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    A true 'Homer of women'? The use of rhetorical figures and structural paradigms and the presentation of female characters in the early prose works of Robert Greene

    Killingworth, Gerald Charles (2020) A true 'Homer of women'? The use of rhetorical figures and structural paradigms and the presentation of female characters in the early prose works of Robert Greene. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Abstract

    This study offers a re-evaluation of the early pamphlets of Robert Greene, and by extension the rest of his prose output, based on a closer exegesis of the texts than has hitherto been the case. Critics have tended to feel that they 'know' Greene sufficiently well to place him in a number of historical and literary contexts. Several givens crop up regularly when his name is mentioned and, by sheer repetition, they have come to possess a validity which is no longer questioned. I examine these givens and suggest that we should recognize Greene as an accomplished and significant individual rather than simply regard him as part of the background noise of Lylian style or the literary professionalism which appeared in England in the second half of the sixteenth century. Greene is often referred to as a 'hack' who pandered to the latest literary fads and who gave little thought to what he wrote. In order to dispel this view, I explore passages from Mamillia, Penelope's Web, Aleida and Philomela which demonstrate both the particular nature of his Euphuism and, more importantly, the way that he employs the rhetorical paradigm of the oration to construct his narratives and present his characters. I provide detailed explanations, sometimes in tabular form, of the key features of Euphuism and of Greene's version of the oration because only by understanding these fully can we appreciate how deliberate an artist he was and how he modified the literary paradigms he had inherited. I also explain the way that orations were embellished with rhetorical figures. Greene's sympathetic treatment of his female characters, his stance as a 'Homer of women', has been touched upon by critics but I stress that it is a significant feature of his prose works throughout his career. I explore the social background against which he was writing, the frequently-stated belief that women should be chaste, silent and obedient, and, by close reference to the texts, I demonstrate that his female characters are surprisingly confident and articulate and generally prevail in verbal contests with men. Their rhetorical expertise is both remarkable and unexpected.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2021 13:07
    Last Modified: 10 Sep 2021 13:07
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/45934

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