Performances of Mourning in Shakespearean Theatre and Early Modern Culture


Grief and sadness may be personal feelings, but the mourner is a public figure who must generally manifest his or her emotions by means of public motions and acknowledged gestures. How are these performed and validated? What is the role of custom or conventions? And when, according to the Renaissance view of passions, does a mourner's visible behaviour such as crying truly express inward states of mind?This book pursues such questions in the culture of the early modern theatre. It looks at Shakespearean history plays, Elizabethan revenge tragedies, Tudor and early Stuart comedies in order to explore how their acts and shows of mourning relate to the religious issues in post-Reformation England when they were historically produced. It argues that the playhouse only ever staged - never stated - points of doctrine or belief, and yet offered a cultural space where memories of Catholic rites could be restored, reiterated or reformed in performance.

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