Violence and the Male in John Marston’s Certaine Satyres and The Scourge of Villanie
Chapter 2 in one sense mirrors the first in that it considers the seeming opposite of self-control, namely the idea of violence. While violence was integral to manhood, it was also problematic since it was at odds with patriarchal notions of masculinity. Marston, often depicted as the quintessential angry satirist, is discussed in this chapter, titled ‘Violence and the Male in Marston’s Certaine Satyres and The Scourge of Villanie’. Drawing on a context of violence as a characteristic of early modern masculinity, the chapter argues that Marston’s satires dramatise the failure of a manhood that builds on either composure or aggressive threats of violence. While frequently invoking patriarchal, indeed Stoical conceptions of manhood, Marston’s satirist falls short of endorsing them; yet he rejects the anti-patriarchal practices of manhood represented by camaraderie and violence. Since the satirist is implicated in what he describes, the consequence is self-annihilation, or ‘euer-lasting Obliuion’. Marston’s satirist promises ‘a kingdom for a man’ but is not able to find one even—or especially—by searching himself. If violence was a cornerstone of Elizabethan manhood, Marston’s satirist ends up distancing himself from both violence and its ubiquitous opposite, self-control.