EESE 10/2002

"Rule as Role:"
Erving Goffman's Theatrical Grammar and
the Emergence of the Politician King in Shakespeare's Tetralogies*

Roland Weidle, Hamburg University


In expressing his idea of the epic theatre, Bertolt Brecht describes the selfreflexive mode of theatre as the actor's demonstrative 'attitude' towards what is happening, as a "Gestus des Zeigens" (Brecht 1967: 341). This self-addressing mode is often referred to, and especially with regard to Shakespearean drama, as the metadramatic function of the theatre.1 The consensus being, that every time elements and structures such as play images (act, scene, tragedy etc.), role playing, dissimulations, ceremonies, plays within the play and the like are employed, a statement is being made on the fictional nature of the playwright's art, or on the conditions and characteristics of the theatre. Hence, the often used label 'metadrama' or 'metatheatre'. But is it true that those theatrical structures are really the playwright's comments and reflections on his art, or do they also point to something outside the drama, to something beyond the boundaries of the Globe Theatre? The latter suggestion is the position taken by the supporters of the theatrum mundi concept, according to whom theatrical structures refer to the idea of the world as theatre, in which man can only play the parts assigned to him by the divine playwright, God. The idea dates back to Plato and was most popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Calderon de la Barca's religious play El Gran Teatro del Mundo is generally acknowledged to be the play which gave the theatrum mundi, the theatre of the world, its name.2 However, in the days of Greenblatt, Sinfield and Dollimore both propositions, the reduction of the theatrical structures in Shakespeare's tetralogies to self-reflexive signifiers or to a silent affirmation of an orthodox order, are a critical fallacy.

A middle path was chosen by Anne Righter's seminal study in 1962. She sees the play metaphors, like other representatives of the 'metadramatic school', as expressing "the depth of the play world", and at the same time, like advocates of the theatrum mundi idea, interprets them as "implied associatons of the world with the stage" (Righter 1962: 86). And she argues further that these structures "also serve to remind the audience that elements of illusion are present in ordinary life, and that between the world and the stage there exists a complicated interplay of resemblance" (86). Righter introduces the "Player-King image" to illustrate the "contrast between the individual and the part which he assumed at the moment of coronation" (121). Kings like Macbeth, Richard III and Henry IV are Player Kings of the flawed rule, because their illegitimacy becomes evident in the contrast between real self and assumed role. I agree with Righter with regard to the elements of illusion in ordinary life and the difference between the individual and the parts he plays, especially at public occasions such as coronations. But in opposition to her beliefs I wish to argue, that Shakespeare in his tetralogies depicts such a dramaturgical awareness not as an impediment to good kingship, but, on the contrary, as a necessary precondition for being a good, effective ruler. Moreover, Shakespeare's presentation of theatrical awareness and interaction transcends moral categories. Indeed, in Shakespeare's plays dramaturgical interaction and political leadership are only possible beyond feudal conceptions of truth and honour.

These are, of course, not entirely new and revolutionary insights. Critics like Greenblatt (1984; 1990), Holderness (1992), Kahn (1980), Kastan (1986), Rackin (1991), to name only a few, have already pointed out the self-fashioning aspect of Renaissance man. Attention has been drawn to the "shift in emphasis between the two tetralogies, from the appearance of power to the power of appearance" (Leggatt 1988: 239) and it has been shown how Shakespeare demystified the "mystery of state" (Heinemann 1992: 75). However, a suitable apparatus to analyze in detail the various strategies of staging, self-fashioning, dissembling and manipulating has not yet been provided. This is even more striking as the need for such a theatrical poetics has been stated more than once in the past. Elizabeth Burns in her study on theatricality calls for a "grammar of theatrical presentation" (Burns 1972: 32-33) and Greenblatt formulates in his classic essay "Invisible Bullets:" "To understand Shakespeare's conception of Hal [...] we need in effect a poetics of Elizabethan power, and this in turn will prove inseparable [...] from a poetics of the theater" (Greenblatt 1990: 64). Where do we find then such a poetics, such a theatrical grammar, which will not only be able to differentiate between various forms of theatrical interaction, behaviour and elements in the tetralogies, but with which one might also be able to trace and describe Shakespeare's delineation of the politician king?

