Fathers and Sons in Shakespeare: The Debt Never Promised
Published: May 2010© 2010
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Page Count: 400 Pages
Dimensions: 6.30 x 9.37
400 Pages, 6.30 x 9.37 x 1.10 in
Some of Shakespeare's most memorable male characters, such as Hamlet, Prince Hal, and Edgar, are defined by their relationships with their fathers. In Fathers and Sons in Shakespeare, Fred B. Tromly demonstrates that these relationships are far more complicated than most critics have assumed. While Shakespearean sons often act as their fathers' steadfast defenders, they simultaneously resist paternal encroachment on their autonomy, tempering vigorous loyalty with subtle hostility.
Tromly's introductory chapters draw on both Freudian psychology and Elizabethan family history to frame the issue of filial ambivalence in Shakespeare. The following analytical chapters mine the father-son relationships in plays that span Shakespeare's entire career. The conclusion explores Shakespeare's relationship with his own father and its effect on his fictional depictions of life as a son. Through careful scrutiny of word and deed, the scholarship in Fathers and Sons in Shakespeare reveals the complex attitude Shakespeare's sons harbour towards their fathers.
‘A solid contribution to recent studies on the early modern family and masculinities, one that in its broad-ranging clarity would enhance undergraduate and graduate libraries.’ Margaret L. Mikesell, Renaissance Quarterly: vol 64:01:2011
'Fred B. Tromly's Fathers and Sons in Shakespeare is an admirably comprehensive critical reading of this central theme as Shakespeare developed it over the course of his dramatic career. Combining careful historical documentation with psychologically discriminating close readings of language and dramatic action, Tromly gives us an unprecedented understanding of the tense Oedipal dynamics that inform the plays. Tromly's lucid and jargon-free style will make this book accessible to students and scholars alike. This is a fine, important addition to contemporary Shakespearean criticism.' Murray Schwartz, Professor of Literature, Emerson College
'This is a strong, well-informed, original reading of what is a major pattern running through Shakespeare's plays, from early to late. The readings are perceptive and persuasive, and I learned a great deal from what Fred B. Tromly has to say about fathers and sons in Shakespeare.' David Lee Miller, Carolina Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of South Carolina