‘Still-Breeding Thoughts’: Richard II and the Exile’s Creative Failure

  • Jane Kingsley-Smith
Part of the Palgrave Shakespeare Studies book series (PASHST)


In an essay entitled ‘The Exile as Uncreator’, David Williams describes how banishment from English medieval society was associated with loss of speech. A common analogy for society was dialogue, the word-exchange of men. The banished man’s exclusion from this kind of intercourse symbolized his anti-social nature. His ‘silence’ or wordlessness represented his opposition to the linguistic creativity that bound together the disparate elements of society and even of Creation. Williams writes:

The exile is seen as a kind of anti-poet, the opposite of the figure of the poet at the feet of his lord, the centre of society, who binds words and weaves sounds to make language. The exile is an unbinder, an undoer, and an uncreator.1


Body Politic Henry VIII English Settler Disparate Element Henrie IIII 
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  1. 1.
    David Williams, ‘The Exile as Uncreator’, Mosaic, 8 (1975), 1–15, 8–9.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Douglas M. Friedman’s discussion of this speech in ‘John of Gaunt and the Rhetoric of Frustration’, ELH, 43 (1976), 279–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 15.
    See John Bellamy, The Tudor Law of Treason: An Introduction ( London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979 ), 88–92.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jane Kingsley-Smith 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane Kingsley-Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of HullUK

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