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PALPABLE ABSENCE: INTERROGATING SYCORAX’S SILENCE IN SHAKESPEARE’S THE TEMPEST

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title
PALPABLE ABSENCE: INTERROGATING SYCORAX’S SILENCE IN SHAKESPEARE’S THE TEMPEST
author
Thomas, Rachel
abstract
In William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, the African witch Sycorax is unstaged and silenced. Despite her absent voice, the construction of her character and her silence suggest that she continues to have agency and power over the play beyond her disembodiment. She is continuously evoked throughout the play by her son Caliban’s speech and cursing, Venus’ wanton charm at Miranda and Ferdinand’s marriage masque, and Prospero’s eventual renunciation of his magic. In the second chapter of this thesis, I study how Sycorax has been interpreted through three adaptations and appropriations: John Dryden and William D’avenant’s The Enchanted Island, Derek Jarman’s The Tempest, and Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed. These works combine the characteristics of Miranda and Sycorax who are presented as oppositional versions of femininity in the original play. The Miranda-figure in these versions appropriates the characteristics of the original Sycorax, yet the character Sycorax is either demonized, dehumanized, or further silenced. In this project, I have connected this graduate level analysis to classroom application for high school students. The marginalization of this character offers an opportunity for high school students to recognize and critically query the absence of Sycorax as well as other marginalized characters in canonical texts.
subject
Hag-Seed
Shakespeare
Sycorax
The Enchanted Island
The Tempest
contributor
Hogan, Sarah A (advisor)
Harlan, Susan E (committee member)
Mitchell, Joan F (committee member)
date
2023-07-25T17:48:35Z (accessioned)
2023 (issued)
degree
English (discipline)
embargo
2025-06-06 (terms)
2025-06-06 (liftdate)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/102244 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
type
Thesis

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