Shakespeare on Crowds, Masses and Group Psychology

An habitation giddy and unsure“An habitation giddy and unsure
Hath he, that buildeth on the vulgar heart.”
(King Henry IV part 2, act 1, sc. 3)

Tips for Use. Define questionable, unreliable and uncouth allies, or unstable masses. The idea of the unreliability of crowds is a frequent recurrent theme in Shakespeare’s plays. And it is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to make reforms and why collective consciousness is afraid of revolutions. The French revolutionaries found everything wrong with kings and priests, but soon determined that there was nothing wrong with emperors. Without adding that after Napoleon there were two monarchy restorations, one more emperor and two more revolutions. The fact is almost as old as recorded history. Other references on the same subject, in verse and in prose are too many to count. But, given the nearness in time to Shakespeare here are lines from the English poet, nobleman and literary critic,
Wentworth Dillon, 4th Earl of Roscommon (c. 1630 – 18 January 1685) ,
“…Yet be not blindly guided by the throng;
The multitude is always in the wrong.” (Essay on Verse).
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In the play. The archbishop of York commenting on the support base of Henry IV.

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