Edited by Dirk Delabastita and Ton Hoenselaars
[Benjamins Current Topics 73] 2015
► pp. 91–114
Female multilingualism in William Shakespeare and George Peele
While there is overlap in the ways that Peele and Shakespeare make use of female multilingualism in their plays, Peele’s repertoire is wider than Shakespeare’s, and he also seems to trust his audience will understand more complex code-switches from foreign languages. Shakespeare includes women who are resolutely monolingual in a multilingual context, highlighting the importance of English for personal and political identity. Both authors include characters who are shown understanding but not using foreign languages, perhaps reflecting cultural anxiety about educated women. In Peele, a wider range of women are shown code-switching, and Peele uses extended foreign language code-switches to highlight moments of high emotion, with Italian suggesting dangerous female sexuality and Latin evoking purity.