This article argues that the "play extempore" in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 is a privileged site for "crip estrangement," a phenomenon that occurs in Shakespearean drama when a normate character encountering disability is featured within a metatheatrical structure. While this scene is supposed to allow Prince Henry an opportunity to "practise an answer" before he meets his father King Henry IV, in actuality, the question of how to interpret Falstaff's fat body takes center stage. Since this encounter with fat, which already induces self-reflection, is placed within a second self-reflecting metatheatrical structure, the scene constitutes a protracted rendering of the protocols of rhetorical representation: it estranges Falstaff's substance that readers and theatregoers usually understand as "the old fat knight" into its rhetorical parts. The scene demonstrates that Falstaff's actual fat body is the wax (matter) that Hal's speeches (form) attempt to impress into a substance, the old, obese character we recognize as Falstaff. Since Renaissance rhetoric was intimately linked to acting, the article argues that the scene's estrangement could also occur in performances of the play. More than merely a queer expression of fat from Falstaff, the play extempore deconstructs the representation of obesity: it "make[s] a stone stony" (Shklovsky); it makes obesity fat.

"And so this thing we call art exists in
order to restore the sensation of life, in
order to make us feel things, in order
to make a stone stony."

––Viktor Shklovsky, "Art, as Device"

How do we know Falstaff is fat? 1 Certainly, the popular image of Sir John Falstaff portrayed in films like Chimes at Midnight (1965), television series like The Hollow Crown (2012), and as a subject still prominent in English fine china indicates the large body size of "the old fat knight." Yet William Shakespeare's source for Falstaff, the Lollard martyr Sir John Oldcastle (1360?-1417), never seems to have been depicted as having a large body size when featured in contemporary sources, such as the anonymous play The Famous Victories of Henry the fifth (1583-88), or in visual depictions, such as the woodcut image in John Bale's 1544 account of his life (see figure 1). 2 Moreover, scholars including Andrew Gurr, Jean Howard, and David Wiles concur that the first actor to play Falstaff was Will Kemp, the clown actor for Shakespeare's company until 1599, who, despite his popular bulky clothing, was particularly interested in portraying himself as trim (Doubler) (see figure 2). 3 How is it, then, that a character based upon a thin historical person and played by a thin historical actor could become obese for readers and audience members?

The answer might seem obvious. In order to transform a real body that probably was not fat into a spectacle of virtual obesity distinctly at odds with Oldcastle's historical body-type, the Henry IV plays (1596-8) had to employ careful use of rhetoric and performance. 4 The characters in the plays, including Falstaff himself, offer numerous overt, often pejorative descriptions of his body, such as Prince Hal's repeated exclamations of "Peace, ye fat guts!" (1 Henry IV 2.2.29). Moreover, despite his actual body size in the late 1590s, Kemp would have needed to perform obesity, whether through the use of theatrical prosthetics such as bombast, by moving and interacting with other characters and the environment in an "obese" way, or some combination of the two. 5 Critics often note that Hal sets up Falstaff in order to reject him, that Hal's play-acting and improvisations exemplify "one of power's essential modes" (Greenblatt 46), wherein Falstaff is repeatedly conjured and overthrown for Hal's political benefit. Nevertheless, criticism has largely ignored how the plays establish Falstaff as an obese character in the first place, often assuming that Falstaff's body size and personality go hand in hand (Morgann 146) or that his rejection should be read as a warning about the "appetite" of "our consumer society" (Grady 619-20). 6 Even nominal disability studies scholarship on Falstaff written in the wake of monographs and edited collections on early modern disability have tended to ignore the logistics of how the play constructs obesity. 7 Tobin Siebers, for instance, reads Falstaff's statement that "[e]ight yards of uneven ground is threescore-and-ten-miles afoot with me" (1 Henry IV 2.2.23-25) as an expression of disability from the perspective of the disabled ("Shakespeare" 441). Catherine E. Doubler gets closer to describing obesity's construction when she discusses Shallow's response to Falstaff's offer to "make [him] great" (2 Henry IV 5.5.80). She argues that Shallow's statement, "I cannot perceive how, unless you give me your doublet, and stuff me with straw" (81-82), "does the work of exposing Falstaff's fatness as a fiction––a fiction in the form of a straw-stuffed doublet worn by Will Kemp" (150). At present, however, only Elena Levy-Navarro's fat studies approach to the plays in her book The Culture of Obesity in Early and Late Modernity (2008) discusses obesity as something that the plays produce, arguing that Hal "asserts his privilege as a presumptively thin, civilized elite by making Falstaff in his fatness an emblem of vicious excess" (68). Her work is important because it articulates a differential between obesity as something constructed from above and fat as something different and more elusive, a queer embodiment whose aesthetic, she suggests, Prince Hal is unable to wholly vitiate. 8 Nevertheless, despite the utility of her work in parsing the power differentials between Hal and Falstaff, it does not engage with the mechanics of obesity production, in other words, the protocols of how Hal's and the plays' constructions of obesity works.

Woodcut image depicting Sir John Oldcastle. More description below.

Image 1 Sir John Oldcastle, Protestant martyr, from the title page of John Bale's account of his life and death (1544).

Image description: Text is written in blackletter font. Text encircles a figure (Oldcastle) in the center of the field in a square shape. The figure in the center is wearing a helmet and chest plate with muscles flexed and arms and legs exposed. The figure is in profile and facing toward the right of the page. Left foot is forward and right foot is back. The figure is raising a shield donned with an image of the crucifixion with his left hand up to the height of his head. His right hand holds a sword.

Page titled 'Kemps nine daies wonder' with depiction of Will Kemp. More description below.

Image 2 Title page of Kemp's Nine Daies Wonder (1600). Reproduced from a copy at the British Library.

Image description: Font is in roman and italic. Central image features two figures in a field. The left figure faces left and looks back. He is holding a drum on his left shoulder and holds a mallet in his right hand. He holds a wind instrument in his left hand with the reed in his mouth. The figure on the right (Will Kemp) has a floral design on his shirt and a feather in his hat. His legs and hands are apart as if dancing. His pants are bulky; bells appear to be around his ankles.

When examined more closely, the plays' methods of producing obesity should interest disability studies scholars because they resemble David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder's theory of prosthesis in literature where "a body deemed lacking, unfunctional, or inappropriately functional" is said to "nee[d] compensation" "within a regime of tolerable deviance" (6-7) as well as Siebers's concept of disability drag, which extends this thinking to dramatic performance. 9 The rhetorical and performance techniques employed in the Henry IV plays to render Falstaff obese ignore and overwrite experiential aspects of his embodiment and replace them with simplified, ideological stereotypes about that body type which are deemed acceptable by a dominant set of norms. 10 In so doing, these instances of what we might call "obesity drag" coach theatergoers into believing that Falstaff is indeed an obese character. 11 However, because obesity can be estranging for thin normates in ways comparable to Rosemarie Garland-Thomson's descriptions of encountering extraordinary bodies (12), 12 the act of prosthetically constructing obesity onto a character and body who is present in the plays' mimetic world and standing on stage produces distinct formal and dramatic consequences for the plays, which this article will explore. In particular, the article examines occurrences where the form of 1 Henry IV (1596-7) itself is unable to support the simplistic constructions of obesity that it contains, instances in which the play reveals the mechanics of obesity production. The improvisations featured in the play-within-a-play that Falstaff calls the "play extempore" (2.4.270) in which Hal attempts to construct Falstaff as obese and Falstaff rebuts with reminders of his own fat embodiment offer a conspicuous example. This scene, therefore, serves as the article's primary example of what I call "crip estrangement," a phenomenon that occurs in Shakespearean drama when representations of disability are featured within metatheatrical structures. 13 Because the play extempore features an active performance of obesity production in a scene that is itself metatheatrical, the inner-workings and conventions of dramatic representation––both at the level of the text and in performance––open out and disclose themselves formally across the duration of the scene.

