Women, Violence, and English Renaissance Literature: Essays Honoring Paul Jorgensen

Women, Violence, and English Renaissance Literature: Essays Honoring Paul Jorgensen

Women, Violence, and English Renaissance Literature: Essays Honoring Paul Jorgensen

Women, Violence, and English Renaissance Literature: Essays Honoring Paul Jorgensen

Excerpt

A satisfying Swedish fairy tale features a little goatherd who exceeds even the high standard of good-hearted gentleness expected of the folk-tale hero. His sweetness seems downright feminine. When on his journey he is threatened with violence from a ferocious bear, a ravenous wolf, and a snarling lion, he befriends each with a soft answer and they let him pass upon his way, singing his sweet little song about how kindness wins more friends in this world than does violence. The Renaissance woman did not so lightly escape from the violent claw as does the little goatherd; but in his gentle, soft non-violence this folk-tale hero resembles the ideal Renaissance woman. (“Her voice was ever soft,/ Gentle, and low, an excellent thing in woman”: King Lear 5.3.277–278. ) But let us finish the tale of the gentle goatherd a little later.

The weight of the essays in this volume — ten on women as objects of male violence and four on violence committed by women — reflects the extent to which the Renaissance itself gendered violence mainly as male: men were usually its subjects and women often its objects. Women were the gentle goatherd, and men were the bears, wolves, and lions. Why should this have been so? The age, after all, is known for its violent spectacles: hangings, drawings-and-quarterings,

References to Shakespeare in the Introduction are to the Complete Works, ed. David
Bevington, 4th ed.

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.