Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Shakespeare's final plays turn from the tragic outcome of King Lear to centre on romantic resolutions to family conflict for ruling figures. Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's ~, The Tempest, and King Henry V111 restore faith in the concept of authority as a loving father of a national family. The metaphor places female identity in a patriarchical riddle: woman as mother is taken up and cast out in an alternating sequence that confirms and rejects her place in patriarchical societies. This thesis explores the alternating presence and absence of mother figures, potential and realized, in the lives of authority figures to examine the ways in which the female image is figured and disfigured to restore faith in patriarchal and monarchical authority. In each of the plays listed, continuity for the ruling family is dependent on a female heir and, with the exception of Elizabeth in King Henry Vlll, her potential motherhood. But the mothers of the heirs are alternatively acknowledged and ignored in the chronological sequence of the plays. Detailed analysis is limited to the first three plays, but the sequence continues in the final two plays where faith in a benevolent authority figure is firmly re-established. This presence and absence of respected co-partners in the lives of ruling figures alternatively proposes a need for female participation in public affairs followed by a reactive viewpoint confirming sole paternal authority.
Brookfield, Kathleen, "The Mother in the Riddle of Father-Authority in Shakespeare's Final Plays" (1989). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7081.
McMaster University Library