‘As a Stranger Give it Welcome’

Foreignness and Wonder in Jacobean London

in Critical Survey
Author:
Lois PotterNed B. Allen Professor Emerita, University of Delaware, USA lpotter@udel.edu

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Abstract

The two early modern meanings of the word ‘stranger’ (someone one does not know; a foreigner) have become separated in modern English. This article looks at attitudes to the ‘stranger’ both as pathetic victim and as someone outside Anglophone language and culture, with special reference to the arrival of a Scottish king and his followers in 1603–04. Horatio's ‘wondrous strange’ (here, referring to the apparent ubiquity of the Ghost's voice) is as metatheatrical as Hamlet's later jokey comment on ‘this fellow in the cellarage’. The language of ‘wonder’, a particularly Jacobean phenomenon, suggests that intense artistic experiences, like experiences of shock and horror, can make the spectator or listener – as Milton put it – ‘marble with too much conceiving’.

Contributor Notes

Lois Potter, Ned B. Allen Professor Emerita of the University of Delaware, is the author of Text and Performance: Twelfth Night (Macmillan), Secret Rites and Secret Writing (Cambridge University Press), the volume on Othello in Manchester University Press's ‘Shakespeare in Performance’ series, and The Life of William Shakespeare (Wiley-Blackwell). She has edited The Two Noble Kinsmen for Arden Shakespeare and Pericles for the Norton Complete Works of Shakespeare, as well as two collections of essays on Robin Hood, and recently completed a book on Shakespeare and the Actor for the Oxford Shakespeare Topics series. E-mail: lpotter@udel.edu

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