Gendered Madness in Early Modern Drama by Eve Green

Dublin Core

Title

Gendered Madness in Early Modern Drama by Eve Green

Subject

Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies

Description

Madness is a prevalent theme in Early Modern Drama, yet the Oxford English Dictionary’s (OED) definitions of madness in use during this time suggest that these portrayals of madness may be misunderstood by modern audiences without sufficient contextual knowledge. The OED’s definitions of madness suggest that men and women in Early Modern England may have been identified as mad as a result of their abandonment of traditional gender roles. This paper investigates these forms of madness in the characters of Bel-imperia and Hieronimo in Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy (1580s), and Hamlet and Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1600s). Through comparing the portrayals of male and female madness respectively, this paper identifies similarities and gender tropes in these forms of nontraditional behavior resulting in madness: women in the early modern period appear to have been identified as mad when they play the role of truth teller, adopting the role of a man by claiming to possess important knowledge, and men are characterized as mad due to extreme displays of obsessive effeminate grief. This paper suggests that several instances of madness within Early Modern Drama need to be reclassified for contemporary audiences in order to ensure accurate modern portrayals of early modern madness as rejections of gender roles.

Creator

Eve Green

Source

Senior Showcase Artistic presentation

Publisher

Ripon College

Date

April 17, 2018

Rights

The author reserves all rights.

Identifier

Majors: English; Philosophy; Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies

Lane Cove, Australia
ARMs Capstone

Files

Green Gendered madness 2018.pdf

Citation

Eve Green, “Gendered Madness in Early Modern Drama by Eve Green,” Senior Showcase Digital Collection, accessed June 25, 2018, http://rcseniorshowcase.omeka.net/items/show/94.

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