‘Man and birds are fain of climbing high’: Animals in 2 Henry VI

Mazza, A. V. (2019) ‘Man and birds are fain of climbing high’: Animals in 2 Henry VI. Ideas, 5(5), pp. 1-10.

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Publisher's URL: https://p3.usal.edu.ar/index.php/ideas/article/view/5031


Shakespeare’s plays make extensive use of nonhuman animal imagery and references to the natural world in order to exemplify, explain or qualify human behaviour, as well as social and political issues. 2 Henry VI, the second play of Shakespeare’s first tetralogy, is of course no exception. Nonetheless, the history plays have quite logically been the object of more social and political analyses and seem to have been mostly ignored by animal studies and ecocritics. The present article focuses on nonhuman animal imagery in the second part of Henry VI, and the consequent representation of animals in the play, to explore Shakespeare’s treatment of the relationship between human and nonhuman animals in the early modern period. Drawing on Greg Garrard’s typology of animal representation, the paper first demonstrates how Shakespeare, following standard practices at the time, deploys animal metaphors and comparisons that are nonetheless based on prior anthropomorphic projections of human qualities onto animals. As a second step, the study identifies in the play a set of images related to animal control in order to argue that these alternately subvert and contain the anthropocentrism of the period, further blurring the boundaries between human and nonhuman animals. In an attempt to build on Simon Estok’s activist reading of the play, this article understands this blurring of boundaries as an embedded critique of animal consumption and control, albeit cautious and ambiguous.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:2 Henry VI, Shakespeare, animal studies, ecocriticism, animal imagery, animal consumption and control.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mazza, Ana
Authors: Mazza, A. V.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PR English literature
College/School:College of Arts
Research Group:Shakespeare research group, Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Journal Name:Ideas
Publisher:Universidad del Salvador
ISSN (Online):2469-0899
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Universidad del Salvador. Escuela de Lenguas Modernas. Instituto de Investigación en Lenguas Modernas
First Published:First published in Ideas 5(5):1-10
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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