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Date

5-4-2020

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William Shakespeare's "Henry V" is partly known, and loved, for its exploration of the notion of ethnic otherness on both foreign and domestic soil. The British soldiers Henry leads into France are of four countries - England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland - and despite being governed by the same King, each region has its own traditions, culture, and language. The effects of this linguistic and cultural mélange have been examined by scholars, many of whom argue either that this artistic decision emphasizes the fragmentation of the nation or accentuates the uniting power of Henry's rule. This paper, however, employs Mikhail Bakhtin's dialogic theories to argue that both fragmentation and unification operate within the play through language. According to Bakhtin, language serves as a proxy for differing vantages and viewpoints; thus, Bakhtin defines the existence of a singular language in a dialectical space as monoglossia, the intermingling of multiple languages as polyglossia, and the intermingling of multiple dialects within the same language as heteroglossia. As national myth and national tradition that permeate language are so central to the tensions in King Henry V, the distinction between heteroglossia and polyglossia is crucial to examining how, for Shakespeare, dialects reflect the dialectic. While the presence of characters from four separate countries points toward a polyglossic foundation for their contact, Captains Fluellen, MacMorris, Jamy, and Gower are actually shown to denote heteroglossia, and thus are representative of the larger evolution from a fractured city-state to a united kingdom under King Henry V's rule.

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May 4th, 12:00 AM

"I Cannot Speak Your England": Dialect and the Dialectic in Shakespeare's King Henry V

William Shakespeare's "Henry V" is partly known, and loved, for its exploration of the notion of ethnic otherness on both foreign and domestic soil. The British soldiers Henry leads into France are of four countries - England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland - and despite being governed by the same King, each region has its own traditions, culture, and language. The effects of this linguistic and cultural mélange have been examined by scholars, many of whom argue either that this artistic decision emphasizes the fragmentation of the nation or accentuates the uniting power of Henry's rule. This paper, however, employs Mikhail Bakhtin's dialogic theories to argue that both fragmentation and unification operate within the play through language. According to Bakhtin, language serves as a proxy for differing vantages and viewpoints; thus, Bakhtin defines the existence of a singular language in a dialectical space as monoglossia, the intermingling of multiple languages as polyglossia, and the intermingling of multiple dialects within the same language as heteroglossia. As national myth and national tradition that permeate language are so central to the tensions in King Henry V, the distinction between heteroglossia and polyglossia is crucial to examining how, for Shakespeare, dialects reflect the dialectic. While the presence of characters from four separate countries points toward a polyglossic foundation for their contact, Captains Fluellen, MacMorris, Jamy, and Gower are actually shown to denote heteroglossia, and thus are representative of the larger evolution from a fractured city-state to a united kingdom under King Henry V's rule.