Shades of Difference: Mythologies of Skin Color in Early Modern England

By Sujata Iyengar | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Heroic Blushing

Jonson’s Niger praises his daughters’ beauty for its unchanging, “firm hues” (Blackness, line 117); unlike European ladies, his daughters have no need to resort to “paint” (line 133) to conceal their “passion” (line 129), no need to hide a face that grows pale or turns red. Niger reads his daughters’ unchanging skins as signs of their constancy and virtue, but his confidence is unusual. More typical are the early modern moralists Thomas Wright and Nicholas Coeffeteau, who in Passions of the Mind in General (1601) and A Table of Humane Passions (1621) emphasize the importance of blushing and social shaming as a “ground whereupon Virtue may build” because it shows that the blushing subject is capable of experiencing remorse.1 Wright and Coeffeteau assume a clear correspondence between the bodily language of blushing and an individual’s state of mind; those who cannot be seen to blush, cannot experience shame. But while moral philosophy uses the visible blush to reinforce emergent hierarchies of power, gender, and nation, early modern fiction characterizes blushing through residual mythologies of color. Blushing thus marks not a fundamental bodily truth but its literary or hermeneutic breakdown.

In particular, Hero and Leander (HL) and Hero and Leander Completed (HLQ figure the fluctuating battle among red, white and black skin tones as the struggle of narrative poetry to give birth to lyric. Renaissance scholars confused the historical Musaeus, a fifth-century grammarian and the author of the Greek poem Hero and Leander, with “the Divine Musaeus” (HL, 1.52), the mysterious, magical poet-seer to whom Virgil refers as the first poet of all (“Musaeu[s] ante omnes”) and who was known variously as Orpheus’s tutor, father, or son.2 Chapman calls the lovers “the first that ever Poet sung” (HLC, 6.292). Their “lovedeaths” kill the narrative but give birth to poetry. For Marlowe, the price of this new art form is the demise of transparent meaning and the generation of Heroic blushes that create the possibility of literary interpretation. For Chapman, the price of poetry is the birth of Eronusis, or dissimulation. In Hero and Leander and Hero and Leander Completed, Heroic blushes defy the moral codes of gender and desire that they are

-103-

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
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Shades of Difference: Mythologies of Skin Color in Early Modern England
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • I - Ethiopian Histories 17
  • Chapter 1 - Pictures of Andromeda Naked 19
  • Chapter 2 - Thirteen- Ways of Looking at a Black Bride 44
  • Chapter 3 - Masquing Race 80
  • II - Whiteness Visible 101
  • Chapter 4 - Heroic Blushing 103
  • Chapter 5 - Blackface and Blushface 123
  • Chapter 6 - Whiteness as Sexual Difference 140
  • III - Travail Narratives 171
  • Chapter 7 - Artificial Negroes 173
  • Chapter 8 - Suntanned Slaves 200
  • Chapter 9 - Experiments of Colors 220
  • Afterword- Nancy Burson’s Human Race Machine 241
  • Notes 245
  • Bibliography 269
  • Index 299
  • Acknowledgments 309
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?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 311

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, 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." (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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    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.