In a chapter of his German postdoctoral thesis published in 1977 Dietrich Schwanitz discusses Jonson's Volpone and shows how through the use of various theatrical strategies relations between ensembles, factions are manipulated and changed (on the levels of fictional action as well as nonfictional communication). Schwanitz borrows the vocabulary to describe this manipulative process from Erving Goffman's The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (first published in 1959). In the ensuing chapters Schwanitz extends his application of Goffman's "dramaturgical perspective" (Goffman 1990: 233) on everyday life to an analysis of theatrical interaction in some of Shakespeare's comedies, Farquahar's The Beaux' Strategem and Goldsmith's She Stoops To Conquer. Schwanitz' interpretation is to this point, and to my knowledge, the first and only in-depth application of Goffman's terminology to Shakespearean drama, and in the following a basic theatrical grammar from Goffman's work will be extracted to describe the formation of strategic interaction and the evolution of the politician king in the tetralogies.3

Although every publication of his focuses on a different aspect and chooses a different perspective, Goffman's work revolves around one single theme: the analysis of social interaction.4 By interaction Goffman means "the reciprocal influence of individuals upon one another's actions when in one another's immediate physical presence" (Goffman 1990: 26). The key concepts of Goffman's 'Interaction Order' (thus the name of his last and posthumously published essay) can be traced back to his two most influential publications, the aforementioned The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life and Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience, first published in 1974. Whereas The Presentation of Self distinguishes between form and content of presentation, and uses vocabulary from the realm of theatre to describe the various techniques we employ in presenting ourselves (such as performance, performing team, audience, front- and back-region etc.), Frame Analysis deals with the ways or rather frames, through which we organize and establish meaning, or, to use Goffman's own words, with the question, we constantly ask ourselves, "What is it that's going on here?" (Goffman 1986: 8). It looks at how we frame pockets of reality and how the act of framing itself, and thus people's perception of reality can be distorted and manipulated. Key terms are '(primary) frame(-work)' and 'framing',5 'transformations' (adding an additional frame to a situation), 'keyings' - which Goffman defines as the "transposition [...] of a strip of [... action] into a strip of play" (Goffman 1986: 41) -, 'fabrications' (a one-sided manipulation of a frame), 'misframings' (taking one frame for another), and 'negative experience' (a limited state of framelessnes).6

The two concepts (theatre model and frame analysis) can be summarized under a dramaturgical perspective on social interaction and supplemented with terminology from other works by Goffman, such as Strategic Interaction, Interaction Ritual and Encounters. For a better understanding and application of Goffman's categories it is helpful to draw on Hans-Georg Soeffner's distinction between operational and interpretive perspective ("Handlungs-" and "Deutungsperspektive") (Soeffner 1989: 153), thus distinguishing between the ways we stage ourselves and others on the one hand, and the way we frame - and misframe - our environment and the actions of others on the other hand. In the following I will scetch the formation of strategic interaction in the first and second tetralogies and demonstrate how this formation is closely linked with the emergence of the politician king and the disappearance of the divine king. In the second tetralogy the main focus will be on the theatrical operational- and interpretive interaction techniques employed by Prince Hal.

The first tetralogy is characterized by two main movements: the fall of King Henry VI and the rise of the House of York, represented by the figures of York and his sons Edward and Richard; two movements which coincide with the "decline of chivalry" as stated by Kahn (1980: 52), and the formation of a political or strategic code of interaction. Henry VI is the first of Shakespeare's representatives of Manheim's 'weak king dilemma' (Manheim 1973) because he lacks two of the main theatrical abilities, required by strategic interaction: the willingness to think and act outside moral categories and a highly developed framing knowledge, meaning: the ability to differentiate between different frames of manipulated reality. The former is exemplified in the second scene of the third act of The Third Part of Henry VI where Henry hands himself over to the game-keepers so that these do not have to break their oaths to their new king. And Henry's low capacity of frame distinction is, for example, illustrated in the Simpcox episode in the second act of The Second Part of Henry VI. Whereas even - the otherwise dramaturgically inefficient - Duke Humphrey of Gloucester sees through Simpcox' pretence, Henry is easily deceived and sympathizes with the "Poor soul" (2H6 II.i.86).7 With the steady rise of the Yorks The Second Part of Henry VI shows a decisive increase in operational and interpretive dramaturgical techniques. The two factions, or rather teams,8 the House of Lancaster and the House of York, draw upon a broad and differentiated spectrum of dramaturgical strategies: indirect fabrications9 (the undermining of Henry's trust in Humphrey, carefully staged by Margaret's team in the first scene of the third act), 'recontainment' ("fabrication of fabrication" (Goffman 1986: 165) in connection with carefully staged 'realigning actions'10 (the continuous re-shuffling and division of teams into sub-teams at the end of the first scene in The Second Part of Henry VI), strategic 'deception coalitions' (such as Suffolk's decision, "although we fancy not the Cardinal, / Yet we must join with him and with the lords", 2H6 98-99), and performances with a high degree of dramaturgical loyalty, discipline and circumspection among the team members (which one can witness throughout the whole play).11

