Places: The Two Noble Kinsmen

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1634

First produced: c. 1612-1613

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Tragicomedy

Time of work: Antiquity

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Athens

*Athens. Two Noble Kinsmen, TheAncient Greek city that is the scene of much of the play’s action, Athens is ruled by Duke Theseus, whose marriage to the Amazon leader Hippolyta is interrupted by three royal widows who ask Theseus to avenge their husbands by attacking Creon, the tyrant of Thebes. Several significant events also occur in the countryside outside the city, the most significant of which are the fight between Palamon and Arcite, their discovery by Theseus and his entourage, and the tournament between the two Thebans for the hand of Emily.

Athens is also the location of a temple containing shrines to Mars, Venus, and Diana. In contrast to the depiction of these shrines in other writers’ renditions of this story, these shrines are all located within a single temple.


Thebes (theebz). Greek city against which Theseus is persuaded to lead an army. His army overthrows Creon and captures Palamon and Arcite, who are members of the Theban royal family. From their Athens prison, the two noble kinsmen see the beautiful Emilia, sister-in-law of Theseus, and fall in love with her. Their rivalry for her affection drives the rest of the story.

BibliographyBertram, Paul. Shakespeare and “The Two Noble Kinsmen.” New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1965. Discussion of the play, usually thought to be written by Shakespeare in collaboration with John Fletcher. Discussion of earlier critical works.Donaldson, E. Talbot. The Swan at the Well: Shakespeare Reading Chaucer. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1985. Compares several of Shakespeare’s plays and their sources in Chaucer’s poems. “The Knight’s Tale and The Two Noble Kinsmen” compares Chaucer’s story with Shakespeare’s play.Hillman, Richard. “Shakespeare’s Romantic Innocents and the Misappropriation of the Romantic Past: The Case of The Two Noble Kinsmen.” In The Tempest and After, edited by Stanley W. Wells. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Considers the characters’ responses to their notions of romance.Muir, Kenneth. Shakespeare’s Comic Sequence. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1979. The essay on The Two Noble Kinsmen discusses the authorship of the play. There is also critical discussion of the play.Waith, Eugene M. “Shakespeare and Fletcher on Love and Friendship.” In Shakespeare Studies: An Annual Gathering of Research, Criticism, and Reviews, edited by J. Leeds Barroll. New York: Burt Franklin, 1986. Explores the conflict between love and friendship in the works of Shakespeare and Fletcher.
Categories: Places