AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 6, Number 4. October 2022                     Pp. 2-14

The Structure of Laughter in Shakespeare’s 1 Henry IV

Department of Languages and Literature
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
United Arab Emirates University
Al Ain, United Arab Emirates


Shakespeare’s 1 Henry IV (c.1597) is the second play in a group of four that deals with the first two Lancastrian kings of England, Henry IV and his son Henry V. This loosely connected series is known as the Second Tetralogy because even though the events portrayed precede the four plays that deal with Henry VI and Richard III, Shakespeare wrote those set earlier in English history a little later in his career. The main aim of this study is to investigate the carnivalesque in 1 Henry IV, understood as a layer of unofficial or popular culture that plays against and undercuts or inverts the official world of the court, high politics, and chivalry. The significance of this study lies in its analysis of how this interaction structures the play; these are not just surface features. The main question is how the carnivalesque affects the level of high politics in the play. The context for the study derives from critical approaches to the play that have been influenced by critical theory, especially in the carnivalesque; the procedure is a detailed qualitative analysis using techniques of textual criticism. The main finding is that the play is not only structured along these lines but also that the level of high official culture is itself put in question by a full awareness of the historical events mentioned in the play.

Cite as:

Innes, P. (2022). The Structure of Laughter in Shakespeare’s 1 Henry IV. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 6 4)2-14.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awejtls/vol6no4.1


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Paul Innes graduated from the Universities of Glasgow and Stirling and is now Professor of English Literature and Language at the United Arab Emirates University. He has previously worked at the Universities of Warsaw, Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Glasgow and Gloucestershire. He has published widely on Shakespeare and Critical Theory.
ORCiD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5375-5341