If your library subscribes to the SCJ click here

Get ADOBE Reader® button Follow 16th Century Journal on Twitter

Journal > Volumes > 50 (2019) / 3 (Autumn)
Discharging Pistols at the Sky: Violence and Its Failures in Arden of Faversham
Kimberly Huth
California State University, Dominguez Hills

The anonymous tragedy Arden of Faversham has long been recognized as a play that explores the intersection of the public and private spheres of early modern English life, an intersection articulated through the use of violence as a means of political dissent against oppressive patriarchal and class structures. This essay reconsiders the efficacy of the play’s revolutionary violence, arguing that it fails to produce coherent dissent and instead replicates the preexisting systems of relational violence in early modern culture. Close inspection of violent events and characters reveals that the various early modern groups represented in the conspiracy are not as effectively aligned as they seem, and even the counterviolence of state authorities is tainted by equivocality and instability. In this play, violence ultimately fails either to carve out a space for empowerment for the conspirators or to consolidate completely the power of the state to exercise legitimate violence.

Pages: 705 - 722