AbstractsWomens Studies

A study of women in eight English domestic tragedies 1590-1642

by O'Connor, Miriam

Institution: University of Birmingham
Department: School of English, The Shakespeare Institute
Year: 2015
Keywords: HQ The family. Marriage. Woman; PR English literature
Record ID: 1390705
Full text PDF: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/5730/


This thesis uses the social history of Early Modern England to provide the context for a discussion of tragedy in domestic drama; eight plays from \(circa\)1590 to 1642. The focus of the discussion is on one female character in each play and how they contribute to their own tragedy. Alice Arden (\(Arden\) \(of\) \(Faversham\)) and Anne Frankford (\(A\) \(Woman\) \(Killed\) \(with\) \(Kindness\)) both commit adultery; Alice also plots her husband’s murder. Rachel Merry’s (\(Two\) \(Lamentable\) \(Tragedies\)) love of and loyalty to her brother leads her to conceal the murders committed by him. Anne Drury (\(A\) \(Warning\) \(for\) \(Fair\) \(Women\)), in addition to her skills as a cunning woman, uses every piece of information that comes her way to her advantage. Elizabeth Sawyer (\(The\) \(Witch\) \(of\) \(Edmonton\)) is an intelligent and articulate woman. The treatment she receives at the hands of the villagers of Edmonton leads her to take on the role that they assign her, that of witch. Clandestine marriage, plight troth and wardship bring tragedy to three women, the Wife, (\(A\) \(Yorkshire\) \(Tragedy\)), Clare Harcop (\(The\) \(Miseries\) \(of\) \(Enforced\) \(Marriage\)) and Anne Boote (\(The\) \(Vow-Breaker\)). The genre of domestic tragedy often included a strong woman as one of the main characters. This is true of all of these women, despite their being a guilty party to their own tragedy.