The repercussions of how fat is represented in this play, therefore, can be analyzed in light of Ato Quayson's aesthetic nervousness and Mitchell and Snyder's narrative prosthesis. Because encounters with disability in real life can constitute junctures of crisis and self-reflection for normates who are suddenly confronted with the contingencies of their own able-bodiedness and the moral dilemma of how to behave during such interactions (Quayson16-19), people often mentally overwrite the encountered body with a simplistic, ableist paradigm. This theory would seem to explain what Hal is up to each time he encounters Falstaff's fat body. As a countermeasure against reflecting too extensively on whether his own body size might change, especially considering the extent to which his current lifestyle resembles Falstaff's, Hal quickly overwrites Falstaff's fat embodiment with an obesity paradigm. For example, when Falstaff approaches Hal and the others on the highway near Gadshill, Hal constructs Falstaff as obese before he is even fully seen or heard. "Peace, ye fat-kidneyed rascal!" (2.2.5-6), he exclaims. However, when disability is represented simplistically within a literary structure, that same aesthetic effect of crisis and self-reflection operates as a "textual obstacle that causes the literary operation of open-endedness to close down or stumble" (Mitchell and Snyder 50), which explains the conversion of Hal's obesity construction into a prolonged invective that comes to dominate the tavern scene in 2.4.

Nevertheless, Falstaff's reference to this scene as a "play extempore" and his request that Hal "practise an answer" (2.4.361-2) to his father's request that he appear in court indicate that the scene is conspicuously metatheatrical, that it is self-conscious of its own theatricality. This metatheatricality is emphasized throughout in moments like Falstaff's references to the Hostess as his "sweet queen" (2.4.378), which puns on "queane," a word that pejoratively denotes "slut" or "hussy" in contemporary texts ("quean"), 14 and which, in this context, can be seen as metatheatrically highlighting her role outside the play extempore in the mimetic world of the play proper. The self-reflexivity of the play extempore, therefore, redoubles the self-reflection induced by Hal's encounter with Falstaff's body and the repercussions of that encounter on the play's form. Consequently, the scene is unlike other instances in which Hal constructs Falstaff as obese quickly and more or less efficiently. But, it is also different from other literary examples of aesthetic nervousness, because, while it can be seen as an instance when "the dominant protocols of representation within the literary text are short-circuited in relation to disability" (Quayson 15), in this scene the "short-circuiting" is itself short-circuited through metatheatre. While the scene is the most visceral and merciless example of invectives on Falstaff in the entire Henriad, it is also a key moment in the tetralogy in which those invectives are rendered metatheatrically, thereby exposing within the playtext the inner-workings of how a Shakespearean play constructs obesity, an instance of crip estrangement, which this article will analyze in the following section.

By calling such junctures "estranging," this article draws upon the literary and dramatic criticism of Viktor Shklovsky and Bertolt Brecht to suggest that crip estrangement exposes an understanding of crip embodiment, or more specifically queer fat embodiment, that is overwritten by a generally received quotidian sense of reality. 15 As a combination of their devices, crip estrangement is, like Shklovsky's ostranenie, authorially unintentional; yet, as in Brecht's Verfremdungseffekts, it reveals representational conventions that are housed within ideological conceptions of reality. As a sixteenth-century text, the protocols of representation that the play extempore estranges are a deconstruction of classical rhetoric according to Renaissance understandings of Aristotle and Quintilian, whose ideas were prominent in contemporary writings theorizing rhetoric and poetics, such as in Thomas Wilson's The Art of Rhetoric (1553) or George Puttenham's The Art of English Poesy (1589). Falstaff's and Hal's speeches in the text and presence on the stage emphasize the primary components that make up rhetorical substance. Falstaff's speeches accent the matter of the discussion, Falstaff's fat body, while Hal, through his insistence on hurling numerous antifat insults, emphasizes the form of the discussion, the status of Falstaff's body as obese. Experienced together, the scene constitutes a protracted rendering of the protocols of rhetorical representation; it estranges Falstaff's substance that readers and theatregoers usually understand as "the old fat knight" into its rhetorical parts. The scene demonstrates that Falstaff's actual fat body is the wax (matter) that Hal's speeches (form) attempt to impress into a substance, the old, obese character we recognize as Falstaff. 16 Moreover, critics such as Joseph Roach have demonstrated that in the Renaissance rhetoric was intimately linked to acting (28), which means that the actors' presence on the stage allows for the scene's estrangement to occur not only on the level of the text but also on the level of performance. More than merely an expression of a queer aesthetic of fat, the play extempore deconstructs the representation of obesity: it "make[s] a stone stony"; it makes obesity fat.

But is fat a disability? Siebers's previously mentioned reading of Falstaff's speech as an expression of experiential disability parallels experiences reported by many disabled people. Moreover, fat people and disabled people both understand the realities of stigma, which Jeffrey R. Wilson has recently argued should replace the category of disability in Shakespeare studies altogether (n.p.). We might say, therefore, that fat people often experience the world in a "disabled way," and can sometimes benefit from accessibility accommodations in the same way that disabled people can. However, as Kathleen LeBesco explains, "fatness and disability are tense bedfellows: many people with more traditionally recognized forms of disability resist being lumped together with those fat people who they feel could (but don't) control their condition, and most fat people don't recognize themselves as disabled, preferring to maintain a safe distance from perceived illness and stigmas" ("Fat" 84). 17 Nevertheless, critical work on fat representation and disabled representation in early modern literary studies demonstrates many parallels between these embodiments. Levy-Navarro's focus on fat's queer capacity for ambiguity in early modern literature corresponds to the proclivity toward indeterminacy in Shakespearean representations of disability. For instance, Allison P. Hobgood's discussion of the "overwhelming desir[e]" for characters in Richard III (1592-4) to "read Richard's body, and read it right" (31) correlates to Hal's "readings" of Falstaff. Hobgood argues that Richard III's "habitus comes to contain so many possibilities for meaning that it actually fades from view; the precise, disabled body that prompts such intense attention from spectators, in the end, gets erased by over-signification" (31). More than just a correspondence, the resemblance between Richard III's and Falstaff's bodily conditions in early modern criticism suggests a correlation of problems for knowledge that non-normative bodies on the page and stage manifested in the period.

Placing Falstaff and Richard III in the same category might seem counterintuitive; however, some body types such as fat and "crookback," which are not usually considered in the same category today would have been in early modernity. In the Renaissance, both fat bodies and disabled bodies were thought of as monstrous, and monstrosity was readily theorized in the period. 18 The influential French barber-surgeon Ambroise Paré defines monsters as "things that appear outside the course of Nature […] such as a child who is born with one arm, another who will have two heads, and additional members over and above the ordinary" (3) in his book Des monstres et prodiges [On Monsters and Marvels] (1572). His book includes at least four examples of people described as "fat" whom he fits into his category of monsters. Disability historian Henri-Jacques Stiker has explained that beyond the figures of "the beggar, the monster, the criminal––lies the silhouette of the disabled, borrowing features from the other three all at the same time or successively, and yet sharply contoured, taking us down into the depths of as yet unthought social ideas" (72). In the Renaissance, fat bodies can be added to this list of marginal groups taking on the attributions of other groups, a point which also indicates the mutable and ambiguous aspects of these embodiments in a period when pathologization was more aesthetic than medical.

