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Whores and cuckolds: on male and female terms in Shakespeare's comedies
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Arts, Communication and Education, Education, Language, and Teaching.
2002 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis constitutes a study of the relations between men and women in Elizabethan society, as reflected in the terms used for them in Shakespeare’s comedies. The terms included in this study are classified as: “occupational” (chapter 4), “central” (chapter 5), “gender-neutral” (chapter 6), “axiological” (chapter 7), “metaphor” (chapter 8) and “kinship” (chapter 9). Two introductory chapters devoted to semantic theories and the cultural and political climate in Shakespeare’s time are provided as background. The view of perceiving concepts in terms of prototypical examples has been adopted for the present study. The basic idea is that the meaning of words is dependent on human beings and their interaction with the world. To some extent prototypes prevalent during the Renaissance are compared with prototypical terms for women and men in current English. Differences in male and female usage are analyzed. Statistical information regarding the frequency of the terms in male and female speech respectively is provided. The current work shows how much the study of words can reveal about attitudes, structure values, views, gender roles and relationships between the genders in society, in this case Elizabethan society. It can be concluded that the concepts of ‘male’ and ‘female’ in Shakespeare’s time were associated with completely different values and ideas. Men were judged by their actions, women most commonly by their appearance. The concept of ‘male’ may be equated with power, activity and control, whereas ‘female’ in most contexts in Shakespeare’s comedies is associated with dependency, passivity and subordination.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2002.
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544 ; 2002:31
Research subject
English, Specialization in Didactics
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-17189Local ID: 21da0140-a0bd-11db-8975-000ea68e967bOAI: diva2:990188

Godkänd; 2002; 20061110 (haneit)

Available from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29 Last updated: 2016-10-19Bibliographically approved

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