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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
A Thought for St. David's Day
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0723  Thursday, 18 March 2004

From:           W.L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 Mar 2004 15:55:54 -0500
Subject: 15.0684 A Thought for St. David's Day
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0684 A Thought for St. David's Day

Terence Hawkes writes:

 >Oldcastle was not Welsh. Nobody ever said he was. Nobody knows what
 >Shakespeare's 'purpose' was either. What we can allow is that, in these
 >plays,  Oldcastle's undoubted historical connection with Wales acquires
 >significance in the context of other references to the Principality.
 >These readily imbue Oldcastle/Falstaff with Welshness as part of a
 >discourse which stresses that characteristic's traditionally disruptive
 >role.

Apparently there is some ethnic stereotyping here.  But the reader has
to be aware of this stereotyping  "discourse" that stresses the
"traditionally disruptive role" of the Welsh -- as opposed, I take it,
to be less disruptive and mild mannered English, Scots, and Irish.  If
the observer (reader or spectator) is unaware of this stereotyping
discourse, then how can the observer make the association of Welsh
disruptiveness with Oldcastle -- who as Hawkes admits was not Welsh in
the first place?

And there is little solid evidence that Shakespeare ever called Falstaff
Oldcastle.  A. R. Humphreys reviews the evidence in this Arden edition
of 1 Henry IV, xv-xviii, and Gary Taylor reconsiders it in "The Fortunes
of Oldcastle," Shakespeare Survey 38 (1985) 85-100.  The evidence may be
compelling, but not conclusive.

Bill Godshalk

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