“One good man in a corrupt ancient society”: The Steward in Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens

Florence Toh Haw Ching, Arbaayah Ali Termizi


Within the master-servant relationships of the hierarchical Renaissance era, loyalty is often assumed as a common and expected attribute. However, the present study reveals this assumption as a misconception. From the evidence gathered, the paper highlights the declining virtue of loyalty particularly among the servant class of the Elizabethan era. Despite that, the Steward in Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens (1605) portrayed commendable examples and extent of loyalty towards his master, Timon. This represents a stark contrast to the selfish and disloyal community of Shakespeare’s seventeenth-century England. Through discussions of the scenes in which the servant character displayed acts of loyalty towards the protagonist, the paper emphasizes the significant contribution of the selected character in preserving the well-being of his master.  It is hoped that through an understanding of the loyalty shown by the Steward towards his master, Timon, the study will heighten understanding of Shakespeare’s servant characters leading to further appreciation of the dramatist’s work, Timon of Athens.



Elizabethan society, loyalty, master-servant relationship, Renaissance play

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/ijalel.v.1n.3p.1


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