The Natural Rights Exerted in Shakespeare's Bed-Tricks

Philosophy and Literature 41 (1A):76-94 (2017)
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Abstract

The theatrical device of the bed-trick occurs fifty-two times in forty-four plays during the English Renaissance.1 Just as in the first two plays employing it, Alphonsus, Emperor of Germany and Grim the Collier of Croyden, male characters arrange 60 percent of the bed-tricks used in gaining control over women. Shakespeare's heroines in All's Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure, then, appear to mark a decisive break from the bed-trick's evolutionary pattern. Helen and Mariana, respectively, persevere in their endeavors in spite of a male-dominant hierarchy. Yet, upon closer inspection, men are the ones who create the circumstances that prompt the necessity of using the device. They impose such...

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