The Body in Pain in Early Modern England
James C.W. Truman
James C.W. Truman. "The Body in Pain in Early Modern England". Early Modern Literary Studies 14.3 (January, 2009) 1.1-37 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/14-3/Trumbody.html>.
Gabriel, thou hadst in Heav’n th’ esteem of wise,Satan’s initial response is structured to play upon the most intuitive understanding of physical pain—that it is to be avoided and feared, as he asks incredulously “lives there who loves his pain?” As Satan develops his argument, he appeals to the “self-evident” distinction between pleasure and pain, putting to Gabriel that
And such I held thee; but this question askt
Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain?
Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell,
Though thither doom’d? (IV.886-890)
thou wouldst thyself, no doubt,This opposition of “torment” and “ease” voices an understanding of pain so prominent in the early modern period (not to mention our own) that Satan may take such a rhetorically nonchalant tone, expecting to play to a natural empathy for his position; with his chiding that Gabriel “hadst in Heav’n th’ esteem of wise,” Satan implies that it belies common sense to even ask why one would “break loose from Hell.” Hell is pain, and pain is to be escaped.
And boldy venture to whatever place
Farthest from pain, where thou might’st hope to change
Torment with ease, and soonest recompense
Dole with delight”(IV.890-895).
Immediately a placeIn the historical narrative made so familiar by Michel Foucault, this equation of pain with punishment dominated the juridical mechanisms of the early modern period, before the penal reform movements of the 18th and 19th centuries. There was a wide variety of different forms of pain applied to a range of crimes, from the pillory for sexual transgressions (often by means of nailing the ear to a post), to branding for vagrancy, and whipping for petty larceny, as well as for multiple other offenses. Pain, in no uncertain terms, established the power of the monarch (or other governing body), controlling the boundaries of behavior for those subjected to her/his/its authority. And as Foucault has shown, it was absolutely essential that the pain of the condemned not be hidden by the walls of a prison, but exhibited in a public forum, proclaiming the limits of transgression while inviting the general populace to participate in the demarcation of those limits.
Before his eyes appear’d, sad, noisome, dark,
A Lazar-house it seem’d, wherein were laid
Numbers of all diseas’d, all maladies
Of ghastly Spasm, or racking torture, qualms
Of heart-sick Agony, all feverous kinds,
Convulsions, Epilepsies, fierce Catarrhs,
Intestine Stone and Ulcer, Colic pangs,
Daemoniac Frenzy, moping Melancholy
and Moon-struck madness, pining Atrophy,
Marasmus, and wide-wasting Pestilence,
Dropsies, and Asthmas, and Joint-racking Rheums.
Dire was the tossing, deep the groans, despair
Tended the sick busiest from Couch to Couch;
And over them triumphant Death his Dart
Shook, but delay’d to strike, though oft invok’t
With vows, as thir chief good, and final hope.
Sight so deform what heart of Rock could long
But wherefore thou alone? wherefore with theeAnd this accusation of cowardice strikes at the heart of Satan’s own definition of his heroism, which is formulated by the ready acceptance of pain upon the body. Satan’s declaration “to be weak is miserable/Doing or suffering”(I.156-7) recalls Scaevola’s declaration “to suffer, as to do,” aligning him, as does a large segment of the opening books, with a classical Roman virtus of martial power defined by self-possessed endurance of suffering. Thus even for Satan, pain ceases to be about “punishment” and becomes recoded in terms of heroic agency. Pain is not just to be shunned, denied, or avoided, but also to be embraced, even desired as a mark of one’s heroic virtue. This shifts the interpretation of the body in pain away from punishment and toward the concept of “suffering,” with its lexicographical origins in the Latin sufferre, “to bear.” The conception of the body’s pain as a “heroic suffering” points toward a way pain could be conceived of as not marking the boundaries of transgression, but as central to a valorized identity—as the source of a heroic self.
