Game of Thrones

Wordy Wednesday!

This week’s Wordy Wednesday is ‘Band of Brothers’.  This famous phrase was coined by Shakespeare in 1599 and was first heard in his theatrical production of Henry V – which was one of the opening productions performed in the newly built Globe Theatre.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Henry V [IV. iii. 2291 – 2302]

Henry V delivers this rousing speech to his men just before the Battle of Agincourt.  Along with his “Once more unto the breach, dear friends” speech [Henry V, III. i. 1092], these famous lines capture the heart of the play and Shakespeare’s vision of the warrior King.

 

The Battle of Agincourt in 1415 went down in history as one of England’s most famous victories and Henry V’s crowning glory.  The English army was outnumbered more than four to one by the French and defeat seemed almost inevitable.  However, due in no small part to the unrelenting archers with their ferocious longbows driving the enemy back, the English managed to defeat the vast French force. England’s improbable odds before the battle give Henry’s impassioned words even more resonance.  Shakespeare endows his Henry V with the powerful skill of being able to stir the hearts of his men and inspire and rouse them into fighting bravely and fearlessly for him despite the odds.  Just like Joan of Arc’s battle cry to the French soldiers who later fight the army of Henry VI (Henry V’s son) – they were determined to “fight till the last gasp”. [Henry VI P I, I. ii. 326]

 

Henry proclaims that at that moment in time, they are all equals and they will stand shoulder to shoulder and fight as brothers.  They will fight and bleed together and many of them will die together.  This blood bond ties them together as family, and on this day they do not fight as kings, lords or foot soldiers, but as men, as equals and as brothers.

 

This notion of comradeship and blood bonds during combat is transcendental.   Lord Nelson evoked this powerful wartime bond in his speech after the Battle of the Nile, referring to his Sea Captains as a ‘band of brothers’. There are copious examples throughout history of soldiers fighting and dying together as a ‘band of brothers’.  One such example is that of the 101st Airborne East Company during World War II.  This unit fought fearlessly and heroically from the Normandy invasion through to the end of the war; united by the blood spilt on the battle field and the strength of the lifelong bonds they had forged.  Their story was immortalized in the HBO series, aptly named ‘Band of Brothers’.

bandofbrothers

An evolution of this is seen in Game of Thrones through the Dothraki blood riders fighting side by side with Khal Drogo and then Daenerys’ riders.  Daenerys calls these warriors “blood of my blood” as they have pledged their lives to her and their blood is now the blood of their Khaleesi.

185px-Daenerys_1x03

I was lucky enough to see the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Henry V twice during their two year/eight play History Cycle in 2007/2008.  It was the greatest theatrical spectacle I have ever seen, and Geoffrey Streatfeild’s Henry was passionate, rousing and utterly spellbinding.  Such is the power of Shakespeare’s stirring words in Henry V, that Streatfeild delivered his “Once more unto the breach” speech in the dressing room of the English rugby team, to rouse and inspire them before they stepped onto the field to do battle with the French team to fight for the glory of the Six Nations Championship in 2007.  An inspired England won the battle on the day; beating the highly favoured French team – (although France were ultimately victorious clinching the title against Scotland the next week).  This demonstrates the immense power and potency Shakespeare’s texts still wield today and how they have infused nearly every facet of our contemporary society.

henry v pic

By Linda Nicoll

References:

BritishBattles.com – ‘The Battle of Agincourt’, 2002 – 2013. Chalfont Web. http://www.britishbattles.com/100-years-war/agincourt.htm [Accessed 15 May 2013]

British Library – ‘Treasures in Full ~ Shakespeare in Quarto – Henry V Early Performances’. 2013 London. http://www.bl.uk/treasures/shakespeare/henry5.html [Accessed 15 May 2013]

Game of Thrones Wiki – ‘Bloodriders – Rakharo’. 2013 Wikia. http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Rakharo [Accessed 15 May 2013]

IMDb – ‘Band of Brothers’. 1990 – 2013 IMDb.com. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0185906/ [Accessed 15 May 2013]

In depth Info – ‘Band of Brothers in literature and history’. Copyright 2005 – 2013. W. J. Rayment.  http://www.indepthinfo.com/band-of-brothers/ [Accessed 15 May 2013]

Open Source Shakespeare – ‘Play Search’, 2013 George Mason University. http://www.opensourceshakespeare.com/views/plays/plays.php

Royal Shakespeare Company – ‘Henry V Programme – Geoffrey Streatfeild as Henry V’. 2007, Dir. Michael Boyd – RSC Stratford upon Avon and The Roundhouse Theatre London, England.

