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Cosmetics in Shakespearean and Renaissance Drama$
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Farah Karim-Cooper

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780748619931

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748619931.001.0001

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Cosmetic Restoration in Jacobean Tragedy

Cosmetic Restoration in Jacobean Tragedy

(p.67) Chapter 3 Cosmetic Restoration in Jacobean Tragedy
Cosmetics in Shakespearean and Renaissance Drama

Farah Karim-Cooper

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter attempts to show how Thomas Middleton appropriates cosmetic materiality by deploying it imaginatively in the language and in the action, through violence and terror. It also tries to suggest that both The Revenger's Tragedy and The Second Maiden's Tragedy reflect the contradictions inherent in the cultural attitudes toward cosmetics, contradictions which permeate the cosmetics discourse beyond the stage. The chapter first proposes that these plays not only dramatise the deceptive, yet restorative, nature of makeup, but point to a cultural cosmetics discourse through the language. The relationship of the tongue to cosmetics seems to be registered in the poisoned-kiss sequences of these plays, which dramatised a culture addicted to artifice while commenting upon the contemporary fixation on the body. In both plays, the only painted faces are those of virtuous women.

Keywords:   Thomas Middleton, Revenger's Tragedy, Second Maiden's Tragedy, cosmetic materiality, violence, terror, Jacobean tragedy, cosmetic restoration

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