Graduation Date

12-2021

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Emphasis

English

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Program Name

Humanities

Program Director

Jordan Lieser, PhD

First Reader

Perry Guevara, PhD

Second Reader

Chase Clow, PhD

Abstract

This research project aims at bringing to light the non-human dimension in Shakespeare’s second tetralogy, i.e., Richard II, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV and Henry V. In the context of the military confrontations that preceded the Wars of the Roses, the disruption of human relationships bears an impact on the land and the non-human cosmos in general. Through his literary craft and thorough understanding of human and non-human nature, Shakespeare reveals an intricate network of relationships, which, even when broken, can be mended.

My project is guided by a presentist understanding of literature. Studying the relationship between the human and the non-human in Shakespeare’s histories can also inform our own relationship with the land we inhabit and our mutual interdependence. Matter and spirit are integrated in this analysis and inspiration is drawn from Pope Francis’ so-called green encyclical Laudato Si, which invites us to see the earth as our common home and, consequently, exhorts us to be responsible and caring.

From the point of view of methodology, I have selected scenes from the second tetralogy which enrich our understanding of nature and invite us to see ourselves as an integral part of it.

In addition to exploring ecocritical theory for the construction of meaning in the tetralogy, I have incorporated a personal meditation to my analysis of each of the plays. Using close reading as a strategy, I have gathered lessons from the plays, which will take the form of exhortations to enhance our human/non-human interactions in the present and illuminate the path to repairing severed bonds.

Key words: Shakespeare – ecocriticism – second tetralogy – non-human – Richard II – Henry IV – Henry V – Renaissance drama

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