Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts

First Advisor

Linda Bensel-Meyers


Literature, Shakespeare


Recent scholarly essays have marked the swing of the literary criticism pendulum from the limited scopes of formalism and New Historicism to a syncretic amalgamation aptly called “historical formalism,” in which the focus is on the formal elements of a literary work while also noting the context of the surrounding culture without making the anti-humanist assumption that a work can only be orthodox or subversive. This allows for the humanist assertion that gifted authors could imbue their works with a deeper philosophical outlook. This essay develops a theory of “rhetorical formalism” and looks at the oratorical elements used in Shakespeare’s Henriad. Shakespeare bestowed upon his three protagonists, Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V, many epideictic, forensic, and deliberative devices and speeches. These orations reveal a more nuanced and complex characterization of these kings than just tragic hero, usurper, and ideal monarch.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. This work may only be accessed by members of the University of Denver community. The work is provided by permission of the author for individual research purposes only and may not be further copied or distributed. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Marta R. Martins


Received from author

File Format




File Size

77 pgs