Paré's chapter "About a Fat Wench from Normandy, Who Pretended to Have a Snake in Her Belly" is useful for determining the nexus of prejudices included in early modern constructions of obesity. The woman Paré describes is "a fat, full-bummed wench, chubby and shapely" (83); but Paré also accents her age, 19 her tendency to lie, to depend upon others' good fortunes, and her jovial attitude, since six days after her act was revealed he notes seeing her "astride a saddle horse, one leg here and the other there, laughing heartily" (83-4). A similar nexus of criticisms appears in Hal's jokes and attacks on Falstaff in the Henriad. For instance, after Falstaff asks Hal "what time of day it is," Hal replies,

Thou art so fat-witted with drinking of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, and sleeping upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly which thou wouldst truly know. What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day? (1 Henry IV 1.2.1-6)

Each of Paré's and Hal's criticisms point to ideas about productivity and self-discipline that are associated with emerging "Puritan" movements, but that were also becoming more and more commonplace across the sixteenth century. 20 When this article discusses the ideology of obesity in the early modern period, therefore, it refers to this entire network of associations, a conglomerate that can be summed up in Hal's epitomal reference to Falstaff as "that reverend Vice" (2.4.437), 21 but that can be said to show up in other diatribes, whether he calls him "my old lad of the castle" (1.2.40-1) or asks the other tavern folks to "Call in ribs, call in tallow" (2.4.108).

My analysis of crip estrangement in 1 Henry IV begins by analyzing the playtext. The article then expands to performance concerns by suggesting that the play extempore's deconstruction of Falstaff's substance into matter and form is also applicable to Will Kemp's 1590s rendition of him. It is important, nevertheless, to also consider the fact that fat has a distinct history involving a fluctuating set of definitions and associations across time. 22 Historians of fat have demonstrated that the "modern representational regime" in which the "thin body is granted privilege and is unmarked to the extent to which the fat body is marked, stigmatized, and understood to be the emblem of our collective excess" (Levy-Navarro 30) emerged across the sixteenth-century, before being gradually supplanted by medicalized understandings of obesity that would crystalize in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Vigarello). Levy-Navarro's observation that Hal's and Falstaff's emblematic functions also include aesthetic values about bodies means that Shakespeare's plays also function as topical artifacts that can help us articulate the fluctuation of bodily aesthetic values across time and amongst different classes of people. As such, this article also reads the crip estrangement of the play extempore across theatre history. The final section offers a conjecture about why the first public performance of Falstaff by a fat man, James Quin's 1721 production, was also the first public production to cut the play extempore outright. In light of Quin's production, the article concludes by speculating how we might interpret Samuel Phelps's restoration of the scene in 1846.

Matter, Form, Metatheatre: Crip Estrangement in the Playtext

2.4 begins with Hal's practical joke on Francis and Falstaff's story about "[e]leven buckram men grown out of two" (212). 23 It is a very funny scene that helps us better understand Hal's and Falstaff's characters as well as what Hal is leaving behind when he rejects Falstaff. A knock on the door brings the comic and historical plots of 1 Henry IV together as Hal and the tavern folks learn that the lords of the north have conspired with Wales against King Henry, and that Hal is expected to appear in court before his father. Hoping to regain prestige after the embarrassing buckram men story, Falstaff predicts that Hal will be "horribly chid [scolded]" (360) when he talks to his father and that they should "practise an answer" (361-2) through role-playing with Falstaff as the king. After a few exchanges, they switch roles with Hal playing the king and Falstaff playing Hal, before the arrival of a Sherriff looking for "A gross fat man" (492) concludes the improvisation.

Often featured in discussions of early modern plays-within-plays, 24 the scene is overtly metatheatrical, a point which is commented upon in the scene's dialogue. Following Falstaff's command, "If thou love me, practise an answer" (2.4.361-362), for instance, there is an explicit discussion about the use of props in their play:

FALSTAFF: Shall I? Content. This chair shall be my state, this dagger my sceptre, and this cushion my crown.
He sits.

PRINCE HENRY: Thy state is taken for a joint-stool, thy golden sceptre for a leaden dagger, and thy precious rich crown for a pitiful bald crown. (365-369)

Such instances indicate a keen self-awareness about performativity and theatricality: what is being debated here is what will count as the stuff of drama in the scene following. Callan Davies's approach to analyzing early modern metatheatre, what he calls "matter-theatre," is useful for unpacking the scene's complexities. Davies offers a reading of Shakespeare's Cymbeline (1608-9) to point out the prominence of matter in early modern discussions of poetics and rhetoric. More historically appropriate than using the term metatheatre, which Lionel Abel first coined in 1962, focusing on matter allows for metatheatrical reflection that is closer aligned with discourses about drama in the period, discourses that follow Aristotle's Rhetoric and Poetics (ca. 335 BCE). For Aristotle, rhetorical construction consists of "'Substance'––the primary, most basic state of physical existence––[which] is the jointure of 'matter' with 'form'" (Davies 76). Thus, in the block quote above we can see that Hal is challenging the utilization of matter (in this case a chair on the stage) into a form (the way that Falstaff intends to use the chair as a prop), which, through the dialectic magic of drama, constitutes its substance––whether or not the chair will adequately serve as a dramatic representation of King Henry's throne, his chair of state.

Critics have long noted the scene's broader importance for determining the sincerity of Hal's soliloquy in 1.2. In that speech, Hal admits to wanting to use Falstaff and the tavern folks to reject his "loose behaviour" and stage a "reformation" that "Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes/ Than that which hath no foil to set it off" (196-202). Hal's concluding remark in the play extempore, "I do, I will" (2.4.463), therefore, rehearses his planned rejection of Falstaff, which he finally enacts in 2 Henry IV (1597-8) when he declares, "I know thee not, old man" (5.5.47), but that has its counterpart in 1 Henry IV 5.4 when he elegizes over Falstaff's supposedly dead body and resolves to henceforth be a prince. 25 However, despite the scene's importance for learning about Hal's character, it is actually Falstaff's character and its relation to his fat body that ends up garnering explicit attention. Falstaff himself is the first to bring up his body size. Still playing the king, he explains to Hal that "Falstaff" is "A goodly portly man, i'faith, and a corpulent" (1 Henry IV 2.4.407). Falstaff continues to be the scene's focus as Hal attempts rebuttals to Falstaff's wit, striving to construct him as "that reverend Vice" (437) and highlighting the negative connotations of early modern obesity when he asks,

Wherein is he good, but to taste sack and drink it? Wherein neat and cleanly, but to carve a capon and eat it? Wherein cunning, but in craft? Wherein crafty, but in villainy? Wherein villainous, but in all things? Wherein worthy, but in nothing? (438-442)

Falstaff's and Hal's respective descriptions exemplify the mechanics that the play uses to produce obesity because Falstaff's focus on his body emphasizes the matter that Hal's attention to negative connotations forms into an obese substance. But this all occurs within a play extempore, a metatheatrical structure that calls attention to the mechanics of drama, and in this instance, to the play's method of constructing obesity. 26 Falstaff's and Hal's contrasting approaches to discussing fat stage the components of Renaissance rhetorical constructions into a kind of debate between matter and form that showcases how tensions in early modern semiotics can affect people's physical bodies and their social constructions.

