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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
A Thought for St. David's Day
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0717  Tuesday, 16 March 2004

From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 Mar 2004 12:32:39 -0000
Subject: 15.0684 A Thought for St. David's Day
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0684 A Thought for St. David's Day

 >If WS's purpose was to ridicule the historical Oldcastle as a Puritan
 >(and he may have done so), the effort fails rather notably, since
 >Falstaff is the antithesis of a Puritan.

I agree, and realise my suggestion was something of a bald statement.
There is no doubt that the young Shakespeare was biting his thumb at
Puritans (enemies of theatre as well as Shakespeare's family's faith)
when he chose to name his drunken bum after the Lollard martyr. But
somewhere in the writing Shakespeare fell in love with his own creation.
  Oldcastle the Geneva Bible-quoting hypocrite became Falstaff the
satirist and anti-hypocrite.  In hindsight Shakespeare may well have
thanked fortune that the name change was forced on him.  It freed up the
character, allowing him to become the nostalgic embodiment of
Pre-reformation England.

Peter Bridgman

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