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Poor Women in Shakespeare

Overview

This book was first published in 2007. Poor women do not fit easily into the household in Shakespeare. They shift in and out of marriages, households, and employments, carrying messages, tallying bills, and making things happen; never the main character but always evoking the ever-present problem of female poverty in early modern England. Like the illegal farthings that carried their likenesses, poor women both did and did not fit into the household and marriage market. They were both essential to and excluded ...

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Overview

This book was first published in 2007. Poor women do not fit easily into the household in Shakespeare. They shift in and out of marriages, households, and employments, carrying messages, tallying bills, and making things happen; never the main character but always evoking the ever-present problem of female poverty in early modern England. Like the illegal farthings that carried their likenesses, poor women both did and did not fit into the household and marriage market. They were both essential to and excluded from the economy. They are both present and absent on the early modern stage. In the drama, they circulate between plots, essential because they are so mobile, but largely unnoticed because of their mobility. These female characters represent an exploration of gender and economic roles at the bottom, as England shifted from feudalism to empire in the span of Shakespeare's lifetime. We find their dramas played out in the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"While Poor Women in Shakespeare may not add much to Shakespearean literacy criticism directly, with its careful scholarship it will facilitate a historicist approach to some of the plays."
—The Shakespeare Newsletter
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107405936
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/26/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Fiona McNeill is a former professor and private book developer and holds a PhD on the subject of Shakespeare. She is the author of Ten Steps to an A.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: maid, wife, and widow: re-organizing early modern women; 1. Free and bound maids: poor women in early industrial England; 2. Pregnant maids: the new bastardy laws; 3. Playhouse, courtroom, and pulpit: poor women in the news; 4. Masterless women in early modern London; 5. Poor women in the New World; Bibliography.

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