Holy Willies Prayer Critical Essay On Macbeth

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Drafts of this work have benefited from the responses of Sarah Annes Brown, Ian Donaldson, Paul Edmondson, John Jowett, Barbara Ravelhofer, Elke Schuch, Catherine Silverstone, Ann Thompson, Martin Wiggins, and audiences at the Renaissance Graduate Seminar, English Faculty, Cambridge University; the ‘Shakespeare and the Barbarians’ conference, University of Surrey Roehampton, 26 October 2002; and The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham.

[1] In Geoffrey Bullough, Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare, 8 vols. (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966), 6: 35.

[2] E.g. at 1.1.28, 1.1.131, and 2.3.78, William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus (Oxford Shakespeare), ed. Eugene M. Waith (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984, 1994). All references to the play cite this edition.

[3] For an analysis of the rhetorical construction of barbarism in the period, see Ian Smith, in “Barbarian Errors: Performing Race in Early Modern England,” Shakespeare Quarterly 49 (1998), 168-86.

[4] Ronald Broude, “Roman and Goth in Titus Andronicus,” Shakespeare Studies 6 (1970), 27-34, 27.

[5] John Rooks, “Mental and Moral Wilderness in Titus Andronicus,” Shakespeare and Renaissance Association of West Virginia: Selected Papers 16 (1993), 33-42, 33.

[6] Dorothea Kehler, “Titus Andronicus: From Limbo to Bliss,” Shakespeare Jahrbuch 128 [East] (1992), 125-31, 126. See also: Broude, passim; J. A. Bryant, Jr., “Aaron and the Pattern of Shakespeare’s Villains,” Renaissance Papers 1984 (1984), 29-36; and Douglas E. Green, “Interpreting ‘her martyr’d signs’: Gender and Tragedy in Titus Andronicus,” Shakespeare Quarterly 40 (1989), 317-26.

[7] Louise Noble, “‘And make two pasties of your shameful heads’: Medicinal Cannibalism and Healing the Body Politic in Titus Andronicus,” ELH 70 (2003), 677-708, 689.

[8]Thomas Heywood, An Apology for Actors (London, 1612), sig. F3v.

[9]Roman Shakespeare: Warriors, Wounds, and Women (London and New York: Routledge, 1997), 4.

[10] “Postcolonial Shakespeare: British Identity Formation and Cymbeline,” in Shakespeare’s Late Plays: New Readings, ed. Jennifer Richards and James Knowles (Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1999), pp. 145-57, 150.

[11] Here I follow Homi K. Bhabha’s assertion that: “The representation of difference must not be hastily read as the reflection of pre-given ethnic or cultural traits set in the fixed tablet of tradition”, in The Location of Culture (London and New York: Routledge, 1994), p. 2.

[12] Andrew P. Williams, “Introduction,” The Image of Manhood in Early Modern Literature: Viewing the Male, ed. Andrew P. Williams (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999), pp. xi-xv, xi.

[13] Robert Appelbaum, “‘Standing to the wall’: The Pressures of Masculinity in Romeo and Juliet,” Shakespeare Quarterly 48 (1997), 251-72, 260.

[14] The collection, Masculinity Studies and Feminist Theory: New Directions, ed. Judith Kegan Gardiner, also works to destablise such binaries of ‘victims and oppressors, difference and dominance, and hegemonic (or socially validated) and alternative masculinities’ (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), p. 2.

[15] Elizabeth A. Foyster, Manhood in Early Modern England: Honour, Sex and Marriage (Longman: London and New York, 1999), p. 5.

[16] For a detailed discussion of the tensions surrounding honour gained through birth or virtue, see Mervyn James, Society, Politics and Culture: Studies in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996), 375ff.

[17]The English Gentlewoman (London, 1631), 191.

[19] Francis Bacon situates the monarch as the “fountaine of honour” in his argument that no individual has honour that is not derived from the king. Cf. The Charge of Sir Francis Bacon Touching Duells (London, 1614), p. 36.

[20]The Blazon of Gentrie: Deuided into two parts.  The first named The Glorie of Generositie.  The second, Lacyes Nobilitie (London, 1586), 96-7.

[21] For a good analysis of the historical legal and moral positions on killing prisoners, see Theodor Meron, Henry’s Wars and Shakespeare’s Laws (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1993), esp. ch. 9.

[22] For an attempt to see the relevance of this sacrifice in terms of Elizabethan culture, see Nicholas R. Moschovakis, “‘Irreligious Piety’ and Christian History: Persecution as Pagan Anachronism in Titus Andronicus,” Shakespeare Quarterly 53 (2002), 460-86, esp. 463-5.

[23]Eugene Waith notes how Titus stands alone in justifying this deed: “To everyone else it is a piece of wilful violence based on a hideous error of judgement,” “The Ceremonies of Titus Andronicus,” Mirror up to Shakespeare: Essays in Honour of G. R. Hibbard, ed. J. C. Gray (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1984), pp. 159-70, 163.

