Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

James Sutton

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Jason Pearl

Third Advisor's Name

Vernon Dickson


Shakespeare, Beaumont, Fletcher, disease, syphilis, Foucault, heterotopia, Elizabeth I, economics, capital structures

Date of Defense



The purpose of this thesis is, first, to explore the presence and meaning of Foucault’s heterotopia within William Shakespeare’s Hamlet”and Beaumont and Fletcher’s “The Knight of the Burning Pestle.” The heterotopia is a privileged space of self-reflection created by individuals or societies in crisis. In each play, the presence of crisis is explained though the metaphor of syphilis; to which individual characters respond by entering the reflective space of the heterotopia in order to countenance and “cure” their afflictions. The second purpose of this thesis is to examine the ways in which the crises acted upon the stage reflect pressing social anxieties of late – Elizabethan and early- Jacobean England: succession to the throne and shifting market structure. Both playwrights create heterotopic space for their audience through the structure of their dramatic work, and ask their audience to enter this reflective space, and consider –and learn from – their remarks upon the state of society.





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