Abstract and Keywords
Ireland was peripheral to Shakespeare’s thinking. The notion of the sister kingdom and the existence of its inhabitants were familiar to him, but this familiarity did not lead to curiosity. Ireland and the Irish could be portrayed as bogeymen: current anxieties in London about revolting Gaelic-Irish troops in the Netherlands, the reverses the Crown army suffered in the Nine Years’ War and the corruption that Irish service visited both upon the English body politic and its servitors were all grist to the playwright’s mill. Despite Shakespeare’s diffidence on Irish matters the figures of Henry V, Falstaff and, of course, the English-Irish captain MacMorris provide real insights into the reality of how Ireland and Irish affairs were perceived by a metropolitan English audience in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century.
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