Music in Caroline drama: Richard Brome, James Shirley and Ben Jonson

BELL, Shirley Janine (2022). Music in Caroline drama: Richard Brome, James Shirley and Ben Jonson. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This thesis explores the ways in which music and song were used on the Caroline stage and demonstrates how three of the most prominent dramatists of the period, Richard Brome, James Shirley and Ben Jonson, use music to create and enhance meaning in their plays. Firstly, this thesis argues that Brome’s use of music in The Late Lancashire Witches, The Antipodes and The Court Beggar is primarily concerned with reversals and upheavals. Brome deploys familiar music in unfamiliar settings and uses music to do the opposite of what would have been expected in a range of different contexts to challenge his audiences’ expectations, reflecting the unsettling nature of contemporary court politics and social affairs. This thesis then goes on to demonstrate that Shirley uses music in Hyde Park, The Bird in a Cage and The Lady of Pleasure to critique contemporary debates surrounding theatrical performance, particularly that of an anti-theatrical standpoint. Shirley deliberately engages with and responds to these criticisms of music and performance through his own use of music and illustrates how the same kinds of music can be considered licentious and ungodly to an anti-theatrical viewer but legitimately pleasurable to a regular theatregoer. Finally, this thesis argues that Jonson’s use of music in The Staple of News, The New Inn and The Sad Shepherd is concerned with the exploration of the relationship between the self, the other and the external world, and that he uses music to contemplate epistemological questions surrounding how we acquire knowledge, how reliable our sources are and how we make judgements about what to believe and what not to believe in certain situations. By examining the music in these nine plays, this thesis demonstrates that music is essential to the plays’ meaning.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Anderson, Susan
Thesis advisor - Steggle, Matthew [0000-0001-8958-8055]
Thesis advisor - Bryan, John
Thesis advisor - Green, Keith
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. Susan Anderson / Supervisors: Prof. Matthew Steggle, Prof. John Bryan and Dr. Keith Green.
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2022 17:20
Last Modified: 26 May 2024 01:18

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