‘Misrule’ and ‘Flyting’: the language of inversion in William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew

Bianca Del Villano

Abstract


This essay aims to analyze some specific aspects of the relationship between Shakespeare’s comedic language and the popular culture of the English Renaissance, starting from the application and redefinition of Bakhtin’s interpretative paradigm of the Carnival. Though not identical to the French and European Carnival, many Medieval popular festivities in England were characterized by a similar world-upside-down logic. For example, the election of a Lord of Misrule – linked to a very popular collective festivity – was responsible for a parodic reorganization of the ‘real life’, in which the King – at least for one day – belonged to the lowest rank of the population and was given the power of mocking and ridiculing any member of the community, including the most authoritative ones.

When the disintegration of the Medieval communal world reaches its highpoint in the sixteenth century, under the weight of the economy of enclosures, the new mercantilism and the move from country to city, the motif of the inversion of roles becomes central throughout the Elizabethan theater, and in particular in Shakespeare’s drama, in which it is used to problematize and re-conceptualize a world challenged by an unprecedented social mobility.

Significant, in this sense, appears to be The Taming of the Shrew, in which the trope of the inversion is shaped as a 'reverse inversion', a dramatic device that reinterprets the Misrule of tradition through: 1) metatheatrical devices; 2) language games, such as flyting); 3) the questioning of social and gender roles. This paper focuses specifically on these aspects of the play. 


Keywords


Misrule; Flyting; The Taming of the Shrew; Carnival; Bakhtin.

Full Text:

PDF (Italiano)

References


Arnovick, Leslie K., Diachronic Pragmatics. Seven case studies in English illocutionary development, Amsterdam - Philadelphia, John Benjamin Publishing Company, 2000.

Bachtin, Michail, L’opera di Rabelais e la cultura popolare. Riso, carnevale e festa nella tradizione medievale e rinascimentale, Torino, Einaudi, 1979.

Bachtin, Michail, Il problema dei generi del discorso, L’autore e l’eroe, Ed. C. Strada Janovic, Torino, Einaudi, 2000.

Barber, C. L., Shakespeare’s Festive Comedy, Cleveland, New York, Meridian Books, 1963.

Barker, Deborah - Kamps, Ivo (eds.), Shakespeare and Gender, London, Verso, 1995.

Bawcutt, Priscilla, “The Art of Flyting”, SLJ, 10:2 (1983): 5-24.

Boose, Linda, “Scolding Brides and Bridling Scolds: Taming the Woman’s Unruly Member”, Shakespeare Quarterly, 42:2 (1991): 179-213.

Brown, Penelope - Levinson, Stephen, Politeness. Some universals in language usage, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Clover, Carol J., “The Germanic Context of Unfer Episode”, Speculum, 55.3 (Jul 1980): 444-468.

Cochran, Carol M., “Flyting in the Mystery Plays”, Theatre Journal 31.2 (May 1979): 186-197.

Hughes, Geoffrey, An Encyclopedia of Swearing. The social History of Oaths, Profanity, Foul Language, and Ethnic Slurs in the English-speaking world, London and New York, Routledge, 2006.

Humphrey, Chris, The Politics of Carnival. Festive Misrule in Medieval England, Palgrave, 2001.

Marcus, Leah, The Politics of Mirth, Jonson, Herrick, Milton, Marvell, and the Defence of Old Holiday Pastimes, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1986.

Mucci, Clara, Il teatro delle streghe. Il femminile come costruzione culturale al tempo di Shakespeare, Napoli, Liguori, 2001.

Shakespeare, William, The Taming of the Shrew, Ed. Barbara Hodgdon, London and New York, Bloomsbury, 2010.

Traub, Valerie, “Gender and sexuality in Shakespeare”, The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare, Eds. Margreta de Grazia - Stanley Wells, Cambridge, Cambridge UP, 2001.

Weimann, R., “La cultura popolare nell’Inghilterra del Rinascimento”, trad. it. Marco Pustianaz, Storia della civiltà letteraria inglese, vol. 1, Ed. Franco Marenco, Torino, UTET, 1996.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/2202

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-20289

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM


Between Journal is published by the University of Cagliari - Maintenance for this OJS installation is provided by UniCA  Open Journals, hosted by Sistema Bibliotecario di Ateneo.

Between Journal is published with the funding of the Bank of Sardinia Foundation.

ISSN 2039-6597

CC-By lockssDOAJ seal SPARC Europe