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"Even in the midst of laughing there is sorrow" : melancholy in Shakespearean comedy


"Even in the midst of laughing there is sorrow" : melancholy in Shakespearean comedy

Bernard, Jean-François (2008) "Even in the midst of laughing there is sorrow" : melancholy in Shakespearean comedy. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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MR45277.pdf - Accepted Version


Early Modern England developed an unprecedented fascination with melancholy as the ailment effectively populated both its scientific and literary discourses. Although several writers touched upon the subject, Shakespeare's depictions of melancholy, seldom found in the source material he relied on, stand as an outstanding foray into a vast and complex notion. In negotiating a place for it within the dramatic structures he explores--whether tragic or comical--Shakespeare both borrows from the medical knowledge of the Renaissance and innovates upon it. This thesis will examine the presence and significance of melancholy in Shakespearean comedy. By considering its treatment in four plays-- The Comedy of Errors, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It and Twelfth Night --, I hope to chart its progression as it shifts from an undesired and foreign concept to a suitable social affect. By reading them chronologically, my aim is to highlight how Shakespeare, in his treatment of melancholy, takes advantage of the ailment's broad definitions to develop it in accordance with the various concerns he explores. Several issues will be considered in relation to Shakespeare's use of melancholy in comedic settings. Notions of identity, gender and theatricality are crucial to his development of the humour. Moreover, his association of melancholy with the merchant life proves both prevalent and insightful. Lastly, his exploration of the intricate connections between mirth and melancholy further highlights the humour's remarkable progression throughout Shakespearean comedy

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > English
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Bernard, Jean-François
Pagination:iv, 105 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Thesis Supervisor(s):Pask, Kevin
ID Code:976147
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:20
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:41
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