The Duke of York, father of Edward and the crookback Richard, inhabits an interesting intermediate position on the scale of dramaturgical awareness. On the one hand he employs theatrical strategies against his enemies (such as the undermining of Eleanor's dramaturgical self control, the indirect fabrication directed at Humphrey, and his 'directive dominance'12 in the Cade plot), on the other hand he still defines his identity in relation to ethical and feudal values such as nobility, integrity, truth and courage;13 values which require identification, not role consciousness. The resulting tension becomes most obvious in York's ambivalent relationship to 'maintenance of expressive control'.14 He accepts the vital importance of impression management, but only as a necessity to be endured, a cross he is forced to bear in order to get what he wants at court: "So York must sit and fret and bite his tongue [...]" (2H6 I.i.229). He would rather speak his mind, and in the end, at the sight of Somerset at Margaret's side, he does so and is finally allowed to give vent to his long suppressed voice: "How now? Is Somerset at liberty? / Then, York, unloose thy long imprisoned thoughts, / And let thy tongue be equal with thy heart" (2H6 V.i.87-89). Where for York impression management is a necessary but despicable and in the end insufferable violation of the ethical code, for his son, Richard, Duke of Gloucester and later Richard III, it is an integral ( and highly enjoyable ( means through which he attains a strategic mobility, hitherto unknown and unachieved in the histories. The unconditional surrender to the policy of impression management combined with a total commitment to a dramaturgical code of interaction beyond moral categories provide Richard with a wide range of theatrical strategies, which makes Richard III the "most stridently theatrical of all of Shakespeare's plays" (Neill 1976: 99).15

Richard employs a wide range of dramaturgical techniques: indirect fabrications (slandering Clarence and the supposedly bastard children of Edward), keyed indirect fabrications (accusing the Queen of indirect fabrications),16) securing the loyalty of team members through a controlled surrender of directive dominance (Gloucester's pseudo-confidential relationship with Buckingham), imputing maintenance of expressive control to Hastings (R3 III.v.28-31), accusing the Queen of a loss of self-control, thereby insinuating dissimulative techniques,17 the denial of dramaturgical awareness,18 and of course a very high level of dramaturgical circumspection and discipline in the conception and carrying out of performances (for example the staging of himself as the christian prince and the controlled use of props19 in the proclamation scene).20 Taking into account these dramaturgical strategies and the aforementioned hypothesis, that dramaturgical awareness is not an impediment to, but a condition of modern kingship, it should naturally follow that Richard III is a good king. Yet he is not. In order to be a good or rather efficient politician king he lacks one of (if not the most important) theatrical operational faculties: 'role distance' to the roles of the villain and the king.21

"I am determined to prove a villain" (R3 I.i.30), says Richard at the beginning of Richard III, and this decision is based on personal, emotional grounds. Leggatt (1988) concludes rightly, that Richard's "mission to gain the crown has a psychological basis in reaction against his deformity" (28). Thus, Richard does not attain the crown via an objective, unemotional distance to the various roles he plays, but through an affective tie to the self-induced myth of the villain. He can only be a role player because he identifies himself with a single role, the role of the villain. He may be an excellent manager of strategies, but he is not a manager of identities, who through role distance is able to exercise, with Willems' words, a 'strategic diversification of selves'.22 This becomes most evident, once Richard is king. He has to find out, that this is probably the only role he cannot play. Due to his lack of role distance and self-control he cannot fulfill the requirements of a king to be "the centre of a whole network of social and political relationships" (Leggatt 1988: 36). What follows is a loss of expressive and affective control ("Ratcliffe, I fear, I fear", R3 V.v.68). Richard loses Goffman's "gameworthiness" (Goffman 1972: 121) of the player, which consists in the ability "to think and act under pressure without becoming flustered or transparent" (122). To borrow a term from the sociologist Hitzler, after his coronation Richard loses the strategical faculties of the 'Goff-Man', the "Goffmensch" (Hitzler 1992: 451). Having attained the crown Richard still desires 'to be' the villain. The impossibility of identifying with separate roles eventually leads to an "identity diffusion" (Erikson 1994: 183) experienced by Richard on the morning of the decisive battle (thus foreshadowing his namesake's dilemma in the first play of the second tetralogy):

