Money talks : economics, discourse and identity in three Renaissance comedies

Hann, Yvonne D. (1998) Money talks : economics, discourse and identity in three Renaissance comedies. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This purpose of this study is to examine how the theatre of the late fifteen hundreds and early sixteen hundreds was used to voice for its audience the rising concerns of locating identity in an economic urban setting. This was increasingly difficult because the traditional markers of social stratification were becoming much more ambiguous. In particular, this study will focus on three Renaissance comedies that highlight the issues of identity in the city; the plays included are William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Thomas Dekker's The Shoemaker's Holiday and Thomas Middleton's Michaelmas Term. The key to understanding the issues of locating identity in the city is language. The use of both the oral and written codes of language in the plays included will be examined in order to shed some light on the overall dramatic discourse of each play. In other words, this study will examine how each individual playwright (in)forms his characters with a specific discourse which is then used to guide the audience to the social discourse that the play produces. The use of language by the playwrights instigates a dialogue with the audience that emphasizes the role that language plays in establishing identity. Furthermore each playwright creates a world of competing discourses that in turn illustrates how identity in the 'real' or actual culture can be discerned. In the plays discussed the identity of each character is revealed by the discourse they espouse; what each character represents is marked by the relationship of individual discourse to the discourse of the play itself. In each case the discourse that is used to create and establish identity is interconnected to economic activity. The discourses of identity in these plays are based on economics. It is the aim of this study to propose that each playwright sees the ambiguity of identity in the urban setting as one of the central issues with which the audience watching has to contend. Through such an examination, this study will attempt to offer an insight into the larger discourse of identity in the socially and economically fluid culture of sixteenth-century London.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7081
Item ID: 7081
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [141]-148.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1998
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Merchant of Venice; Dekker, Thomas, ca. 1572-1632. Shoemaker's holiday; Middleton, Thomas, d. 1627. Michaelmas term; Economics in literature; English drama (Comedy)

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