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Shakespeare and the Origins of English$
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Neil Rhodes

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199245727

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199245727.001.0001

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Vernacular Values

Vernacular Values

(p.118) 4 Vernacular Values
Shakespeare and the Origins of English

Neil Rhodes (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter is concerned with the rise of the vernacular and examines the growing confidence in English as a vehicle for literary expression with reference to such writers as Puttenham, Mulcaster, Carew, and Daniel. It extends the theme of moral relativism discussed in the previous chapter into the cultural sphere, and describes the shifting perceptions of classical civility and native English barbarism. It focuses especially on the Renaissance belief in poetry as a central part of the civilizing process, and the importance for the English of developing a native English metre. The chapter looks at the relations between eloquence and barbarity in two plays from the beginning and end of Shakespeare’s career, Titus Andronicus and The Tempest, which reflect the nation’s change in status and anticipate the replacement of Latin by English as the imperial tongue.

Keywords:   barbarism, civilizing process, metre, Mulcaster, Daniel, Titus, Tempest

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