Came not all Hell broke loose? is pain to them
Less pain, less to be fled, or thou than they
Less hardy to endure? courageous Chief,
The first in flight from pain, hadst thou alleg’d
To thy deserted host this cause of flight,
Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive. (IV.917-23)
…argumentMilton is thus setting up a hierarchical opposition between the traditional “subject of heroic song” (IX.25), the active violence of martial endeavors, and the “better fortitude/Of patience and heroic martyrdom” (IX.31-32), clearly privileging the submission of martyrdom as the more heroic, and thus the more manly.
Not less but more Heroic than the wrath
Of stern Achilles on his Foe pursu’d
Thrice fugitive around Troy Wall; or rage
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespous’d.”(IX.13-17).
such cultural differences, taken collectively, would themselves constitute only a very narrow margin of variation and would thus in the end work to expose and confirm the universal sameness of the central problem, a problem that originates much less in the inflexibility of any one language or in the shyness of any one culture than in the utter rigidity of pain itself: its resistance to language is not simply one of its incidental or accidental attributes but is essential to what it is.Scarry’s interpretation of pain is based in an individual’s relationship to pain, “the events happening within the interior of that person’s body [which] may seem to have the remote character of some deep subterranean fact.”  Her approach is engendered by the political work it is designed to perform—it is, by intent, an anti-totalitarian work, written to confront the militarism of Reagan-era foreign policy. This is most evident in that her work focuses on the meanings and uses of torture, beginning with readings of Amnesty International interviews with torture survivors and spinning outward to the broader rhetoric of warfare and geopolitics to develop her arguments about the “political consequences of pain’s inexpressibility.”  She herself has acknowledged equating human suffering with political oppression, seeing a progressive political agenda as correspondent to the elimination of human suffering.  It is particularly telling that no terms associated with “martyrdom” or “masochism” appear anywhere in Scarry’s text, and the work of de Sade only appears as the briefest side reference.  The most clearly manifest forms of suffering that may be seen as expressing the “love” of pain, of which Milton’s Satan speaks, simply disappear from Scarry’s theoretical matrix.
Elizabethan torturers sought to establish discursive hegemony by forcibly appropriating their victims’ speech. Their victims, in struggling to maintain religious discourse in the torture chamber, sought the same end by holding their enemies’ discourse at the frontier marked by torture.Suffering acts as the medium from which the truth of the self is crafted, either in terms of treasonous guilt (as is the goal of the Elizabethan establishment) or of righteous martyrdom (as is the goal of Jesuits). Hanson’s argument thus begins a process of inverting and extending Foucault’s reading of early modern torture by showing the potential for victims to control the meanings of their own pain, converting the violation of their bodies from an act of subjugation to monarchical power, to a symbol of their own inner sovereignty, their own individuated authority.
his said keeper asking him the next day how he felt his handes and feet: he answered, not il, because not at al. And being in that case benomed both of hand and fote, he likened him selfe to an elephant, which being downe could not rise: when he could hold the bread he had to eat betwixt both his handses, he would compare him selfe to an ape: so mirry the man of God was in minde in al his bodely miseries.Campion translates the breaking of his body, the very marks of his subjection to power into a (rather absurd) joke, thus recoding his pain from the logic of poena into a grim pleasure, a brief eruption of darkly humorous jouissance that witnesses to his inner self defined by the suffering of his body.
