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Theaters of Pardoning$
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Bernadette Meyler

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501739330

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501739330.001.0001

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Emplotting Politics James I and the “Powder Treason”

Emplotting Politics James I and the “Powder Treason”

(p.75) 2 Emplotting Politics James I and the “Powder Treason”
Theaters of Pardoning

Bernadette Meyler

Cornell University Press

Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure was staged before King James I in 1604 and could have provided a model of mercy for his response to the infamous Gunpowder Plot—Guy Fawkes’s attempt along with other Catholics to demolish the Houses of Parliament. Instead, James’s response to the plot adopted another kind of tragicomic form, that associated with John of Patmos’s Revelation. Before the age of twenty, James had penned a Paraphrase upon the Reuelation and his contemporaries often interpreted the Book of Revelation as a kind of tragicomedy. Yet this variety of tragicomedy did not end happily for everyone—only for the elect, including James himself.

Keywords:   Gunpowder Plot, King James I, Book of Revelation, Tragicomedy, Mercy, William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

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