Date of Award

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Committee Member

Dr. William Stockton, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Elizabeth Rivlin

Committee Member

Dr. Megan Eatman

Abstract

This paper addresses the topic of subjectivity and subjection as expressed through language in Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam. By tracing the grammatical choices made by two of the play’s primary female characters, Mariam and Salome, the paper argues that these women shape and express their ideas of themselves as speaking subjects through their use of language; the subjective selves they create in the process are continually in tension with their identities as wives, whose identities, by the standards of early modern chastity, ought to be absorbed and obliterated by their husbands’ identities. The supposed death and subsequent return of the play’s primary authority figure, King Herod (Mariam’s husband and Salome’s brother), catalyzes the fracturing of these women’s identities as they grapple with the impossibility of chastity within an atmosphere of tyrannical paranoia. Ultimately, these women find themselves eclipsed, betrayed by these treacherous selves.

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