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In the Shadow of Night: Sleeping and Dreaming and Their Technical Rôles in Shakespearian Drama

KRAJNIK, FILIP (2013) In the Shadow of Night: Sleeping and Dreaming and Their Technical Rôles in Shakespearian Drama. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis aims to demonstrate the variety of ways in which sleep and dreams are employed in Shakespeare’s dramatic canon. Using a historical perspective, the work primarily examines the functions of these motifs within the design of the plays: how they contribute to the structure and unity of the works, how they assist in delineating some of the individual characters, and how they shape the atmosphere of specific dramatic situations. This kind of analysis requires an understanding of the cultural and intellectual contexts in which the fictitious representations of these phenomena were originally written and received. For this reason, the present thesis also offers a historical and cultural background, outlining the social character of the phenomena of sleep and dreams in early modern England and the history of their employment in pre-Shakespearian literature. Where relevant, the use of these motifs in the works of Shakespeare’s contemporaries is also studied.
The Introduction to the thesis summarizes the current state of knowledge of the topic and defines the present author’s approach to the research question. The first chapter discusses dream literature as a genre, its themes and development before Shakespeare’s time. The second chapter analyses the dramatic functions of a sleeping character on the stage in Shakespeare’s drama and how this image developed from the dramatist’s early plays to his later and more mature works. It examines how the motif affects the image of the character in question, but also how it influences the immediate dramatic context. A special section is devoted to the topos of dreams and its use as a characterization device. The third chapter deals with fictitious dream prophecies and their technical functions in Shakespeare’s plays. Again, the chapter follows the motif from the early stages of Shakespeare’s dramatic career to his last plays, trying to determine both its staple functions and changes in its employment. The last chapter addresses the dramatic image of the night as a time in which sleeping and dreaming – but also other typically dark enterprises – occur. A special section is devoted to Shakespeare’s use of the death-as-sleep metaphor and its dramatic implications.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Shakespeare; Elizabethan drama; dreams; dreaming; theatre
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:27 Aug 2013 08:47

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