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The bond cracked 'twixt man and woman: Paradigms of marital conflict in the biblical and homiletic drama of Tudor/Stuart England

Posted on:1996-03-21Degree:Ph.DType:Thesis
University:Ohio UniversityCandidate:Flanigan, Thomas GerardFull Text:PDF
GTID:2466390014988066Subject:English literature
This study seeks to trace the historical evolution of troubled marriage paradigms in English biblical and homiletic drama from the Corpus Christi cycles to Milton's Samson Agonistes and to place these paradigms in the larger context of an ongoing Tudor/Stuart marriage debate. Its threefold purpose is: (a) to establish the medieval roots of the said debate as reflected in the mystery play archetypes; (b) to explore developments in the theory of marriage through the period of the Reformation; and finally, (c) to show how these developments influenced (or failed to influence) dramatic portraits of husbands and wives. Close readings of specific plays containing strong marital strife and/or adultery themes are supplemented with illuminating cross references to period sermons, marriage manuals and legal documents, as well as to recent historical and sociological studies.;The project commenced with an intensive (three chapter) critical survey of the extant mystery plays containing Adam and Eve, Noah and Uxor, and Joseph and Mary depictions. Developments in English law and Reformation theology (concerning marriage formation, divorce and annulment, the respective duties of husbands and wives, etc.) were studied and summarized in an interim chapter. Troubled marriage themes in three domestic tragedies from the Tudor/Stuart period--Arden of Faversham (1592--anonymous), George Wilkins's The Miseries of Enforced Marriage (1607), and Thomas Heywood's A Woman Killed with Kindness (1603)--were then examined. Shakespeare's marital strife constructs in Othello and Cymbeline were considered in relation to both the medieval archetypes and the more typical paradigms of his own time. And finally, Milton's views on marriage and divorce as reflected in Samson Agonistes and Paradise Lost were reviewed.;The dissertation arrives at no definitive conclusions, although it does consistently demonstrate the inadequacy of simplistic generalizations distinguishing Renaissance from medieval, and Protestant from Catholic, perceptions of women and wedlock. It seeks merely to observe and to describe a complex process of evolution and synthesis--to examine one aspect of the medieval-to-Renaissance transition in its rich and marvelous ambivalence.
Keywords/Search Tags:Paradigms, Marriage, Marital, Tudor/stuart
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