       What do I fear? Myself? There's none else by.
Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I.
Is there a murderer here? No. Yes, I am.
Then fly! What, from myself? Great reason. Why?
Lest I revenge. Myself upon myself?
Alack, I love myself. Wherefore? For any good
That I myself have done unto myself?
O no, alas, I rather hate myself
For hateful deeds committed by myself.
I am a villain. Yet I lie: I am not. (R3 V.v.136-145)

The second tetralogy shows a similiar increase in theatrical consciousness, with Richard II at the bottom and Henry V at the top end of the scale of dramaturgical awareness. Richard II, though, is far more aware of his lack of dramaturgical operational- and interpretive techniques than Henry VI. Richard II experiences an identity slippage caused by the desire to identify with a role model, that is no longer available to him, namely that of the honest, divine king.23 Richard suffers a loss of identity in phases of negative experience, which according to Goffman, is caused by a disparity between the actual frame and the framing of a situation (i.e. a disparity between Willems' 'analytical systems' and 'analytical practices'). It usually occurs at the point, when the individual finds out, that "no particular frame is immediately applicable, or the frame that he thought was applicable no longer seems to be, or he cannot bind himself within the frame that does apparently apply" (Goffman 1986: 378-379). The individual "loses command over the formulation of viable response" (379) and "experience ( the meld of what the current scene brings to [the individual] and what [the individual] brings to it ( [...] finds no form and is therefore no experience" (379). Reality, in Goffman's words, begins to flutter "anomically" (379) and threatens the individual's organization of identity. It is interesting that for Goffman the modern individual has such bouts of negative experience on a daily basis. But these moments very often last less than a second, because our dramaturgical awareness endowes us with repair- and alarm systems such as 'cognitive reserve' and 'operational flexibility'. Cognitive reserve implies the "slight readiness to accept the possible need to reframe what is occuring" (Goffman 1986: 378) and operational flexibility refers to the ability to quickly generate those operational patterns demanded by the new framing of a situation.

Neither Henry VI nor Richard II have well developed repair- and alarm systems, but no other king in the histories reflects on his prolonged states of negative experience, his slippage of identity and lack of role distance as explicitly and as intensely as Richard II. Oscillating between desperate attempts to identify with a role no longer available to him and the submission to the political forces around him (mainly in the person of Bolingbroke), Richard loses his self. This becomes most evident in the mirror scene in the fourth act, where Richard is forced to abdicate.24 In describing this loss of self it is helpful to draw on the identity concept(s) of the psychologist Erik Erikson, to whose writings Goffman repeatedly refers. According to Erikson, this form of identity crisis occurs at the critical stage in an individual's life, when he recognizes, that identification with role models is no longer viable.25 "[I] know not now what name to call myself" (R2 IV.i.249), says Richard. Unable to dissociate himself from his former kingly "I" Richard shatters the mirror and looks down at the broken pieces of his former self, "cracked in an hundred shivers" (R2 IV.i.279). Richard experiences what Erikson calls an "identity diffusion, [... where] a split of self-images is suggested, a loss of centrality, a sense of dispersion and confusion, and a fear of dissolution" (Erikson 1994: 183).26 The inability to accomodate the synchronic and diachronic role expectations and demands ultimately leads to the annihilation of his identity:

  [RICH.] Thus play I in one person many people,
And none contented. Sometimes am I king;
Then treason makes me wish myself a beggar,
And so I am. Then crushing penury
Persuades me I was better when a king.
Then am I kinged again, and by and by
Think that I am unkinged by Bolingbroke,
And straight am nothing. (R2 V.v.31-38)

Whereas Richard's theatrical abdication is caused by and underlines his inability to adjust to the new code of strategic interaction, the Bolingbrokes' theatricality gives testimony to the successful integration of dramaturgical techniques into their ruling practice. In addition to the techniques already mentioned and attributed to Richard III, Bolingbroke, and later as Henry IV, utilizes Goffman's strategies of mystification and inducing of negative experience. The former strategy provides a way in which "awe can be generated and sustained in the audience" by the maintenance of social distance between actor and onlooker, so that the "audience can be held in a state of mystification in regard to the performer" (Goffman 1990: 74). And this is exactly how Henry IV describes the management of his public appearances before he was king:

       By being seldom seen, I could not stir
But, like a comet, I was wondered at,
That men would tell their children 'This is he.'
Others would say 'Where, which is Bolingbroke?'
And then I stole all courtesy from heaven,
And dressed myself in such humility
That I did pluck allegiance from men's hearts,
Loud shouts and salutations from their mouths,
Even in the presence of the crownèd King.
Thus did I keep my person fresh and new,
My presence like a robe pontifical -
Ne'er seen but wondered at - and so my state,
Seldom but sumptuous, showed like a feast,
And won by rareness such solemnity. (1H4 III.ii.46-59)

