Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
Much research has been done on the integral role of music in Shakespeare's works. Many critics evaluate the role of metaphoric music in the plays, referencing notions of harmonious human interaction or a dissonant cosmos. Also, many critics analyze music's relationship to the bawdy, the sensual, and the deranged within Shakespeare. Fewer critics, but still quite a few, evaluate the literal musical material that likely would have been incorporated into the performance of these works. What did Desdemona's "Willow Song" really sound like? What was the melody of the tunes that Ophelia sang in her mad outrage? My research interests lie in combining these two critical approaches. In my thesis, I evaluate Othello, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, and the Tempest according to the Boethian divisions of music, musica instrumentalis (aural music), musica humana (music of human relationships), and musica mundana (music of the spheres). I analyze the way that these different levels of music work together within each play and then make an argument about how this relationship is a manifestation of Shakespeare's own religious equivocation and doubt.
Allen, Ann Katherine, "Divine Harmony Amongst Many Spheres: The Relationship Between Literal and Metaphoric Music in Shakespeare" (2012). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 536.
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