By Jane Pettegree
This unique and scholarly paintings makes use of 3 certain case stories of performs – Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra , King Lear and Cymbeline – to forged gentle at the ways that early sleek writers used metaphor to discover how identities emerge from the interplay of competing local and non secular topographies.
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Extra resources for Foreign and Native on the English Stage, 1588-1611: Metaphor and National Identity (Early Modern Literature in History)
Egyptian religion, to begin with, posed some peculiar interpretative problems for people living in the postReformation period, and in some of its aspects could even be seen as analogous to unreformed, Catholic worship practices. 60 Edmund Spenser, in the Proem to Book V of The Faerie Queene, associates Egyptian wizards with great knowledge – with a qualified ‘if’ that hedges this statement with an acute awareness of its uncertainty: And if to those Aegyptian wizards old, Which in Star-read were wont haue best insight, Faith may be giuen .
71 In the profoundly muddied political waters of the late 1590s, Cleopatra emerged as a serviceable and revealing emblem of political division, an incursion of the apparently exotic into the domestic sphere. 72 Brandon’s work is not meant for the public stage. It is a reader’s work, and, even then, written for a reader assumed to share its author’s political views. Rather than sugaring a hard point with easy poetry, its dense neo-Platonic argumentation makes it extremely heavy reading. 73 Purchasers of these sorts of literary dramas were being invited to see themselves as serious readers.
Reading the play typologically, it might be said that Henri will succeed against his contemporary emperor where Cleopatra and Antony had failed. Alternative Cleopatras 25 Defiance of Caesar can take more subtle forms. In the final act, Octavian is not allowed to speak: instead, Proculee, his lieutenant, finds the bodies, mute symbols of Octavian’s failure to control historical destiny, and shares the stage with the chorus of Alexandrian women. Indeed, both in their numerical dominance of the stage area and by dint of giving them, literally, the last word, the drama effectively hands over control to the Egyptian choric voice – and, of course, to the silently resistant bodies of the queen and her attendants.