Shakespeare's Characters: Pandulph (King John)
From The Works of William Shakespeare. Vol. 12. Ed. Evangeline Maria O'Connor. J.D. Morris and Co.
Pandulph, the legate, stands in group with the feudal
princes like the representative of the adult fraud and
heartlessness of priestcraft; the inheritor of high faculties cultivated to refined ill purposes from the old Roman pontifices; the root of evil living among the ashes of the empire and springing up amongst and poisoning the better and unsophisticated tendencies of
the northern nations, apprentices in civilization it is true but also novices in deceit. In his elaborate explaining away of perjury, his authorization by religious sanction of secret, treacherous murder and revolt, and in his cold-blooded complacency as he speculates on the
certain murder of Arthur if dextrously provoked and the
advantages to result to Holy Church therefrom, we have most striking contrast to the spirit of honour, of hatred of cruelty, and of compassion for the weak and afflicted, that characterizes the English Barons. The power of the natural affections over a rude nature is expressed most glowingly in the relenting of Hubert, but scarcely
more touchingly than by the tears of Salisbury at the
distress of Constance, or in his bitterness of heart at his
false position as an enemy:—
"Where honourable rescue and defence
and by the generous indignation of the barons, his companions, and of Faulconbridge no less, at the jeopardy and murder of Arthur. Formal religion is arrayed in the person of its official minister against the religion of humanity and sympathy; and the corruption of an artfully organized administration offends the spectator by assuming the honours and prerogatives of devotion and piety, when at war with all the feelings that by their essential qualities and in their own right are properly devout, moral and pious; and hence neither in falling off
from their allegiance nor in returning to it do the barons
admit the slightest weight, or even refer to the authority
of Pandulph, a sign of the future which is quite as significant as the hankering of the kings and nobles after ecclesiastical hoards, which seconded the popular movement so efficiently at last.
Calls out upon the name of Salisbury,"
Lloyd: Critical Essays on the Plays of Shakespeare.
King John Plot Summary
Famous Quotations from King John
King John: Q & A
Introduction to Constance
Introduction to Arthur
Introduction to Philip the Bastard
Introduction to King John