"Speak it in Welsh": Wales and the Welsh Language in Shakespeare
"Speak It in Welsh" Wales and the Welsh Language in Shakespeare examines the marginalized Welsh voice in Shakespeare's plays and seeks to understand why Shakespeare may have included Wales and the Welsh in his plays as he reacts to, reflects, and contributes to the formation of early modern Britain. Today, contemporary English playwrights seldom turn to Wales as a subject or setting for their works, and infrequently do they include Welsh characters in their plays. Yet during the English Renaissance, we find a great many plays about Wales, set in Wales, or with Welsh characters on stage entertaining English-speaking audiences. From the quarrelling captains in Henry V to the linguistically challenged lovers in I Henry IV, to the monoglot vocalist Lady Mortimer, to the proud Sir High Evans, Shakespeare creates Welsh characters whose voices, language use, and presence help reflect one aspect of British identity. Beginning with Tudor Welsh language policy and its impact on Welsh identity and Britishness, with attention paid to foreign language usage in the Henriad and the characterization of Wales and the Welsh in Shakespeare's plays,"Speak It in Welsh" illustrates how Shakespeare offers a dramatic portrayal of a newly evolving Britain and how he constructs a model for English and Welsh coexistence for a newly forming British identity.
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