'Her body is divided from her head': beheading and biblical intertexuality in Elizabeth Cary's the Tragedy of Mariam

CADMAN, Daniel (2022). 'Her body is divided from her head': beheading and biblical intertexuality in Elizabeth Cary's the Tragedy of Mariam. Literature And Theology.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1093/litthe/frac002
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    Abstract

    Elizabeth Cary’s play, The Tragedy of Mariam (1613), culminates with the execution by beheading of the play’s protagonist on the orders of her husband, the tyrannical Herod the Great. By executing Mariam, Herod attempts to re-establish his authority in Jerusalem after a rumour of his death has unleashed a wave of resistance and instability across his state. This article focuses upon the choice of beheading as the mode of execution and argues that the play’s biblical setting invites comparisons with Old Testament representations of beheading (including those in the stories of David and Judith). These beheadings occur as part of narratives of resistance against tyranny and overbearing patriarchs. The article argues that Herod’s attempts to harness beheading as a means of stabilising his state, as well as the broader cultural recognition of headlessness as a symbol of feminine disorder, are offset by the anti-tyrannical and anti-patriarchal properties of biblical beheading.

    Item Type: Article
    Uncontrolled Keywords: 2005 Literary Studies; 2204 Religion and Religious Studies; Literary Studies
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1093/litthe/frac002
    SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
    Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
    Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2022 14:13
    Last Modified: 10 Feb 2022 14:15
    URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/29718

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