Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Anthony Russell

Second Advisor

Dr. Raymond Hilliard

Third Advisor

Dr. Alan Loxterman


The feminine in Shakespeare's plays, like the Bakhtinian grotesque, often offers a critical perspective on patriarchal society. Shakespeare creates characters whose feminine perspective enables them to stand outside of the patriarchal paradigm and operate according to alternative modes of behavior. While the dominant system regards power solely as a masculine territory, Shakespeare suggests that true power can only be effectively pursued by those who are not bound to a particular gender identity, but are able to shift their personas in accordance with their ever-changing milieu. In Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, Henry V, and Coriolanus, Shakespeare depicts both the ineffectiveness of characters that are completely committed to a masculine sense of identity, and the effectiveness of characters who are able to stand outside of the patriarchal system, and perceive identity as an artificially imposed construct which can be altered at will.