Date of Award

4-30-2005

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Abstract

The role of the socially inferior Other is fulfilled in both The Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice via Katherina and Shylock, respectively. The way in which these two characters are received by the modern reader in comparison to the way they would have been received by Shakespeare's contemporaries is a major focus of this thesis. It contains sections on the social parallels between Katherina and Shylock, rhetorical parallels between the two plays, and the problem of interpretation and classification as comedy for the modern reader. It also takes into account the plays' settings, especially Merchant, as it traverses a complex set of boundaries in relation to re-assimilation of Jews in Venice, and it acknowledges the conscience of the modern day reader who may find the treatment of Shylock to be tragic as opposed to comedic, and who may feel a sense of regret for Katherina's transformation into a socially accepted model of womanhood as defined by the patriarchal boundaries of the time. However, it leaves space for debate, as both the writer and the text are suspect under the light of analysis.

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