By Denise A. Walen (auth.)
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Additional info for Constructions of Female Homoeroticism in Early Modern Drama
Her lengthy lament over what she thinks is a hopeless love drips with The Eidolic Lesbian 31 sensual desire: Hope is the thing that breedes desyre, hope feedes the amorous thought. This hope thy sex denieth thee. Not watching doth restreyne Thee from embracing of the thing wherof thou art so fayne. Nor yit the Husbands jealowsie, nor rowghnesse of her Syre, Nor yit the coynesse of the Wench dooth hinder thy desyre. And yit thou canst not her enjoy . . Behold the blisfull tyme, The day of Marriage is at hand.
Ismenia pretends to be a crossdressed man only to entangle Selvagia in her erotic intrigue. This cool seduction has no other motivation than diversion—Selvagia is the victim of Ismenia’s “fonde prankes” (sig. B5). Ismenia ensnares Selvagia in an erotic tryst for her own amusement. Second, the narrative offers a rare glimpse of female homoerotic bonding and reactions to homoerotic attraction. Montemayor presents the initial encounter between Selvagia and Ismenia as an erotic encounter between two women before suggesting the possibility of disguise, and the dialogue indicates the women’s concerns about the propriety of their relationship.
Chapter 1 of Constructions examines representations of love, sex, or desire between women in nondramatic sources—literary, legal, and religious—that appeared by 1603 to establish that a cultural awareness of female homoeroticism was firmly in place in early modern England as the plays were being written. Not all the texts are of English origin, but they were available in England either through translations or English printings in their original language. The significance, of course, is that English playwrights and spectators had access to these textual images and they suggest the various representations, responses, assumptions, and attitudes that both author and viewer might have brought Introduction 21 to early modern drama.
Constructions of Female Homoeroticism in Early Modern Drama by Denise A. Walen (auth.)
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