The careful induction of negative experience in others in order to fashion them into obedient and grateful subjects, is a strategy already described by Stephen Greenblatt in relation to power structures in the Elizabethan and Jacobean ages:

Those who governed the church had to be content that the faithful remain in a condition of what we may call salutary anxiety, and those who governed the state actively cultivated that condition. For the ruling elite believed that a measure of insecurity and fear was a necessary, healthy element in the shaping of proper loyalties, and Elizabethan and Jacobean institutions deliberately evoked this insecurity. (Greenblatt 1988, 135-136)

Negative Experience is staged by Henry IV in the reprieve of Aumerle and Carlisle in the last act of Richard II. The efficiency of a controlled induction of framelessness coupled with a demonstration of mildness is reflected in the Duchess of York's reaction towards the King after he pardoned her son Aumerle: "A god on earth thou art" (R2 V.iii.134). Yet the epitome of the strategic king, with the most complete and differentiated implementation of theatrical strategies, is Henry V. And it is in particular his 'apprenticeship' as Prince Hal in the two parts of Henry IV which gives evidence of his dramaturgical superiority to all his predecessors in the tetralogies. First of all, he is a manager of strategies. In his fabrications he employs complex variations of recontainment and dissimulations with a high level of directive dominance (in particular his jests with Frances and Falstaff in the first and second part of Henry IV); he uses techniques such as denial of dramaturgical awareness and maintenance of expressive and affective control, and he possesses a highly developed role distance, which allows him differentiated role playing (Hal the prince, the prodigal son, the thief, and the versatile actor playing himself, his father, Hotspur, Hotspur's wife, the soldier).

Yet Hal is not only a manager of strategies, he is also ( and this distinguishes him from Richard III ( a manager of identities. He reveals a mobility in the management of his identites, which Henry VI, Richard III, Richard II and his father do not master. I referred to Erikson's 'loss of identity' in relation to the crisis Richard II experiences. Hal has what Richard II does not have: ego identity. Erikson defines ego identity as "the awareness of the fact that there is a selfsameness and continuity to the ego's synthesizing methods" (Erikson 1994: 22).27 A mature ego identity concurs with a highly developed role distance and results in what Erikson calls "ego strength" (48). Schwanitz (1977) refers to ego identity as the 'continuity in role playing', "die Konstanz beim Wechsel der Rollen" (Schwanitz 1977: 17) and for Willems it is the individuals 'main switchboard for actions', his "Steuerungszentrum der Handlungen" (Willems 1997: 179). A closer look at Hal's remarks on his strategy of self-fashinoning at the beginning of The First Part of Henry IV shows that Hal's reformation is a carefully plotted and staged strategy, based on a healthy ego identity, a process, as Greenblatt rightly concludes, "that is happening at every moment of the theatrical representation" (Greenblatt 1990: 43):

       I know you all and will a while uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleness.
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted he may be more wondered at
By breaking though the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him. (1H4 I.iii.173-181)

A few lines further on Hal concludes:

       So when this loose behaviour I throw off
And pay the debt I never promisèd,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men's hopes;
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glitt'ring o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I'll so offend to make offence a skill,
Redeeming time when men think least I will. (1H4 I.iii.186-195)

One of the two main components in Hal's fashioning of his 'selves' is a variation on what Goffman (1990) terms "negative idealization" (49), the intentional downplaying of one's own image. Hal allows "base contagious clouds" (his company at Eastcheap Tavern) to "smother up" his princely image. Hal damages his own reputation by playing someone he is not, only to suprise and prove everyone wrong, when he will "throw this loose behaviour off", "and pay the debt" he never promised. This is in fact only taking his father's strategy of mystification one step further. Instead of being seldom seen like his father, he choses to be seen in other roles, but with the same, though delayed, effect: "to be wondered at", to inspire in his subjects awe and anxiety. Thus Hal manipulates one aspect of his self and uses it as a foil to set off his later, reformed image. But the Prince utilizes another foil, which he also helps to create. He takes an active part in the "idealisation" (Goffman 1990: 44) of Hotspur.28 He does so because Hotspur too, is a part, a 'factor', in Hal's reformation strategy:

       [...] for the time will come
That I shall make this northern youth exchange
His glorious deeds for my indignities.
Percy is but my factor, good my lord,
To engross up glorious deeds on my behalf;
And I will call him to so strict account
That he shall render every glory up,
Yea, even the slightest worship of his time,
Or I will tear the reckoning from his heart.
This, in the name of God, I promise here,
The which if he be pleased I shall perform [...] (1H4 III.ii.144-154)

