Experiment and transgression in John Marston's plays.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis is an examination of Histriomastix, Antonio and Mellida, Antonio's Revenge, Jacke Drum's Entertainment, What You Will and The Malcontent, focusing on the ways in which the plays can be regarded as experimental. It proposes that the Antonio plays and The Malcontent resemble experiments which explore options against the abuse of power, and that all the plays experiment with dramatic conventions in a manner that heightens audience awareness of them. The model of the Stoic praemeditatio futuri mali provides a theoretical basis for the argument that the plays investigate possibilities rather than offer solutions to the problems they raise. This approach leads to the observation that the plays after the Histriomastix are linked by examinations of Stoic philosophy and deceptive appearances. Marston's treatment of dramatic conventions such as genre, plot and characterisation is investigated, and it is argued that he frequently transgresses convention, with the result that the plays emphasise their status as dramatic works and the limitations of dramatic representation are made apparent.