Suite 101 – ‘Horatio Nelson and his Band of Brothers’, 1996 – 2013 Suite101. http://suite101.com/article/horatio-nelson-and-his-band-of-brothers-a221354 [Accessed 15 May 2013]

 

 

 

Shakespeare meets Game of Thrones!

game-of-thrones-characters-as-cats

 

The Shakespeare in Action office is currently in a state of excitement over season three of Game of Thrones (starting on March 31st)! I saw this gem today and couldn’t resist posting… Then it got me thinking, if the above were Shakespeare characters – who would they be?? There have been many parallels drawn between Shakespeare’s plays and George R.R. Martin’s epic series – A Song of Ice and Fire.  So just based on the first two seasons of Game of Thrones, here are a few musings…

(Based on the show – No spoilers if you haven’t read past the second book!)

Melisandre ~ Lady Macbeth

The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it!

Macbeth [I. v. 388-97]

Tyrion Lannister ~  There really are a multitude of choices for Tyrion as he is such a multifaceted character.  Maybe the carefree and boisterous Mercutio from Romeo & Juliet,  who couples his bawdy sense of humour with a keen intelligence and an impressive way with words, might be a good match.

Daenerys Targaryen ~ Joan la Pucelle (Joan of Arc from Henry VI PI).  This beautiful female warrior is also thrust into a man’s world of warfare, and just like Daenery’s blood riders knelt before her and swore to follow her as part of the ‘Queensguard’, the French soldiers followed Joan la Pucelle into battle.

My courage try by combat, if thou darest,
And thou shalt find that I exceed my sex.
Resolve on this, thou shalt be fortunate,
If thou receive me for thy warlike mate.

Henry VI P I [I. ii. 286-89]

Sansa Stark ~ Blanch from King John.   As John’s niece, Blanch is also used as a bargaining tool to help the King gain further political power with an alliance with the French.  She is married to the Dauphin, although when war breaks out between King John and France, Blanch is stuck in the middle and completely torn as to where her allegiance should lie.  Sansa is propelled into a bitter battle and power struggle she does not understand between her father Eddard Stark and the mother of her betrothed – Cersei Lannister.  Just as Blanch kneels before her husband begging him not to go to war with her uncle, Sansa kneels before Joffrey and pleads for her father’s life.

Upon thy wedding-day?
Against the blood that thou hast married?
What, shall our feast be kept with slaughter’d men?
Shall braying trumpets and loud churlish drums,
Clamours of hell, be measures to our pomp?
O husband, hear me! ay, alack, how new
Is husband in my mouth! even for that name,
Which till this time my tongue did ne’er pronounce,
Upon my knee I beg, go not to arms
Against mine uncle.

King John [III. i. 1227-1236]

Margaery Tyrell ~ Katherine of Aragon.  Katherine of Spain was first married to Prince Arthur, the heir to the English throne in order to form an alliance between Spain and England.  After Arthur’s death, Katherine was then later married to Arthur’s brother when he became Henry VIII.  Katherine was a  valuable commodity and was bargained as such, just like through Margaery the House of Tyrell transferred their political allegiance from Renly to House of Lannister through her betrothal to King Joffrey.   Also as with Katherine in Henry VIII, there appears to be more to Margaery than a mere token bride.

Sam Tarley ~ Snug the Joiner from the Rude Mechanicals in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Again, there is a lot more to Sam than meets the eye, but I thought Snug’s endearing shyness and inherent lack of confidence in himself parallel that aspects of Sam’s character.

Joffrey Baratheon ~ Emperor Saturninus.  Joffrey is also a hard one, as he really doesn’t have any endearing qualities, nor does he possess the scheming intellect of a master Shakespearean villain such as Richard III.  Even though he is controlled by a stronger and more cunning woman in his mother who orchestrates his path to the throne, I would still not equate him to Macbeth.  Another Shakespearean villain and ruler with a stronger, more vicious and astute woman by his side is Saturninus from Titus Andronicus who marries Tamora – Queen of the Goths.  His childish petulance and sadistic nature is more akin to that of Joffrey Baratheon.

