Remaking genre: dreams and sleep in Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies (c.1591-1606)

Fretz, Claude (2016). Remaking genre: dreams and sleep in Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies (c.1591-1606). University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

Full text not available from this repository.


My thesis investigates the functions of dreams and sleep within Shakespeare’s wider design of comedy and tragedy. Methodologically, it combines its focus on genre with a strong historicist component in order to reconstruct the early modern understanding of dreams and sleep that influenced Shakespeare’s approach to this material. Comparing Shakespeare’s representations of dreams and sleep with those in classical culture, from which dramatic genre, dream theory, sleep theory, and the deployment of dreams within comic and tragic structures originally derive, I argue that Shakespeare uses devices of dreams and sleep to support his deviation from those classical conventions of comedy and tragedy that he found incompatible with his aspiration towards a fuller, darker, and more complex representation of human nature, behaviour, and character. To that effect, I discuss how dreams and sleep in Shakespeare’s comedies introduce tensions that are neither resolved nor absorbed by the respective endings; and I show how dreams and sleep in the tragedies and tragic histories help emphasise human agency and responsibility at the expense of the ideas of fortune and supernatural determinism found in classical tragedy.

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, The Shakespeare Institute
Funders: Other
Other Funders: The University of Birmingham
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year