The two strategies (the idealisation of Hotspur and Hal's negative idealisation of himself) complement each other. While Hal is creating a negative image of his princely identity, Hotspur, with the help of Hal's idealization, will "engross up glorious deeds" on Hal's behalf, only to be "rendered up" later, when Hal will call Percy "to so strict account". To put it differently, while Hal is perpetrating the prodigal son image of himself, he 'parks' princely virtues with the person of Hotspur. Hal automatically retrieves those virtues, when he conquers Hotspur on the battlefield: "O Harry, thou hast robbed me of my youth / I better brook the loss of brittle life / Than those proud titles thou hast won of me" (1H4V.iv.76-78).

From the many other strategies Hal employs two more should be pointed out, which illustrate that he is to be situated at the top end of the scale of strategic interaction. At the end of The First Part of Henry IV, Hal bravely defends his father, and the king says to his son "Thou hast fully redeemed thy lost opinion" (1H4 V.iv.47). Hal's staged reformation has succeeded. Negative idealization should thereafter be no longer required. But Hal continues to mix with the Eastcheap rabble in the first two acts of The Second Part of Henry IV and thus pursues with the projection of a negative image. "Tell me, how many good young princes would do so, their fathers lying so sick as yours is" (2H4 II.ii.22-23), Poins asks and Hal retorts:

  PRINCE H. What wouldst thou think of me if I should weep?
POINS I would think thee a most princely hypocrite.
PRINCE H. It would be every man's thought, and thou art a
blessed fellow to think as every man thinks. Never a man's
thought in the world keeps the roadway better than thine.
Every man would think me an hypocrite indeed. (41-46)

From a dramaturgical perspective this is a highly interesting procedure. Hal employs impression management in order to avoid the suspicion of impression management. Weeping is not seen anymore to be a sign of authenticity, as in the early histories, but is involuntarily associated with feigning and hypocricy; another indication, that the nature and status of supposedly 'true' feelings and attitudes in the late histories are to a growing extent subjected to a critical, and dramaturgical, evaluation.29 Another strategy, which Hal masters like no other prince or king in the histories, is the controlled induction of prolonged states of negative experience. I have already referred to this technique in relation to Henry IV and Greenblatt's 'salutary anxiety'. As a prince, Henry rehearses this technique after the Gadshill robbery, when he and Poins exploit their back region information30 about Falstaff's lies to test and strain the latter's cognitive reserve and operational flexibility to the highest degree. As a king, Henry V takes Greenblatt's 'salutary anxiety' one step further. The generation of negative experience is not followed by a reprieve, but by a death sentence. And yet, the death sentence generates gratitude and loyalty in the condemned subjects. I am referring to Henry's conviction of Scrope, Cambridge and Grey in the second scene of the second act in Henry V, in which Henry by means of a high level of dramaturgical circumspection and -discipline first elicits from the conspirators a severe condemnation of a relatively light offense, then confronts them with his knowledge of their own serious crime and finally sentences them to death. Their reaction shows that even in sentencing his subjects to death Henry instills in them a sense of loyalty and gratitude. Scrope "repents [his] fault more than [his] death" (H5 II.ii.147), Cambridge will "heartily in sufferance [...] rejoice" (H5 II.ii.154), and Grey asks Henry to pardon his "fault, but not [...his] body" (H5 II.ii.160). By means of the controlled induction of negative experience Henry V is thus able to instill in his "proper loyalties" obedience even beyond death.

The emergence of the politician king in Shakespeare's tetralogies is intrinsicially linked to the evolution of strategic interaction; a mode of interaction, whose dramaturgical aspects can be described in detail with a theatrical grammar extracted from the works of the sociologist Erving Goffman. Unlike the participants in the scholarly debate on whether Shakespeare's theatre aimed at an affirmation, subversion or even contained subversion of Tudor policy,31 I would like to suggest that Shakespeare was less a political than a historiographic playwright. In disecting the evolution of the politician king from Henry VI to Henry V Shakespeare's theatre served as a laboratory. And as this laboratory was open to the public, the results of his analysis harboured of course subversive potential that would be circulated beyond the boundaries of the Globe Theatre and London's 'Liberties'. David Kastan (1986) writes:

In setting English kings before an audience of commoners, the theatre nourished the cultural conditions that eventually permitted the nation to bring its King to trial, not because the theatre approvingly represented subversive acts, but rather because representation became itself subversive. (460-461)

Kastan concludes: "The histories expose the idealisations of political power by presenting rule as role, by revealing that power passes to him who can best control and manipulate the visual and verbal symbols of authority" (469). Shakespeare unmasked interaction, and thus power, as obeying a dramaturgical rulework. It is above all this context that reveals the significance and commensurability of Goffman's and Shakespeare's dramaturgical perspectives.

