A Dutchman, a Spaniard and an Italian want to get married in England. While this could easily be the beginning of a joke, it is instead the starting action of William Haughton’s comedy, Englishmen for my money (1598). In this play, generally considered the first ‘London comedy,’ Haughton deals with the presence of foreigners in late 1590s England, an issue much debated in the process of definition of the English nationhood. In the first part of my paper, I would like to briefly focus on the multicultural panorama of the English capital, where refugees and merchants from all over Europe could find shelter and prosper. I would underscore how, in the fragile context of a nationhood yet to be defined and within an unstable economic situation, the prosperity of these foreigners gave rise to feelings of xenophobia and resentment among the English, which resulted in the creation of a variety of widely-believed stereotypes. In the second part of my paper, I would like to focus on the representation of these stereotypes by the Elizabethan playwrights, who – by spreading and sometimes abusing these clichés – often chose to overlook several relevant aspects of foreign cultures. In the ‘writing’ of their own identity, they actually had to create the idea of an ‘otherness’ to compare themselves with and distinguish themselves from. In the third part, I would then focus on the parallels among the stereotypes in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Merchant of Venice and in Haughton’s Everymen. By analyzing the wedding plans in these plays, I would try to highlight in particular the final message of acceptance of the ‘aliens’ which can be inferred from the latter play.

“Pray Sir, what is all this in English?”. William Haughton Teaching Nationhood in Shakespeare’s England

Ragni C
2016

Abstract

A Dutchman, a Spaniard and an Italian want to get married in England. While this could easily be the beginning of a joke, it is instead the starting action of William Haughton’s comedy, Englishmen for my money (1598). In this play, generally considered the first ‘London comedy,’ Haughton deals with the presence of foreigners in late 1590s England, an issue much debated in the process of definition of the English nationhood. In the first part of my paper, I would like to briefly focus on the multicultural panorama of the English capital, where refugees and merchants from all over Europe could find shelter and prosper. I would underscore how, in the fragile context of a nationhood yet to be defined and within an unstable economic situation, the prosperity of these foreigners gave rise to feelings of xenophobia and resentment among the English, which resulted in the creation of a variety of widely-believed stereotypes. In the second part of my paper, I would like to focus on the representation of these stereotypes by the Elizabethan playwrights, who – by spreading and sometimes abusing these clichés – often chose to overlook several relevant aspects of foreign cultures. In the ‘writing’ of their own identity, they actually had to create the idea of an ‘otherness’ to compare themselves with and distinguish themselves from. In the third part, I would then focus on the parallels among the stereotypes in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Merchant of Venice and in Haughton’s Everymen. By analyzing the wedding plans in these plays, I would try to highlight in particular the final message of acceptance of the ‘aliens’ which can be inferred from the latter play.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/1056081
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