"I'le Tell My Sorrowes Unto Heaven, My Curse to Hell": Cursing Women in Early Modern Drama

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Title: "I'le Tell My Sorrowes Unto Heaven, My Curse to Hell": Cursing Women in Early Modern Drama
Authors: Templin, Lisa Marie
Date: 2014
Abstract: The female characters in Shakespeare’s 2 Henry VI and Richard III; Rowley’s All’s Lost by Lust; Fletcher’s The Tragedy of Valentinian; Rowley, Dekker, and Ford’s The Witch of Edmonton; and Brome and Heywood’s The Late Witches of Lancashire curse their enemies because, as women, they have no other way to fight against the injustices they experience. At once an extension of the early modern belief that words are “women’s weapons,” and dangerously beyond the feminine ideal of silence, the curse, as a performative speech act, resembles the physical weapons wielded by men in its potential to cause serious harm. Using Judith Butler’s theory of gender as performative and J. L. Austin’s theory of performative utterances, this thesis argues that curses function as part of the cursing woman’s performative identity, and by using speech as a weapon, the cursing woman gains a measure of social agency within the social order even if she cannot change her place within it.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/31832
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-6731
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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