Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2018

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major

English Teaching

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Professor Dennis Britton


This thesis examines the socially constructed ideal of companionate marriage in Elizabethan and Jacobean England through four dramas by Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, John Fletcher, Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton. It probes the question of how these theatrical productions of early modern England fit within or defy the emerging social trends regarding companionate marriage. It uses socioeconomic statuses, religious affiliations, and emerging notions of race as lenses through which to analyze the romantic couples depicted in these plays. The results of this study indicate that, while exact authorial intentions remain unknown, these plays served as proponents of the companionate marriage while dually challenging the persisting restrictive social norms that prevented prospective unions between religiously, socioeconomically, and/or racially divergent individuals.