‘An old quarrel between us that will never be at an end’: Middleton’s Women Beware Women and late Jacobean religious politics

Streete, A. (2009) ‘An old quarrel between us that will never be at an end’: Middleton’s Women Beware Women and late Jacobean religious politics. Review of English Studies, 60(244), pp. 230-254. (doi:10.1093/res/hgm167)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/res/hgm167

Abstract

In this article, I examine Thomas Middleton's Women Beware Women as a response to the particular religio-political context in the years surrounding 1621. The onset of the Thirty Years War in 1618 and the subsequent humiliation of James' son-in-law Frederick, Elector of Palatine, the vexed question of a possible Catholic marriage for Charles, Prince of Wales, the ever present difficulty of Anglo-Catholic relations, particularly with Spain, as well as growing religious factionalism within the Church of England between Calvinists and Arminians: all contributed towards a culturally febrile atmosphere, one to which, as I will argue, Middleton was well placed to respond. Given Middleton's Calvinistic beliefs, I suggest that Women Beware Women offers an acerbic examination of contemporary debates concerning human will, especially women's will, as well as promoting a sceptically apocalyptic anti-Catholic agenda throughout. I also examine the religious language and imagery used to construct Bianca as the whore of Babylon, and argue that her emergence and fall offer a political commentary on the precarious position of the English Church around 1621.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Streete, Professor Adrian
Authors: Streete, A.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PR English literature
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:Review of English Studies
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0034-6551

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