Arms and the Woman: War, Gender, and Literary Representation

By Helen M. Cooper; Adrienne Auslander Munich et al. | Go to book overview
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between the patriarchal categories of victim and whore. Yet while the war continues, Cressida will not elude the militarization of her sexuality. It is time to declare a truce for the last Trojan woman.

I single out these quotations from Kott ( Shakespeare Our Contemporary, 77) and Yoder ( "'Sons and Daughters,'"19), who explicitly identify their responses to Troilus and Cressida with their reactions to twentieth- century wars, but one can trace the rise of the play's critical fortunes in the history of twentieth-century warfare. Burns, The Worst of Both Worlds, and Dollimore, Radical Tragedy, could also be cited. Feminist critics, including Greene, "Shakespeare's Cressida"; Adelman, "This Is and Is Not Cressid"; and Okerlund, "In Defense of Cressida," have contributed substantially to this reappraisal, though without treating the war theme in detail.
Redfield, Nature and Culture, 119-27; Hartsock, Money, Sex, and Power, 186-90.
Arthur, "The Divided World,"20.
Redfield, Nature and Culture, 123.
Arthur, "The Divided World,"32.
Judith Stiehm notes that "Margaret Mead has said there is no society that places women in offensive warfare. She argues that women may be too vicious and too violent for combat because they have traditionally wielded weapons only in immediate defense of the home" ( Bring Me Men and Women, 293). See also Huston, "The Matrix of War," and, on Renaissance views of women and war, Woodbridge, Women and the English Renaissance.
I am here and throughout this essay indebted to Joplin's analysis of violence in mythical and literary representations of the exchange of women in "The Voice of the Shuttle."
Stallybrass, "Patriarchal Territories,"123-47.
For important discussions of The Rape of Lucrece, see Kahn, "The Rape in Shakespeare's Lucrece," and Vickers, "This Heraldry" and "'The Blazon.'"
Donaldson, "The Progress of a Heroine,"10-11.
While theatrical representation, unlike narrative, provides each character with an advocate, directors have, no less than literary scholars, imposed patriarchal evaluations of Cressida for which Shakespeare's text provides no warrant. For a comparison of Shakespeare's textual cues and twentieth-century directorial choices, see LaBranche, "The Theatrical Dimension."


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