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Class of 2023
Business in the Liberal Arts
European Studies
Samantha (Sam) Cohen is a member of the class of ‘23, and she is an English Literature and Business in the Liberal Arts major. She became interested in studying Shakespeare after taking a course on Shakespeare’s Roman plays at St. Lawrence University. She plans to continue the work she started...

During the duration of her fellowship, Sam read and analyzed six of Shakespeare’s Roman and Greek plays. She also researched a variety of methodologies including, feminism, new historicism, and marxism. Her research into various methodologies showed her a variety of critical methods from which to approach writing her article, so that she could combine them to create her own unique methodology. Sam also read a number of articles and books, by various authors, on these plays to gain a broader understanding of the current critical conversation.

This project analyzes Shakespeare’s Roman and Greek plays with a focus on the relationship between power, politics, and the plebeians. Numerous scholars have analyzed and written about these works, however, scholars have typically neglected the plebeians and the influence they have on politics and power. Because of this, I seek to bring to light the unique impact the plebeians have on the central struggles in many of these plays. Their influence is especially of interest to me because it tends to be powerful across Shakespeare’s Roman and Greek plays, despite the variety of governmental structures showcased. Through my research, I found that the plebeians are representative of an underlying debate that appears throughout these works. This debate, which is explicitly stated in Pericles, is whether societies function best with a strong leader or with a unified populus. As conflict exists in each of these plays, I chose to define the best functioning society as the one with the least conflict, internal and external. I discovered that societal unity seems to be the factor that creates the most stability and that this stability is most often shown through the way the plebeians talk about their governments and leaders. This research, and subsequent discovery, is important because it can be applied to societies today. Because of this, I believe that this research will encourage its readers to look more critically at why their respective societies are struggling to function to their potential.