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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: January ::
Welsh in Henry IV
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0124  Sunday, 21 January 2001

From:           Hannibal Hamlin <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Jan 2001 13:23:52 -0500
Subject:        Welsh in Henry IV

Dear Shakespeareans,

Having just taught 1 Henry IV, once again, I thought I would see what
list members thought of the many Welsh speeches in 3.1.  This is a
marvelous scene, but it always seems bizarre to me that there are so
many speeches in a language that surely few if any in Shakespeare's
audience would have understood.  One can approach them from the
perspective of the magical and mysterious, I suppose, or the importance
of language (connected to Hotspur's confessed lack of verbal ability,
the many oaths, etc.), or perhaps the political matter of the
relationship of England to the rest of Britain.  Still, there is so MUCH
Welsh!  A.R. Humphrey's note in the Arden that "Dramatists often
introduced Welsh songs or speeches" seems inadequate, even if it is
true.  Has anyone a better explanation?

Hannibal Hamlin
 

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