Family and the State in Early Modern Revenge Drama

Economies of Vengeance

By Chris McMahon

© 2012 – Routledge

250 pages

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415807753
pub: 2011-12-22
US Dollars$145.00

About the Book

In this book, McMahon considers Early Modern revenge plays from a political science perspective, paying particular attention to the construction of family and state institutions. Plays set for close study are The Spanish Tragedy, Hamlet, The Revenger’s Tragedy, The Malcontent and The Duchess of Malfi. The plays are read as unique events occupying positions in historical process concerning the privatisation of the family (by means of symbolism and concrete household strategies such as budgeting and surveillance) and the subsequent appropriation of the family and its methods by the state.

The effect is that family becomes an unofficial organ of the state. This process, however, also involves the reform of the state along lines demanded by the private family. McMahon’s critical method, derived from the theory of Bourdieu, Bataille, and Girard, maps capital transactions to reveal emotionally charged, often idiosyncratic responses to issues of shared concern. Such issues include state corruption, the management of women, the performance of roles according to gender, the uses of surveillance, and the ethics of sacrifice.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Family and judiciary in The Spanish Tragedy 3. Competition and grace in Hamlet 4. Surveillance and consumption in The Revenger's Tragedy 5. Education and autocracy in The Malcontent 6. Meritocratic reform in The Duchess of Malfi 7. Conclusion

About the Author

Chris McMahon holds a PhD in English from the University of Queensland. He is a Tutor in International Studies, University of Canberra, Australia.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Renaissance Literature and Culture

From Shakespeare to Jonson, Routledge Studies in Renaissance Literature and Culture looks at both the literature and culture of the early modern period. This series is our home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections. Considering literature alongside theatre, popular culture, race, gender, ecology, space, and other subjects, titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

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