Erotic Beasts and Social Monsters: Shakespeare, Jonson, and Comic Androgyny

By Grace Tiffany | Go to book overview

Epilogue

In the exchange of theatrical hostilities known as the Theater Wars, the satirist himself became a central figure of ridicule. Marston's Chrisoganus in Histriomastix1 and Lampatho in What You Will, Dekker's Horace in Satiromastix, and “Furor Poeticus” in the anonymous Parnassus plays are all specific parodies of Jonson's satirical zeal. The proliferation of such satirist-parodies indicates the increasingly selfreformative inclination of dramatic satire itself during this period. A passage from Marston's 1600 Jack Drum's Entertainment (also aimed at Jonson) creates a sense of satirical energy collapsing in on itself:

Why should thou take felicity to gall
Good honest souls? And in thy arrogance
And glorious ostentation of thy wit
Think God infused all perfection
Into thy soul alone, and made the rest
For thee to laugh at? Now, you censurer,
Be the ridiculous object of our mirth.…

(5.16–21)2

Lines like these enact the customary satiric thrust outward against a foreign antagonist, but simultaneously indicate the satiric genre's gradual turn inward, as it begins to interrogate its own ethos. Jonson himself, whose later Bartholomew Fair proved his talent for selfmockery, more frequently exploited the poetomachiac forum to attack his methodological allies—satirical playwrights like Dekker and Marston—than to mock Shakespeare's methods; two celebrated examples are his parodies of Marston as Crispinus in Poetaster and Carlo Buffone in Every Man Out of His Humour.3

But curiously interwoven into this “satirists' war” was a thread of awareness of the alternative principle of mythic comedy, and its— to the satirist—threatening power to absorb and transform the satirical paradigm. Paradoxically, an early-seventeenth-century epigram

-198-

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Erotic Beasts and Social Monsters: Shakespeare, Jonson, and Comic Androgyny
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Acknowledgments 9
  • Introduction 11
  • Erotic Beasts and Social Monsters 21
  • 1: Erotic Beasts and Social Monsters 23
  • 2: Mazes, Water, Dolphins, Beasts 68
  • 3: Jonson, Satire, and the Empty Hermaphrodite 105
  • 4: Experimental Androgynes 136
  • 5: [That Reason Wonder May Diminish] 170
  • Epilogue 198
  • Notes 203
  • Bibliography 224
  • Index 233
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