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n retrospect, Carnival is a potentially subversive and at times violent act. Bristol refers to the fact that living in a symbolically representative world where we confuse the spiritual truth of symbols with their functional effectiveness in everyday life has led to a hierarchical social system in which there is a strong belief in the authority of symbols and social rankings. This coincides with Bakhtin’s metamorphosis regarding the clown and the king. Bristol says “A crown is not just a fancy hat”. However, in Carnival, we diminish the meanings of symbols, and therefore the angel (the crown) becomes the anal (whatever you want). Therefore by Bristol and Bakhtin’s standards, the performance of Carnival diminishes the meanings of symbols and objects – surely implying Carnival is a subversive act which alters our perception of society and spiritual trust in symbols. Morality plays such as Mankind which is meant to serve as ‘instructions’ can also be used to attack and serve a political agenda. Baumbach uses the example of John Skelton’s Magnyfycence (1519) It’s not a religious or educational play, it’s a political one. The play was read like an open assault on young Henry VIII and as a satire focused on greed, arrogance and mystery in his courthouse. Carnival is purposefully meant to contradict and confuse social structures placed by society. The foolishness behind the masquerade of carnival shows the impermanence of any relationship between the individual and the social identity claimed by the symbolism of his clothes. The idea of costumery and disguise plays a large role in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The character of Viola would have been played by a male actor, dressed as a woman, dressed as a man – adding to the comedic value of the play. Viola’s cross-dressing as a whole is politically subversive however, it seems that in society, the position of an individual in life is more determined by what they wear and how they a
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