Family Life in the Age of Shakespeare

by Bruce W. Young


Overviews family life in Shakespeare's world and works and in productions of his plays.

Print Flyer

December 2008


Pages 280
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics World History/Culture

From the star-crossed romance of Romeo and Juliet to Othello's misguided murder of Desdemona to the betrayal of King Lear by his daughters, family life is central to Shakespeare's dramas. This book helps students learn about family life in Shakespeare's England and in his plays. The book begins with an overview of the roots of Renaissance family life in the classical era and Middle Ages. This is followed by an extended consideration of family life in Elizabethan England. The book then explores how Shakespeare treats family life in his plays. Later chapters then examine how productions of his plays have treated scenes related to family life, and how scholars and critics have responded to family life in his works. The volume closes with a bibliography of print and electronic resources.

The volume begins with a look at the classical and medieval background of family life in the Early Modern era. This is followed by a sustained discussion of family life in Shakespeare's world. The book then examines issues related to family life across a broad range of Shakespeare's works. Later chapters then examine how productions of the plays have treated scenes concerning family life, and how scholars and critics have commented on family life in Shakespeare's writings. The volume closes with a bibliography of print and electronic resources for student research. Students of literature will value this book for its illumination of critical scenes in Shakespeare's works, while students in social studies and history courses will appreciate its use of Shakespeare to explore daily life in the Elizabethan age.

Topic Centers

1: Background
2: Family Life in Shakespeares World
3: Family Life in Shakespeares Works
4: Family Life in Shakespearean Performance
5: Scholarship and Criticism
Primary Documents



"For students and general readers, Young (English, Brigham Young U.) describes family life during Shakespeare’s time, to give readers a better understanding of his works and their context. He covers the development of family life from Ancient Greece and Rome up to the Renaissance, specific practices and attitudes, common misconceptions, and the importance
of family in social and political life. He then considers Shakespeare’s uses of family in his poems and plays, as well as historical and contemporary Shakespearean productions, and scholarship and criticism. A selection of primary documents from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are included, such as sermons, handbooks, legal documents, and ballads."—Reference & Research Book News

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