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Rosa Luxemburg What Say the Citizens of This Business as Usual Narrative of Change?

By       Message Lenore Daniels     Permalink
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To the struggle! There is a world to win and a world to defeat.

Rosa Luxemburg, "What Does the Spartacus League Want"

He is "incomplete," and by his own admission, "deformed." A believer in democracy, he is not! Brother to King Edward, and to George, Duke of Clarence, Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, is ambitious.   He wants to be king!

The "winter of discontent" is his winter of discontent, with very political and public implications. The war between the Yorks and the Lancasters [1] is over, and King Edward is attempting to broker a "peace!" Peace, mind you! The Duke of Gloucester is not content with the prospect of peace. "I am determined to prove a villain/And hate the idle pleasures of these days." [2]

The Duke of Gloucester is at war! He is at war among those members of his family; he is at war with fellow citizens of the world. "--instead of mounting barbed steeds/To fright the souls of fearful adversaries," the King and the state of England are silent on the world stage.

The Duke wants no part of peace! How could "peace" possibly profit him who wants power?

American actors, in Al Pacino's 1996 docu-drama, Looking for Richard, ask themselves how they as Americans produce a Shakespearian drama for an American audience. How do they make this Shakespearian drama relevant for today's America?

Interestingly British actor Derek Jacobi assures them that Shakespeare, and particular The Life and Death of King Richard III, would resonate with an American audience.

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And, he is right.

The American actors struggle to make sense of the play. Among themselves they discuss and argue; they ask advice and opinions from British and U.S. citizens; they confer with academic and Shakespearian "experts" all the while the Duke of Gloucester, scheming with an imaginary audience, decides to have King Edward imprison their brother, George, and in due time, he dispatches killers, hit men, to kill the imprisoned brother.

Soon after, King Edward dies. The rightful heir to the throne is the older of Edward's two sons, both children. Richard will see to it that they never reach the castle where their mother awaits them. He has Buckingham kidnap them, and they are imprisoned in a tower on route to the castle where Richard plans to execute them after his coronation but not before turning the lords and dukes against King Edward's closest friend and the most respected of the King's court, Lord Hastings. Like the King's widow, dismissed as a hysterical woman, Hastings knows proper court procedure. So he must be executed.  

What principles motivate this man Richard? But before Hastings can answer his own question for the benefit of the lords and dukes, Richard charges him with disloyalty.

Follow me, if you love me! Or be an enemy to the state!  

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As for the obvious reality of two sons of King Edward--a solution! They are bastards--not true inheritors. Lucky for England and the people Richard discovered this treachery and potential corruption in time! And Richard's sidekick, Lord Buckingham winks and relays this narrative to "the people." Let's thank the Duke of Gloucester--and better yet, crown him King!  


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Dr. Lenore J. Daniels, Black Commentator, Editorial Board and Columnist, Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory

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