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Revenge and Gender in Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Literature$
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Lesel Dawson and Fiona McHardy

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474414098

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414098.001.0001

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‘Women’s Weapons’: Education and Female Revenge on the Early Modern Stage

‘Women’s Weapons’: Education and Female Revenge on the Early Modern Stage

(p.181) Chapter 9 ‘Women’s Weapons’: Education and Female Revenge on the Early Modern Stage
Revenge and Gender in Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Literature

Chloe Kathleen Preedy

Edinburgh University Press

Female revengers feature in Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy, and George Chapman’s The Revenge of Bussy D’Ambois. Rather than pursuing vengeance by proxy these women become the active agents of their own revenge, taking a variety of weapons into their own hands. As they do so an implied dialectic between education and revenge emerges, with their ability to articulate revenge in their own terms linked to their wielding of the fatal dagger or vial. This paper will examine that dialectic by exploring the relationship between women’s words and women’s weapons on the early modern stage, as it pertains to the figure of the female revenger. While acknowledging the problematic morality (and the high cost) of vengeance, the chapter proposes that female revengers, rather than being simply trapped within misogynistic stereotypes, are instead active agents who interrogate stereotypes about women and determine their fates.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy, George Chapman, The Revenge of Bussy D’Ambois, education, revenge, vengeance, female revengers

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