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Shakespeare, Austen and Propaganda in World War II

  • Rosa García-Periago
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter seeks to uncover uncharted territory, the relationship between William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and World War II. It compares Robert Leonard’s Pride and Prejudice (1940) with Laurence Olivier’s Henry V (1944), both produced during WWII, starring Laurence Olivier in the lead role and with clear propagandistic purposes. Via the idealization of English country life, the selection of the cast and certain additions and omissions, the film adaptations achieved their jingoistic aims. Although Leonard’s Pride and Prejudice was not conceived as a leveraging tool toward US intervention, it followed the same strategies used by war movies and subtly influenced the American public regarding what was at stake in the war. Olivier’s Henry V was commissioned by the Ministry of Information (MOI), and thus aimed to boost British soldiers’ morale at the end of the war. Both movies open up fascinating examinations of the context in which they were produced. This chapter highlights the important role played by Austen and Shakespeare in war propaganda, traces the implications of the choice of Austen for American audiences and of Shakespeare for British audiences and seeks to uncover the underlying motives for such choices during the 1940s.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosa García-Periago
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of MurciaMurciaSpain
  2. 2.Queen’s University BelfastBelfastUK

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