Tamburlaine's Malady: And Other Essays on Astrology in Elizabethan Drama

By Johnstone Parr | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
PROGNOSTICATING VIOLENT DEATH

IN ALMOST all the plays of the Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatists one finds an abundance of astrological jargon used metaphorically and as sheer literary garnish, showing no particular knowledge of the complex technicalities of astrology. Occasionally, however, a Jacobean dramatist's delineation of a horoscope involves such astrological technicalities that he and his audience must have fully appreciated the various manifestations of horoscopy. Such is the case in John Webster The Duchess of Malfi. My purpose in this chapter is to present an adequate explanation of the horoscope employed at one of the critical moments in this play.

At the beginning of the second act the widowed Duchess has already clandestinely married Antonio (the major-domos of her palace), is big with Antonio's child, and (by wearing loose-fitting gowns) has succeeded in keeping the household of her palace from knowing of her pregnancy. On the night of the child's birth, Antonio plans a ruse to further keeping the secret: he announces that the Duchess' jewels have been stolen, and thereupon orders that the gates be shut and all members of the household confine themselves to their chambers for the night. This has no sooner been done than Antonio is informed that he is "the happy father of a sonne." He hurries off at once to cast the child's horoscope, or, as he says, to "set a figure for's Nativitie."1 But

____________________
1

II.ii.92. All citations from the play are from The Complete Works of John Webster, ed. F. L. Lucas ( London, 1927.), II. Professor Lucas (p. 151) is amused that Antonio, immediately after a lecture from Delio on superstition, should hurry away to cast a horoscope. But Webster apparently knew what recent research is beginning to clearly show: that in the early sixteenth century the children of a Duchess always had their horoscopes cast, and that this manifestation received virtually as much serious consideration as did the child's christening. Cf. Lynn Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science ( New York,

-94-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Tamburlaine's Malady: And Other Essays on Astrology in Elizabethan Drama
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 160

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.