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Shakespeare’s search for tragic form in the 1590s

O'Connor, Lara 2016. Shakespeare’s search for tragic form in the 1590s. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Starting from David Bevington’s observation that ‘Shakespeare’s disparate ventures into tragic expression in the years prior to 1599 suggest that he had not yet found the model or models he was looking for’,1 the current thesis explores four early tragedies in terms of their experimental nature: Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II and Julius Caesar. Central to the thesis is how metadrama in these plays point towards an exploration of tragedy that is marked by the intermingling of genres and sources. The thesis argues that each of the four tragedies under discussion is creatively imaginative in the way it involves adding a fresh perspective to tragedy and its mixing of genres. The thesis begins by arguing that in ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’, the play-within-the play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare mocks the amateur staging of tragedy which he seeks to revitalize, starting with Titus Andronicus as a bloody revenge tragedy uneasily mixed with poetic language. Chapter Two suggests that Romeo and Juliet explores some of the ways in which comedy collapses into tragedy, while Chapter Three asks questions about Shakespeare’s use of history as a source for tragedy in relation to Richard II. The final chapter concentrates on Julius Caesar as a ‘broken’ play, examining the role of the ‘hero’. Each chapter examines a number of features, including the blending of genre types,the creation of the tragic ‘hero’, unsatisfactory endings as well as metadrama. Finally, Hamlet is seen to incorporate many of these experiments, and thus to lead on to the later tragedies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 28 July 2016
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2019 11:53

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