The "Ocular Proof": An Exploration of Sight, Love, and Society on the Shakespearean Stage Open Access

Feuer, Rebecca Stagg (2015)

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Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing, Twelfth Night, and A Midsummer Night's Dream, all end with impending marriages between mainly two different kinds of romantic couples: those that develop a strong foundation for their relationships and those that develop very weak foundations for their relationships. Couples that develop strong foundations, including Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and Viola and Orsino in Twelfth Night, excel in using language, and other senses besides sight, to create successful romantic relationships that exhibit signs of true love. In contrast, couples that develop weak foundations, such as Hero and Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing, and Olivia and Sebastian in Twelfth Night, rely too much on sight, the most noble of senses as believed in early modern England, to help them create relationships that show no indication of true love, but instead, only indicate a socially acceptable match. Romantic relationships in A Midsummer Night's Dream straddle the two categories, as pairings such as Demetrius and Helena, cannot be easily classified as a success or a failure, as true or false. In all of these comedies, sight either helps or hinders the progress of these relationships and shows itself to be connected to other major themes in these plays, including transformation, desire, and dreams.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Page 1

Adolescent Sight and Social Language in Much Ado About Nothing: Page 7

Self-Love and the Desire for Power in Twelfth Night: Page 24

Seeing with the Imagination in A Midsummer Night's Dream: Page 44

Conclusion: Page 60

Works Cited: Page 62

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