‘Most wonderful!’: a contextual study of twinship in early modern drama and Shakespeare’s plays

Garafalo, Sanner (2013). ‘Most wonderful!’: a contextual study of twinship in early modern drama and Shakespeare’s plays. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis examines twins as objects of wonder in early modern drama. In Wonders and the Order of Nature: 1150-1750, Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park divide the experience of wonder into three separate emotional reactions: horror, repugnance, and pleasure. The thesis builds on this model, arguing that, as objects of wonder, twins were capable of inspiring this range of emotional responses which could, consequently, be capitalized on in a dramatic work. The first three chapters consider non-Shakespearean drama and its depiction of twins as wonderful, tracing how twins emerge as either objects of horror, repugnance, or pleasure in these plays and how these depictions resonate with other circulating discussions of twinship. Chapter 1 examines the horrific depiction of twins in The Duchess of Malfi and The Cruel Brother and its relation to the monstrous and prodigious birth of the early modern broadside. Chapter 2 investigates the repugnant twins of The twins and The Love-sick Court in light of the early modern medical understanding of twins as errors in nature. And Chapter 3 begins to reveal how more pleasurable associations can override these horrific and repugnant connotations, as shown in Changes, Ignoramus, and Senile Odium. However, all of this builds toward a final analysis of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors and Twelfth Night, demonstrating how Shakespeare fully transitions twinship into the realm of the pleasurable, combatting the negative cultural assumptions about twinship with an alternate and largely revolutionary depiction of twinship as a positive characteristic.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/3937


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