Date of Award

12-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

English

Major Professor

Heather Hirschfeld

Committee Members

Laura Howes, Anthony Welch

Abstract

The idea that friendship is an illusory connection that may only exist in philosophers’ writings was a subject of interest for many of the early modern writers. Writers like Thomas Elyot, Thomas Churchyard, and Michel de Montaigne attempted to uphold idealized traditions of friendship; conversely, Shakespeare, along with writers such as Francis Bacon, presented early modern perceptions of idealized friendship only to confront and challenge the precepts. In The Merchant of Venice and Othello, the Moor of Venice, Shakespeare expresses a sometimes cynical yet realistic approach toward idealized friendship. He exposes the problem of upholding the idealized early modern version of amity in order to present a more realistic representation of friendship.

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