The Deianeiran heroine in six English tragedies, 1603-1703

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Richard Roland Gay (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Jean Buchert

Abstract: This text comprises a synchronic study of seven plays: Sophocles' Trachiniae, Thomas Heywood's A Woman Killed with Kindness, Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher's The Maid's Tragedy, John Ford's The Broken Heart, Thomas Otway's Venice Preserved, Thomas Southerne's The Fatal Marriage, and Nicholas Rowe's The Fair Penitent. The primary aim of this study is to define the female protagonist in each as a Deianeiran heroine, a counterpoint to the familiar Herculean hero. The secondary aim of this study is to enhance the critical reputations of these plays, which have suffered because the female protagonists have been misunderstood. Much of the critical undervaluation of these plays is ascribable to the pha1locentric tendency of liberal humanist scholars to consider masculine values as superior to feminine values, at least in the world of dramatic tragedy. Because the heroines in these plays remain true to feminine value systems, they have often been classified as passive victims who wallow in self-indulgent grief. The Deianeiran heroine possesses traditional female virtues--love of home and family and a belief in the sacredness of the vows of love. Coupled with these virtues is an inherited belief in obedience to patriarchal authority, in itself a traditional female virtue.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1991
Heroines in literature
English drama (Tragedy)
English drama $y 17th century

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