Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


School of Language and Literature


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Charles Edelman


The aim of this thesis is to explore the legal issues within William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, and Ben Jonson's Volpone. I will attempt to discover the extent to which both plays can be seen as indicative of English jurisprudence applicable to Early Modern England. I shall commence by investigating The Merchant of Venice through outlining the process of signing and sealing a contract, defining the roles of The Court of Chancery and The Court of Common Law and relating the judgements made by Portia and the Court to statutes, precedents and procedures applicable to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Volpone will then be discussed, where topics such as legacy-hunting, criminal offences and the role of the Avocatori as an impartial and fair group, will be explored. The relationship between the law and comic law in relation to the character of Volpone will also be investigated.