Local habitations: Settings and politics in Shakespeare's plays /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Goldfarb Styrt, Philip Reuben, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2015
Description:1 electronic resource (327 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
URL for this record:http://pi.lib.uchicago.edu/1001/cat/bib/10773239
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Richard Strier Committee members: Joshua Scodel.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-02(E), Section: A.
Summary:"Local Habitations" argues that the settings of Shakespeare's plays matter. It suggests that we can see the plays in a new light by paying close attention to how Shakespeare and his contemporaries understood the political structures shaping the diverse times and places in which the plays are set. By asking how Shakespeare made his Venice Venetian, his medieval Scotland both medieval and Scottish, and so on, we can better understand the circumstances with which his characters are faced, and their reactions to those circumstances. Such understanding is crucial for both critical interpretation and theatrical performance, since the characters themselves succeed or fail within the plays as they understand or misunderstand the political worlds in which they operate. This historical perspective allows more productive theatrical treatment of individual scenes, individual characters, and the plays as a whole. In particular, this approach provides answers to questions in several of the plays that can otherwise seem puzzling: why is the Duke so passive in Merchant of Venice, for instance, or why is Magna Carta missing from King John? Answering these questions not only resolves the critical confusion they have often produced, but gives new and often surprising significance to other parts of the plays that have often been neglected. The dissertation is organized around the kinds of political systems at work in the plays. It begins with an ancient republic in Coriolanus, followed by a sixteenth-century one in the Venice of Merchant of Venice and Othello . It then treats the later stages of the Roman republic as it edged towards becoming an empire in Julius Caesar, before turning to two different medieval monarchies in King John and Macbeth. In each of these cases, it shows in detail how Shakespeare weaves an awareness of specific historical political structures into the fabric of the play. It further suggests that this approach to settings is distinctively Shakespearean--a theme pursued in the conclusion, which compares Shakespeare with his contemporary, Ben Jonson, whose Roman plays put similar sources to more immediately topical uses.