Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 06 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay traces close links between socialized desire and social death, and asks what is lost if we accept marriage as the necessary end of comic processes. Marriage sacrifices flexible, multifaceted relations to narrower and more durable contracts. Both for those included in marriage and for those excluded from it, situational attachments—whether pragmatic or affective, exigent or incidental—cannot survive exclusive unions. Shakespearean comedies put these consequences on display, creating articulate subjects of loss who speak for alternative modes of connection. Priorities forged by local desires and needs interrupt the drive towards a single exclusive choice. Rather than stand as a naturalized outcome, marriage becomes a contested artefact, challenged by characters whose presence is supplemental, anachronistic, and melancholic. While I do not argue that Shakespeare is against marriage, I do suggest that the plays invite us to count its costs, and to envision more capacious and consensual bonds.

Keywords: marriage, comedy, death, melancholia, contract, consent

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.