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Title: Shakespeare and the contradictions of honour
Author: Pacheco, Anita
ISNI:       0000 0001 3462 5218
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 1990
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This study explores the concept of honour as it enters into several Shakespearean plays. It presents an historical definition of honour in the light of which Shakespeare's treatment of the concept can be seen as a response to the complex ethical inheritance of the sixteenth century. Chapter 1 studies the main classical and medieval traditions of honour and the reception by the Renaissance of this plurality of ideas. The first section explores honour in the context of the pagan concept of social virtue and identifies it as an unstable secular formulation of virtue which defines the aristocratic public function. The second section examines the two principal medieval responses to this secular ethic: the Augustinian denial of the human capacity for virtue and the scholastic compromise tradition. which grants man a limited power for well-doing and. in integrating secular virtue into the structure of creation. provides the framework for chivalric honour. The third section presents honour in the Renaissance as an expression of this diverse classical and Christian heritage. It identifies three traditions - the chivalric. the humanist and the Calvinist - that reflect an age of divided ethical allegiances in which Shakespeare was led to explore honour as a problematic and ultimately tragic concept. Chapter 4 discusses Shakespeare's treatment of the chivalric tradition in Henry Y and Troilus and Cressida. It argues that both plays. though in very different ways. interrogate that tradition and its claim to incorporate honour within the system of natural law - Henry Y by exposing its weakness as an historical model. Trojlus and Cressjda by showing its connection to an individualistic honour. Chapter 5 examines honour in Hamlet in the context of the revenge ethic. It suggests that the protagonist's contradictory task - the virtuous cause that is a mandate to exact private vengeance - enacts the self-defeating tensions in honour. and that this tragic conflict is played out within a Christian universe which offers the possibility of the transcendence of honour. Chapter 6 explores Shakespeare's treatment of the pagan concept of public service in Juljus Caesar and Corjolanus. It attempts to show that Shakespeare portrays this concept as tragically flawed because reliant for social order on an aristocratic honour which makes individual excellence inseparable from self-assertion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature