Date of Award

5-7-2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Tanya Caldwell

Second Advisor

Dr. Melissa McLeod

Third Advisor

Dr. Paul J. Voss

Abstract

Current scholarship on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor mostly focuses on topics surrounding Sir John Falstaff’s presence, mythical allusions, and the questionable date of publication. Although their actions are the driving force of the play, the woman frontrunners, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, receive little scholarship attention. Anne Page, daughter of Mistress Page and wife of Fenton, also dictates the course of the play by taking control of her betrothal. Yet she remains underappreciated in scholarship. This thesis highlights important characteristics of all three wives of Windsor in addition to justifying Anne Page’s role as a wife of Windsor. Through close readings of the text and analyses of scholarship immediately relevant to these wives and common attributes of women in Renaissance England and Shakespeare plays, I argue these strong, multifaceted women refute stereotypical female roles and undermine patriarchal authority aligning themselves with other idolized outspoken woman characters in Shakespeare plays.

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