ABSTRACT

As I argued in Chapter 1, the functions of the material body were elemental to early modern models of marriage. Plays like As You Like It and Othello capitalized on this connection by dramatizing the profound vulnerability of men as bridegrooms and husbands within this ideological framework. Since, in the early modern imagination, bonds of marriage are defi ned by blood, dramatic proximity to brides paradoxically exposes the body of the male householder to unique and potent threats. At times, as in the Shakespearean plays I examined earlier, theatrical articulations of domestic confl ict stage a striking reversal, in which the husband is wounded in place of a wife or bride as a spectacular example of the vulnerability of the head of household to domestic threats once bonds of blood are publically acknowledged. In order to further explore the problems that metaphors of embodiment pose to the ideal of Protestant marriage and domestic organization, in this chapter I will more directly address the dramatic potential of the fi gure of the bleeding husband. Married men receive wounds in nearly every genre of early modern drama, so my focus here will be on the image of husbands whose bleeding is portrayed as a direct result of their failure to adhere to the archetype of the early modern householder; that is, men who bleed as husbands.