AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

'Mark this show' : on dramatic attention in Christopher Marlowe's and William Shakespeare's tragedies

by Jamie Paris

Institution: University of British Columbia
Year: 2015
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2063949
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/54676


This dissertation will argue that the early modern theatre and the early modern church were both concerned with keeping the attention of their audiences, and that one of the ways that dramatic interest in Christopher Marlowe's and William Shakespeare's plays was generated was by staging acts that can be read as ambiguous, interrupted, failed or parodic confessions, prayers, and sermons. In particular, I will argue that when the characters in Marlowe’s and Shakespeare’s tragedies fail to find solace in acts that model reformed devotional practices, they eventually suffer the strange but dramatically engaging consequences of their tragic passions like despair, hatred, jealousy, fear, and rage. This dissertation, then, will bridge the turn to religion and affect studies as a means of arguing that early modern tragedy was consumed with attracting, and sustaining, the dramatic attention of the audience. While it is not possible to say, with any finality, why tragedies hook an audience's attention, it is possible to suggest how Marlowe's and Shakespeare's tragedies used the passions generated by the failure of model devotional acts as a means of capturing and sustaining the attention of the audience.