a few of the people set on by the Ministers that used to follow the gallowes, gave credit and aime to the rest that stoode farther off, to cry away with them, away with them. Though thousands went home after the sight of so notorious a spectacle, as the constancie of the Martyrs yelded that time, sighing, weeping and lamenting the case.Allen portrays the crowds as profoundly affected by the spectacle of pain, rhetorically controlling the authority of pain. For Allen, the rhetoric of suffering is predicated on a narrative structure that attempts to control the reactions of the audience; the authority of suffering as the site of subject-construction is built upon the power of “witness.” “Witnessing,” of course, has specific theological implications, as it is the origin of the term “martyr.” Religion was a ubiquitous presence in pre-Enlightenment Europe, and was, in essence, the primary arbiter of culture—and even more so in context of the struggles of the Reformation. So it is with early modern martyrological texts. Katherine Eisaman Maus asserts that the “far-reaching political, religious, and economic realignments that constitute the English Reformation” were central to the emergence of the rhetoric of “inner life” in early modern England. She primarily sees it as “an almost inevitable result of religious oppression” that a notion of an inner, concealed self would be produced—and so she, like Hanson, implies that the “inner self” is a product of torture, or the threat of torture, driven by violent theological conflicts. And though martyrdom was a prominent discursive form that deployed the aesthetic of the body in pain, in early modernity this aesthetic of suffering extends well beyond the evangelical tropes of martyrology. This aesthetic of witnessing extending through diverse fields, from the representations of military culture in the martial dramas of Henry V and Coriolanus to the courtly poetics of petrarchism, with each of these discourses constructing an affective aesthetic that situates the extremes of suffering as constitutive of a distinct, interiorized form of subjectivity.
declare to the worlde what true fortitude is, and a waye to conquer, which standeth not in the power of man, but in hope of the resurrection to come… Undoubtedly these martyrs are much more worthy of this honor, then .600. Alexanders, Hectors, Scipioes, and warring Julies. For… with God the judge of al men, they are most reputed in dede, not that kil one another with a weapon (for by that reason we may attribute the renoune of fortitude unto Beares, Lions, Wolves, Leopares) but they which being constantly killed in Gods cause, doo retayne styll an invincible spirit and stomacke against the threates of Tirantes, and injuries of Tormentours. These undoubtedly are the true Conquerers of the world, at whose hand we learne true manhoode…Baines’ libel is quite telling in this respect; he claims that Marlowe says John “used” Christ, that Christ was the object of sexual violation. Yet Christ’s body is the very icon of penetrability—the very authority of Christ’s virtue emerges from his acceptance of suffering upon himself; literally, from his passion, which exhibits the greatest possible love of pain, one that was often envisioned in erotic terms. And this central figure of the subjected, impassioned male body became a site around which circulated an extravagant homoeroticism, most evident in the ardent devotional poetics of the 16th and 17th centuries, as when John Donne laments, “to hang upon him that hangs upon the Crosse, there bathe in his teares, there suck at his wounds.”
sexual relationships are incompatible with friendship not because they are sexual per se, but because, in the only precedent example (Greek pederasty), they included “disparitie” and “difference”—whereas the essayist would require “conference and communication,’ or returning to Brathwait’s language [in The English Gentleman] “mutuall interchoice.” What appears to be the strict separation of friendship and sexuality in the essay, then, is instead a refusal of relations founded on “disparity”: of gender, of age, or of “office.”Masten’s reevaluation argues that friendship is built upon an egalitarian “erotics of similitude.” Yet while this erotic economy of male friendship is established against traditional heterosexual hierarchy, it does not forgo the structural parallel of desire and penetration that formulates heterosexual desire; it simply reorganizes it. According to Masten, the erotic exchange between men in this form of sanctioned homoeroticism is one of interpenetration. In this, to use Montaigne’s term, “commixture” of male friends, “penetrator and penetrated are indistinguishable,” where the male body, which in a heterosexual system is supposed to be solely the penetrator, may become legitimately penetrated in an intimate relationship with another man in “the sanctioned homoeroticism of male frienship [that] is not only sanctioned but also constitutive of power relations in the period.”
