The Bard’s witness: The Welsh and early modern English national consciousness

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dc.creator Franklin, Eric
dc.date.accessioned 2019-01-08T18:39:42Z
dc.date.available 2019-01-08T18:39:42Z
dc.date.issued 2016
dc.identifier.uri http://library2.smu.ca/handle/01/28206
dc.description Winner, Humanities en_CA
dc.description.abstract Several of Shakespeare’s plays reveal the complexities of early modern national selfhood, one that demonstrated not only a clear pride in Englishness but also a delineation between English and Other, an indication that membership in the national affiliation set a person apart from outsiders, but also an idea that there was something intangible yet salient about the national community—an English quality that came from the land itself. Yet while the dramatist’s texts reveal an apparent celebration of English superiority, that ideal often lacks conviction, implying a national absence that suggests a national insecurity. Shakespeare’s work, though fictional, provides insight into contemporary discourse regarding the early modern English notion of nationhood as the playwright understood it, revealing patterns that prove indicative of underlying currents of popular thought. While other nationalities appear in Shakespeare’s canon, this paper seeks to uncover the dimensions of early modern English national consciousness and the place of the Welsh within that English national paradigm, using the following plays as primary source material: Richard II, Henry IV - Part 1, Henry V, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Cymbeline. The following recurring themes confirm the existence of a complex early modern consciousness whose relationship with the Welsh defined the meaning of Englishness in the late Tudor and early Jacobean eras. First, a sense exists that the glory that comprised Englishness came from the land itself. Second, Shakespeare’s plays suggest that the Welsh could join the English national community, if they first assimilated to the English cultural norm. Furthermore, the normative centre suggests a vision of civility, compassion, and moderation while censuring crass elements in the English population. Finally, there is a sense of English cultural superiority tempered by an insecurity that led to the appropriation of the ancient Celtic (i.e., Welsh) past. Shakespeare’s portrayal of the Welsh suggests that the early modern English welcomed them as closely-related brethren so long as the former adhered to and supported national ideals and objectives. en_CA
dc.format.extent 1 online resource (19 p.)
dc.language.iso en
dc.publisher Saint Mary's University, Writing Centre
dc.title The Bard’s witness: The Welsh and early modern English national consciousness en_CA
dc.type Text en_CA
dcterms.bibliographicCitation Afficio Undergraduate Journal, (2016)


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