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Title: Mourning before death : mother-son relationships in Shakespeare's histories and tragedies
Author: Lin, Chi-I
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2009
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In Mourning before Death, I discuss the representation of maternal mourning in King John, the Henry VI trilogy, Richard III, Titus Andronicus, and Coriolanus. Primarily, I explore Shakespeare’s expansion of maternal roles from his source texts, especially their lamentations anticipating the death of sons in these plays. Shakespeare emphasises the grief experienced by mothers which is largely absent in the historical accounts on which the plays are based. My research address Phyllis Rackin’s definition of females as ‘anti-historians’ and examines how mothers in mourning intrude into historical events and confront masculine authority. This study focuses principally on Shakespeare’s representation of maternal authority in terms of mother-son relationships. The introduction identifies the importance of ‘women’s time’ and physical expressions of maternal distress and the dramatic conflicts these provoke. Chapter 2 examines how Constance’s grief affects the reaction of the audience to the power struggle in King John. Chapter 3 is concerned with how Margaret’s queenship in Henry VI disrupts the development of English kingship and endangers the existing Lancastrian rule. Chapter 4 discusses the psychological and physical meanings expressed through the use of the sitting posture, a gesture which embodies the mother’s pain. Chapter 5 discusses Shakespeare’s exploration of political wildness and barbarism through his representation of Tamora’s tragic passion. Chapter 6 discusses Volumnia’s maternity and her appropriation of the Roman concept of honour. The conclusion considers the strength of maternal authority and female power in Shakespeare’s representation of maternal mourning.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available