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Title: Shakespeare's Greek plays
Author: Markidou, Vasiliki
ISNI:       0000 0004 2701 7267
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 1998
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This thesis traces the development of Shakespeare's conceptualisation of ancient and early modem Greece through an analysis of his Greek plays. Contrary to the numerous studies of Shakespeare's Roman plays, very little interest has been paid to his Greek ones. The single extensive study conducted on the subject to the present, has focused exclusively on the structural interrelation between classical Greece and Renaissance Britain, failing to take into consideration early modern Greece. The specific thesis aims at filling this crucial gap. It sets about to demonstrate that Shakespeare's contemporary Greece was equally, if not in some ways more important, than classical Greece as a moving force in the creation of the Shakespearean reek plays. Reading these literary texts through a historicist approach and in conjunction with a wide variety of other discursive forms ranging from travelogues to ambassadorial reports to historiographies, this thesis demonstrates the deeply contradictory role of Greece in both sustaining and dislocating Renaissance English authority. It reveals that Elizabethan and Jacobean England struggled to achieve selfrepresentation and establish itself as an imperial authority through an emulation of classical Greek cultural, linguistic and imperial models, while simultaneously endeavouring to break free from the overdominant influence of these models and establish an independent identity. At the same time, Renaissance England's ambition to achieve self-representation was unsettled by its anxiety over the vulnerability of Europe's eastern borders, deepened by the subjection of early modem Greece to the Otttoman Empire. Shakespeare's Greek plays are informed by and engage with these particular tensions. The introduction outlines the parameters of this study and explains the choice of texts. The first chapter reads Shakespeare's first dramatic poem, Venus and Adonis, as the playwright's call to Elizabethan England to abandon its emulation of classical Greek language and devolop its own instead. The second chapter focuses on The Comedy of Errors as a Shakespeareane xploration of England's effort to forge itself as different to both the Ottoman Empire and early modern Greece and its inability to achieve such a goal due to its confrontation with an Eastern `other' who is both a reflection of the self and determinately alien. This blurring of boundaries is further highlighted in A Midsummer Night's Dream. The play dramatises the dissolution of strict binary oppositions such as the Athenian city and the forest, the elevated classical Greece and the degraded early modem one, and the stereotypical differences between the two sexes by effeminating men and emasculating women. The fourth chapter analyzes Troilus and Cressida as a Shakespeareans atire of the breakdown of the classical world which disrupts the use of the Troy legend as a tool of political propaganda by both Elizabeth and James I. The last three plays of the thesis, written well into the Jacobean era, are analysed in relation to James's and Henry's courts. Timon of Athens satirizes the fall of the Athenian civilisation in order to critique Jacobean England and its decadent monarch. Pericles is read as a dramatisation of the dream of proto-capitalistic Jacobean England's redemption by its re-naissance of feudal values, its engagement in a war against the infidels and its solidification of a Christian Renaissance English identity. The seventh and last chapter examines The Two Noble Kinsmen as a call for Jacobean England to resuscitate its decayed chivalric ethos by abandoning its imitation of Greek antiquity and engaging in a more introspective process, a return to its Gothic origins.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available