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Shakespeare’s Semiotics and the Problem of Falstaff

Shakespeare’s Semiotics and the Problem of Falstaff In this article, I contend that the <i>Henry IV</i> plays evoke the plurivocity of language in order to show not only the multiplicity of possible interpretations but more importantly the location of those interpretations within the audience. The plays’ use of allusion and parody necessarily forces the audience into interpretive acts because they both rely on the audience’s prior knowledge and on their ability to make implicit connections between this knowledge and the text being delivered. I focus on two particular uses that demonstrate this interpretive burden well: first through allusions to Falstaff as Sir John Oldcastle and second through Falstaff’s pervasive biblical parody. I then argue that this audience-centered hermeneutic constructed within the texts dramatizes post-Reformation England’s contentious religious and political battle over lay access to the scriptures. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Philology University of North Carolina Press

Shakespeare’s Semiotics and the Problem of Falstaff

Studies in Philology , Volume 113 (2) – Apr 6, 2016

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of North Carolina Press.
ISSN
1543-0383

Abstract

In this article, I contend that the <i>Henry IV</i> plays evoke the plurivocity of language in order to show not only the multiplicity of possible interpretations but more importantly the location of those interpretations within the audience. The plays’ use of allusion and parody necessarily forces the audience into interpretive acts because they both rely on the audience’s prior knowledge and on their ability to make implicit connections between this knowledge and the text being delivered. I focus on two particular uses that demonstrate this interpretive burden well: first through allusions to Falstaff as Sir John Oldcastle and second through Falstaff’s pervasive biblical parody. I then argue that this audience-centered hermeneutic constructed within the texts dramatizes post-Reformation England’s contentious religious and political battle over lay access to the scriptures.

Journal

Studies in PhilologyUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Apr 6, 2016

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