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Caught between presence and absence: Shakespeare's tragic women on filmIn offering readings of Shakespeare’s tragic women on film, this thesis explores bodies that are caught between signifiers of absence and presence: the woman’s body that is present with absent body parts; the woman’s body that is spoken about or alluded to when absent from view; the woman’s living body that appears as a corpse; the woman’s body that must be exposed and concealed from sight. These are bodies that appear on the borderline of meaning, that open up a marginal or liminal space of investigation. In concentrating on a state of ‘betweenness’, I am seeking to offer new interpretive possibilities for bodies that have become the site of much critical anxiety, and bodies that, due to their own peculiar liminality, have so far been critically ignored. In reading Shakespeare’s tragic women on film, I am interested specifically in screen representations of Gertrude’s sexualised body that is both absent and present in Shakespeare’s Hamlet; Desdemona’s (un)chaste body that is both exposed and concealed in film adaptations of Othello; Juliet’s ‘living corpse’ that represents life and death in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; the woman’s naked body in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth (1971) that is absent from Shakespeare’s play-text; and Lavinia’s violated, dismembered body in Julie Taymor’s (Titus, 1999) and Titus Andronicus, which, in signifying both life and death, wholeness and fragmentation, absence and presence, something and nothing, embodies many of the paradoxes explored within this thesis. Through readings that demonstrate a combined interest in Shakespeare’s plays, Shakespeare films, and Shakespeare criticism, this thesis brings these liminal bodies into focus, revealing how an understanding of their ‘absent presence’ can affect our responses as spectators of Shakespeare’s tragedies on film.