Title of Abstract

Shakespeare’s Fat Rogue: Falstaff and Obesity

Faculty Mentor

One WU Mentor; Matthew Fike, Ph.D.; fikem@winthrop.edu

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

English

Faculty Mentor

Matthew Fike, Ph.D.

Abstract

The essay uses biological analysis to determine how John Falstaff’s obesity in William Shakespeare’s great tetralogy The Henriad illuminates his relationship with Prince Hal. Previous criticism from Joshua Fisher, Elena Levy-Navarro, Philip Williams, and others suggests that obesity signifies psychological imbalance within Falstaff and that it ominously prefigures one possible future for Prince Hal. The present study argues that the biological drivers of Falstaff’s obesity and resulting death shadow the apparently friendly and fatherly relationship he has with the prodigal prince. For example, obesity can have long-lasting effects on the psyche due to the strain it puts on the body. The infectious personality that Falstaff possesses, combined with obesity’s slow destruction of his body and brain, makes him a toxic character whom audiences first fall for, then grow to loathe, and finally pity. In Shakespeare’s re-visioning of Jesus’s parable, the father figure tempts the son figure onto the broad highway that leads to destruction. Falstaff’s obesity not only manifests a repugnant soul that revels in gluttony and other vices but also signifies the antithesis of the glory that awaits Hal as King Henry V.

Additional Fields About Your Abstract

Please check this if you understand.

Course Assignment

ENGL 305 - Fike

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 

Shakespeare’s Fat Rogue: Falstaff and Obesity

The essay uses biological analysis to determine how John Falstaff’s obesity in William Shakespeare’s great tetralogy The Henriad illuminates his relationship with Prince Hal. Previous criticism from Joshua Fisher, Elena Levy-Navarro, Philip Williams, and others suggests that obesity signifies psychological imbalance within Falstaff and that it ominously prefigures one possible future for Prince Hal. The present study argues that the biological drivers of Falstaff’s obesity and resulting death shadow the apparently friendly and fatherly relationship he has with the prodigal prince. For example, obesity can have long-lasting effects on the psyche due to the strain it puts on the body. The infectious personality that Falstaff possesses, combined with obesity’s slow destruction of his body and brain, makes him a toxic character whom audiences first fall for, then grow to loathe, and finally pity. In Shakespeare’s re-visioning of Jesus’s parable, the father figure tempts the son figure onto the broad highway that leads to destruction. Falstaff’s obesity not only manifests a repugnant soul that revels in gluttony and other vices but also signifies the antithesis of the glory that awaits Hal as King Henry V.