[24] James C. Bulman notes: “…Titus lets a point of honor supersede even a bond of blood: he kills his son Mutius in order to confirm his loyalty to the emperor,” The Heroic Idiom of Shakespearean Tragedy (Toronto and London: Associated UP, 1985), p. 45.

[25]The Theme of Honour’s Tongue: a Study of Social Attitudes in the English Drama from Shakespeare to Dryden (Göteborg, Sweden: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, 1985), p. 38. The sanctity of betrothal pertains in Roman tradition as well. See Niall Rudd, “Titus Andronicus: The Classical Presence,” Shakespeare Survey 55 (2002), 199-208, 201.

[26] Aaron and the Goths, too, do not appear to be sexually possessive. Aaron discloses no anxiety about Tamora’s relationship with the Emperor, and Demetrius and Chiron agree to “share” Lavinia in their brutal double rape.

[27] Robert Ashley, Of Honour, ed. Virgil B. Heltzel (San Marino, CA: Huntington, 1947), p. 31.

[28] That honour is the reward for virtue is proverbial, and the typical justification for systems of honour. See Morris Palmer Tilley, A Dictionary of Proverbs in England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1950), H571; Francis Markham, The Booke of Honovr, or Five Decads of Epistles of Honovr (London, 1625), 1; and Annibale Romei, The Courtiers Academie, trans. John Kepers, 1595 (Facsimile; Jerusalem: Israel UP, 1968), 82.

[29] Francesca T. Royster, “White-limed Walls: Whiteness and Gothic Extremism in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus,” Shakespeare Quarterly 51 (2000), 432-55, 436.

[30] Here I’m working against Jane Carducci’s assertion that: “…Titus is a thoroughly representative Roman play, anticipating the masculine code of military honor embodied in all of Shakespeare’s Roman men,” “Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus: An Experiment in Expression,” Cahiers Élisabéthains 31 (1987), 1-9, 2.

[31] In Vincentio Saviolo his Practise (London, 1595). For Shakespeare’s knowledge of Saviolo, see Joan Ozark Holmer, “‘Draw if you be men’: Saviolo’s Significance for Romeo and Juliet,” Shakespeare Quarterly 45 (1994), 163-89.

[32] Peter [Pierre] De La Primaudaye, The French Academie, trans. T. B[owes] (London, 1586), 380.

[33] The Longleat House Peacham drawing gives a rapier to Titus, probably not in an accurate reflection of staging.

[34]Methods and Practice of Elizabethan Swordplay (Carbondale and Edwardsville, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 1990), 10.

[35]Paradoxes of Defence (London, 1599), leaf inserted between A4 and B1.

[36] Cf. John Lyly’s Sapho and Phao, ed. David Bevington (Manchester: Manchester UP, 1991), 1.2.80.

[37] Jennifer Low, Manhood and the Duel: Masculinity in Early Modern Drama and Culture (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2003), p. 22-23.

[39]The Charge of Sir Francis Bacon Touching Duells, p. 22.

[40] All quotations from Shakespeare’s works, with the exception of Titus Andronicus, cite The Oxford Shakespeare, ed. Stanley Wells, et al. (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1986).

[41] But there are earlier uses. The weapon appears in Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy. It is also used anachronistically in an earlier Roman play, Thomas Lodge’s The Wounds of Civil War, inThe Complete Works of Thomas Lodge, ed. Alexander B. Grosart, vol. 3, (1882; New York: Russell and Russell, 1963), 3.1.42.

[42] Lawrence Stone, The Crisis of the Aristocracy, 1558-1641 (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1965), 232.

[43] William Segar and Richard Jones, The Booke of Honor and Armes: wherein is discovered the causes of Quarrel, and the nature of Injuries, with their Repulses (London, 1590), sig. C2v.

[45] This resemblance of Elizabethans and Goths is in keeping with Samuel Kliger’s argument for a tradition of viewing the Goths positively in early modern England. See The Goths in England (1952), esp. 72-79.

[46] Bruce R. Smith points to a connection between being effeminised and being other in Shakespeare and Masculinity (Oxford Shakespeare Topics) (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000), pp. 105ff.

[47] Charles Barber notes that “for women, the main demand of honour remains the preservation of their chastity and of their reputation for it” (47). And Romei argues that the only route towards honour for a woman was by preserving her chastity (126).

[49] Cf. Laura Gowing, “Women, Status and the Popular Culture of Dishonour,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 6, 6th series (1996), 225-34; and Garthine Walker, “Expanding the Boundaries of Female Honour in Early Modern England,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 6, 6th series (1996), 235-45.

[50] Matar, 40. Ian Smith argues that barbarism and racialization were inherently masculine because they were products of a perceived lack of eloquence: “…the nation’s validated subjects, mostly at educated, male (and in many cases urban) elite, come to identify with the English nation and its racialized correlative, whiteness, through a range of linguistic performatives. Inseparable, then, from this intersection of language, race, and color is masculinity, or the Lacanian hommosexual regulation that excludes women from the enterprise of eloquence…” (173). For the attempt to recover the wider European iconography of the early modern black woman, however, see Kim F. Hall, “Object into Object?: Some Thoughts on the Presence of Black Women in Early Modern Culture,” in Early Modern Visual Culture: Representation, Race, and Empire in Renaissance England, ed. Peter Erickson and Clark Hulse (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), 346-79.

