Dying Offstage

Gender and martyrdom in 1 Henry VI

Authored by: Elizabeth Williamson

Routledge Companion to Women, Sex, and Gender in the Early British Colonial World

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781472479945
eBook ISBN: 9781315613772
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315613772-13

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Abstract

The Henry VI plays provide a powerful analysis of the horrors of civil war anchored in the distribution of suffering across different types of bodies. Several of the male protagonists—Talbot, York, and Henry—access tropes of martyrdom that give meaning to their shared pain despite their political differences. Joan, in contrast, must, in the end, be thoroughly demonized for all-too familiar reasons: in addition to being a foreign freedom fighter, her status as a woman with masculine traits makes her a threat, quite literally, to the reproduction of the social order.

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