Keener, Andrew S. “The Paternal Dilemma”, Boston College, 2010. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/1210.
In this thesis, it is my task to explore Shakespeare’s social analysis concerning the patriarchal structure of the family and the economic implications of this system. Four plays in particular, King Lear, Henry IV, As You Like It, and The Tempest resonate with these thematic elements. At the heart of these plays is the issue I call the paternal dilemma; the father or patriarch is a mere human, cannot live forever, and therefore needs to rely on an inheritance scheme to ensure the continuation of his line. This problem sees the institution of inheritance (namely, primogeniture) as a solution or antidote to mortality. In an investigation of these issues, I place myself in an already rich field of secondary criticism, examining how genre and family structure combine in what is ultimately a conservative understanding of the Elizabethan family.