‘[A]n hermaphrodite—two parts in one’: the androgynous as grotesque and divine in Jonson, Marston, and Shakespeare

McKague, Cathleen Meghan (2015). ‘[A]n hermaphrodite—two parts in one’: the androgynous as grotesque and divine in Jonson, Marston, and Shakespeare. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis investigates competing representations of androgyny as grotesque and/or divine in selected works by Ben Jonson, John Marston, and William Shakespeare. The literary grotesque is a combination of incompatibles—such as the combination of masculine and feminine—which evokes simultaneous reactions of laughter and revulsion, while I define the divine as that which inspires awe and wonder through its otherworldliness. Throughout, the thesis examines figures such as physical or metaphorical hermaphrodites, eunuchs, Amazons, transvestites, the asexual, the pansexual, and those who transgress gender boundaries. The Introduction establishes historical contexts for physical and behavioural androgyny, the grotesque, and the divine. Each subsequent chapter close-reads one literary text: Chapter 1 examines place-based androgyny in Jonson’s Volpone; Chapter 2 explores Antonio/Florizel’s effect in Marston’s Antonio and Mellida; Chapter 3 analyses role-reversal in Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis; Chapter 4 investigates Ganymede’s magnetism and Rosalind’s wondrousness in As You Like It; and Chapter 5 evaluates Cesario’s invigoration in Twelfth Night. I argue for a progression in the degree of wonder evoked by androgynous figures, and an increase in these figures’ subjectivity and agency. My thesis is the first to explore the liberating unfixity of androgyny as funny, frightening, repulsive, and yet also potentially divine.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, The Shakespeare Institute
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/6089


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