In his first full speech as the King, Falstaff begins speaking in the style of Euphuism, the wandering style of John Lyly, for which the scene is well known. He exclaims, "for though the camomile, the more it is trodden on, the faster it grows, yet youth, the more it is wasted, the sooner it wears" (2.4.386-388), which David Bevington notes "nicely catches the alliteration, the elaborately balanced antitheses, the parison [, etc.]" that were Lyly's signature devices (199n386-8). 27 Falstaff's speeches have thus usually been read in light of the fact that while Euphuism was fashionable in the 1580s, this was no longer the case by the play's debut in 1596 or 1597 (Bevington 199n386-8). Euphuism, however, is only one of the stylistic aspects of Falstaff's speeches in the play extempore. His speeches alternate out of it into a different prose style that presents fat experientially; he issues a challenge to Hal's form by continually affirming that it is actually difficult for others to interpret his body. Falstaff accents his body as fat, as a queer matter that resists being overwritten.

Falstaff's experiential rhetoric, therefore, defamiliarizes fat in the sense of Shklovsky's concept of ostranenie, art's device of making things appear strange, even as Hal's rhetoric can be seen as re-affirming what Shklovsky calls "automization," the marker of quotidian, ideological thought. 28 Similar to the way Shklovsky describes Leo Tolstoy's prose techniques, Falstaff's method "consists in not calling a thing or event by its name but describing it as if seen for the first time, as if happening for the first time" (163). At the end of Falstaff's first speech he, as the king, ironically asks Hal about "a virtuous man whom I have often noted in thy company" (2.4.402-3). When pressed to say more, Falstaff begins to describe himself as

A goodly portly man, i'faith, and a corpulent; of a cheerful look, a pleasing eye, and a most noble carriage; and, as I think, his age some fifty, or, by'r lady, inclining to threescore; and now I remember me, his name is Falstaff. If that man should be lewdly given, he decieveth me; for, Harry, I see virtue in his looks. (407-412)

This speech is usually discussed as an example of litotes or understatement. David Scott Kastan, for instance, explains that the opening phrase is humorous because goodly, portly, and corpulent though having associations with fat, also could mean "handsome, dignified" and "full-bodied, solid" (230n410). However, there is more going on here than fat being presented euphemistically. Fat is presented here differently; it is estranged. Unlike Hal's formal obesity, Falstaff presents fat in a fat way. The peculiar round vowel sounds of portly and corpulent, which require a rounded lip technique to produce, might be said to actually produce a sonic experience of a "fat" sound in the mouth. What is more, some linguists such as David Crystal have argued that certain non-verbal vocal effects can function paralinguistically, even sometimes indicating meaning. He discusses, in particular, the use of "extra lip-rounding" as indicative of "intimacy (especially to animals and babies)" (249), which, in the context of Falstaff's descriptors might be said to add to this effect. We are presented with a version of fat here that is estranged in Shklovsky's sense: unlike the grotesque aesthetics deployed elsewhere in the Henry IV plays, fat is presented as something comfortable, soothing even, rather than repulsive.

This defamiliarized rhetoric of fat proves too much for Hal. As Falstaff begins to transition into addressing Hal as the king, "And tell me now, thou naughty varlet, tell me, where has thou been this month?" (2.4.415-416), Hal quickly demands that the roles be switched. He begins by hinting at the rejection that will follow: "Swearest thou, ungracious boy? Henceforth ne'er look on me. Thou art violently carried away from grace" (429-31). Most of the individual statements in Hal's speech resemble other examples of a normate encountering fat in the Henry IV plays, but taken as a whole, Hal's speech demonstrates an elongated, formal example of aesthetic nervousness that manifests as the longest single antifat invective in the Henriad.

Swearst thou, ungracious boy? Henceforth ne're look on me. Thou art violently carried away from grace. There is a devil haunts thee in the likeness of an old fat man; a tun of man is thy companion. Why dost thou converse with that trunk of humours, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swollen parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloak-bag of guts, that roasted Manningtree ox with the pudding in his belly, that reverend Vice, that grey iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years? Wherein is he good, but to taste sack and drink it? Wherein neat and cleanly, but to carve a capon and eat it? Wherein cunning, but in craft? Wherein crafty, but in villainy? Wherein villainous, but in all things? Wherein worthy, but in nothing? (429-442)

Here, all that was Euphuism and estranged fat in Falstaff's lines has turned to dysphemism, the emphasis of defect, in Hal's. The proximity of this invective just after Falstaff's experiential rendering of fat, however, establishes it as more than just a solitary example of aesthetic nervousness. Taken together, Falstaff's and Hal's speeches articulate a prolonged separation of Falstaff's substance into his matter and form across the scene, a separation that remains deconstructed throughout the play extempore. Falstaff's reminders about his embodiment thus indicate the irony of the opening debate about Falstaff's props. It is not Falstaff who is dependent on the imagination, it is Hal with his attempts at transforming Falstaff into "the old fat knight." Because Hal never quite succeeds with his aims, each time that Falstaff returns emphasis to his body the scene formally exposes the process of obesity construction as a manipulating and Machiavellian technology of harm, even as it showcases Hal's increasingly frenzied attempts to overwrite him as ridiculous.

Many critics note that Falstaff's question leading into this speech, "where hast thou been this month?" (416), indicates a shift in tone. George Lyman Kittredge says he "speaks like an ordinary father scolding a youngster who has misbehaved" (qtd. in Bevington 200n415-6). Thought of in this way, the production of Falstaff's obesity can be seen as manifesting parental otherness wherein the parent is rendered larger than the child (Daniel), or even that he, like in his crossdressed appearance as the Witch of Brentford in The Merry Wives of Windsor (1597-1601), is especially feminized (Parker 27-31). But this moment is also crucial because it is the first instance in which Hal's formal rendering of Falstaff's obesity is convincingly challenged. Falstaff's turn to Hal and shift in tone is just the opportunity that Hal needed to begin his rebuttal. He begins angrily––"Swearst thou, ungracious boy?" (429)––with a speech noticeably removed from the fat matter of Falstaff's previous speech. Through this heavy use of imagery Hal articulates a representation of Falstaff that is "made visible to [the audience's] mind's eye" (Quintilian qtd. in Butler 54), a representation, in other words, that utilizes the classical rhetorical device of ekphrasis, which Quintilian describes as follows:

To be able to convey our subject matter clearly and in a way that makes it seem visible (ut cerni videantur) is a powerful skill. For oratory is less than completely effective and does not exercise its full power if it works only on the ears and the person judging believes that what he is evaluating has been narrated to him, not expressed and made visible to his mind's eye (non exprimi et oculis mentis ostendi). (qtd. in Butler 54) 29

Each of the images Hal uses here––"that stuffed cloak-bag of guts, that roasted Manningtree ox with the pudding in its belly, [etc.]" (435-6)––are emphatically that: images that articulate and accent the form of early modern obesity and its connotations that shift the focus away from the "portly," "corpulent" Falstaff in front of him and onto the "Falstaff" being discussed in the mimetic world of the play extempore. He ends this speech with a series of questions utilizing the rhetorical devices anaphora (the repetition of "Wherein") and climax (the doubling of "craft" to "crafty") that continue to contribute to the separation of the Falstaff in the play from the "Falstaff" in the play extempore. 30 Moving beyond Quintilian's purposes of effective oratory, Hal's ekphrasis strips the Falstaff on the stage of his embodied humanity articulating a "Falstaff" who is only visible "to [the] mind's eye."

