Author (Your Name)

Elizabeth Finn, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. English Dept.




Before he stood the test of time, William Shakespeare had to survive the fire of the early modern marketplace. The surviving records indicate that Shakespeare was quite successful, not only artistically but also financially. In his home of Stratford-upon-Avon, he owned an impressive house, New Place, as well as significant amounts of arable land (Greenblatt 330). Meanwhile, he also became a part-owner in the Globe and Blackfriars theaters (Greenblatt 368). To accumulate such funds, Shakespeare had to write plays that would sell tickets; plays that would intrigue audiences and keep them coming back for more. Thus, he must have had an impressive understanding of how to entertain the public of early modern England; he must have been acutely aware of the social codes of his time and his audience’s desires both to see social norms represented and to see them challenged. My readings of Shakespeare’s early histories, comedies, and tragedies up to and through the midpoint of his career, Hamlet, suggest Shakespeare was particularly attuned to his society’s assumptions about, and tensions surrounding, father-daughter and father-son relationships and was profoundly skillful in representing these. With increasing daring and subtley, he traces a fine, wavering line between conventional, reassuring representations of gender and familial relations of the time and provocative, unconventional ones.


Shakespeare, father child relationships, character construction