William Shakespeare's The Rape of Lucrece : a defense of Lucrece

Smith, Jeffrey Llewellyn (1988) William Shakespeare's The Rape of Lucrece : a defense of Lucrece. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

The Rape of Lucrece has been condemned by many scholars who suggest that Shakespeare lacked a clear and unified vision of his topic. However, an examination of the poem establishes that the poet did have a clear and unified vision of his topic. -- In the poem, Shakespeare makes a conscious entry into a debate which had existed between theologians and secular writers concerning the suicide of Lucrece. This debate centred around the ethics of suicide. For Christian theologians, suicide is a damnable sin. Secular writers, however, saw something heroic and noble in it. -- Shakespeare, like other secular writers, chooses to defend the virtue of Lucrece and the necessity of her suicide, both of which had been questioned by such Christian theologians as Tertullian, Augustine and Tyndale. -- Throughout The Rape of Lucrece, Shakespeare provides artistic justification for the classical matron's suicide. He uses his dramatic adeptness to explore the motivations of the two principal characters - Tarquin and Lucrece. Shakespeare methodically builds up a case for Lucrece’s innocence, stressing that Targuin must bear the sole responsibility for his own actions. The poet also provides a biased narrative commentary which supplies the frames of reference needed to judge the motives of Lucrece as admirable and Tarquin as reprehensible. Far from being incoherent and disunified, the poem shows a unity of purpose and design, a unity which centres around the presentation of Lucrece as virtuous and refuting theological claims that she was vain and guilty of adultery.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5457
Item ID: 5457
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 91-95.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1988
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616--Rape of Lucrece; Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616--Characters--Women; Suicide in literature

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