What is more, if Falstaff's speech estranging fat avoided "calling a thing by its name," then it is noticeable that Hal's speech returns the word fat as a pejorative descriptor to the discussion. His speech gradually expands on the conceit of Falstaff as a devil "in the likeness of an old fat man," which is to say that he is not actually a man, but rather a shell or container of man-like things. Each of the anaphora phrases beginning with "that" following the description of Falstaff as "a tun of man" (432), however, work to undo even this repository of humanity. They each posit the image of a receptacle holding something monstrous or poisonous––"that bolting-hutch of beastliness" (433-4); "that swollen parcel of dropsies" (434)––which works to emphasize both the size and repulsive contents of the constructed image. This recourse to the grotesque focuses the imagery even as it diverts attention away from the gradual project of disembodiment manifested in the gap Hal's ekphrasis fostered between the obese formal "Falstaff" of the play extempore and the embodied, fat Falstaff standing on the stage with him. There is a logic to the speech that allows the gradual disembodiment to near completion when Hal turns to name-calling––"Vice," "iniquity," "ruffian" (437), a technique that solidifies Hal's initial conceit: Falstaff is not a man, he's a devil couched in the obese shell of one. He concludes with a series of climaxes that use obesity connotations to bring about a kind of poetic stupor that resembles Euphuism's effects. The doubling of "craft" to "crafty" and "villainy" to "villainous" (441) articulate a formal poetics that distracts from the rhetorical violence on bodily matter being done.

The prominent employment of rhetorical figures in Falstaff's and Hal's speeches demonstrates their relevance to Renaissance discussions about embellishment and abundance in rhetorical theory remarked upon especially in Desiderius Erasmus's popular textbook, De utraque verborum ac rerum copia [On abundance of both words and things] (1512). 31 Both Falstaff's and Hal's speeches would seem to be examples of what Erasmus encourages his readers to avoid, since, although he advocates the "abundant style," he warns that speech can easily "fall into a kind of futile and amorphous loquacity, as with a multitude of inane thoughts and words thrown together without discrimination" (11). Nevertheless, while Falstaff's Euphuism is often read parodically, Hal's speeches are usually seen as joking, yet sincere enactments of the plan he put forth in 1.2. This observation presents us with an important irony: for Hal to establish Falstaff as a copious figure of excessive Vice, he has to himself employ an overly excessive rhetoric of copia. This transference in which Hal must perform copiousness in order to demonstrate its presence in Falstaff accents the formal repercussions of crip estrangement. Featuring the construction of obesity within a metatheatrical structure causes matter- and form-focused rhetorical strategies to be showcased and drawn out, even as the transference demonstrates and highlights the ultimate source of Falstaff's copia. It is not the case that Falstaff's body is inherently copious, but rather that Hal and the play have rendered it as such. Readers and spectators are generally aware that Hal constructs Falstaff into an emblem he can one day reject. But attending to crip estrangement in the play demonstrates how the play extempore itself formally betrays this truth, even as it pokes fun at the irony of Hal coming to engender the object of his invective.

Hal's project is ultimately undone in this scene by Falstaff's own witty rhetoric. Hal's initial statement that "[t]here is a devil haunts thee in the likeness of an old fat man" (431-432) maintains a separation between Falstaff and the devil, but as he continues speaking this partition collapses into grammatical apposition in response to Falstaff's query about the speech: "That villainous abominable misleader of youth, Falstaff, that old white-bearded Satan" (445-446). Falstaff, his "abominable" character, and his relationship to the devil all subside into a rhetorical singularity that distinctively contradicts what is usually understood to be the excessive, immoderate, indeed human personality of Falstaff. 32 The disconnect between the Falstaff we have seen in the play up to this point and this synechdochic, disembodied representation of him is thus emphasized and challenged in Falstaff's response to Hal's speech: "My lord, the man I know" (447). Kastan has said that the line "emphasizes man; i.e. the man I know, but not this strange description of him" (233n452). But Falstaff's use of the word "man" also highlights the wholeness embodied in experiential man(kind), while perhaps also accenting the paradox in separating fat as a singular aspect of embodiment given that labelling a body fat in common parlance implies that the whole body is such. His personality embraces and extends upon these notions of wholeness while emphatically rejecting any description of himself as a mere "likeness." In so doing, he exposes and collapses the gap between his embodiment in the play and Hal's representation of "Falstaff" in the play extempore; his rebuttal discloses Hal's formal rhetoric as emphatically separate from its matter, the body he is describing. Falstaff's emphasis on "man" is further elaborated by his last speech, which opposes Hal's singular grotesque focus on fat: "banish plump Jack, and banish all the world" (462). This line is important because it marks the moment when Hal finally concedes to Falstaff's emphasis on matter. Hal says, "I do, I will" (463), thus both agreeing with him in a playful present tense even as the switch to the future tense accents the inevitability of the plot. 33 Hal's ultimate acceptance of Falstaff's matter in the play's mimesis brings us back from what Henri Bergson calls "the absence of feeling that usually accompanies laughter" (63) in the scene's comedy to a return of feeling and, in this case, a return to the genre of the history or chronicle play since Hal will finally be talking to his father about the rebellion against the crown. 34

Hal's "I do, I will" restores the substance of Falstaff's embodiment that the scene had split into matter and form. This is evidenced in Hal's response to the antifat banter of the Sheriff and Carrier who show up looking for Falstaff:

SHERIFF: One of them is well known, my gracious lord,
A gross fat man.

CARRIER: As fat as butter.

PRINCE HENRY: The man, I do assure you, is not here,
For I myself at this time have employed him. (491-495)

Hal, like Falstaff earlier (447), uses the term "the man" to describe him; as such, he seems to maintain the wholeness of Falstaff's person. In the face of the Sheriff's and Carrier's obesity construction, Hal sticks up for his friend by responding in accordance with Falstaff's focus on matter thereby emphasizing his humanity. The pathos of this response, in which Hal lies on Falstaff's behalf shortly after admitting that he will indeed reject him, supports the performance decisions of Hal's "I do, I will" by Tom Hiddleston in The Hollow Crown and Robert Hardy at the Old Vic in 1955, whose delivery has been described as "gentl[e] but with an unshakeable resolution" (Wood and Clarke 160). These performance decisions indicate the complexity of Falstaff and Hal's relationship. While Falstaff seems mainly interested in getting a free pass for his behaviors one day when Hal is king, Hal seems to find in Falstaff something akin to the father figure he is unable to procure in the king. Yet even as the proximity of Hal's invective on Falstaff and willingness to lie for him with a single scene establishes these complexities, which Hal will continue to wrestle with throughout the Henriad, 2.4 also demonstrates the unwavering distinction between Falstaff's and Hal's competing ideologies about embodiment.

