Power relations and fool-master discourse in Shakespeare: a discourse stylistics approach to dramatic dialogue

Calvo, Clara (1990) Power relations and fool-master discourse in Shakespeare: a discourse stylistics approach to dramatic dialogue. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.



This study undertakes an examination of fool-master discourse in Shakespeare with the help of discourse stylistics, an approach to the study of literary texts which combines findings from the fields of discourse analysis, conversation analysis and pragmatics. The analysis aims to show how the relations of power which exist between dramatic characters are manifested by the linguistic organization of the dialogue as interactive process.

Fool-master discourse in Shakespeare is analysed from three different perspectives: the use of the pronouns of address (you/thou); the organization of the discourse as a whole; and the politeness strategies used by fools and their employers in face-to-face interaction. With regard to the pronouns of address, it is shown that neither a structural model nor a sociolinguistic one are sufficient per se to satisfactorily explain the constant shift of pronoun which occurs in Early Modern English dramatic texts. It is suggested that a model of analysis rooted in discourse analysis and pragmatics ought to be developed. Burton's framework is used to study the conversational structure of fool-master discourse, and to show how the power relations obtaining between dramatic characters are manifested by the internal organization of dramatic dialogue. Politeness phenomena in fool-master discourse are studied following Brown and Levinson's model and it is shown that both the fools and their employers orient to face in interaction.

Finally, this study of power relations in fool-master discourse shows that, contrary to much current critical opinion, the fools in Shakespeare are not licensed jesters who enjoy unlimited freedom of speech. Feste, Lavatch and Lear's Fool need to resort to complex linguistic strategies if they want to make their criticisms and, at the same time, avoid being punished.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Nash, W.
Uncontrolled Keywords:Shakespeare, Linguistics, English literature, Language style
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of English Studies
ID Code:1387
Deposited By:June Walsh
Deposited On:16 Jun 2010 15:01
Last Modified:16 Jun 2010 15:01

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