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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: January ::
Henry V Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0258  Friday, 30 January 2004

[1]     From:   Joseph Sullivan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 11:13:45 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0246 Henry V Question

[2]     From:   Dave Johnson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 06:20:31 -1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0218 Henry V Question

[3]     From:   Bill Lloyd <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 11:36:25 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0218 Henry V Question

[4]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 11:36:53 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0246 Henry V Question

[5]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 13:29:12 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0246 Henry V Question

[6]     From:   Hannah Calder <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 19:42:20 +0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0246 Henry V Question

[7]     From:   Joanne Rochester <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 16:18:09 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0246 Henry V Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph Sullivan <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 11:13:45 -0500
Subject: 15.0246 Henry V Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0246 Henry V Question

Interesting question about accents in HV.  I've read a bit of criticism
about the play over time, so I can distill (hopefully not distort) a few
well worn responses.

It may be that multiple accents are so noticeable in HV because there
are multiple languages on stage.  Katherine and Alice speak French
almost exclusively in III.iv, so it makes sense that she has an accent.
  Joan, on the other hand, speaks English throughout 1HVI.  One of the
issues that is raised by Katherine's French is that it subverts Henry's
claim that France is really just a suburb of London.  We also see this
point dramatized as Pistol extorts payment from a POW.  The French
soldier speaks only--you guessed it--French.  We even see it with the
English forces.  Fluellen and Macmorris have dominant Welsh and Irish
accents, respectively, that weaken Henry's claim to a unified national
force.

I wish I could remember off the top of the head a couple of the
articles/chapters responsible for the above thoughts.   My apologies to
the authors.

Joe Sullivan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dave Johnson <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 06:20:31 -1000
Subject: 15.0218 Henry V Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0218 Henry V Question

This is not an answer, but may be some help.  After the Normans invaded
England, virtually all English court discussion and official records
were kept in French - the language of the ruling class of England.  1362
marked the first time someone addressed the English Parliament in
English rather than French.  By 1423, the English Parliament's records
were kept in English.  (This information is from Seth Lerer's lectures
on history of the English Language.)  Henry V would probably have had
French as his primary language, or at least have been bilingual -- the
scene in Shakespeare's play is an anachronism -- for humor, and perhaps
indicating that Shakespeare was unaware of the history of his language).
  All meetings between Henry V, his nobility, and the French nobility
would have used French, and both sides would have been fluent in French.
Presumably Henry VI, his courtiers, his queen (who was French) and Joan
of Arc all would have spoken French fluently.  Henry VI Part 1 covers a
long period of time, during which England's court and bureaucracy were
undergoing a language shift from French to English.

Aloha,
Dave Johnson

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 11:36:25 EST
Subject: 15.0218 Henry V Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0218 Henry V Question

 >Does anyone know why in Henry VI Part 1 Shakespeare uses no French
 >accent for Joan of Arc, but then in Henry V he uses an accent for
 >Katherine (and the captains)?  Was there anything happening historically
 >that could have accounted for this change?  Do you know of any instances
 >of accents being used in other plays at the time?

Leaving aside the question of who wrote which parts of 1H6, it seems to
me that accents are used for comic effect; or when some point is being
made about the nationality of the speaker [e.g. the captains in H5]
usually with comic overtones; or sometimes as a disguise. The scene
between Hal and Katherine is played for laughs, at least in part; the
many other French characters in H5 don't speak with accents [e.g.
Mountjoy, the Dauphin, the Constable, the French King]. Richard II's
queen is a former French princess but she's played for tears, hence no
accent. In 1H6 Joan is not a comic character, so neither she nor, again,
the many other Frenchmen in the play speak with accents.

In Shakespeare, aside from Princess Kate and the H5 Captains there are
of course Dr Cauis [French] and Sir Hugh [Welsh] in Merry Wives. Edgar
in Lear assumes a Southwestern accent [che vor ye, etc] when fighting
Oswald in 4.6 [Riverside]. Owen Glendower in 1H4, not being a comic
character, does not speak with a Welsh accent, though he is often now
played with one.

A partial list of accents in other plays of the period would include:

-Dekker, Haughton and Chettle's Patient Grissell [the Welsh Sir Owen,
mostly in Haughton's share, see Hoy]
-Haughton's  Englishmen for my Money [French, Italian, Dutch, the three
foreign suitors]
- Anon.'s Captain Thomas Stukely [Irish rebels]
- Dekker's Satiromastix [the Welsh Sir Rees]
- Marston's eponymous Dutch Courtesan
- Anon.'s The Wisdom of Dr Doddypol [the French Doctor]
- Dekker's Shoemaker's Holiday [Dutch, used as much for disguise as for
comic effect]
- Munday et al.'s Sir John Oldcastle [Welsh]
- Anon's London Prodigal [Cornish]
I think there's a French Doctor or two I can't dredge up. It may be
noticed that most of these plays [including Shakespeare's] date from
c1595 to c1605-- there may have been a fad of sorts for foreign accents
on stage. The Welsh gentlewoman in Chaste Maid in Cheapside [1611] has
no accent; neither Fletcher's Little French Lawyer nor the Spanish
Curate have accents.

Considering how many early modern English plays take place in Scottish,
Welsh, Italian, French, Dutch, Spanish and other continental settings,
it would be comic chaos in plays of all genres [perhaps akin to
Hieronimo's Soliman & Perseda where each actor speaks a different
foreign language, or to Columbia's Horrid Hamlet] if every character
were to put on the perceived accent of his/her country of origin. Can
you imagine A Larum for London or Barnavelt acted with half the cast
using Dutch accents and the other half using Spanish accents?

Bill Lloyd

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 11:36:53 -0500
Subject: 15.0246 Henry V Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0246 Henry V Question

On accents--has anybody heard a first tetralogy or R3 in which Margaret
was marked as an outsider by a French accent?  Or a LLL in which Armado
was audibly Spanish?

Dave Evett

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W.L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 13:29:12 -0500
Subject: 15.0246 Henry V Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0246 Henry V Question

Would Katherine's French accent have anything to do with Shakespeare
acquaintance with Christopher Mountjoy, a Huguenot, from whom
Shakespeare rented rooms?  We know that Shakespeare was renting from the
Mountjoys by 1604, and it's possible that he knew them in 1598-99 when
he was writing Henry V.  Perhaps Christopher helped Will with the
bi-lingual puns?

Bill Godshalk

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hannah Calder <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 19:42:20 +0000
Subject: 15.0246 Henry V Question
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0246 Henry V Question

Thank you for the tips.

Hannah

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joanne Rochester <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 16:18:09 -0500
Subject: 15.0246 Henry V Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0246 Henry V Question

 >>Do you know of any instances
 >>of accents being used in other plays at the time?
 >>
 >Thomas Dekker gives characters Dutch accents in both Shoemaker's Holiday
 >and The Roaring Girl. This would be in keeping with Dekker's own Dutch
 >heritage. I think Middleton uses accents as well, though titles are not
 >coming to me just now.
 >
 >Jack Heller

Middleton does indeed use accents: there's a Dutch merchant in his _No
Wit, No Help Like a Woman's_.  The character's comic, mostly because of
the accent, which is thick as porridge and played for laughs: I played
him in a PLS production at U of Toronto in the early 90's.

Joanne Rochester

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