Skip to content

All SAP systems will be unavailable on Saturday 10th December 2022 from 0800-1800 UK Time.

If you can’t place an order, please contact Customer Services to complete your order.

UK/ROW +44 (0) 1223 326050 | US 1 800 872 7423 or 1 212 337 5000 | Australia/New Zealand 61 3 86711400 or 1800 005 210, New Zealand 0800 023 520

Register Sign in Wishlist

Service and Dependency in Shakespeare's Plays


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

£ 25.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
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
    Read more

    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

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    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

    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

  • 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.

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.