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Women and Revenge in Shakespeare: Gender, Genre, and Ethics
     

Women and Revenge in Shakespeare: Gender, Genre, and Ethics

by Marguerite A. Tassi
 

Can there be a virtue in vengeance? Can revenge do ethical work? Can revenge be the obligation of women? This wide-ranging literary study looks at Shakespeare’s women and finds bold answers to questions such as these. A surprising number of Shakespeare’s female characters respond to moral outrages by expressing a strong desire for vengeance. This

Overview

Can there be a virtue in vengeance? Can revenge do ethical work? Can revenge be the obligation of women? This wide-ranging literary study looks at Shakespeare’s women and finds bold answers to questions such as these. A surprising number of Shakespeare’s female characters respond to moral outrages by expressing a strong desire for vengeance. This book’s analysis of these characters and their circumstances offers incisive critical perceptions of feminine anger, ethics, and agency and challenges our assumptions about the role of gender in revenge.

In this provocative book, Marguerite A. Tassi counters longstanding critical opinions on revenge: that it is the sole province of men in Western literature and culture, that it is a barbaric, morally depraved, irrational instinct, and that it is antithetical to justice. Countless examples have been mined from Shakespeare’s dramas to reveal women’s profound concerns with revenge and justice, honor and shame, crime and punishment. In placing the critical focus on avenging women, this book significantly redresses a gender imbalance in scholarly treatments of revenge, particularly in early modern literature.

Editorial Reviews

Choice
Tassi locates an interesting lacuna in the extensive criticism of the revenge play: the agency of women characters in revenge plots. Her theoretical approach draws on the work of René Girard and Peter French and on feminism. Tassi's project is "to do justice to women's stories of revenge, to let them march in from the peripheries of revenge literature and criticism into the spotlight." What is interesting and useful is her identification of "submerged revenge narratives" accompanying some of Shakespeare's female characters. ...A bibliography with real historical depth makes this book pertinent for specialists, and the analysis of scenes and characters makes it friendly to less-experienced readers. Summing Up: Recommended.
Comparative Drama
Women and Revenge in Shakespeare is an ambitious and well-researched monograph that deserves careful attention. ...In its objectives, the book does not avoid the moral dilemma posed by blood revenge in these plays. Although its justification of revenge may not appeal to everyone, its precise reworking of these women characters gives one more feminist enhancement to the nuanced representations that Shakespeare bequeathed us.
Renaissance Quarterly
This is otherwise a well-written book, intelligent and thoroughly researched. Tassihas made a significant contribution to our understanding of an important subject.

From the Publisher
Tassi locates an interesting lacuna in the extensive criticism of the revenge play: the agency of women characters in revenge plots. Her theoretical approach draws on the work of René Girard and Peter French and on feminism. Tassi's project is "to do justice to women's stories of revenge, to let them march in from the peripheries of revenge literature and criticism into the spotlight." What is interesting and useful is her identification of "submerged revenge narratives" accompanying some of Shakespeare's female characters. ...A bibliography with real historical depth makes this book pertinent for specialists, and the analysis of scenes and characters makes it friendly to less-experienced readers. Summing Up: Recommended.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781575911311
Publisher:
Susquehanna University Press
Publication date:
08/09/2012
Pages:
344
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Marguerite A. Tassi is Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. She received her BA degree from Columbia University, MA from the University of Virginia, and PhD from The Claremont Graduate School. She is the author of The Scandal of Images: Iconoclasm, Eroticism, and Painting in Early Modern English Drama (SUP).

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