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Swords in early modern English plays

Wakasa, Tomoko (2011)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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In the 1590s, the history of the sword in England reached a turning point both in the real and fictional worlds. The rapier, a thin and light bladed sword in the latest Continental fashion, displaced the traditional English broad sword. The elegant Continental style of fencing with rapiers strongly appealed to Londoners, especially upper-class youths, and combat by rapiers consequently replaced the traditional English “art of defence” with swords and bucklers. This transition was reflected in dramatic works performed in the London playhouses. This dissertation attempts to grasp this changing weaponry and fencing style. Chapter one examines the sword, sword fighting, and the function of the sword in contemporary English society. Shifting the focus from the outside to inside the theatre, Chapter two investigates sword weapons employed as stage properties in Early Modern performance, discussing details such as their outward appearance and materials. Chapter three examines descriptions of swords in play texts. Especially focusing on the sword with a curved blade, this chapter investigates representations of characteristics by sword images and traces their changes that reflect the transition of the sword in the real world as well as the changing genre fashion in the theatre in the late 1590s.

Type of Work:M.Phil. thesis.
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Shakespeare Institute
Subjects:PN Literature (General)
PR English literature
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1364
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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