World Literature

Constructing ‘Monsters’ in Shakespearean Drama and Early by Mark Burnett

By Mark Burnett

Developing 'Monsters' in Shakespearean Drama and Early sleek tradition argues for the an important position of the 'monster' within the early sleek mind's eye. Burnett lines the metaphorical importance of 'monstrous' varieties throughout a number of early glossy exhibition areas - fairground screens, 'cabinets of interest' and court docket entertainments - to contend that the 'monster' unearths its so much interesting manifestation within the investments and practices of latest theatre. The study's new readings of Shakespeare, Marlowe and Jonson make a robust case for the drama's contribution to debates concerning the 'extraordinary body'.

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Extra resources for Constructing ‘Monsters’ in Shakespearean Drama and Early Modern Culture

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K]ings shall crouch unto our conquering swords And hosts of soldiers stand amazed at us, . . 9 In complementary discussions of the aesthetic, James Biester has argued that ‘wonder . . conditioned, established, and maintained internal political and social relations’, while Peter G. 10 One might suggest, then, that Tamburlaine, as part of his aspiration for dominion, dresses himself in conventional clothes, in the not so much ‘strange’ as familiar image of the divinely sanctioned ruler. Wonder will furnish Tamburlaine with the means of showing himself a successful leader; at the same time, it leaves open the possibility of aggrandizement and immortalization through his association with the godhead.

But the ‘cabinet of curiosities’ imitated the court’s fascination with ‘monsters’ in a more vital respect. As well as mortal remains, these bizarre assemblages accommodated living persons who were permanently installed for domestic edification. In their accommodation of living persons, the ‘cabinets’ displayed a performative leaning. 77 When the ‘cabinet of curiosities’ was able to unite the inanimate and the animate, the quick and the dead, the lord’s mastery of monarchical example, and standing in the eyes of his peers, were dramatically augmented.

Both ideas, however, are overshadowed by the suggestion that all those who come into contact with the drama will end up in thrall to its ‘monstrous’ properties. Of course, similar anxieties are articulated about other forms of recreation, offering a forceful realization of the perceived threat of popular performative pastimes in general. In Chapman’s Bussy d’Ambois (c. 96 Such is the potency of the spectacle he witnesses, the ‘fellow’ is cuckolded by the bull-baiting, thereby emerging both as a dramatic male version of Mary Davis and Margaret Vergh Griffith (those other horned ‘monsters’ who frequented the contemporary exhibition circuit) and a devil incarnate.

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