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Title: Young Falstaff and the performance of nostalgia
Contributor(s): Kiernander, Adrian  (author)
Publication Date: 2014
DOI: 10.4324/9781315779065
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Abstract: The Shakespeare plays located during the period of the Wars of the Roses are unusual in that there is a core set of characters who appear in more than one play. (The Roman plays offer the only other example.) These characters are a diverse group; in addition to Falstaff, they include aristocrats and royalty (Bolingbroke/Henry IV, Prince Hal/Henry V); country justices (Shallow and Silence); and London underworld figures like Mistress Quickly, Bardolph, Pistol and Nym-these last four being associates of Falstaff, who plays a major role in the plays in which he appears on stage (Henry IV, Part 1;Henry IV, Part 2; TheMerry Wives of Windsor), and is mentioned in another two (Henry V and Henry VI, Part 1). This can make the world of the play and the characters in it seem more 'three dimensional' and realistic. It implies that the characters have an independent existence, a real life, between and outside the plays in which they appear. The danger of this for theatre practice and scholarship is the possibility of blurring the distinction between human beings and theatrical characters. Trying to analyse characters as if they were real people can lead theatre practitioners and scholars down a dead end. The role of Mistress Quickly shows how the distinction between a person and a character can break down in a revealing way. In the Henry plays she is the landlady of a riotous Eastcheap tavern and bawdy house, apparently married (Henry IV, Part 1, 3.3, TLN 2100), though we see no husband until she weds Pistol in Henry V (2.1 and 2.3), a 'most sweet wench' (Henry IV, Part 1, 1.2.39, TLN 153-54) and old (Henry IV, Part 2, 2.2, TLN 930). She tries to defend her tattered reputation as an honest businesswoman in the face of the disorder of her house and the uncontrolled irresponsibility of the clientele, especially Falstaff, for whom she has a deep fondness despite his behaviour to her.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: The Merry Wives of Windsor: New Critical Essays, p. 197-210
Publisher: Routledge
Place of Publication: London, United Kingdom
ISBN: 9780415845045
Field of Research (FOR): 190302 Professional Writing
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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Series Name: Shakespeare Criticism
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Appears in Collections:Book Chapter

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