Shakespeare and "Game of Thrones"
Based on his knowledge of Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays, Dr. Jeffrey R. Wilson of Harvard University knew just how HBO's "Game of Thrones" would play out. Jon Snow, the illegitimate son, was a Richard III type, who would win the crown (and our hearts). But Daenerys Targaryen, as a kind of Henry VII, would defeat him in battle and win it back, restoring peace and order. Turns out he was wrong about all of that.
But as Wilson kept watching, he began to appreciate the other ways "Game of Thrones" is similar to Shakespeare—like the way that both Shakespeare and George R.R. Martin’s stories translate the history of the Wars of the Roses into other popular genres.
Jeff Wilson’s new book, "Shakespeare and 'Game of Thrones,'" explores some of the ways that Shakespeare influenced "Game of Thrones"… as well as some of the ways that "Game of Thrones" has begun to influence Shakespeare. Wilson is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.
Dr. Jeffrey R. Wilson is a faculty member in the Writing Program at Harvard University, where he teaches the Why Shakespeare? section of the University's first-year writing course. His new book, "Shakespeare and 'Game of Thrones,'" was published by Routledge in 2020.
From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published January 19, 2021. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears a Crown,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. Leonor Fernandez edits our transcripts. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano at Voice Trax West in Studio City California. Special thanks to DC-based playwright Allyson Currin for finding all of the "Game of Thrones" clips that appear in this episode.