Sight so deform what hear of Rock could longMilton’s description of the “quell[ing]” of Adam’s very maleness, his “best of Man,” by the overwhelming power of his “compassion,” expresses the invasive authority of the spectacle of suffering, a power that Milton shows as directly intervening in the hierarchical structure of gender. A similar affective force was also understood to be inherent to dramatic spectacles on the stage, which is seen as having an invasive power over its audience, for better or worse. Antitheatrical Puritans see this invasive aesthetic as a threat, as when William Prynne declares with horror that “Stage-Playes devirginate unmarried persons,” while Meredith Hamner describes the virtuous experience of witnessing Eusebius’ “Theater of Martyrs” as being “ravished with Zeale.” Representations of violation themselves incorporate the spectator within that matrix of penetration and exchange, as the audience is to be “ravished with zeale” even as the victims are ravished in their suffering.
Dry-ey’d behold? Adam could not, but wept,
Though not of Woman born; compassion quell’d
His best of Man, and gave him up to tears
A space, till firmer thoughts restrain’d excess(XI.494-498).
Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,As Astrophil looks to “paint the blackest face of woe,” to express the “truth’ of his love, which is the “truth” of his pain, he turns to “inventions fine,” attempting to use poetic artifice—laying on, or “painting,” a surface projection of suffering. Yet art fails to express the authenticity of his desire, which finally emerges only with the famous declaration “look to thy heart.” Suffering, in this case the suffering of unrequited desire, is that which exists beyond artifice, beyond performance—it is, for these early modern writers, the very substance of the unrepresentable, of the truth of the self.
That she (dear she) might take some pleasure of my pain;
Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain;
I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe,
Studying inventions fine, her wits to entertain;
Of turning others’ leaves, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburnt brain.
But words came halting forth, wanting invention’s stay;
Invention, nature’s child, fled step-dame study’s blows;
And others’ feet still seemed but strangers in my way.
Thus great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes,
Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite,
‘Fool,’ said my muse to me; ‘look to thy heart and write.’ (Astrophil and Stella 1)
On Cupid’s bow how are my heart-strings bentAstrophil thus declares his situation so “bent” by Love’s violence that it is deformed to the point that the previously opposing poles of suffering (“wrack”) and desire (“embrace”) become unified. This melding of pain and pleasure, significantly, does not parallel a “masculine” form; it is not a sadistic structure where pleasure is linked to being the agent of pain, but to a celebration of the male subject’s own “wrack.” Astrophil/Sidney attempts to maintain the unstable separation between pain and pleasure, emphasizing the strangeness of the situation, expressing astonishment with the use of “yet” in the second line, while the following two oppositions, of “glory”(3) and “shame”(3) and “willingly run”(4) and “repent”(4) stress an internalized rejection of suffering, even as it is desired. Yet Astrophil/Sidney does not fear or resist his wrack; he merely “see[s]” it. Despite the attempts at deferral in the rest of the quatrain, the authority of the first lines render the poet’s following attempt to limit his desire for suffering rather hollow.
That see my wrack, and yet embrace the same!
When most I glory, then I feel most shame:
I willing run, yet while I run, repent. (1-4)
my hungry eyes through greedy covetizeThe traditional ability of the poet to objectify his subject matter is here dramatically inverted—even as the first line replicates the hierarchical domination of the object of sight. As the poet’s eyes “covetize” their object, the poet is converted to the willing victim of that object. The tortured syntax of line 2 twists the meaning of the term “object” from occupying a position of subjection to one of violent domination. Thus the violence associated with the desiring male gaze, the “object of their paine,” is turned back against the poet, as the position of viewer becomes one of pain. The poet has, for Spenser, become dependent upon his own subjection, “for lacking it, [his male eyes] cannot lyfe sustayne.” This power of inversion is the “mighty charm,” Spenser declares in Amoretti 47, “which makes men love theyr bane,/And thinck they dy with pleaure, live with payne.”
Still to behold the object of their paine,
With no contentment can themselves suffize:
But having pine and having not complaine.
For lacking it, they cannot lyfe sustayne,
And having it, they gaze on it the more (1-7).
