Submission Title

Cursing in Shakespeare: The Linguistic Power of Outsiders

Location

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Austin Reading Room

Subject Area

English: Literature

Description

Cursing, in our modern, colloquial sense of the word, can mean both "foul language" and "magical, or taboo, language," and the goal of casting curses is often to inflict harm on a person or thing. This thesis endeavors to answer the question: "What power do curse words have in Shakespeare's plays, and how are they reappropriated by gendered and cultural outsiders?" Presenting a comparative study of the curses invoked by Joan la Pucelle in 1 Henry VI and Caliban in The Tempest—and analyzing their linguistic, historical, and theatrical implications—this paper examines the way in which Shakespeare's outsiders transform curse words from slurs and insults into strategic weapons of resistance and tools for identity creation.

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Cursing in Shakespeare: The Linguistic Power of Outsiders

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Austin Reading Room

Cursing, in our modern, colloquial sense of the word, can mean both "foul language" and "magical, or taboo, language," and the goal of casting curses is often to inflict harm on a person or thing. This thesis endeavors to answer the question: "What power do curse words have in Shakespeare's plays, and how are they reappropriated by gendered and cultural outsiders?" Presenting a comparative study of the curses invoked by Joan la Pucelle in 1 Henry VI and Caliban in The Tempest—and analyzing their linguistic, historical, and theatrical implications—this paper examines the way in which Shakespeare's outsiders transform curse words from slurs and insults into strategic weapons of resistance and tools for identity creation.