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Title:Female Bonds in Shakespeare's Plays
Author(s):Keinanen, Nely
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Shapiro, Michael
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Literature, English
Abstract:The dissertation examines Shakespeare's representations of bonds between female friends, mistresses and servants, and mothers and daughters in the context of early modern discourses on female friendship, focusing specifically on the ways female characters mediate for one another. Although the majority of Renaissance theorists of friendship assumed that women were incapable of forming bonds with each other, we find in Shakespeare's work a complex array of female friendships. Bonds between women in Shakespeare primarily function to elicit and channel female desire towards the appropriate man as defined by the women; depending on the genre, these efforts are met with applause (comedy), uneasiness (problem play), derision and death (tragedy), or acceptance (romance). Shakespeare's female friendships thus function both to support patriarchal ideals (in that women seek heterosexual bonds) and to challenge them (since the women question the mail prerogative to exchange women).
In order to understand how Shakespeare's representations of female friendship function culturally, in producing and/or challenging ideas about female friendship, the dissertation reads his plays in relation to important works by women writers, including Mary Wroth and Elizabeth Cary, which contain similar plots or themes. By reading these works together, the study contributes to our understanding of how ideas about female friendship and female mediation were articulated in early modern England.
Issue Date:1993
Description:246 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9314890
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1993

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