Year of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department or School/College
Department of English
John Eglin, Robert Browning
beheading, Chapman, Dekker, early modern, execution, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Tudor England
University of Montana
This thesis explores the executions of noble men and women in Tudor and early Jacobean England and the theatrical representations of executions that mirrored real life spectacles of deadly punishment. Historical scaffold confessions followed a formulaic pattern and condemned traitors performed their final moments before a crowd of witnesses with the power to judge the quality of the actor’s deportment, costuming and words. As a public stage, the scaffold allowed the traitor a chance to assert and define his or her own individuality in the face of death and formulaic requirements, which I outline in the first chapter. Dramatic representations of executions both reflected and subverted the depictions of real life performances at the block. Playwrights employed the scaffold confession in a variety of ways. Execution spectacles within plays could—depending on the intention of the author—uphold the power of a just monarch, defy conventions and reveal societal ills, or show the agency of the individual characters facing execution.
Lodine-Chaffey, Jennifer Lillian, "Performing at the Block: Scripting Early Modern Executions" (2013). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 743.
© Copyright 2013 Jennifer Lillian Lodine-Chaffey