The Bed-trick in English Renaissance Drama: Explorations in Gender, Sexuality, and Power

Etukansi
University of Delaware Press, 1994 - 175 sivua
The Bed-Trick in English Renaissance Drama provides the first detailed examination of this convention. While most critical discussions focus exclusively on Shakespeare's use of the bed-trick in Measure for Measure and All's Well That Ends Well, this study, written from a feminist perspective and based on an analysis of more than two hundred and fifty plays, places the bed-trick in its historical and theatrical context in order to challenge widely held critical assumptions about its theatrical history on the English Renaissance stage. It has been considered a comic convention, a mere device to complicate and resolve a plot, or the convention by which unwary men are entrapped into marriage by scheming females. None of these assumptions has been tested against the evidence of the surviving plays from the period - an oversight that the present study seeks to remedy.
After exploring the convention's use in nondramatic Renaissance literature and its emergence on the stage in the 1590s, Marliss Desens examines the sociological and psychological implications of the bed-trick in regard to matters of marriage, male fantasies, and overt violence, thereby decentering the patriarchal perspective from which the convention has traditionally been viewed. Critical discussions of this convention, the author argues, have been so dominated by androcentric values that critics, both male and female, have often - consciously or unconsciously - overlooked the violence inherent in the bed-trick. No critical discussions have ever identified rape as lying at the heart of the bed-trick even though the basic action of the bed-trick clearly shows that at least one partner is always physically and emotionally violated. While that partner may have chosen sexual involvement, he or she has not chosen it with the person unwittingly embraced in the dark. The bed-trick, by depicting betrayal on the most intimate level, forces us to examine some of our own views on gender, sexuality, and the amount of power any person, whether male or female, may acceptably exercise over another.

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Acknowledgments
7
The BedTrick in Nondramatic Literature
18
The Theatrical Ancestry and Emergence of the BedTrick
36
The BedTrick in Matters of Marriage
59
The BedTrick as a Manifestation of Male Fantasies
93
The Violent BedTricks of Tragicomedy and Tragedy
116
Conclusions
139
Notes
152
Bibliography
167
Index 173
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Sivu 161 - O cunning enemy, that, to catch a saint, With saints dost bait thy hook ! Most dangerous Is that temptation that doth goad us on To sin in loving virtue...
Sivu 155 - I will craue no pardon of the highest, to do the simplest no wrong. In Grafton, Holinshed, and Stowe; in Heywood, Tusser, and Gowge; in Gascoigne, Churchyarde, and Floide; in Ritch, Whetstone, and Munday; in Stanyhurst, Fraunce, and Watson; in Kiffin, Warner, and Daniell; in an hundred such vulgar writers, many things are commendable, diuers things notable, some things excellent. Fraunce, Kiffin, Warner, and Daniell, of whom I haue elsewhere more especiall occasion to entreate, may haply finde a...
Sivu 75 - Husband, I see you are hoodwinked in the right use of feeling and knowledge, as if I knew you not then as well as the child knows his own father! Look in the posy of my ring: does it not tell you that we two are one flesh? And hath not fellow-feeling taught us to know one another as well by night as by day? Husband, husband, will you do as the blind jade, break your neck down a hill because you see it not? Ha' you no light of nature in that flesh of yours?
Sivu 52 - What distinguishes the Jacobean age from the Elizabethan is its more exact, more searching, more detailed inquiry into moral and political questions and its interest in the analysis of the mysteries and perturbations of the human mind.
Sivu 24 - And yet ten Morte Arthures do not the tenth part so much harme, as one of these bookes, made in Italie, and translated in England.
Sivu 23 - Lote, that was his own aunte. This is good stuffe, for wise men to laughe at, or honest men to take pleasure at. Yet I know, when Gods Bible was banished the Court, and Morte Arthure receiued into the Princes chamber.
Sivu 76 - ... before ! This mirror of nuptial chastity, this votress of widow-constancy, to change her faith, exchange kisses, embraces, with a stranger, and, but my shame withstood, to give the utmost earnest of her love to an eight penny sentinel ; in effect, to prostitute herself on her husband's coffin! Lust, impiety, hell, womanhood itself, add, if you can, one step to this
Sivu 70 - Your wife expected you, but when I came, She had prepared light, and her cousin here, To have made you blush, and chide you into honesty: Seeing their chaste simplicity, I was won To silence, which brought on my better fortune. Wild. Can this be real ? Mrs. W. By my hopes of peace I' the t'other world, you have no injury.
Sivu 48 - How a Man May Choose a Good Wife from a Bad, The Faire Maide of Bristow, The Wise Woman of Hogsdon, The London Prodigal, and The Miseries of Enforced Marriage.
Sivu 28 - ... very dearly. And when he sendeth the ring, you shall give it unto me, and afterwards send him word that your daughter is ready to accomplish his pleasure; and then you shall cause him secretly to come hither and place me by him instead of your daughter. Peradventure God will give me the grace that I may be with child; and so, having this ring on my finger and the child in my arms begotten by him, I may recover him, and by your means continue with him as a wife ought to do with her husband.

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