First Advisor

Jonathan Walker

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and University Honors




Daughters in literature, English drama -- Early modern and Elizabethan (1500-1600) -- History and criticism, William Shakespeare (1564-1616) -- Characters -- Daughters, Henry Porter (active 1599) -- Characters -- Daughters, William Shakespeare (1564-1616). Merry wives of Windsor, Henry Porter (active 1599). Pleasant historie of the two angrie women of Abington, Merry devil of Edmonton




Three romantic comedy plays set in rural English towns, Henry Porter's The Two Angry Women of Abingdon, William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor, and the apocryphal The Merry Devil of Edmonton, were written and performed during the late Elizabethan era. These three plays are considered to be a part of the lesser-known genre of "family drama," and emerged within roughly five years of each other during a tug-of-war period when London's two dominant play companies, the Admiral's Men and the Lord Chamberlain's Men, deliberately imitated their counterpart's repertoire in an attempt to fight for audienceship. The plots of the family drama plays revolve around a marriageable daughter figure that is either propelled to marry or prevented from marrying her desired mate. The purpose of this thesis is to examine the role of the daughter in the family drama in order to evaluate the level of agency she possesses within the male-dominated controlled system of marriage exchange. By scrutinizing her character, speech, actions, and reactions, as well as how she is treated and regarded by her parents, suitors, and members of her community, we are able to discern whether or not her marriage in the culminating communal reconciliation in the final act stems from true love or societal compulsion.


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