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Greek Tragic Women on Shakespearean Stages$
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Tanya Pollard

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198793113

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198793113.001.0001

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Bringing Back the Dead

Bringing Back the Dead

Shakespeare’s Alcestis

Chapter:
(p.171) 5 Bringing Back the Dead
Source:
Greek Tragic Women on Shakespearean Stages
Author(s):

Tanya Pollard

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198793113.003.0006

Chapter 5, “Bringing Back the Dead: Shakespeare’s Alcestis,” argues that, after incorporating Greek tragic women into comedies, Shakespeare increasingly drew on these figures to merge tragic and comic structures in plays featuring miraculous recoveries from apparent deaths. Plays such as Much Ado About Nothing, Pericles, and The Winter’s Tale not only dramatize women’s miraculous return to life from apparent death, but also link these recoveries with the performance of female lament, which elicits sympathies and melts audiences into supportive alliances. Drawing on sources shaped by Greek texts, these plays reconfigure tragedy with a happy ending, a hybrid genre identified with Euripides. In particular, they recreate the ending of Alcestis, in which a grieving man encounters a veiled woman who is eventually revealed to be his lost wife returned from death.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, Euripides, Alcestis, false death, revived wives, tragicomedy, Much Ado About Nothing, Pericles, Winter’s Tale

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