Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This paper is an exploration of William Shakespeare’s play-texts featuring magical women— A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, and The Tempest—through the lens of Social Reproduction Theory. By engaging in thorough examination of the embodiment of Shakespeare’s magical women on the stage and in performance, this paper seeks to uncover the ways in which modern attitudes, assumptions, and biases about sexuality, reproduction, motherhood, and parenting are revealed through the reception of characters who precede the current moment by hundreds of years. The Love in Idleness flower, the Weird Sisters’ prophesies, and Prospero’s magical manipulation of the island’s inhabitants all center around sex, reproduction, and the continuation of a “proper” lineage. Beyond sexual reproduction, the magic in Shakespeare’s plays also impacts other aspects of Social Reproduction, which includes the labor required to reproduce the energy of a labor force on a generational and daily basis. Through a combination of textual and performance analysis, I explore the effects of Evolutionary Psychology on how we perceive sexuality in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I implement Monster Theory to analyze the transition in Shakespeare’s writing from fairy magic to witchcraft in Macbeth, and I compare the critical reception of productions of The Tempest which cast a woman as Prospero to movements within Postcolonial Shakespearean studies. All of this is united by the ways in which various representations of, reactions to, and ultimately, fears of the female reproductive body in these three plays align with cultural responses to magic.
Number of Pages
Thibodeau, Emily, "A Deed Without A Name: Magical Social Reproduction In Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, And The Tempest" (2021). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 1412.
Available for download on Friday, April 21, 2023