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"That Thing that Ends All Other Deeds": Silence as a Literary Device in the Suicides of Shakespeare's Female Characters

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Author: Guiliano, Amanda
Advisor: Minear, Erin
Committee Members: Wilson, Brett; Blank, Paula, 1959-; Porter, M. Christine
Issued Date: 5/11/2011
Subjects: William Shakespeare
Women and literature
English drama
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/13679
Description: Suicide is a frequent and important occurrence in the oeuvre of Shakespeare. While Shakespeare's male characters typically contemplate and commit suicide on stage, complete with lofty, pensive soliloquies on the matter, his female characters often commit their acts behind the curtain and are given few to no lines to clarify their deeds or dictate how they wish to be remembered. In minimizing the amount of dialogue and freedom of speech of female characters, Shakespeare uses silence as a literary device to subtly draw attention to the ambiguities surrounding their suicidal or potentially suicidal deaths. Once examined, the situations reveal themselves to be significantly more complex than they appear topically, and often illuminate the roles and positions of women in the suppressive Renaissance society.
Degree: Bachelors of Arts in English

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