Even though Hal's lying is in line both with Falstaff's carnivalesque attitude and his appeal to humanity advocated earlier in the scene, his response does not indicate that he has supplemented an ideology of obesity for a fat positive position. Immediately after Peto finds the grocery list in Falstaff's pocket, he begins making jokes about fat, declaring he will "procure this fat rogue a charge of foot" and relishing at the expense of Falstaff's large body: "and I know his death will be a march of twelve score" (2.4.526-7). The placement of Hal's turn to a universalism that ignores the lived complexities of experiential fat immediately after Falstaff's rebuttals and the play's own formal estrangement, therefore, makes the oversight particularly egregious. His declaration is too brief and arrives too late; and while it may help to develop a deeper, more complex understanding of their relationship, it does nothing to offset the violence of his earlier decidedly antifat rhetoric. Furthermore, even though it might seem that nothing could be more stereotypically "obese" than the discovery of Falstaff's grocery list that concludes 2.4, it also functions as evidence of the subversive quality of Falstaff's fat that neither Hal or the play itself are quite able to vitiate. After searching Falstaff's pockets, Peto reads,

"Item, a capon,…………………………………….2s. 2d.
Item, sauce,……………………………………………4d.
Item, sack, two gallons,……………………………5s. 8d.
Item, anchovies and sack after supper,…………….2s. 6d.
Item, bread,……………………………………………ob." (516-20)

The contrast between this list and Falstaff's rebuttal less than sixty lines prior is pronounced. But its proximity to Hal's concession to a universalism that, much like his previous speeches, erases and overwrites experiential fat is also telling, because the grocery list converts the scene's sentimentalism to laughter in a way that recalls Falstaff's wit earlier in the scene. Moreover, since this obesity joke is produced by Falstaff himself, it flips the power differential and re-complicates the distinction between fat and obesity. The fact that Falstaff gets the last word here, so to speak, is a further reminder that constructions of obesity will always fail to totally overwrite and silence fat's queer matter.

This inability to overwrite is a good way to think about Falstaff more generally. Regardless of individual opinion, for Elizabethans Falstaff must have seemed like he would never go away. He is a version of Oldcastle whose first rejection in 1 Henry IV only leads to another in 2 Henry IV. Moreover, even though he is not given any lines in Henry V (1599), Mistress Quickly's report of his death bed matters are perhaps the funniest lines in the play (2.3.9-25). And if that was not enough, he is featured as the star of his own comedy in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Of course, the fact that this article focuses on the play extempore makes Hal look like an easy target. Nevertheless, more important than siding with one character over the other, analyzing this scene as an example of crip estrangement demonstrates the unerring symbolic force of Falstaff's "resurrection" when he, after being taken for dead by Hal in the Battle of Shrewsbury, suddenly rises back up in one of the play's funniest moments. This article, therefore, establishes that part of the reason that Hal becomes such a compromised figure in Henry V is that he is continuously haunted by the old fat knight, whose fat embodiment made him impossible to completely overwrite, whether by Hal's or Shakespeare's representational regimes.

Performance as Crip Estrangement

This final section extends my analysis outside the playtext of 1 Henry IV to consider the possibility that crip estrangement redoubles in performances of the play. Such work is of course speculative, but it needs to be considered since, if nothing else, the mere presence of an actor on the stage in a scene discussing embodiment is a potential invitation for metatheatrical reflection about that actor's body. To address this point, we can examine the comment Falstaff makes when he is playing King Henry and explaining how he knew Hal is his son: "That thou art my son I have partly thy mother's word, partly my own opinion, but chiefly a villainous trick of thine eye and a foolish hanging of thy nether lip that doth warrant me" (2.4.388-392). The word "foolish" here is often discussed by editors because it signifies multiply. Bevington's gloss references past editors who suggest that a hanging lower lip "was regarded as a sign of beauty and wantonness" (199n391). 35 Bevington also suggests that "the common pejorative meaning of 'foolish' (indicative of ridiculous folly and trifling) was dominant in the sixteenth century, and is surely present in Falstaff's insult" (199n391). The former suggestion would indicate an actual physical resemblance to King Henry (or the actor playing him). However, while I do not disagree with Bevington's suggestion that "foolish" suggests folly and trifling, it seems entirely possible that the irony of trifling Falstaff voicing this insult to Hal would cause a specific reference back not only to Falstaff but to the foolish, trifling clown actor playing him, Will Kemp. Catherine E. Doubler argues that Kemp was publicly engaged with constructing a body image for himself during the 1590s and early 1600s (150), which indicates a malleability to his embodiment that might correlate to Falstaff's comment. Similar to how Falstaff's verbal emphasis on rhetorical matter undermines Hal's rhetorical project of constructing obesity, Kemp's physical presence on the stage undermines the performance project of rendering Falstaff as an example of obesity drag.

Such thinking correlates with the way rhetoric was understood during the Renaissance. Rather than focusing exclusively on speech and delivery, Joseph Roach has explained that rhetoric in the period "constituted an entire system of analysis, composition, expression, persuasion, and audience psychology" (28). Thus, the notion that rhetoric was comprised of matter and form constituting substance also extended to what we today would call its actorly aspects. Roach explains that the actor's "expressions could transform his physical identity, inwardly and outwardly and so thoroughly that at his best he was known as Proteus" (27). 36 Thought of in this way, we can say that matter, form, and substance correlated to actor, his part, and the character represented in Renaissance understandings of character acting. Any instance in the play in which Falstaff's embodiment is referenced could potentially cause crosschecking from the audience in the sense that they are made aware of the tense resonance between the actor on stage and the character embodied. In the above example, the substance of mimetic representation could unravel because of the notable discrepancy between Kemp's and Falsatff's body types, even if, and perhaps especially if, Kemp was wearing a fat suit at the time. 37 The reference, moreover, to a specific body part in the above, the "nether lip," is an appeal for spectators to do this crosschecking work. Theatregoers are being asked by an actor playing Falstaff who is also role-playing King Henry to refer to his "nether lip" in a scene that more broadly questions how Falstaff's body should be interpreted. The delivery of this line is opportune for deconstructing actor and role from character, matter and form from substance.

But this crosschecking could go even further. During his career, Kemp was best known for his jigging, the subject of his pamphlet, Kemps Nine daies vvonder (1600). Jigging was part of a clown's repertoire, but another prominent aspect was improvisation. Many sixteenth-century plays, therefore, feature simplistic language that we can imagine clown actors playing with and improvising over in the moment of live performance. A scene in Shakespeare's source play for the Henriad, the anonymous The Famous Victories of Henry the fifth, demonstrates this simplistic language. In the scene, two clowns, Derrick and John Cobbler, mimic the arraignment of Prince Henry before the Lord Chief Justice:

DER: Why then take you that till more come,
Zownes [Zounds], shall I not haue him?

IOHN: Well I am content to take this at your hand,
But I pray you, who am I?

DER: Who art thou, Zownds, dost not know thy self?


DER: Now away simple fellow.
Why man, thou are Iohn the Cobler.

IOHN: No, I am my Lord chiefe Iustice of England.

DER: Oh Iohn, Masse thou saist true, thou art indeed. (B4r-C1v)

The mistaken identity jokes here resemble those in older plays like Plautus' Amphytrion (3rd century BCE) or Shakespeare's early comedies The Comedy of Errors (1589-94) and The Taming of the Shrew (1590-93). These types of jokes could easily be extended and could actively involve audience participation, all of which points to their potential to stimulate improvisations. Shakespeare's lines for Falstaff, however, are very different from these ones in Famous Victories. More elaborated and featuring more sophisticated wit, Falstaff's improvisations feature many similarities to those included in the popular jestbook Tarltons iests (1600), which records the legacy of Kemp's clown predecessor Richard (Dick) Tarlton, who had died of plague in 1588. Critics such as Joseph Allen Bryant, Jr. and Richard Preiss have taken the commonality between Falstaff's prewritten "improvisations" and Tarlton's actual extemporizing as evidence that Shakespeare was treading on the clown actor's traditional authorial territory by essentially writing Kemp's improvisations for him (Bryant 153-5). Whether or not Shakespeare meant to do this, it seems likely that Kemp, who is remembered primarily for his jigging and not his improvising may not have been particularly talented at extemporizing. These complexities are evidenced in the generally held consensus that Hamlet's reference to improvisation and clown actors in Hamlet 3.2 is a topical jab at Kemp, who had left Shakespeare's company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, in 1599, just one or two years before Hamlet is thought to have debuted: "And let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them" (38-9). If a theatergoer were to have picked up on Kemp's "good," Tarltonesque "improvisations" in 1 Henry IV, then such moments would have induced splits to Falstaff's substance, junctures in which the form, Falstaff's part, was highlighted as mutable and contingent upon the world outside of the theatre as a direct result of something that could be known about Falstaff's matter, the actor Will Kemp. In such moments, crip estrangement could exceed the boundary of the playtext estranging individual performances as well.

