English classes may be stumped by sentences like this one from an essay on Henry IV, Part 2: "Apparently open to any construction-or to no determinate one-the rootlike apparition of the young Shallow may all too literally mock any aspiration to get to the root of the matter of reform in terms of gendered character." The highbrow language and sophistication of each argument is not surprising given that the criticism is excerpted from scholarly books or professional literary journals like Shakespeare Quarterly and Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900. It's unfortunate, though, that the criticism itself is not on par with the reading level of a high school audience. This title is best suited for public libraries with a broad customer base that includes university students.-Leah J. Sparks, Bowie Public Library, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



It is said that Shakespeare captured what is permanent and universal to all human beings at all times. Examine his histories, including Richard III; Henry IV, Part I; Henry IV, Part II; and Henry V. Excerpted from Shakespeare's Histories by Harold Bloom All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

August Wilhelm SchlegelBruce W. YoungWilliam C. CarrollE. PearlmanMarie A. PlasseIan Frederick MoultonRobert N. WatsonGraham HoldernessPaul N. SiegelPaul M. CubetaAlexander LeggattRalph BerryBarbara HodgdonBernard J. ParisSigurd BurckhardtJames WinnyDavid BergeronTheodore WeissJames BlackJonathan CreweRobert B. BennettMatthew H. WikanderSamuel JohnsonAugust Wilhelm SchlegelLarry S. ChampionAndrew GurrJonathan HartJonathan HartP.K. AyersHarold Bloom
User's Guidep. 7
Editor's Notep. 8
Introductionp. 9
Biography of William Shakespearep. 11
Plot Summary of Richard IIIp. 14
List of Characters in Richard IIIp. 17
Critical Views on Richard III
The Play's Poetical Justicep. 19
Parental Blessings in the Playp. 21
Ritual and Succession in the Playp. 24
The Invention of Richard of Gloucesterp. 28
Corporeality and the Opening of the Playp. 30
Richard's Unruly Masculinityp. 32
Plot Summary of Henry IV, Part 1p. 35
List of Characters in Henry IV, Part 1p. 39
Critical Views on Henry IV, Part 1
King Henry's Guilt and Hal's Incorrigibilityp. 41
Falstaff as a Political and Moral Foil to the Kingp. 42
Class Distinctions in Part 1p. 45
Falstaff's Convenient Deathsp. 47
Deception in Henry IV, Part 1p. 48
Social Life in Part 1p. 51
Falstaff's Feminine Characteristicsp. 53
King Henry, Hal, and Hotspup. 55
Plot Summary of Henry IV, Part 2p. 58
List of Characters in Henry IV, Part 2p. 61
Critical Views on Henry IV, Part 2
The Play's Overturning of the "Tudor Myth" of Historyp. 62
The Autonomy of Parts 1 and 2p. 65
Falstaff and the Concept of "Ahistory" in Part 2p. 68
Prince Hal and Comedy in the Playsp. 72
The Setting of Figure Against Form in the Playsp. 74
Reforming Prince Hal in Part 2p. 78
Nature's Reclaiming of Humanity in Part 2p. 82
Hal's "Unknowable Real Self"p. 85
Plot Summary of Henry Vp. 87
List of Characters in Henry Vp. 90
Critical Views on Henry V
Comments on the Play, 1765p. 91
The Chorus as Dramatic Device in the Playp. 91
The Structural Devices of the Playp. 94
The Theme of Brotherhood in the Playp. 98
The Play's "Self-Conscious Theatricality"p. 101
The "Problem of Words" in the Playp. 104
Harry as "Chameleon Linguist"p. 106
The Irony of Power in the Playp. 110
Works by William Shakespearep. 112
Works about William Shakespeare's Historiesp. 114
Index of Themes and Ideasp. 116