The Bed-trick in English Renaissance Drama: Explorations in Gender, Sexuality, and Power (Google eBook)

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University of Delaware Press, Jan 1, 1994 - Literary Criticism - 175 pages
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"The Bed-Trick in English Renaissance Drama provides the first detailed examination of this convention. While most critical discussions focus exclusively on Shakespeare's use of the bed-trick in Measure for Measure and All's Well That Ends Well, this study, written from a feminist perspective and based on an analysis of more than two hundred and fifty plays, places the bed-trick in its historical and theatrical context in order to challenge widely held critical assumptions about its theatrical history on the English Renaissance stage. It has been considered a comic convention, a mere device to complicate and resolve a plot, or the convention by which unwary men are entrapped into marriage by scheming females. None of these assumptions has been tested against the evidence of the surviving plays from the period - an oversight that the present study seeks to remedy." "After exploring the convention's use in nondramatic Renaissance literature and its emergence on the stage in the 1590s, Marliss Desens examines the sociological and psychological implications of the bed-trick in regard to matters of marriage, male fantasies, and overt violence, thereby decentering the patriarchal perspective from which the convention has traditionally been viewed. Critical discussions of this convention, the author argues, have been so dominated by androcentric values that critics, both male and female, have often - consciously or unconsciously - overlooked the violence inherent in the bed-trick. No critical discussions have ever identified rape as lying at the heart of the bed-trick even though the basic action of the bed-trick clearly shows that at least one partner is always physically and emotionally violated. While that partner may have chosen sexual involvement, he or she has not chosen it with the person unwittingly embraced in the dark. The bed-trick, by depicting betrayal on the most intimate level, forces us to examine some of our own views on gender, sexuality, and the amount of power any person, whether male or female, may acceptably exercise over another."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
  

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Contents

Acknowledgments
7
The BedTrick in Nondramatic Literature
18
The Theatrical Ancestry and Emergence of the BedTrick
36
The BedTrick in Matters of Marriage
59
The BedTrick as a Manifestation of Male Fantasies
93
The Violent BedTricks of Tragicomedy and Tragedy
116
Conclusions
139
Notes
152
Bibliography
167
Index
173
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