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Title: Domestic relations in Shakespeare
Author: Kenny, Amy
ISNI:       0000 0004 2723 8086
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis investigates how the size, structure and function of the family presented in Shakespeare's plays relates to an early modern understanding of the importance and function of the family. By examining domestic manuals, pamphlets, treatises and diaries from the early modern period, I establish what was considered normative domestic behaviour at the time and analyse Shakespeare's plays through these contemporary attitudes, specifically their treatment of privacy, household structure and medical beliefs surrounding reproduction and gynaecology. This thesis seeks to focus on the way in which people's positions in the family change over time, from infancy to adulthood, and how these relationships are represented in Shakespeare's plays. Beginning with marriage, where the family is first formed; I examine Othello and Macbeth, and show how the marriages in these plays, while tragic, are cherished and valued. Succession was integral to the legacy and sustainability of a family, which is the topic of the next chapter, in which I explore the notions of how children are conceived and raised in Richard III and The Winter's Tale. The transition from childhood into adulthood was fraught with change in both housing and legal circumstances, and this struggle in adolescence is clearly depicted in Romeo and Juliet, which comprises the third chapter. Aside from the familial relationships of husband and wife and parent and child, the most influential relationships were those of siblings, which I investigate in a number of plays in the fourth chapter. Finally, I focus on the traditional and complicated nuclear families in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Hamlet and Coriolanus, and analyse how the family is highlighted and valued in each of these plays. The thesis concludes that throughout Shakespeare's work, the family is privileged over war, nobility and absolute patriarchal control, emphasising that it is vital to understanding and analysing Shakespeare's plays.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR0421 Elizabethan era (1550-1640) ; PR2894 The drama. Individual authors. Shakespeare, William. General treatises, essays, etc. Comprehensive. English. General works