The scene's potential to estrange, like with other junctures of crip estrangement, has rendered it a problem point for later performances. The first record we have of the play extempore being cut for a public production is also the first record that a public performance of Falstaff was performed by someone who was himself actually fat. James Quin, who played Falstaff in this 1721 production, was known for his large size, a point emphasized in William Hogarth's 1746 pencil drawing comparing his proportions to David Garrick's (see image 3). Peter Thomson's biographical article suggests that by the time of retirement "he weighed as much as 20 stone," and that "[e]ven as a young man he was stately rather than handsome. His weight would increase with his years, his face grow fat, and his chin double" (n.p.). Prior to Quin's portrayal, Falstaff's best-known performance had been by Thomas Betterton, whose portraitures and accounts of his life do not depict him as fat. Thus, Quin's performance was a divergence from past traditions that had relied completely on performance and theatrical prosthetics such as a fat suit to represent Falstaff as "the old fat knight."

Pencil drawing of Garrick and Quin by William Hogarth. More description below.

Image 3 William Hogarth "Facsimile of the Proportions of Garrick and Quin," 1746.

Text description: Rough sketch with eighteenth-century handwriting at top and bottom. The image depicts four figures. The two on the left are of Quin with the leftmost in profile and the next from the left from behind. Garrick is depicted similarly to Quin's right. Both figures are wearing eighteenth-century wigs, jackets, and stockings. Although the same height, Quin is notably drawn larger than Garrick. Quin's body and leg size are slightly larger than Garrick's, but his head is about twice Garrick's size. The text reads: "If the exact Figure of Mr Quin, were to be [r]educ'd to the size of the print of Mr Garrick it would seem to be the shortest man of the two, because Mr Garrick is of a taller proportion. Examples." The text continues under the image: "Let these figures be doubled down so as to be seen but one at once, then let it be ask'd which represents the Tallest man."

We know from Quin's own promptbook that is preserved at the Folger Shakespeare Library that the play extempore was cut. His promptbook conspicuously moves from the lines "If thou do love me, practice an Answer?" to "–––O my Lord, my Lord," which in modern editions is Bardolph's line just after Hal's "I do, I will" (2.4.463) that ends the role-playing. Of course, the convergence of these phenomena––the first time Falstaff was played by a fat person on the public stage was also the first time the play extempore was cut––might be just that, a coincidental confluence of occurrences. Perhaps Quin would have explained the cut in the way that John Bell did in his 1774 performance edition of the play: "A scene of mock-trial is left out here, which, though it has some merit, would be dreadfully tedious in representation, nor do we think much to be desired in the closet" (41n). Nevertheless, 1720-1730 is a decade that Georges Vigarello argues is particularly important for the shifting "judgement of contours" that occurred in the eighteenth century (79), a moment in which "[t]he social milieu depicted in engravings and paintings is signified and even ranked by, among other things, different physical 'thicknesses,' even if the associated vocabulary that would explicitly define traits comes late and remains imprecise" (79). This gradual shift toward a more mathematical "judgement of contours" is a move toward the medicalized pathologization of fat that would crystalize in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. More than this, though, it points to a gradual stabilization of cultural understandings of fat embodiment that are at odds with the less stable cultural notions of fat found in moments prior.

With that said, perhaps within Bell's explanation of cutting the scene there resides a grain of historiographical insight: Quin needed to cut the play extempore in 1721 because by that time in British culture fat had begun to stabilize into ideological obesity. On the one hand, fat's mutability and ambiguity was losing its plausibility. But on the other hand, what was really stabilizing was the way fat was talked about and thought about, the way it was socioculturally produced. The condition of being fat was increasingly an issue that intersected with new notions and concepts of individuality. The heightened sensitivity to the play extempore, a juncture of crip estrangement, evidences the cultural tensions at issue: as British culture began not just to overwrite fat, but also to medically pathologize it, the opened-out deconstruction of rhetorical obesity featured in the play extempore became intolerable and needed to be removed.

By the mid-nineteenth century, the new vogue for verisimilitude in Shakespeare's histories also led to less experimentation and deviation from the source texts than had occurred with Restoration and eighteenth-century dramaturgy. A promptbook of Samuel Phelps's for productions of 1 Henry IV in 1846 and 1856 indicates the return of the play extempore, which we know from contemporary reviews was also featured in his 1864 centenary production (Kastan 90). These reviews as well as photographs of the events indicate that Phelps also wore a fat suit for his performances. This reversal of confluences from Quin's production is interesting since the mid-nineteenth century is known as a moment in which fat was for the first time linked to "insufficient organ combustion" (Vigarello 110) and to what Joyce L. Huff calls a growing sense that the body was "separate from and opposed to an interior self," such that obesity came to be seen as one of the "diseases of the will" (94). This ideology's reassertion of old stigmas, however, would seem to indicate a newfound emphasis on reading Falstaff as the obese emblem of everything that Hal must cast aside. The return of the play extempore and fat suit to theatre history, therefore, is not a return to the mutable and ambiguous aesthetics of fat that manifested in sixteenth-century readings and performances; it is instead a particularly egregious instance of obesity drag being used to garner "lighthearted" laughs at the expense of a character's body size. This "lighthearted" tone can be seen in the way that Hal's invectives have been muffled in Phelps's promptbook. Falstaff is still "that old white-bearded Satan," but the lines about "that reverend Vice, that grey Iniquity, that Father Ruffian, that Vanity in years, [etc.]" (1160) have been cut. In the mid-nineteenth century, the soon-to-be King Henry V needed to be calmer, cooler, and (apparently) thinner as a stand-in for England and her now overbearing empire.


