Gary Taylor, John Jowett, Terri Bourus, and Gabriel Egan (eds), The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition

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Ian McKellen's More is a strikingly interesting performance. Sometimes you think he's not much more than an affable curate just down from Oxford; sometimes the gangling do-gooder seems to lack, now maturity, now fire. But the interpretation is deliberate and intelligent. The accent is on qualities more essential to goodness, humility, simplicity, and kindliness.

Benedict Nightingale, 1964

In the insurrection episode [Addition IIc], More quite literally stands between the rebels and the forces of law and order. Throughout the play, he occupies borderline positions. He conjoins two personal qualities that the play sets in opposition, 'wit' and 'wisdom'. As Chancellor, his absorption into the political and intellectual ruling elite never seems complete or permanent … [More is] a token of pure intermediation.

John Jowett, 2011

The best explanation for Shakespeare writing those three pages is that something about one episode in Sir Thomas More was particularly appealing or appropriate for him to write … What interested Shakespeare was Thomas More. From Richard III to The Tempest, Shakespeare wrote a succession of exceptionally long, exceptionally dominant roles for male protagonists … More's dominance is nowhere more evident than in the three pages Shakespeare wrote. Like many of Shakespeare's most famous roles, More in this scene enacts, embodies, the political, imaginative and charismatic power of male eloquence.

Gary Taylor, 2014

Taken by itself [Hand D] handles beautifully the rhetoric of persuasion and it is a masterly treatment of a crowd scene. The trouble with it is that it does not belong: this is a completely different crowd from that which appeared in scenes i and iv or were to appear again—as people facing the gallows with dignity and even humour—in scene vii. The rioters presented by Hand D could be easily fitted into the crowd scenes of … Julius Caesar or Coriolanus, but are at the opposite pole … from those so acutely and sensitively individualised by the original author [of More] …

Giorgio Melchiori, 1989

[The attribution to Shakespeare] carries important implications: being his most moving plea in defense of foreigners, it has a bearing on our interpretations of Othello, Shylock and others … In short, whether or not the play was ever performed, the writing of the Three Pages was an act of considerable courage.

E. A. J. Honigmann, 2004

The play opens in [director] Robert Delamere's vigorous production with a young woman being dragged across the stage and then an insurrection. Thomas More (Nigel Cooke) steps forward to quell the riot and immediately imposes his presence on the world of the play. … The RSC production allowed us to interpret the play as a subtle piece of Catholic hagiography … It also renews speculation about Shakespeare's own Catholic sympathies.

Neil Forsyth, 2006, reviewing the 2005 RSC production

The jointly authored vision of the play is geared towards enacting a debate between the arguments of the Londoners and the immigrant. The 'Shakespeare portion' deals with only one side of this equation where Londoners are positioned as xenophobic, in need of instruction. Yet the structure and staging of this production were tailored to agree only with this portion … instead of imagining a Shakespeare who wrote in co-ordination with his contemporaries, a Shakespeare far superior to his fellow writers was imagined and the entire play was tailored to suit this assumption. It is ironic, then, that a production bent on teaching inclusion and sympathy should resist the encroachment of other hands and ideologies on 'the Shakespeare vision'; as if saying to them, in Doll Williamson's words, 'hands off proud strangers!'

Varsha Panjwani, 2011, on the performance, reviews, marketing materials, and programme notes of the 2005 RSC production

Perhaps my favorite of the speakers was Sir Ian McKellen, who offered a speech of Shakespeare's—from a play called Sir Thomas More … In the play the King's men have passed a law forbidding 'strangers' from settling in England. In other words, a slur against immigrants and a call for racial purity. Sir Ian stepped forward and trumpeted More's outrage. So they were going to forbid strangers, were they? And where would they go when the tables of history turned, when they would find themselves the strangers? It was an oratorical tour de force, giving historical weight to the rank discrimination suffered by those who were different. All in all, a remarkable pageant of diversity. And from where I sat, most tellingly the flow of force was toward the young.

Paul Monette, 1994, referring to McKellen's performance at the 1993 march on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights

The existence of these two passages one after the other both disproves and supports contemporary statements about Shakespeare's methods of composition. It disproves the idea that he 'never blotted line'; here he has blotted, if not a thousand, at least seventeen in one go. But it supports the view that his verse 'flowed' with great 'facility' once he pg 2104was on track: the later version picks up a few phrases from the earlier but develops them into a sustained verse paragraph of incomparable energy and eloquence.

Stanley Wells, 2003

A close study of Shakespeare's imagery reveals at once that though there is scarcely any repetition, there are certain ideas or pictures to be found again and again in varied form and with different applications. One of these recurrent pictures is the irresistible force of a river in flood, and how this force is increased by any stoppage or interference … the image of a river overbearing its boundaries as applied to the result of stress of emotion in men is used by Shakespeare no less than eight times, and on four of these … it is definitely likened to rebellion or insubordination.

Caroline Spurgeon, 1930

The inventory of [verbal] links also uncovers an interesting association with purely comic disorder—the drunken commotion of Sir Toby, Feste and Sir Andrew Aguecheeck in Twelfth Night. In Sir Thomas More, Shrewsbury addresses the rabble, 'My masters' (IIc.29), and calls 'Peace, I say, peace! Are you men of wisdom or what are you?' (IIc.35–6), but two lines later they are yelling 'no, no, no, no, no'. In Twelfth Night, Maria has no sooner urged the revelers to be quieter, 'For the love o'God, peace!', than Malvolio intervenes with 'My masters, are you mad? Or what are you?' (IIc.85–6); Feste's chorus to the song, 'O no, no, no, no' follows shortly afterwards (112). . . . in both Sir Thomas More and Twelfth Night the speaker, trying to control those disturbing the peace, asks a rhetorical question implying that they have taken leave of their senses. Clearly, either Shakespeare's Twelfth Night was echoed by an unknown Hand D, or an unknown Hand D was echoed by Shakespeare, or Hand D and Shakespeare are one and the same man.

MacDonald P. Jackson, 2006

The hypothesis of Shakespeare's authorship and hand in the 147 or 148 lines of Addition IIc, supported as it is by separate but not convergent lines of enquiry conducted by scholars of pre-eminent skill and authority (notably those of the 1923 collection) cannot be met by a simple denial or doubts as to its adequacy. An alternative hypothesis must be suggested, but none adequate to challenge that of Shakespearian authorship has been authored.

T. H. Howard-Hill, 1989

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