Graduation Year

Spring 2011

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Seth Lobis

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© 2011 Rachel Selvin


In this thesis, I explored the relationship between Shakespearean tragedy and romance, specifically how each genre treated themes regarding resurrection and the imagination. In romance, I discovered that the imagination became a portal to reality--a way through which characters understood and accepted impermanence, decay, and death. I used romance to illuminate tragedy's failures, showing that in both King Lear and Othello the imagination acts as a mask against the real. I called these imaginative spaces “dream worlds”--fantastical plains in which characters chased their impossible longings for eternity and perfected romantic love. This refusal to engage with the real, I concluded, makes resurrection impossible in tragedy. I was also deeply influenced by the criticism of Harold Goddard, who tends to read Shakespearean tragedy as romance and finds resurrection in both King Lear and Othello. I engaged with his criticism by creating the dream worlds to prove that the imagination can only act as a shield against reality in tragedy.


  • Best Senior Thesis in Literature