"Nature hath given you a sheath only" : swordplay and gender in Beaumont and Fletcher's "Love's Cure, or the Martial Maid"
Matthews, Gabrielle Elizabeth.
Thesis (M.A.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. This thesis examines female engagement with honor codes in early modern English literature. Through the circa 1605 Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher play "Love's Cure, or the Martial Maid" I examine the textual understanding of honor, gender, and social power or "custom" through scenes involving swordplay. Lucio and Clara, a brother and sister, have been raised in the garb and encouraged to behave as the gender opposite to their sex to protect them from their family's enemies. While one of the main components of the play is the return of these siblings to their "proper" gendered social roles, the play is a didactic tool that the playwrights use to criticize early modern honor codes that privilege personal integrity and violence over Christian charity or law. Through contemporary textual sources, including fencing manuals, pamphlet literature, and additional plays, this thesis examines Love's Cure as a way to understand early modern English attitudes about honor. I examine the concept of gender through three scenes of swordplay in three separate chapters. In chapter one I study the reputation of the female protagonist and her engagement with swordplay. Chapter one also examines gender issues and how they are portrayed through crossdressing. In chapter two I investigate the concepts of honor and justice in the text by how they are portrayed in a street brawl. In chapter three I examine the superior honor code portrayed by the women in the play. This honor code is used as didactic tool in a judicial duel scene to teach the men a superior and less bloody code of honor and conduct. While ostensibly the "natural" outcome of the play is a subservient role for women, the reality is much more subversive: the women's code of honor is clearly superior to that of the male characters.
MetadataShow full item record
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.