Gloriana’s Queer Skull: The Matter of Life and Death in 'The Revenger’s Tragedy’
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractIn this essay I ask whether The Revenger’s Tragedy paradoxically – perversely, even – shows a woman, Gloriana, in a position of absent presence and impotent power. Is it always the role of the memento mori to serve a higher purpose? Or does Middleton’s play merely show the desecration of a woman, both before and after death? Is there, in Middleton’s play, a kind of immortality brought about by the tenacious stage presence accorded to Gloriana’s skull? I read Gloriana’s (non)presence as epitomising Judith Butler’s work on gender as performance; even as preceding language. It is a reading that allows a way in to thinking about the apparently genderless skull’s distinctive onstage agency. Further, it is Gloriana’s skull or – more properly, here, Gloriana-as-skull – that vigorously challenges and changes plot, plotting, cultural expectations, and fixity, in a way that Gloriana’s living body never could.
CitationGloriana’s Queer Skull: The Matter of Life and Death in The Revenger’s Tragedy, Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies, 28 (2), 2017: 77 -85. ISSN 0947-0034.
PublisherUniversitatsverlag Winter Heidelberg
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