Good Sentences And Well Pronounc'd: Female Rhetoric In The Merchant Of Venice And The Proclamation Of 1579.

Date of Graduation

Fall 1995


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

James Baumlin


The later part of the sixteenth-century produced hybrid varieties of literature suitable for the serious cultivation of the English language. Several creations were the direct result of the Elizabethan culture's intense interest in rhetorical language and its classical forms. On the surface, rhetoric, oratory, and all forms of public discourse seem to the be the sole province of educated gentlemen. And yet, Shakespeare frequently displays his female characters' sharp rhetorical skills. In addition, Queen Elizabeth's contemporary public writings attest to her own mastery of the persuasive arts. This study focuses on Portia's voice and her use of rhetoric in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. It also observes Queen Elizabeth's celebrated ethos and examines her characteristic rhetorical choices in The Proclamation of 1579. Since both female speakers use legalistic arguments and terms, a brief historical view of Elizabaethan law, feminine language, and its performance are also presented.

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


© Rebecca Ann Lape