Falstaff ’s Body, the Body Politic, and the Body of Trade

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Body, Falstaff, Marketplace, Shakespeare, Totality, Trade


The metaphor of the body was at the heart of the symbolic order in early modern England; it forged a language of intersubjectivity that enabled people to see the concrete particulars of experience and the sacrifices and pleasures of everyday life as part of a social totality. Using Falstaff's comic paean to sack in act 4, scene 2, of Henry IV, Part Two as a focal point, this essay argues that the debauched knight calls somatic theories of society into question. Examining metaphors of the body of trade and the body politic, the essay places Falstaff in the context of global trade and argues that his body is a synecdoche for the marketplace.


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