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date: 27 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay argues that Shakespearean comedies evoke and confound associations between female interiority and domestic space. Drawing on The Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado about Nothing, The Comedy of Errors, and The Taming of the Shrew, I show how characters expect access to domestic space to reveal incontrovertible truths about female bodies and minds. These assumptions, however, are foiled, as architecture is more often associated with confusion and obfuscation than with the acquisition of knowledge. Moreover, Shakespeare presents the domestic scene as a scene, a site for the mastery and performance of roles, rather than the expression of genuine human desires. In this way, the presentation of domestic architecture undercuts the conventions of the comic marriage plot. At the same time, though, these plays reveal that within the strictures of a particular social world, the successful domestic performance is a matter of life and death.

Keywords: architecture, domesticity, interiority, epistemology, theatricality, performance, femininity, marriage plot, The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado about Nothing, The Comedy of Errors, The Merry Wives of Windsor

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