Long languishing in double malady,This image of the “double malady” of suffering, the “harts wound” and the “bodies griefe,” link together a suffering self that is accessible—literally—to medical intervention of the “Physition,” and an interior, and therefore hidden, suffering subject, to which the physician’s “art” may have no access. The separation, though, is not absolute, as the poet declares his sufferings to be linked; if one was to “first…appease/The inward languour,” then the “body shall have shortly ease.” The doubled nature of suffering thus maintains the visible suffering of the body as separate from the interior suffering. The “deep...wound that dints the parts entire”(Amoretti 6.11) is a wound too “entire,” too deep to be seen; representing the suffering of the petrarchan subject is, finally and absolutely, a “solitary paine”(Amoretti 52) to which viewers have no direct access. Yet this “pain which passeth show” is still, paradoxically, able to be represented, at least partially, through the rhetoric of wounding, as the double-malady of pain allows for a recognizable glimpse of ineffable depth, producing the aesthetics of wounding as a image of the deep, hidden “truth” of an inner self.
Of my harts wound and of my bodies griefe,
There came to me a leach that would apply
Fit medicines for my bodies best reliefe.
“Vayne man,” quod I, “that has but little priefe,
In deep discovery of the mynds disease,
Is not the hart of all the body chiefe?
And rules the members as it selfe doth please?
Then with some cordialls seeke first to appease
The inward languour of my wounded hart,
And then my body shall have shortly ease:
But such sweet cordialls passe Physitions art.”
Then my lyfes Leach doe you your skill reveale,
And with one salve both hart and body heale.
Stella, whence doth this new assault arise,The implications of Astrophil/Sidney’s “ransacked heart” are, certainly, erotic, and not simply as a metaphor of penetration. Despite the development of military discipline, in the 16th century the fall of a city still called forth images of indiscriminant sexual violence. As Henry V tells the inhabitants of Harfleur, they are to expect that their “pure maidens [will] fall into the hand/of hot and forcing violation [and]… the blind and bloody soldier with foul hand/ [will] defile the locks of [their] shrill-shrieking daughters”(3.3.19-35). Astrophil/Sidney’s emphasis on the repetition of the “new assault” accentuates this erotic potential—since a surrender did not by any means lead to an automatic ravaging of a city’s citizens; it is an “excessive” assault that implies the explicitly sexual violation of a city’s populace.
A conquered, yelden, ransacked heart to win?
Whereto long since, through my long battered eyes,
Whole armies of thy beauties entered in;
And there, long since, love, thy lieutenant lies;
My forces razed, thy banners raised within
Of conquest do not these effects suffice,
But wilt new war upon thine own begin? (1-8)
Whether the Turkish new moon minded beThese political conflicts are displaced directly to the romantic friction between Astrophil and Stella, as Astrophil/Sidney “know[s] not how” to respond to the “questions busy wits to [him] do frame,” but thinks only of his love. In this rhetorical transference, love functions not in an isolated, private sphere. It operates, as much as these geo-political negotiations do, as a mechanism of powerfully, eroticized negotiation.
To fill his horns this year on Christian coast;
How Pole’s right king means, without leave of host,
To warm with ill-made fire cold Muscovy;
If French can yet three parts in one agree;
What now the Dutch in their full diets boast;
How Holland hearts, now so good towns be lost,
Trust in the pleasing shade of Orange tree;
How Ulster likes of that same golden bit
Wherewith my father once made it half tame;
If the Scottish court be welt’ring yet… (1-11)
Nest of young joys, schoolmaster of delight,Here, deploying the disciplinary logic of pedagogy that links the scourging of the body with “delight” and the martial logic of violent struggle, the consummation of desire is articulated as a mutual exchange, to “at once take and give.” And this mutual exchange is built around violent penetration, a penetration that is non-hierarchical, where “blows both wound and heal,” as violence both penetrates and reconstitutes the wholeness of the subject. It is in this moment that the traditional rhetoric of petrarchism, with its conjoining of opposites (“friendly fray,” “pretty death”), manifests most clearly that the ideal erotic economy is not one of heteroeroticism, but of homoerotic male friendship, rebuilding the hierarchical violence of heteroeroticism into a fluid and mutual exchange of desires.