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  1. Hereafter I refer to Shakespeare's Henry IV plays as "1 Henry IV" and "2 Henry IV."
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  2. Cf. Womersley for more about the relationship between Falstaff and Oldcastle. Several sixteenth-century texts discuss Oldcastle, such as John Foxe's Acts and Monuments (1563) and Michael Drayton's play Sir John Oldcastle (1599). Famous Victories was first printed in 1598, but first performed as early as the late 1580s (Kastan 340).
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  3. For a challenge to Wiles's position cf. Melchiori 83-4. Kastan also lists Thomas Pope as a possible early Falstaff (78). No surviving evidence would indicate that Pope had a particularly large body size or was referred to as such. Doubler has suggested that Kemp's own pamphlet, Kemps Nine Daies Wonder (1600), features him dancing a morris for 130 miles from London to Norwich in order to emphasize his fit body as a means of escaping "the specter of the fat knight [who] haunted Will Kemp in the months following his performance as Falstaff" (150). Cf. Wiles 24-25 for more discussion of Kemp's physique. It is also worth noting that Richard Burbage is generally thought to have played the first Prince Hal (Kastan 78). Although his biographer Edmond says that "[n]othing is known of Burbage's appearance" (n.p.) it is possible that he was "fat," given Queen Gertrude's reference to Burbage's character, Hamlet, as such after his bout with Laertes (5.2.289). Nevertheless, while the notion of a thin Hal being played by a fat Burbage and a fat Falstaff being played by a thin Kemp is intriguing, the Queen's line is still heavily debated: cf. Thompson and Taylor 483n269.
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  4. Dates for Shakespeare's plays are taken from Bevington's "Canon, Dates, and Early Texts."
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  5. "Bombast" is "[c]otton-wool used as padding or stuffing for clothes" ("bombast" 2.a) Bombast is also used in theatrical prosthetics and could be used figuratively to reference "[i]nflated or turgid language; high-sounding language on a trivial or commonplace subject" (3.a). There is conflicting evidence as to whether or not Kemp wore a fat suit in performances of Falstaff. Lines such as Hal's reference to Falstaff as "my sweet creature of bombast" (1 Henry IV 2.4.317) suggest the use of theatrical prosthetics. However, the generally accepted assertion that the "giant hose" mentioned in Phillip Henslowe's Diary entry was used by Kemp has been debunked on account of the date alone: the entry is for August 1602, five years after the debut of the play is said to have occurred (Bourke 183-5).
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  6. Levy-Navarro mentions Grady and others in a discussion about the prominence of antifat stigma in modern criticism on Falstaff. Cf. 69-78.
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  7. Cf. Hobgood and Wood's 2009 "Disabled Shakespeares" special edition of Disability Studies Quarterly and subsequent edited collections such as their Recovering Disability in Early Modern England (2013) and Iyengar's Disability, Health and Happiness in the Shakespearean Body (2015). Also relevant are Bearden's Monstrous Kinds: Body, Space, and Narrative in Renaissance Representations of Disability (2019) and Row-Heyveld's Dissembling Disability in Early Modern English Drama (2018).
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  8. This is why the previous paragraph refers to Hal's rhetoric and Kemp's performances as representations of obesity and not of fat. Obesity is typically differentiated in fat studies as a pathological descriptor indicating health and medicine. The pathologization of fat came to be generally accepted across the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This distinction is maintained in the article's discussions of early modern culture, nevertheless, to flag the period's import for fat studies scholarship. Although it was thought of in less overtly pathological terms in the period, I use obesity to flag ideological constructions that overwrite fatness.
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  9. Cf. Siebers's Disability Theory 114-6.
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  10. My understanding of prosthesis as a concept, therefore, is derived both from Mitchell and Snyder's work and from Wills's broader application in poststructuralist thought. When a subject labels and understands a body as obese it is a prosthetic action because it compensates the subject's unwillingness or inability to comprehend that body as complex and fully human. Early modern disability studies has been pushing back against the assumption that norming influences did not exist in premodern and early modern times for years. Cf. Hobgood and Wood as well as Bearden.
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  11. "Obesity drag" is a variation on Siebers's "disability drag."
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  12. Garland-Thomson's term normate indicates that normalcy is a composite identity position that is situationally constructed.
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  13. Crip takes the pejorative word cripple and deliberately revamps it in an empowering way for disabled individuals. In this article, crip indicates the queer potential for disability to estrange reality. Cf. McRuer.
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  14. Cf. Merry Wives 4.2.160.
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  15. The concept of estrangement has a vexed history in criticism because it shows up in related but different ways in the writings of Marx and Engels, Shklovsky, and Brecht. Cf. Pötzsch for a comparison of each. For more on estrangement and disability cf. Davidson.
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  16. Cf. Davies 76.
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  17. For more on contemporary perspectives of fat and disability cf. Herndon, Kirkland, and various chapters in Rothblum and Solovay's The Fat Studies Reader (2009).
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  18. Transgender and intersex could also be added to this list. Cf. Paré's discussions of "Hermaphrodites and Androgynes" (26-31) and "Memorable Stories about Women Who Have Degenerated into Men" (31-3). For more on early modern monsters cf. Crawford and Bearden.
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  19. "[T]hirty years old" (83) makes her too old to be desirable in a patriarchal culture.
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  20. Cf. Levy-Navarro 113 and 116-23.
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  21. This comment also implicates Falstaff into a Virtue-versus-Vice morality play. For more on this association cf. Bevington "Introduction" 24-6 and Wiles 116-35.
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  22. The word history of fat is also worth considering since it could indicate both an animal that was large enough for slaughter and something akin to the pejorative term still in usage today. Other definitions for fat in use at the time included a noun indicating a vessel of silver, especially for holy water amongst others ("fat").
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  23. "Buckram" refers to "clothing made of coarse linen" (Kastan 217n186).
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  24. The scene gets several shout-outs in the recent special issue on metatheatre in Shakespeare Bulletin (2018). There is a long-standing debate about whether the play extempore should be read as an example of a play-within-a-play or not. Mehl does not include the scene in his classic article on the form, "Forms and Functions of the Play within a Play" (1965). McGuire describes the scene as a genuine example of a play-within-a-play in the tradition of The Murder of Gonzago, while Gottschalk contrastingly labels the scene a "play extempore" in which "both characters create their own roles as they go along" (609).
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  25. Critics have long debated why Falstaff is rejected twice. For more on the relationship between 1 Henry IV and 2 Henry IV cf. Bevington "Introduction" 37-41, Kastan 17-23, and Humphreys xxi-xxviii.
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  26. Perhaps Shakespeare included the play extempore because he was attempting to be subversive following the recent ban on playing in taverns (cf. Gurr's "Henry Carey's Peculiar Letter"), or maybe he is actually more Brechtian than metatheatre studies critics give him credit (for recent discussions on Shakespeare and Brecht cf. Streusand and Purcell). Nevertheless, the comic potential he derives from jokes about fat in the Henriad, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and elsewhere, such as the invective on Nell's fat body in 3.2 of The Comedy of Errors, seems to indicate that the metatheatrical reflection on obesity's construction that crip estrangement produces here is an unintentional phenomenon.
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  27. Euphuism is a standard term in literary criticism derived from Lyly's Euphues (1578). Cf. Andy Kesson's John Lyly and Early Modern Authorship (2014) for an argument that it was invented by later critics.
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  28. For more on ostranenie and translation cf. Berlina 151-6.
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  29. This is Butler's translation. The passage is from Quintilian's Institutio oratoria 8.3.62. The concept of ekphrasis I am employing here is notably at odds with Murray Krieger's understanding of the term as limited to works of art, which still dominates literary criticism (Butler 57). Cf. Butler 54-9.
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  30. Anaphora and climax are rhetorical devices featured prominently in Renaissance poetics. George Puttenham calls anaphora the "figure of report" (167) and climax "the marching figure" (172) in his The Art of English Poesy. Anaphora "repeats a word" "at the beginning of two or more successive clauses"; climax is "a series in which each proposition rises above the preceding, beginning with a key word in the former phrase" (Bevington 202n440-1).
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  31. Cf. Parker 13-5.
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  32. Bloom, for instance, insists that "Falstaff is a person, while Hal and Hotspur are fictions" (282).
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  33. Cf. Kastan 234n468.
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  34. For more on Bergson, laughter, and metatheatre in Shakespeare cf. Streusand.
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  35. Cf. Emilia's comment that "a lady in Venice would have walked barefoot to Palestine for a touch of [Lodovico's] nether lip" in Othello (1603-4) (4.3.41-42).
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  36. Proteus, a water god, is one of Poseidon's sons known for his power to change shape at will.
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  37. LeBesco argues that fat suits have the potential to "denaturalize[e] the thin 'original' body of the actor" ("Situating" 233) even as she and Mendoza both note that their disruptive potential has rarely if ever been realized (Mendoza 280).
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