Carnival, carnivalisation and the subversion of order, with reference to Shakespeare's Henry IV and Henry VI

by Jayawickrama, Sarojini

Abstract (Summary)
(Uncorrected OCR) ABSTRACT

This paper is an exploration of the link between carnival, which is the generic title given

by Mikhail Bakhtin to the festive social practices, customs and rituals of medieval times which

were rooted in millenialfolk culture, and the subversion of order. It analyses the way in which

the spirit of carnival and the transposition of its language of symbolic fonns into the language

of literature, i.e. carnivalisation, provides a critical and interpretive insight in reading of a j,;,k

Shakespeare's Henry IV and Henry VI. Applying a Bakhtinian perspective/..between the populist,

oppositional energies of carnival and the subversion of all hierarchic categories, it considers

carnivalisation's effectiveness as a potential subversive strategy and also its limitations.

In pursuing this exploration the paper probes the sources from which challenge to the

social order arose, situating this challenge against a background of the prevailing patriarchal

structure of life in Renaissance England. It focuses on certain issues: the conception of an

ordered society, the position of women in the family and society, the identification of political

power and authority with the strength of the father-son relationship. It scrutinises the complexity

of Shakespeare's dramatisation of the issue of subversion versus order; he identifies carnival with

anarchy and civil dissension, associating order with the suppression of the carnival outlook,

while at the same time he queries this orthodox view.

Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Hong Kong

School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:shakespeare william 1564 1616 king henry iv vi carnival plays english drama early modern and elizabethan 1500 1600 history criticism


Date of Publication:01/01/1991

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.