Teaching the mean at once to take and give;
The friendly fray, where blows both wound and heal;
The pretty death, while each in other live (8-11).
A woman’s face, with Nature’s own hand painted,Sonnet 20 is, undeniably, a rabidly misogynist verse: the male object of desire is admired in oppositon to “false woman” whose “fashion” is “shifting change.” Maleness and normative, admirable stability are established, setting up the violent heterosexual hierarchy that structures not just this poem, but the whole of the sonnet sequence.
Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion;
A woman’s gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false woman’s fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men’s eyes and women’s souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created,
Till Nature as she wrought thee fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure,
Mine be thy love, and thy love’s use their treasure.
. See in particular Clive Emsley, Crime and Society in England, 1750-1900 (New York: Longman, 1996); Peter Linebaugh, The London Hanged: Crime and Civil society in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992); J.A. Sharpe, Crime in Early Modern England, 1550-1750 ( New York : Longman, 1984); J.S.Cockburn, ed. Crime in England, 1550-1800, (London : H.M. Stationery Off., 1978); and John Addy, Sin and Society in the Seventeenth Century (New York: Routledge, 1989).
. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Random House, 1979).
. Foucault 34.
. Foucault’s work on torture is not directly transferable to an English context since torture was outlawed in England in the 12th century, although it did make a brief reappearance in the late 16th century. Yet the general cultural understanding of the uses of pain remains applicable to early modern England, as the general concepts of punishment remained contiguous with continental forms.
. Mucius Scaevola, when captured by the Etruscans, thrust his own hand into the fire to exhibit the strength of his Roman virtus. Livy, History II.12.
. This entanglement of the terms “pain” and “suffering” becomes most obvious when one sees how most dictionaries use the terms to define each other in a disorientingly tautological fashion: to feel pain means to suffer, and to suffer means to feel pain.
.For an in-depth discussion of Milton’s relationship to martyrology, see John Knott, Discourses of Martyrdom in English Literature 1563-1694 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993) 151-178.
. Mary-Jo Delvecchio Good Paul E. Brodwin, Byron J. Good, and Arthur Kleinman, eds., Pain as Human Experience: An Anthropological Perspective (Berkeley: U California P, 1992) 1.
. Good 7-8.
. This is also the definition of pain given by Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Terminator II;” when he is asked if he feels pain, he replies “I sense injuries. The data could be called pain.” James Cameron not only solidifies the perception of pain as the experience of damage to the body, but also represents the post-Enlightenment fantasy (embodied in Schwarzenegger’s Cyberdyne Systems model 101 Terminator) of the subject who reacts to pain, but whose identity is fundamentally independent of it.
. The only real exception to this is the article by Arthur Kleinman, “Pain and Resistance: The Delegitimation and Relegitimation of Local Worlds,” which points toward a use of pain as an act of political resistance, both on a macro level (deployed by survivors of China’s Cultural Revolution) and on a micro level (as patients refuse to follow a doctor’s instructions, thereby resisting the hierarchical structure of the doctor/patient relationship). Good et al. 169-198.
. Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1985) 1.
. Scarry 5.
. Scarry 1.
. Scarry 11.
. See The New York Times Magazine profile of Scarry, (Emily Eakin, “Professor Scarry Has a Theory,” The New York Times Magazine. Nov 19, 2000) as well as her Professions article (“Beauty and the Scholar’s Duty to Justice,” Professions 2000, 21-31).
. Scarry makes brief references to the “sadism” of torturers, but exclusively to pathologize actions of “moral stupidity.” Scarry 8.
. Roselyne Rey, The History of Pain, trans. Louise Elliott Wallace, J.A. Cadden, and S.W. Cadden (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1995) 3.
