chapter  11
12 Pages

‘Thrown from the Rock’: Emissaries as Midwives and Impediments of a New World

BySheila T. Cavanagh

The geography of Lady Mary Wroth’s Urania,1 parts one and two, is expansive. The central characters rule over countries and empires that stretch across most of Europe and Asia, possibly reaching as far eastward as India and China. Despite limited communication tools, the monarchs of these widely separated lands manage to stay in remarkably close contact with many of their subjects, families, and friends, largely through the intervention of messengers. This essay will examine the influence of these messengers in determining the fate of the Urania’s many characters, as well as their part in shaping the transformation of the world they inhabit. In this society, messengers stir up trouble and calm frayed tempers. They determine the direction of international conflicts and both intervene in and provoke domestic upheavals. Whether warranted or not, their messages are usually believed and their generally unquestioned credibility has far-reaching consequences. They also mark the tension that pervades the text between the hope for a reconfigured world and an underlying pessimism about the possibility of achieving one.