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Service and Dependency in Shakespeare's Plays

£25.99

  • Date Published: February 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521101059

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About the Authors
  • This is an unusual study of the nature of service and other types of dependency and patronage in Shakespeare's drama. By considering the close associations of service with childhood or youth, marriage and friendship, Judith Weil sheds light on social practice and dramatic action. Approached as dynamic explorations of a familiar custom, the plays are shown to demonstrate a surprising consciousness of obligations, and a fascination with how dependants actively change each other. They help us understand why early modern people may have found service both frightening and enabling. Attentive to a range of historical sources, and social and cultural issues, Weil also emphasises the linguistic ambiguities created by service relationships, and their rich potential for interpretation on the stage. The book includes close readings of dramatic sequences in twelve plays, including Hamlet, Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew and King Lear.

    • This unusual study considers an important aspect of Shakespeare's plays often overlooked
    • Complements gender studies by stressing the enabling functions of subordination
    • Combines literary close readings with a discussion of social and cultural history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'An … imaginative and unusual book, unusually well written … The book entertainingly and impressively negotiates the terrain between the plays and their circumambient culture.' Shakespeare Survey 59

    Review of the hardback: 'Weil's study provides impressively detailed readings of the vocabulary, imagery and characteristic problems of service in Shakespeare's plays and engages a broad range of the contemporary intertexts. The author also draws from a valuable depth of literary scholarship as well as from social history and historical sociology. [This book] offers important new perspectives on Shakespeare's plays and the institutions of early modern service, especially in its emphasis on the varied forms and fears of agency and servility that such service allowed and provoked.' Renaissance Quarterly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521101059
    • length: 224 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.34kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface
    1. Introduction: 'slippery people'
    2. Sons, daughters and servants
    3. Wives and servants
    4. Friends and servants
    5. Tragic dependencies in King Lear
    6. Freedom, service and slavery in Macbeth
    7. Epilogue: some reflections on the porter
    Notes
    Bibliography
    Index.

  • Author

    Judith Weil, University of Manitoba, Canada
    Judith Weil has recently retired from the post of Professor of English at the University of Manitoba. Co-editor, with her husband Herbert Weil, of 'The First Part of King Henry IV' (Cambridge, 1997), she has published widely on Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, including essays in 'Marlowe, History and Sexuality: New Essays on the Life and Writings of Christopher Marlowe', ed. Paul Whitfield White, 'Renaissance Female Tragic Heroines', ed. Naomi Conn Liebler and 'Approaches to Teaching English Renaissance Drama', ed. Alexander Leggatt and Karen Bamford.

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