Date of Award

Summer 6-28-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Jenny Flaherty

Second Advisor

Dr. Katie Simon

Third Advisor

Dr. Alex Blazer


Ecocriticism has been defined as literature that concretely concerns the environment, which can be obviously applied to those of Shakespeare’s that directly depict natural disaster. This creates a prototype of a Shakespearean Ecocritical canon. My thesis addresses the limitation of this initial definition, and applies ecocritical theory to other works by Shakespeare. Ecocriticism is no longer confined to only the natural as critics expand the field through examinations of built environments and urban interaction with the natural. This widening of the field encourages the addition of further Ecocritical Shakespeare. How can audiences see the unnatural as natural, and conversely the natural as unnatural through competing plays? To answer this question, I propose a comparison of two plays from Shakespeare written in 1601 – Hamlet and As You Like It. My thesis is particularly interested in defining the ecocritical in Hamlet, a play generally not approached for its depictions of nature, and using the pastoral As You Like It as a point of comparison. Hamlet does not have the critical theory associated with pastoralism like As You Like It, but reading Hamlet with an ecocritical lens combines the move towards examining built environments and the urban with the history of pastoral criticism applied to plays like As You Like It.