Ireland and Islam: Henry V and the 'War on terror'

Coleman, D., 2008. Ireland and Islam: Henry V and the 'War on terror'. Shakespeare, 4 (2), pp. 183-195. ISSN 1745-0926

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Scholars have long been aware that the original performances of Shakespeare's Henry V (1599) are deeply implicated in debates surrounding an expensive, unpopular and politically sensitive foreign war; the Elizabethan military apparatus in Ireland, and in particular the mission of Robert Devereux, Second Earl of Essex, to quell the rebellion of Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, loom behind the text, threatening at every moment to rupture the illusion of a glorious English king. Critics are also sensitive to the ways in which Shakespeare's play has been appropriated for propagandistic purposes in a number of later conflicts; most saliently for the purposes of this article, the British media's interpretation of the ongoing “war on terror” has frequently read the conflict explicitly through the language and imagery of Shakespeare's play. Perhaps the most startling way in which Henry V has been in operation can be seen in the way in which large sections of the media reach quickly for the “Irish” parallel, comparing the “Islamic terrorists” to the “Irish Republicans” of recent decades. One of the political implications of this is that Henry V's uneasy strategy of incorporating ethnic “others” is promoted as the preferred means of dealing with a perceived cultural threat, and (sometimes unintended) parallels are drawn between the early modern Irish and contemporary Islamic populations of the “British” isles.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Shakespeare
Creators: Coleman, D.
Publisher: Routledge
Place of Publication: London
Date: 2008
Volume: 4
Number: 2
ISSN: 1745-0926
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 11:18
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2024 14:27

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