Women's dialogue in English neoclassical tragedy, 1550 to 1610
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This thesis examines scenes of women’s dialogue in neoclassical tragedies of the English Renaissance, from 1550 to 1610. Their composition mostly coincided with either the rise of queenly rule in England in the 1550s, or the long reign of Elizabeth Tudor. The political circumstances surrounding queenship acted as a catalyst for playwrights’ engagement with women’s rule, which they presented and challenged with regards to its modes of actualisation, its limits, and its existence. Neoclassical tragedies, translated into English from Greek and Roman drama, were particularly suited to accommodating this process, as they constituted a repository of well-known exemplary characters and stories. Thus, a close-reading analysis of scenes of dialogue among women in these plays and a comparative analysis of relevant parts between the source and target languages highlight a twofold process of translation, which affects both language and characterisation. Through the English playwrights’ conscious and active engagement with classical exemplars modelling behaviours to imitate or avoid, the English versions of the female characters in these tragedies simultaneously retain familiar features of their classical antecedents and acquire new ones. These are aimed at addressing specific issues on women’s rule, power, and virtue which can be linked to the social and political context at the time of composition. More specifically, I categorise women’s dialogue in these plays along two axes: one refers to the female characters’ social relationships (family or peers, and employer/employee), while the other describes their behaviour in interactions (alliances, negotiations, and conflicts). Ultimately, women’s dialogue in these plays represents a site where language is modified and amplified, and where characters are shaped to accommodate new meanings and aims and, at times, to approach figures of authority.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internationalhttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Embargo Date: 2027-08-15
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Restricted until 15th August 2027
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