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Title: Shakespeare's domestic tragedies : disrupted homes on the early modern stage, page and street
Author: Whipday, E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5365 7460
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis offers a significant reappraisal of the relationship between Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, and the genre of domestic tragedy. In situating these tragedies in the context of portrayals of disrupted homes in cheap print, I explore social, spatial, ideological, and psychological constructions of the domestic in early modern England. I demonstrate how Shakespeare uses these constructions to stage how societal and familial pressures shape individual agency; how the integrity of the house is associated with the body of the housewife; and how household transgressions render the home permeable. Chapter One examines how the political analogy of the household with the state is negotiated in three shrew-taming plays, in ways that prefigure Shakespeare’s appropriations of domestic tragedy. Chapters Two, Three and Four explore these appropriations: Chapter Two argues that Shakespeare transfigures popular conceptions of adulterous murderesses in creating the figure of Gertrude; Chapter Three traces how Othello stages the relationship between domestic enclosure, female chastity, and illicit privacy; and Chapter Four suggests that Othello and Macbeth borrow dramaturgical tropes from domestic tragedies in staging household murder. Chapter Five compares Macbeth’s use of popular conceptions of withcraft with the later borrowings of The Witch of Edmonton, and argues that Shakespeare and Rowley, Ford, and Dekker use similar sources, to divergent effects. The innovations of domestic tragedy challenge the distinctions of early modern generic theory, showing how the transgressions of those in subordinate gender and class positions can attain tragic stature and threaten the security of the state. This thesis argues that in Hamlet, Othello, and Macbeth, Shakespeare creates new versions of domestic tragedy, using heightened language, foreign settings, and elite spheres to stage familiar domestic worlds. I thus propose a new way of understanding Shakespeare’s tragedies, domestic tragedy, and the significance of the disrupted home in early modern culture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available