chapter  4
13 Pages

Literary Celebrity and Theatrical Culture in Shirley’s Bird in a Cage ALLISON K. DEUTERMANN

This chapter demonstrates an approach to the imperial dynamics of Heywood's play makes visible the ways that England's relationships to both Spain and Morocco are mutually shaped by Moroccan imperial struggles, Ottoman imperial dominance. It discusses below-Spanish New World colonialism, Bess is a golden girl not just because she is chaste and virtuous; Bess also facilitates the accumulation of gold and grows rich herself. Fair Maid seems to offer an alternative to fixed exchange rates and monarchial regulation through its fantasy of a circulating female body whose intrinsic value resists exchange altogether. Its grounding of intrinsic worth in Bess's sexually and morally embodied virtue seems consonant with a bullionist conception of value that emerges from a set of residual mercantilist values. Bess's virtue and wealth are drawn into the same economy where they are interrelated, and their value is directly dependent upon the circulation of Bess's body.