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* This article is a revised version of a paper given at the English Department of the University of Auckland on 27th July 2001. I am indebted to Michael Neill and Alex Calder for helpful comments. For a full-length study of the formation of strategic interaction in Shakespeare's comedies and histories by the author see Weidle (2002).

1 Cf. Abel (1963), Hornby (1986), Schöpflin (1988), and Vieweg-Marks (1989).

2 For other representatives of this 'genre' cf. Ulrich Müller (1992).

3 For a full and detailed account of such a theatrical grammar see Weidle (2002: 39-101).

4 In applying Goffman's dramaturgical perspective to the analysis of drama, it is important to stress the fundamental differences between these two subjects. Goffman's field of interest is the analysis of interaction in everyday life, ours the analysis of interaction on the stage, in Shakespeare's histories. These two realms are not the same, their contents of reality differ, one is real, the other fiction. But what they both share, is a theatrical mode of interaction, which distinguishes between the content and form of performances, between the presented and the act of presenting itself.

5 "[...] indeed a primary framework is one that is seen as rendering what would otherwise be a meaningless aspect of the scene into something that is meaningful" (Goffman 1974: 21). Willems (1997) defines the difference between 'framework' and 'framing' as the difference between "Analysesystemen" (analytical systems) and "Analysepraxen" (analytical practices) (59).

6 I will abstain from a more detailed explanation of Goffman's concepts at this point. For a further discussion of Goffman's terms cf. Eberle (1991), Hettlage (1991), Weidle (1999; 2002), Willems (1997) and Wittkowski (1995: 39-44). The terms will also be more clarified in the following analysis of the histories.

7 All quotations are from the The Norton Shakespeare, ed. by Stephen Greenblatt et al. (New York, London: W. W. Norton, 1997).

8 "I will use the term 'performance team' or, in short, 'team' to refer to any set of individuals who cooperate in staging a single routine" (Goffman 1990: 85).

9 "The classic example of indirect fabrication is the plant or frame-up involving the creation of compromising false evidence" (Goffman 1974: 107). For a critical assessment of Goffman's terminology and his occasionally contradictory and vague definitions cf. for example Twenhöfel (1997: 377-380), Willems (1997: 23-27), and Wittkowski (1995: 47-48).

10 "[...] movements around, or over, or away from the line between the teams" (Goffman 1990: 192). Examples of these realignments are "unofficial grumbling, guarded disclosures, and double-talk" (Goffman 1990: 192) and basically any form of communication which will allow team-mates to "free themselves a little from the restrictive requirements of interaction between teams" (Goffman 1990: 187) without discrediting the 'authenticity' of the performance.

11 Goffman states various attributes and practices the participants employ in the interaction process in order to prevent the occurence of incidents which threaten the stability of a performance. Dramaturgical loyalty, discipline and circumspection are "defensive measures used by performers to save their own show" (Goffman 1990: 207). These defensive measures have their counterpart in the audience's "protective practices [...] to act in a protective way in order to help the performers save their own show" (222) and in the performers' "tact regarding tact" (227), i.e. their tact in assisting the audience's assistance in protecting the performance.

12 Goffman differentiates between directive and dramaturgical dominance, which are often but not necessarily always occupied by one team member.

13 Cf. for example his appeal to Buckingham's "honour" (2H6 V.i.42) and his surrender to the king on the grounds of Buckingham's assurance (2H6 V.i).

14 "[...] performers commonly attempt to exert a kind of synecdochic responsibility, making sure that as many as possible of the minor events in the performance, however instrumentally inconsequential these events may be, will occur in such a way as to convey either no impression or an impression that is compatible and consistent with the over-all definition of the situation that is being fostered" (Goffman 1990: 59).

15 To view Richard as actor and/or director has a long tradition. Cf. Fietz (1992), McAlindon (1996), Sahel (1992), Wolfgang Müller (1984), Strong (1982).

16 "'Tis the Queen and her allies / That stir the King against my brother" (R3 I.iii.328-329).

17 "Marked you not / How that the guilty kindred of the Queen / Looked pale, when they did hear of Clarence' death?" (R3 II.ii.136-138).

