Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2003


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Anne Brannen

Committee Member

Joseph J. Keenan

Committee Member

David Klausner


Direct Address, Early English Drama, Expositor, Medieval Drama, Monologue, Prologue, Soliloquy, Tudor Drama


This dissertation examines direct address in English drama from 1400 to 1585. All 91 non-fragmentary plays from this period were used in order to enable a comprehensive understanding of the technique. While direct address is widely acknowledged as a fundamental technique in early English drama, it is almost never studied, its effects and functions being assumed to be 'obvious' and 'natural,' and therefore neither requiring nor meriting focused consideration. This study shows that direct address was used systematically in early drama, and its effects could be quite sophisticated. To see this, it is crucial to consider the use of rhetorical markers (vocatives, second person pronouns, and imperatives). Some direct address contains such 'markers' and is thus clearly directed to the audience, for these rhetorical markers explicitly acknowledge the audience; other direct address does not. Early English drama used both marked and unmarked direct address carefully, reserving marked direct address for moments of particular importance, and using unmarked direct address for more commonplace functions like exposition. An outline of the dissertation is as follows. Chapter 1 describes the critical history of direct address and the project's methodology. Chapter 2 considers asides, showing that they were atypical in medieval drama but became common during the sixteenth century. Chapter 3 examines how direct address is used by special personages (Expositors, Prologues), showing how special personages in medieval drama speak of themselves as one of the actors, but sixteenth-century special personages do not, which may result from the influence of classical drama. Chapter 4 considers compound direct address, a form of marked direct address in which speeches are simultaneously addressed both to another character and to the audience, arguing that that this form of direct address is very potent and hence its usage was restricted to moments of intense significance (for example, obtaining salvation). Chapter 5 looks at the use of direct address by characters in medieval drama, showing its effects in particular plays such as the York Cycle, in which direct address is used to rhetorically embody the incarnation. Chapter 6 examines direct address by characters in sixteenth-century drama, showing that the shift in dramaturgy from direct address to soliloquy (meaning 'thinking aloud') happened much later than is generally assumed; by 1585, soliloquy was only emerging as a technique and was far from common, let alone dominant. Chapter 7 concludes the project, bringing together its findings and looking ahead to the possibilities for further research in this area.