Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The many interpretations and analyses of Shakespeare’s plays have led, through studies of Shakespeare’s sources, to comparisons between his plots and characters and those of his predecessors, incident for incident, and trait for trait. These comparisons have yielded up numerous scholastic opinions as to what facet of Shakespeare’s genius is responsible for the excellence of characters he produced. There are those opinions which hold that Shakespeare was merely a clever borrower, and epicurean, as it were, daintily picking and choosing from the dramatic viands ready to his hand. Other opinions, through granting that Shakespeare was a borrower in “the grand manner,” maintain that his borrowings are of little significance, but that the essence of the excellence he produced in his characters is due to his almost instinctive recognition of, and submission to, the demands of action and plot, in adapting these borrowings to the dramatic medium. A third group claims, hold the opinion that the borrowings and adaptations are of relative insignificance in comparison with Shakespeare’s ability to “cut” out a character “out of whole cloth”; that is, that Shakespeare’s characters are quantitatively more original than borrowed or adapted. The consensus justifiably divides the credit among these three possibilities.


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Department of English University of Omaha In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts Copyright 1956 Dean J. Paulsen

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