'A short report and not otherwise': Jack Cade in 2 Henry VI

Longstaffe, Stephen ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7561-0581 (1998) 'A short report and not otherwise': Jack Cade in 2 Henry VI. In: Knowles, Ronald, (ed.) Shakespeare and carnival: after Bakhtin. Early modern literature in history . Palgrave Macmillan, London, UK, pp. 13-35. Full text not available from this repository.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230000810_2


Thomas Hobbes was no Bakhtinian. In Leviathan he asserts that ‘during the time men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called Warre’, as ‘the nature of war, consisteth not in actuall fighting’. In terms strangely reminiscent in places of Bakhtin’s carnival, he defines this liminal time thus: "when men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall … there is no place for Industry and consequently no Culture of the Earth, no Navigation … no commodious Building … no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short".1

Where Hobbes sees ‘no’ culture, or even society, without a centripetal power (‘awe’), Bakhtin, writing from a centripetal regime, finds in a carnival without ‘awe’ a ‘second life of the people’. He theorizes language itself as inescapably contestatory, continually constituted through interaction between different kinds of utterance, each aware of its other and in an implicit dialogue with it, through his concepts of dialogism and social heteroglossia. I will argue that Bakhtinian concepts can be employed to enable a reading of the ‘Jack Cade’ scenes of Shakespeare’s 2 Henry VI, which addresses their articulation of social criticism, their use of grotesque laughter, their stagings of danger and their possible closure.2

1. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. K. Minogue (London: Dent, 1973), p.64.

Item Type: Book Section
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN: 9780333711422
Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA) > Humanities
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2011 08:45
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 17:45
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/621
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