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ERIC Number: ED526679
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 229
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1095-7162-2
Erotic Love and the Development of Proto-Capitalist Ideology in Early Modern Comedy
Damsen, Silver
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
My dissertation, "Erotic Love and the Development of Proto-Capitalist Ideology in Early Modern Comedy" demonstrates how increased crown authority, and an expanded market combine with the mixed agency of the romantic comedy daughter to further encourage early modern economic growth. The triumph of rebelling daughter over blocking father has generally been understood as a generic New Comedy celebration of reproduction and social stability. However, my dissertation explicates the intertwining social, economic, and political contexts of this rebirth, a context where the specific alliance of daughter, suitor, and ruler works to foster a prosperous society, proving in yet another way Jean-Christophe Agnew's observation that for the early modem period the market is increasingly anywhere and everywhere. Similarly, despite important work on homoerotic desire in the early modern period, less work to date has been done on women's heterosexual desire and the relationship of this desire to larger economic-political trends. My dissertation addresses these omissions by showing how the valorization of erotic desire and commodity acquisition in "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "The Merry Wives of Windsor", "The Shoemaker's Holiday", and "The Merchant of Venice" works hand in hand with the valorization of the expanding early modern economy. Much of the conflation of erotic love and commodity ownership rests in the conflation of types of possession. Because the lovers each figure as erotic commodities to their prospective spouse, the lovers' desires for one another work to valorize both sexual gratification and commodity ownership. For example, in "The Merchant of Venice", Bassanio conflates Portia's wealth and erotic appeal when he says, "her sunny locks/Hang on her temples like a golden fleece." This type of valorization, in turn, works to lessen the power of the patriarch of the extended house, to strengthen the authority of the crown, and to pair the gratification of desires with social stability. After the king in "The Shoemaker's Holiday" divorces and remarries Lacey and Rose, he then challenges the disgruntled guardians of the lovers with the statement, "Which of you all mislikes this harmony" (5.5.96). However, the daughter's agency is qualified by her acceptance of her husband's control; the licitness of Hermia's desire for Lysader in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" depends upon her acceptance of his "sovereignty" over her soul (1.1.81-82). The gratifications of marriage are the highest reward for male labor. The male characters of the community gain wealth and erotic delight when they gain possession of the rich commodities of the plays' daughters. The daughter's desire is likewise gratified but only when it allies with the will of the monarch for economic advancement, political centralization, and a well-ordered society. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A