The Clash of the Rapier in Shakespeare's Plays

912 Words4 Pages
Everyone knows the twenty passes, turn, and fire. This is a classic image of a duel. Before, however, duels were fought with the long sharp blades of a rapier. Some professionally fought with a call to fight, but some fought on the brink of the moment. A duel was meant to defend one’s honor. It was better to die than to live in shame. This was shown in Shakespeare's Richard II, Henry IV, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and many others. Shakespeare brilliantly preserved the practice of dueling throughout history in his plays. Every man and woman has their honor, even today. It’s a big matter when someone’s honor has gotten insulted. Dueling offered a way to reattain ones honor. Duels are usually fought by men, either defending their honor or their wives honor. In The Code of Chivalry, which men were known to follow, one part states, “Respect the honor of women.” (Ancient Fortresses, 20/7/12) A man was not supposed to stand by and watch the honor of a women get attacked by insults. A good hearted man would stand up and challenge the lad who dared to say rude things. This however did not always happen. Another aspect of the Code is,“Live by honor and for glory.” When Insulted, your honor is attacked. A ritchess man would step up and defend his honor through a duel. He would rather die with the honor of trying to fight than to live life with out any. In Shakespeare's work Richard II , He talks about how honor is one of his highest priorities. “Mine honor is my life, both grow in one; Take honor from me, and my life is done; Then, dear liege, mine honor let me try; In that I live, and for that I will die” (Parrott, 1953, p. 308) This piece shows the intensity of one's need for honor. The act of insulting someone was a serious matter. By... ... middle of paper ... ...ese fights Shakespeare knew were dangerous and had to find a way to keep the actors safe while convincing the crowed of the intensity of the fight for honor. Honor was always a good thing but if people believed to much in keeping their honor that bloodshed happened. Dueling was usually a fight to the death over one's pride. beautiful long thin swords crashed together hoping to slice through the opponent. People fought these matches even during risk of banishment. This shows how much they valued their honor and did not want to live without it. Shakespeare brilliantly preserved this art through his plays. Works Cited "Elizabethan Fencing." Elizabethan Fencing. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. "Honour, Duels, and Might Makes Right." Honour and Duelling. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. "Medieval Code of Chivalry." Medieval Code of Chivalry. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
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