Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Heather Hirschfeld

Committee Members

Laura Howes, Anthony Welch


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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