Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




The popular ity of astrology in Elizabethan England is ref lected by the large number of references to it in the works of William Shakespeare. The majority of astrological references in the Shakespearean canon are "commonplaces" and do not add signif icantly to our understanding of his work, although they are of interest in studying exactly how much astrological knowledge he possessed. There are astrological references in the plays, however, that are of significance in the study of character in Shakespeare. In certain plays (Romeo and Juliet, The Winter' s Tale) a judgement concerning various individuals ' inner nobility may be reached by examini ng the way in which they react to varying starry influences. Those characters that strive against the stars may be seen as heroic, while those that surrender to the stars may be seen as ignoble.