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Date of Award

9-2003

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Supervisor

Melinda Gough

Language

English

Abstract

This thesis focuses generally on the critically neglected area of stock characterisation in Renaissance history plays. Specifically, it examines the role of stock women characters in these plays, particularly the "wailing woman" type. My readings of three plays - John Bale's King Johan, Thomas Preston's Cambises, and William Shakespeare's King John - challenge typical twentieth-century approaches to them. In addition, I prove that feminist critics in general, though they often refute the assertions of other twentieth-century critics, tend to make the same mistakes as their non-feminist contemporaries in their analyses of female characterisation. While feminist criticisms purport to reassert the importance of female dramatic characterisation, they often discredit female characters' power, even during their identification of it. My thesis redresses these issues, emphasising the essential power of stock characterisation in Renaissance histories and arguing the centrality of "women of woe" in these three plays.

McMaster University Library

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