. ACT 3. For Dekker, commodity produc- tion serves to buttress the institution of marriage. SEL was founded in 1961 by Carroll Camden at Rice University and is now edited by Robert L. Patten. Morose understands himself to be a member of a "society of blood" in which marriage is not a personal, affective relation- ship, but an institution regulating the transmission of wealth and status." R. V. Holdsworth (New York: Norton, 1979), I.ii.23-4. Thus Morose's punishment of his nephew is not, as Ian Donaldson has argued, simply a manifestation of "misan- thropy,"15 but is rather an attempt to stymie the development of a new set of social relations. All references to Epicoene are to this edition by act, scene, and line numbers. Every … Press, 1992), p. 43. has bought his title. Press, 19931, pp. Yet Jonson wants to preserve a hierarchical, male-dominated social formation even as he subverts the rationale for controlling women as reproductive resources, and he seeks to establish a new basis for prescribing rank and gender, constructing as principles of regu- lation what are actually features of the changing economic and social context: commodity relations and the urban marketplace. Feminist scholars have tended to evaluate Epicoene as a straightforwardly conservative work in which Jonson "reinforce [s] patriarchal authority" by "uphold- ing the socially sanctioned gender divisions. Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth (Pittsburgh: Univ. 30Richard C. Newton, "Jonson and the (Re-)Invention of the Book," in Classic and Cavalier: Essays on Jonson and the Sons ofBen, ed. Jonson could have staged the reform-the chastening-of this gaggle of Lady Would-Bes, but he chooses not to do so. of Michigan Press, 1991), p. 21. The shoes, although bearing Jane's name, function "not as a memento of Ralph, but instead as a male-constructed reminder to her of their relati~nship."~~. Click EDIT to add/edit tags. Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 (SEL) focuses on four fields of British Literature which rotate quarterly as follows: Winter-English Renaissance, Spring - Tudor and Stuart Drama, Summer-Restoration and Eighteenth Century, and Autumn - Nineteenth Century. Although other criteria of social merit were emerging, genealogy and rank were, in theory, inextricably linked, and lineage was thus vitally important in establishing a man's social id en tit^.^ The genealogically minded individual regarded himself as "a trustee for the handing on of blood, property and traditi~n,"~, and strove to perpetuate his bloodline by procreating within marriage. Thus, the distinction. In the Prologue to Epicoene, however, Jonson suggests that the "cunning palates" in his audi- ence will consume his play piecemeal: And though all relish not, sure there will be some. this way: in the Prologue to Epicoene, quoted from earlier, Jonson continues his cooking analogy by promising that some of "his cates" will "Be fit for ladies: some for lords, knights, squires, / Some for your waiting wench, and citie-wires, [i.e., citizen wives] / Some for your men, and daughters of white-Friars" (11. In the Prologue to Epicoene, however, Jonson suggests that the "cunning palates" in his audi- ence will consume his play piecemeal: And though all relish not, sure there will be some. 196-217; and D. E. Underdown, "The Taming of the Scold: The Enforcement of Patriarchal Authority in Early Modern England," in Fletcher and Stevenson, pp. Jonson perceives that in a precapitalist social formation, differences of rank and gender are predicated on the control of the reproductive female body; in Epicoene, commod- ity relations unravel the traditional connections between repro- duction, social status, and gender, problematizing the heretofore "natural," biological basis of the social order. GLOSSARY; No review for this book yet, be the first to review. H6li.ne~swols~y. "Z5 It is important to realize, there- fore, that the social order Jonson establishes at the conclusion of Epicoene neither "curtails" nor "tempers" the promiscuity of, The success of Dauphine reveals that male social status is a commodity which may be secured without the mediation of reproductive female bodies. Mistress Otter to an episode in Dekker's The Shoemaker's Holiday, in which Ralph gives his wife a pair of shoes fashioned by himself and his fellow craftsmen: Thou know'st our trade makes rings for women's heels. Press, 1994), pp. When asked, "Why, doth she wear any but her own?," the maid replies, "In faith, sir, no. Who wrote that piece could so have wrote a play. * As Coppklia Kahn insists, "The biologi- cal importance of female chastity is . Yet in avoiding childbirth, the Collegiates also reject a central function of the grotesque female body.20 In his epigram on "Fine Lady Would-Be," Jonson excoriates such female control of reproduction: The world reputes you barren; but I know Your 'pothecary, and his drug says no. Historians have argued that the social and economic changes of the early modern period catalyzed the increased subjection of women, including greater control of women's sexuality and the strengthening of patriarchal author- ity in the family.44 In Epicoene, Jonson envisions a different process of female subjection by which the disciplinary function of the patriarchal father or husband is performed by the proto- capitalist city. What should the cause be? She is working on a study of the culture of collecting in early modern England. "46 Yet by focusing on the possibilities for social change which Jonson attempts to efface, we can recover the "utopian impulses" which haunt his depiction of a refashioned society. It was believed that women were naturally lascivious, and this construction of female sexual voracity provided a rationale for male domination: to preserve women's all-important chastity, men had to control female beha~ior.~ The significance of female sexuality-and the need for its regu- lation by men-was thus understood in reproductive terms. Press, 1994), p. 3. Dauphine triumphs over Morose by proferring a "silent woman"-Epicoene-for his audiophobic uncle to wed. As soon as she marries Morose, Epicoene behaves like a voluble harpy, and Morose frantically tries to escape wedded hell, finally agreeing to submit to his nephew if Dauphine can somehow nullify the marriage. 1990), p. 147. Epicœne, or The silent woman, also known as The Epicene, is a comedy by Renaissance playwright Ben Jonson.It was originally performed by the Blackfriars Children or Children of the Queen's Revels, a group of boy players, in 1609. Like Dauphine, the heir who buys a title and swindles his uncle, Jonson both subverts and upholds a lineal-biological social order in Epicoene.
Thus the mercenary alliance between Dauphine and his boy-actor parallels the relationship between the dramatist and actor who collaborated in presenting Epicoene at the Whitefriars. Although the play has the appearance of a farce, he stresses in this prologue that the purpose of true art's "well fain'd" illusion is not only "to delight" the audience but also "to profit" us morally. "24 Moreover, we are told that the Collegiates will continue to behave immodestly in the future: Truewit cheerfully promises that when Dauphine's boy-actor matures, he will "make a good visitant" to the women (V.v.232). "Burt, p. 61. For terms and use, please refer to our Terms and Conditions "^^ However, Jonson's treatment of these unruly women is more equivocal than one might expect. 46Rosemary Kegl, The Rhetoric of Concealment: Figuring Gender and Class in Renaissance Literature (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. In the Jonsonian commodity relation, the producer estab- lishes his identity through his fashioning of commodities; this identity is affirmed by those who "understand" his texts, and attacked by mere consumers.
Early modern English writers usually depicted London as a woman; however, in the Londinium arch which he devised for the coronation pageant of James I, Jonson represented "the Genius of the City" as a man.3"n Epicoene, Jonson's masculin- ized city keeps women in their place, and thus renders husbands unnecessary to the maintenance of the gender hierarchy. .with most masculine or rather hermaphroditical authority" (I.i.71-7).
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