Jorah Mormont ~ The Earl of Suffolk.  In the Henry VI plays, Suffolk orchestrates Margaret’s marriage to Henry VI and remains by the warrior Queen’s side.  They are both in love with the Queen they serve and are men with dubious pasts and ulterior motives.

These are only a few loosely drawn musings.  If you can think of better matches based on the show so far, please let us know and comment below.

By Linda Nicoll

Picture:

Dorkly,’ Games of Thrones characters as cats’, Connected Ventures 2013: http://www.dorkly.com/picture/50988/game-of-thrones-characters-as-cats [Accessed 20 March 2013]

http://www.hbocanada.com/gameofthrones/

Wordy Wednesday!

Today’s Wordy Wednesday is the phrase “Up in arms”.
The phrase can be found in two of Shakespeare’s History Plays, which first appeared in print in the 1590s.

In both History Plays the phrase refers to the literal meaning of the term – to take up arms with the intent to use them in battle. To be ‘in arms’ referred to soldiers being equipped for combat; the extension of ‘up in arms’ implies they are not only equipped with weaponry, they are also in a state of readiness to fight.

March on, march on, since we are up in arms;

If not to fight with foreign enemies

Yet to beat down these rebels here at home

 Richard III [IV. iv. 3361-63]

Here the term is used in its most literal sense.  In this extract Richard III is declaring that as they are all armed and equipped – they are ready to march into battle to quell the rebels.

The princely Warwick, and the Nevils all,

Whose dreadful swords were never drawn in vain,

As hating thee, are rising up in arms:

And now the house of York, thrust from the crown

By shameful murder of a guiltless king

And lofty proud encroaching tyranny,

Burns with revenging fire; whose helpful colours

Advance our half-faced sun, striving to shine,

Under the which is writ ‘Invitis nubibus’

The commons here in Kent are up in arms:

Henry VI Part II: [IV. i. 2247-56]

In this Henry VI Part II extract, The Captain is taunting his captive, The Earl of Suffolk, and refers to Warwick and the Nevils as ‘rising up in arms’. They are rallying for battle and arming themselves in a state of rebellion and protestation.  This foreshadows the figurative use of the phrase, which first appeared in the 1700s – to be ‘up in arms’ over a particular situation in a state of protest.

The Phrase Finder classifies the contemporary meaning of the phrase ‘up in arms’ to be ‘roused or incensed’.

Today the modern usage of the phrase to be ‘up in arms’ over a current situation implies outrage and indignant protest. It is most commonly used to mean that a group are ‘roused’ or ‘incensed’ to the point of which they are willing to take action and stand up for their cause.  Of course, a population being ‘up in arms’ can still denote an armed rebellion in the literal sense. [Dictionary.com]

“The workers are ‘up in arms’ over the proposed pay cuts”.  The fact that they are ‘up in arms’ indicates they are not just aggrieved; they are also ready to take action.

An interesting aside about the historical usage of the phrase ‘in arms’ is not only would the knights be bearing arms as in weaponry, they would also be bearing a crest of arms on their armour.  Heraldic arms or a family’s ‘Coat of Arms’ was an integral component of organising feudal battles as the particular crest adorning soldiers’ armour denoted who their liege Lord was and what side they were fighting for.

George R.R. Martin’s epic world in A Game of Thrones recreates this heraldic tradition.  Each house has their individual ‘Crest of Arms’ and motto.  While House Stark has the direwolf as their sigil along with the words “Winter is coming”, the Lannister lion is their House’s sigil with the motto “Hear me roar”.

game-of-thrones-stark-house-sigil-WIDEwallpaper-lannister-sigil-1600

As I am from Scottish decent, my last name ‘Nicoll’ is from the Scottish clan MacLeod and our motto is ‘Hold fast’.

coat-of-arms-macleod

By Linda Nicoll

References:

The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition. 
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw Hill.

The Free Dictionary, ‘Idioms’, 2013: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/up+in+arms [Accessed 20 March 2013]

Dictionary.com, ‘References’, 2013: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/up+in+arms [Accessed 20 March 2013]

The Phrase Finder, ‘Meanings, 2013: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/up-in-arms.html [Accessed 20 March 2013]

Musee Missisquoi Musuem, ‘Family History’, 2013, http://www.museemissisquoi.ca/index.html [Accessed 20 March 2013]

HBO, A Game of Thrones, ‘Sigils’, 2013, http://www.hbo.com [Accessed 20 March 2013]