[51] See Imtiaz Habib, Black Lives in the English Archives, 1500-1677: Imprints of the Invisible (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).

[53] Carolyn Asp argues that: “...Tamora, operating from within the Imaginary Order of maternal power, functions as a subject, i.e., as an agent within the patriarchal order. Because agency is coded ‘masculine,’ she is seen as ‘usurping’ power and creating disorder in the highly patriarchal Symbolic Order”, “‘Upon her wit doth earthly honor wait’: Female Agency in Titus Andronicus,” in Titus Andronicus: Critical Essays, ed. Philip C. Kolin (New York and London: Garland, 1995), 333-46, 335.

[54] “Tamora may be seen as a particularly vicious representation of a stereotype soon to become a major presence in Jacobean drama—the lusty widow,” Dorothea Kehler, “‘That Ravenous Tiger Tamora’: Titus Andronicus’s Lusty Widow, Wife, and M/other,” Titus Andronicus: Critical Essays, ed. by Philip C. Kolin (New York and London: Garland, 1995), 317-32, 317.

[55] Emily C. Bartels discusses Tamora and Aaron’s classical allusions at length in “Making More of the Moor: Aaron, Othello, and Renaissance Refashionings of Race,” Shakespeare Quarterly 41 (1990), 433-54, 444-5.

[56] Sir Richard Barckley, A Discovrse of the Felicitie of Man: Or His Summum Bonum. (London, 1598), 257-8.

[58] Bruce R. Smith is thus able to position Tamora with Shakespeare’s other exemplars of tragic female agency: “Tragedy portrays the female other as a destructive force. With respect to male protagonists Desdemona keeps company with a disparate group that includes Eleanour Duchess of Gloucester and Queen Margaret in the Henry VI plays, Tamora Queen of the Goths in Titus Andronicus, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Gertrude…Helen and Cressida…Goneril and Regan…Lady Macbeth…Cleopatra…and Volumnia…” (113).

[59] As Kehler argues, “her very overdetermination allows us to understand Tamora as a simulacrum modeled out of a patriarchal society’s fears and to note the fissures in her construction” (1995, 328).

[60] C. L. Barber and Richard P. Wheeler read this scene differently: “Titus in response to her keeps turning from her and her mutilated body, her sighs and tears, to himself, his body, his tears,” The Whole Journey: Shakespeare’s Power of Development (Berkeley, CA: U of California P, 1986), p. 152.

[61] This movement from public to private fits Brian Gibbons’s argument that: “In Titus Andronicus… the scope of the action and its focus shrink progressively” in Shakespeare and Multiplicity (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993), p. 113.

[62] These figures include “honour,” “honoured,” “honours,” “honourable,” and any of these forms with the “dis” prefix. As John Jowett has pointed out privately, these figures may have implications for the authorship of the play. Certainly, such a huge shift occurs here that it may be authorial. There is little difference, however, in the occurrence of “honour” in Peele’s (the most likely candidate’s) and Shakespeare’s canons. Brian Boyd suggests nonetheless that such repetition may be indicative of Peele’s “preferred verbal putty, always at hand to fill any gap”, “Common Words in Titus Andronicus: The Presence of Peele,” Notes and Queries 240 (1995), 300-7, 302.

[63] Gilles Corrozet, Memorable Conceits of Diuers Noble and famous personages of Christendome of this our moderne time (London, 1602), 394.

[64] Fulke Greville, A Dedication to Sir Philip SidneyThe Prose Works of Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, ed. John Gouws (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1986), 22.

[65] Michel Montaigne, Essays and Belles Lettres, trans. John Florio, 1603, 3 vols. (London: Dent, n.d), 2: 373.

[67] Gibbons, 80. Gibbons also touches upon the idea that Titus learns dissimulation but does not develop it: “He is taught by Tamora’s tortures to be double, ironic, witty, instead of slow, orderly, and pious” (115).

[68] “…if Othello aspires after ‘cultural whiteness,’ then Iago is conceived indeterminately according to stereotypes of ‘blackness’” (Ian Smith, 178).

[69] Peter Erickson makes a similar argument for patriarchy, which I take to be a sub-set of masculinity, but one which applies particularly to my argument here about negotiations of power: “patriarchal control has to be negotiated each time, and the outcome is variable and uncertain… [P]atriarchy is not monolithic but multivalent. Even within a historical period it has multiple versions rather than one version”, in “The Order of the Garter, the cult of Elizabeth, and class-gender tension in The Merry Wives of Windsor,” in Shakespeare Reproduced, ed. Jean E. Howard and Marion O’Connor (London: Methuen, 1987), pp.116-40, 116.


 

Responses to this piece intended for the Readers' Forum may be sent to the Editor at M.Steggle@shu.ac.uk.


© 2011-, Annaliese Connolly and Matthew Steggle (Editors, EMLS).

 

 

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