Edited by Carme Font Paz and Nina Geerdink
Edited by Carmine G. Di Biase
Esther Bendit Saltzman
Can a graphic novel adaptation serve as evidence for early modern anxieties regarding womanhood? This chapter addresses whether graphic novel adaptations of Macbeth do just that; it explores whether graphic novel depictions of Lady Macbeth limit scholarly interpretations of her character by depicting a simplified figure of evil, rather than by characterising her as a complex character reflecting early modern ideas. Though graphic novel adaptations are becoming increasingly popular, they are not often recognised for their potential contributions to academia. Graphic novels do interpret their sources, but the visual images provide material that opens new avenues for the communication of ideas. Readers or spectators of Macbeth would readily agree that Lady Macbeth is notorious for her role in her husband’s descent from hero to serial murderer. We can, though, debate the degree of villainy in her character. Furthermore, we can question the importance of her motherhood in the assessment of that villainy. This chapter argues that graphic novel adaptations of Macbeth allow for scholarly interpretations of Lady Macbeth’s character that reflect early modern ideologies. The examination of two graphic novels, Shakespeare’s Macbeth: The Manga Edition and Classical Comics’ Macbeth: The Graphic Novel, reveals evidence of Lady Macbeth as an early modern mother, and reveals characterisations of her that reflect early modern anxieties concerning motherhood and the feminine. This study begins with a review of scholarly research addressing the early modern linking of motherhood with perceived threats to patrilineal succession, fear of witchcraft, and concerns about maternal infanticide. It follows by analysing scenes 1.5 and 1.7 of Macbeth, and compares these findings with corresponding scenes in each of the graphic novels. The evidence in the graphic novels; including character appearance, gesture, framing, and artistic techniques; do indeed reveal complex depictions of early modern motherhood. Both graphic novels provide material for multiple interpretations of Lady Macbeth’s character.
Raquel Serrano González
In the Early Modern period, the guardians of social orthodoxy experienced an intense, deeply-rooted anxiety about androgyny, since it posed a substantial challenge to the ideology of gender essentialism and therefore questioned the legitimacy of the patriarchal rule. The subversive potential of gender ambiguity was often addressed by the literature of the time. The public theatre, with its emphasis on artifice and cross-dressing, called attention to the constructedness of human identities. However, despite its unquestionable subversive potential, the theatre often worked to contain subversion and to naturalise hegemonic notions of femininity. This chapter provides a comparative analysis of two opposing female characters that appear in The Double Marriage: A Tragedy (1621), a play written by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger. The objective of my discussion is doublefold. First, I intend to analyse the construction of femininity that the playwrights contribute to legitimate. Furthermore, I aim to prove how androgyny, threatening as it is to the established order, is invalidated through its relegation to a deviant status. The first character to be analysed is Martia, an amazonian pirate whose sexual behaviour transgresses the boundaries of orthodoxy. Deliberately portrayed in terms of sexual ambiguity, she embodies the Jacobean anxiety about the constructedness of gender identities. Martia’s fierce and manly behaviour on the pirate ship is represented as unnatural, a blunt attempt to usurp traditionally male prerogatives. The alleged evil nature of her transgressive behaviour is paralleled by her sexual corruption: in an attempt to take revenge on her husband, she ends up playing his enemy’s whore. Portrayed as seductive, lascivious, vindictive and manipulative, Martia incarnates an unnatural and monstrous femininity which should be avoided at all costs. Martia’s alter ego, Juliana, embodies the traditional ideal of femaleness. She is portrayed as chaste, self-sacrificing, obedient and highly loyal to her husband. Therefore, she constitutes no threat whatsoever to male authority. Her extremely virtuous character is attributed in the play to her ‘masculine spirit.’ Hence, her exceptional nature reinforces the connection of average women with evil. At the same time, however, she validates the conventional ideal of femininity and provides a model of behaviour for her female contemporaries.
In his recent account of the economy of dedication and patronage in early modern England, Richard McCabe underscores the importance of liminal discourse for writers seeking to secure a powerful patron and an extended readership for their attempts at the “ungainefull arte” of writing poetry. 1 His
The Medieval and Early Modern Balkans was an area of passage, of transition, of multiple borders. We could claim that the entire region was one huge borderland, a war zone or, more specifically, a buffer zone between areas of interest of various empires, such as the Habsburg lands, Hungarian kingdom, Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Empire. On the other hand, this territory was a meeting place of several opposing cultural, political and confessional entities. Therefore, it represents a privileged area for the research of border history and coexistence, intercultural exchange, religious dialogue and intertwining of different civilisational patterns, as well as of specific local contexts, that nevertheless exercise a global meaning. In such a context the research on revenge in the Medieval and Early Modern Balkans rises to a new and, to a large extent, fundamental importance; although the reasons, consequences and forms of revenge have thus far not yet received appropriate research attention. Namely, revenge was arguably one of the most important factors of social and cultural interactions within and across the Balkan borders, while its ‘legitimacy’ was undisputed. Acts of revenge could be carried across generations, considering the local institution of blood feud forcing the relatives of a slain individual to escape humiliation and shame by embarking on a never-ending journey of vengeance and retaliation. However, while it is true that certain similarities between concepts and actions, as well as cognitive images of the ‘Enemy’ in the area, have persisted throughout later historical periods, we should not succumb to tendency of over-generalising. The local context, nesting in what we could call the ‘culture of revenge,’ undoubtedly contributed to tragic events occurring in the 1990s, but this was in its essence nevertheless a process with specific diachronic dimensions, where rather different circumstances and factors coincided in an inopportune manner to produce disastrous results.
During the early modern period, most Spanish women understood writing as a means of entertainment or self-expression, but a few seventeenth-century female writers built a literary career that gave them prestige as well as financial or economic benefits. These women were proactive in the literary