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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: February ::
Re: Welsh in Henry IV
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0241  Friday, 2 February 2001

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 01 Feb 2001 08:58:45 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 12.0187 Re: Welsh in Henry IV

[2]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Thursday, 01 Feb 2001 11:17:48 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0214 Re: Welsh in Henry IV

[3]     From:   Paul Swanson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 01 Feb 2001 17:14:57 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0229 Re: Welsh in Henry IV

[4]     From:   Werner Broennimann <
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        Date:   Friday, 02 Feb 2001 11:17:26 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0229 Re: Welsh in Henry IV


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Thursday, 01 Feb 2001 08:58:45 -0800
Subject: Re: Welsh in Henry IV
Comment:        SHK 12.0187 Re: Welsh in Henry IV

It may be bigger picture time again.

It seems to me the current discussion about Welsh in 1HIV is too
isolated from the other plays of this period.  We have in RII a Welsh
Captain who speaks English with no apparent Welsh accent.  In 1HIV we
have Glendower speaking with no apparent Welsh accent, and his daughter
speaking Welsh.  In Merry Wives, there are characters speaking English
with Welsh and French accents.  There are the Irish and, look you, Welsh
accents in HV, not to mention two scenes in French, or partly in
French.  Have I missed any characters or scenes - besides all the French
in HV who speak better English than Nym?  I don't know what to do with
them.

I'm not aware of Shakespeare doing this before or after this series of
plays.  Have I forgotten something?

Given all this language activity, it does not seem too big a stretch to
suspect Shakespeare was experimenting with different ways of doing
foreign/accented speech on stage.  Perhaps the Welsh language scene in
1HIV should be considered is this context?

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Thursday, 01 Feb 2001 11:17:48 -0600
Subject: 12.0214 Re: Welsh in Henry IV
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0214 Re: Welsh in Henry IV

Curt L. Tofteland  writes:

>I am a native North Dakotan and I can verify that due to the major
>industry of the state being agriculture, there is indeed a Spanish
>speaking population, the result of the Hispanic migrant workforce and
>also due to the fact that Spanish is taught in the school system.

This just cries out for a response it is English that would be
unintelligible in ND. As a native Montanan, I should jump at the chance
to make a North Dakota joke, but out of politeness, I won't.

Cheers,
don

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Swanson <
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Date:           Thursday, 01 Feb 2001 17:14:57 -0500
Subject: 12.0229 Re: Welsh in Henry IV
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0229 Re: Welsh in Henry IV

My feeling is that our interpretation of the Welsh in Henry IV -- as
well as the French in Henry V -- rests on our determination as to
whether Henry V represents the ideal Christian king.

Throughout the Henry trilogy, we see Hal coming to terms with his world
and arriving at an understanding of the different types of people in it.
In Henry IV Part 1, for instance, we see Hal's cheerful celebration that
he has now learned how to "talk the talk" with even the chaps of the
bars in Eastcheap:

I have sounded the very base-string of humility. Sirrah, I am sworn
brother to a leash of drawers; and can call them all by their christen
names, as Tom, Dick, and Francis. They take it already upon their
salvation, that though I be but the prince of Wales, yet I am king of
courtesy; and tell me flatly I am no proud Jack, like Falstaff, but a
Corinthian, a lad of mettle, a good boy, by the Lord,
so they call me, and when I am king of England, I shall command all the
good lads in East-cheap. They call drinking deep, dyeing scarlet; and
when you breathe in your watering, they cry 'hem!' and bid you play it
off. To conclude, I am so good a proficient in one quarter of an hour,
that I can drink with any tinker in his own language during my life
(2.4.5-20)

Hal continues to see his understanding of the world and his ability to
understand and communicate with others blossom, and his comment later in
the same seen that "I am now of all humors that have show'd themselves
humors since the old days of goodman Adam to the pupil age of this
present twelve o'clock at midnight" (2.4.92-95). He is learning people.

All the while, in a very meaningful bit of scene juxtaposition, we see
Mortimer plotting for the crown. Unlike Hal, however, Mortimer and his
lot do not have Hal's ability to understand the people they will
contest, nor anyone else. This misunderstanding of the king's forces
happens numerous times throughout the play and the scene, but no where
does Shakespeare reveal Mortimer's social and emotional ignorance more
meaningfully than in the complaint that "This is the deadly spite that
angers me / My wife can speak no English, I no Welsh" (3.1190-191). We
see an inability to form intimacy, just as, if he were to take the
throne of England, we would see an inability to unite the country. In
short, Hal is learning language; Mortimer and the other rebels are
isolated by it. The fact that this contrast is revealed in back to back
scenes is profoundly significant and echos in Henry IV Part 2 and Henry
V.

We can interpret the HenryV/Katherine 5.2 wooing scene in a similar way.
Henry here learns to speak another language, just as he has throughout
the trilogy. I had never thought about the connection of Much Ado and
Henry V in regards to the male action of "stopping your mouth with a
kiss before," and I appreciate the SHAKSPERian who recognized this. (I
apologize -- I forget who originally made this argument.) I would add,
though, that the constant theme of language and learning in the Henry
trilogy allows some latitude in our interpretations.

Paul Swanson

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Werner Broennimann <
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Date:           Friday, 02 Feb 2001 11:17:26 +0000
Subject: 12.0229 Re: Welsh in Henry IV
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0229 Re: Welsh in Henry IV

> "...feminists have read the semi-private encounter... in the vain I did
> ..."
>
> Blind acceptance of Freudian slips may have lost some potency over the
> years, but surely this one shrieks out. (To coin a phrase.)

D. Chapman has spotted an unfortunate slip, but may I mention that the
blues "Love in Vain" has a lot more to say about the power of love than
many lyrics crooned in a loving vein.

With the blue and the red lights on my mind,
Werner
 

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