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The King Returns: the Modern Kingship in The Madness of George III

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2012, 25(3), pp.5-23
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Yuna Kang 1

1서울여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

George III has been regarded as the villain, or worse, the dull and boring king in English monarchical history. Alan Bennett, however, revisions the king as the harbinger of modern kingship. During his ‘madness’ in 1789, the king loses the authority of his speech first, and his body is made wide open to be exploited to medical doctors as well as parliamentary members. As a patient the king is purged from his kingly outfit, and is subject to a country doctor--he is bandaged, gagged, and restrained if he does not submit himself. But he gets out of the medical tyranny when he is reading King Lear and empathizes with another mad king. Reading Shakespeare, he remembers how to seem his kingly self, and he can perform himself more appropriately. Even though he is not beheaded as the king in France, it can be said that his former self is dead during this period and then he returns to speak as a modern king. Bennett presents the historical story of George III in terms of the necessity of the re-presenting/performing one’s self in modern times. However, becoming modern king doesn’t last long since the hereditary disease is recurrent and would devour the king sooner or later in Bennet Land—the world full of irony with sympathy and criticism. With this epilogue overshadowing Bennett’s narrative, The Madness of George III, along with The Madness of King George, ceases to be just another Foucauldian interpretation of becoming a subject in modern times.

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