Violent Passions and Vulnerable Bodies: Emotion and Power from Marlowe to Ford

DAVEY, Kibrina (2017). Violent Passions and Vulnerable Bodies: Emotion and Power from Marlowe to Ford. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This study will explore the relationship between violence, emotion and power in early modern drama ranging from the Elizabethan to the Caroline period and including the works of: Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Thomas Heywood, William Davenant, Philip Massinger, and John Ford. The dramatic texts in this thesis will be read in conversation with early modern proto-psychological, medical, philosophical, and theological doctrines on the passions in order to demonstrate how the drama of the period reflects and reveals the various early modern discourses of emotion, and how in turn, these discourses illuminate new meanings within the drama. Excessive passion in early modern tragedy usually results in violence and, more often than not, proves fatal. This study will consider extreme emotions such as grief, anger, love, lust, and jealousy and their transformative effects which provoke the bloody, violent, and ultimately fatal endings of early modern tragedies. Not only will this study examine this correlation between emotion and death from a proto-psychological and medical point-of-view, but also as a consequence of and reaction against the social and political power hierarchies of early modern society. This thesis will consider power in two ways: the power that the passions have on the vulnerable human body and how this provokes violent responses, and the ways in which these acts of passionate violence are used by playwrights to comment on, reveal, and criticise the socio-political hegemonic discourses of early modern society. Specifically, this exploration of emotion and power will take into account, the early modern patriarchal family and gender roles, the Protestant and Catholic churches, their authority figures and the religious power struggles of the period, early modern conceptions of race and foreign cultures, and the role of the monarch and debates about what constitutes the idea ruler. This study makes an original contribution to knowledge through its examination of previously understudied plays by dramatists such as Philip Massinger and William Davenant. Additionally, this study extends the existing remit of scholarship on early modern drama that uses the history of emotions as a framework, by considering the representations of emotion on the early modern stage, as well as affectual responses to the drama itself in plays that have until now been absent or underrepresented in this area of research, such as Christopher Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage (1586) and Thomas Heywood’s A Woman Killed with Kindness (1603). Finally, this study will re-examine the passions in plays which are more frequently studied by emotions scholars such as Shakespeare’s Othello (1603), a play renowned for its exploration of sexual jealousy, and the works of John Ford, known for their engagement with and allusions to Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), to offer new insights into the various representations of emotion which are present in these plays.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Hopkins, Lisa
Additional Information: Director of studies: Lisa Hopkins
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2019 09:02
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2021 01:18

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