18 "Because I cannot flatter and look fair, / Smile in men's faces, smooth, deceive, and cog [...]" (I.iii.47-48).

19 In Goffman's dramaturgical perspective props form a part of the setting. Setting and "personal front" (Goffman 1990: 34) in turn constitute "front", the "part of the individual's performance which regularly functions in a general and fixed fashion to define the situation for those who observe the performance"; it is "the expressive equipment of a standard kind intentionally or unwittingly employed by the individual during his performance" (Goffman 1990: 32).

20 R3 III.vii.

21 Goffman first introduces the concept of role distance in 1961 in his essay Encounters. Berger (1963) states, that role distance is present "where a role is played deliberately without inner identification, in other words, where the actor has established an inner distance between his consciousness and his role-playing" (14). In the past Goffman's concept has been exposed to repeated criticism, for example by Dreitzel (1968). For a detailed discussion of the term and the debate cf. Chriss (1999: 78 pp.), Krappman (1978), Sauter de Maihold (1995), and Willems (1997: 198 pp.).

22 The phrase in the original is "strategische Diversifikation von Selbsten" (Willems 1997: 165).

23 Cf. Winny (1968) who diagnoses a loss of self for Richard on the basis of his lack of role distance.

24 For a detailled discussion of Richard's 'identity crisis' cf. Winny (1968), Schoenbaum (1975), and Sterling (1996). For the debate on the deposition scene and the argument whether Richard abdicates out of his own accord or is made to abdicate cf. Barkan (1978), Helmut Pfeiffer (2000), Baines (1980), Hasler (1978), Taft (1992), and Schoenbaum (1975).

25 Erikson states, "that identification as a mechanism is of limited usefulness" (Erikson 1994: 121) and that "[i]dentity formation begins where the usefulness of multiple identification ends" (122). It should be noted that Erikson's approach is used here solely as a means to describe the growing differentiation of the self into various aspects of identity, resulting from the emergence of strategic interaction. For a placement of Erikson's approach in twentieth century psychology and a discussion of his terminology cf. Wittkowski (1995), Dreitzel (1968: 252-266), Krappman (1978), Willems (1997: 176-180).

26 Cf. also R2 III.ii.79-86, 135-138, 142-145, 156-166, 168-173; IV.i.191, 249.

27 Goffman consciously draws on Erikson's definition when he defines ego identity as the "subjective sense of his own continuity and character that an individual comes to obtain as a result of his various social experiences" (Goffman 1986: 105). Goffman's approach rests to a great extent on his at times vague and imprecise definitions of personal, social and ego identity and role distance. Dawe (1973) for example writes that "Goffman's position is far from clear, for his accounts of the self are constantly shifting" (253).

For a discussion of the problematic aspects in Goffman's 'theory' cf. Lenz (1991), Sauter de Maihold (1995), Willems (1997), Wittkowski (1995), Popitz (1967), Dreitzel (1968: 212 pp.). Schäfer (1983) and Gouldner (1971) criticize Goffman's approach on moral grounds. For a criticism of Goffman's empirical method cf. Dawe (1973), Psathas (1977), Sennett (1993), and also Denzin/Keller (1981) who 'accuse' Goffman of structuralism.

28 Goffman defines 'idealization' as "the tendency for performers to offer their observers an impression that is idealized in several different ways. [...] when the individual presents himself before others, his performance will tend to incorporate and exemplify the officially accredited values of the society" (Goffman 1990: 44-45).

29 Schwanitz states a similar case for King Lear where Cornwall's comment ("These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness / Harbor more craft and more corrupter ends / Than twenty silly ducking observants / That stretch their duties nicely", Lr.II.ii.93-96) on Kent's self-characterization as "plain" (Lr.II.ii.84) shows that at the end of the sixteenth century the 'authentic' character too has become a current 'identity pattern', an "Identitätsschema" (Schwanitz 1977: 125).

30 "A back region or backstage may be defined as a place, relative to a given performance, where the impression fostered by the performance is knowingly contradicted as a matter of course. [...] it is here that illusions and impressions are openly constructed. [...] In general, of course, the back region will be the place where the performer can reliably expect that no member of the audience will intrude" (Goffman 1990: 114-116).

31 Cartelli (1991), Mullaney (1988), and Sterling (1996) argue for a subversiveness of Shakespeare's theatre, whereas Pye (1990) and Yachnin (1997) ascribe to the plays a "constitutive" and "representational" (Pye 1990: 6) function. Greenblatt (1990) on the other hand detects in Shakespeare's plays both tendencies, namely a "mode of subversion and its containment" (35).