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Vol 21 No 9 Sept/Oct 2016

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Goode on Commercial Law

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Shakespeare, Law and Marriage

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ISBN13: 9780521024907
ISBN: 0521024900
Published: March 2006
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Paperback (Hardback in 2003)
Price: £29.99
Hardback edition , ISBN13 9780521822633

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This interdisciplinary study combines legal, historical and literary approaches to the practice and theory of marriage in Shakespeare's time.

It uses the history of English law and the history of the contexts of law to study a wide range of Shakespeare's plays and poems. Jerry and Mary Sokol approach the legal history of marriage as part of cultural history. The household was viewed as the basic unit of Elizabethan society, but many aspects of marriage were controversial, and the law relating to marriage was uncertain and confusing, leading to bitter disagreements over the proper modes for marriage choice and conduct.

The authors point out numerous instances within Shakespeare's plays of the conflict over status, gender relations, property, religious belief and individual autonomy versus community control. By achieving a better understanding of these issues, the book illuminates both Shakespeare's work and his age.

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Legal History
1. Making a valid marriage: the consensual model
2. Arranging marriages
3. Wardship and marriages enforced by law
4. Financing a marriage: provision of dowries or marriage portions
5. The solemnisation of marriage
6. Clandestine marriage, elopement, abduction and rape: irregular marriage formation
7. The effects of marriage on legal status
8. Marriage breakdown: separation, divorce, illegitimacy
9. 'Til death us do part.