Selected Papers from the IAUPE Malta Conference in 2010
Standing for and Standing in for: Metonymy in Henry V: Ann Thompson and John O. Thompson
Standing for and Standing in for: Metonymy in Henry V Ann Thompson and John O. Thompson King’s College London It is not unreasonable to read Henry V backwards, not least because in the expe- rience of the forward arc of the play on stage we may be a bit weary when we come to the verbal elaborations of 5.2. Henry is throughout the play a ‘man of parts’, and nowhere more than in the play’s long concluding scene; equally, his Europe is a space of contested boundaries. The climax of his courtship of Kathe- rine as the play draws to its close operates on the boundaries of language. Earlier in the play, Princess Katherine has been learning some English language words for body parts, not without some doubleness of entendre. A word about how we use the term ‘metonymy’ in what follows may be helpful. Just as metaphor is the figure of similarity, metonymy is the figure of contiguity, of next-to-ness. We allow ourselves to group together, as metonymic, several rela- tionships which are distinguishable from one another, notably next-to-ness in space, physical part-wholes, and conceptual part-wholes (species, genus). This risks broadening the field of metonymy unduly, but the wide use, we find, illu- minates features of Shakespeare’s language and thought in a particular way. One challenge for a metonymic mode of reading and commenting on Shakes- peare (or any text) is that it makes the reader slow down, almost to the point of ‘freeze framing’. On the one hand,...
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