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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Shakespeare’s use of names in the dramatic romances Allen, Steven D.


Shakespeare's choice and use of names is deliberate and calculated, a controlled technique which makes a significant contribution to each play. This is demonstrable by examining the use of names in the Dramatic Romances, in contrast to their use in the preceding comedies. The naming technique contributes to the individual character of each Romance and to their collective distinction from the earlier comedies. The tragedies and histories were not considered because their goals are different from those of the comedies and Romances; thus their consideration would blur the lines of development and the contrasts discernible from The Comedy of Errors to The Tempest. Works on Shakespeare's stagecraft were examined for comments about naming techniques; standard collections and studies of his sources were used to determine possible provenances of names. All the names in the sixteen plays under consideration were compiled, with possible derivations and sources noted, cross-referenced and checked against their appearances in the tragedies and histories. Their frequency of repetition, order and interval of appearance were all noted, and patterns were sought by drawing up parallel lists. The patterns which emerged prove that Shakespeare repeatedly utilized various techniques, such as withholding the names of certain characters, for calculated dramatic effects. Though the techniques serve to individualize each play, they bear certain similarities in the Romances which correspond to the particular shared atmosphere of those plays. Thus there are relatively few allusions or references to a contemporary world outside that of the Romance, cyclical name-patterns are common and names are interrelated, in sound or sense, to reflect the mystic sympathies present in the plays. While not every name can be clearly seen to have a specific and deliberate function, the majority in each play considered make clear contributions to the tone and meaning of the play. Naming technique must be considered an important part of Shakespeare's art, over which he exercised masterful control.

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