Tragedies of blood : The significance of the family in five Renaissance plays
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
In this thesis, I examine the functions and significance of the family in five English tragedies from the period 1607-30. Drawing on Renaissance texts in which the family is employed as the fundamental analogue of social and moral order, I argue that the prominence of the family in these plays attests to an enduring belief in the need for order and structure in society, which their sensationalist depictions of depravities such as adultery, incest, bastardy and murder should not be allowed to obscure. In doing so, I reject criticism which regards these plays' view of human nature and society as 'progressive', modern and pessimistic, arguing instead that their ethos is implicitly conservative and, if at times cynical, nostalgic.