April 6 Chester Play

The three shepherds seem to spend a lot of time talking about and listing various herbs and foods? Why do you think this is? Do they play a more significant role in the meaning of the play or in connecting the characters to nature?

4 thoughts on “April 6 Chester Play

  1. As we have examined in the First and Second plays, food can often be a method of creating harmony; frequently the shepherds dine together as a way of resolving an argument or enjoying a type of fellowship. The Chester Play brings in the mention of discussion of herbs, specifically the uses for different herbs and the way the shepherds possess a variety of them. Herbs are clearly tied to the traditionally natural world, however the shepherd’s casual talk and possession of various herbs also ties them to the human world. As represented in this play, herbs are a product of the natural world created for various human needs. The simple herbs serve as sort of a bridge between the human and natural world, and showcase another way in which the two are capable of interacting.

  2. The herbs seem to serve as an obscure form of shepherd’s resume – proving their knowledge of medicinal herbs and how they are applied to relieve various illnesses from their sheep. It is interesting that the shepherds continually display an in depth knowledge of nature as their craft is so closely linked to the natural world. The fact that many of the most memorable figures from the Bible are also shepherds may imply that the shepherd, being so close to nature, is closer to god than the average man as we know from previous readings that nature is often thought of as a vehicle of god’s will.

  3. The discussion of food shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to us who are listening on what we could think of as a working class conversation. Billy has an interesting analysis in that these shepherd’s use herbal knowledge as a way of distinguishing them from other tradesmen, and signals to the reader that there is more than one valued knowledge outside of aristocratic education. These shepherds are intimately tied to Nature through herbs and foods in a way that other classes, such as merchants and nobles, are alienated.

  4. As both Billy and Franco both stated, their knowledge on herbs is almost like their resume. The more they know about herbs and their uses, the more their knowledge is useful for everyday life. It also distinguishes themselves among other people because of how valuable their knowledge on herbs really is. It is almost like their knowledge is this play represents their livelihood, while in the other play the sheep are considered their livelihood.

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