Blood and Home in Early Modern Drama
Domestic Identity on the Renaissance Stage
In this volume, the author argues that blood was, crucially, a means by which dramatists negotiated shifting contours of domesticity in 16th and 17th century England. Early modern English drama vividly addressed contemporary debates over an expanding idea of "the domestic," which encompassed the domus as well as sex, parenthood, household order, the relationship between home and state, and the connections between family honor and national identity. The author contends that the domestic ideology expressed by theatrical depictions of marriage and household order is one built on the simultaneous familiarity and violence inherent to blood.
The theatrical relation between blood and home is far more intricate than the idealized language of the familial bloodline; the home was itself a bloody place, with domestic bloodstains signifying a range of experiences including religious worship, sex, murder, birth, healing, and holy justice. Focusing on four bleeding figures—the Bleeding Bride, Bleeding Husband, Bleeding Child, and Bleeding Patient—the author argues that the household blood of the early modern stage not only expressed the violence and conflict occasioned by domestic ideology, but also established the home as a site that alternately reified and challenged patriarchal authority.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. The Bleeding Bride: Consummation and The "Fight of Love" in Othello, As You Like It, and Cymbeline 2. The Bleeding Husband: Cuckoldry and Murder in Arden of Faversham and A Warning for Fair Women 3. The Bleeding Child: Sons and Daughters in The Spanish Tragedy, Henry VI, and Titus Andronicus 4. The Bleeding Patient: Honor and Bloodline in The Duchess of Malfi, The Maid’s Tragedy, and El médico de su honra 5. Afterword
Ariane M. Balizet is Assistant Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Texas Christian University, USA. Her research on blood, bodies, and gender in early modern drama and contemporary popular culture has appeared or is forthcoming in Early Modern Literary Studies, Comparative Literature Studies, and Women’s Studies.
"Ariane Balizet cogently argues that blood on the early modern stage makes public the domestic rites and habits of private life and that in so doing, it estranges viewers, often violently, from everyday experience and, most importantly, from early modern hierarchies of gender and power." – Sujata Iyengar, Professor of English, University of Georgia, USA, and author of Shakespeare’s Medical Language (2011)