. David B. Morris, The Culture of Pain (Berkeley: U California P, 1991) 5.
. See Francis Barker, The Tremulous Private Body: Essays on Subjection (London: Methuen, 1985); Jonathan Goldberg, James I and the Politics of Literature (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1983); Catherine Belsey, The Subject of Tragedy: Identity and Difference in Renaissance Drama (London: Methuen, 1985); Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning (Chicago: U Chicago P, 1980); and Greenblatt, Shakespearean Negotiations (Berkeley: U California P, 1988).
. Belsey 51.
. Belsey 42.
. Catherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt have thoughtfully engaged with many of the problems of new historicism and its legacy in their Practicing New Historicism (Chicago: U Chicago P, 2000).
. Katherine Eisaman Maus, Inwardness and Theater in the English Renaissance (Chicago: U Chicago P, 1995).
. See Scarry’s distinction between psychological pain and bodily pain, which is a particularly modern, post-cartesian distinction to make, but still offers a useful rubric. Scarry 10.
. Gail Kern Paster, The Body Embarrassed: Drama and the Disciplines of Shame in Early Modern England (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1993); Jonathan Sawday, The Body Emblazoned: Dissection and the Human Body in Renaissance Culture (New York: Routledge, 1996); and Michael Schoenfeldt, Bodies and Selves in Early Modern England: Physiology and Inwardness in Spenser, Shakespeare, Herbert, and Milton (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999).
. Foucault 61. For discussions of the troubles surrounding the scaffold see Thomas Laqueur’s “Crowds, Carnival and the State in English Executions, 1604-1868,” The First Modern Society: Essays in English History in Honour of Lawrence Stone, ed. A. L. Beier, David Cannadine, and James M. Rosenheim (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1989) 305-55; and Peter Linebaugh, “The Tyburn Riot against the Surgeons,” Albion’s Fatal Tree: Crime and Society in Eighteenth-Century England, ed. Douglas Hay, Peter Linebaugh, John G. Rule, E. P. Thompson, and Cal Winslow (New York: Pantheon, 1975) 65-117.
. Scarry 3.
. See James Heath, Torture and English Law: An Administrative and Legal History from the Plantagenets to the Stuarts (Westport: Greenwood, 1983).
. Elizabeth Hanson, Discovering the Subject in Renaissance England (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998) 34.
. The ethos of suffering was, of course, not limited to Catholics, as the work of John Foxe shows. But it did tend to be deployed by those outside the dominant power structure, as the Jesuits were in the 1580s, and as the Protestants were in the 1550s.
. Of course, it was often the case that the victim was unable to write her/his own story. But regardless of the mediation between the texts and the “real” historical events, these texts produce a field of meaning that structured how the “self” could be imagined, and how that subject could relate to the matrix of power that surrounded it. How people “really” acted as they were tortured and executed is, of course, not accessible; but how they were written about, and how the meanings of those deaths is formulated, is not only available to us as distant observers, but is of profound cultural significance.
. William Allen, A Briefe Historie of the Glorious Martyrdom of the xii Reverend Priests, ed. J.H. Pollen (London, 1908) 39.
. Allen 58.
. Allen 58-59.
. I use the term “self-fashioning” to mark my argument’s indebtedness to Stephen Greenblatt’s analysis of the production of early modern subjectivity. However, I see my argument as essentially reversing his analysis of the figure of the martyr from his chapter on Oldcastle. Greenblatt sees martyrdom as a sort of cookie-cutter for subjects, as martyrs simply follow a standard script. While this is, to an extent, certainly true, a close reading of martyrology shows a far more complex utilization of the body in pain to produce an affect of suffering to articulate an inner life of the subject. Renaissance Self-Fashioning 74-114.
. For a discussion of the complex issues of empathy and aesthetics, see Karl F. Morrison, I Am You: The Hermeneutics of Empathy in Western Literature, Theology, and Art (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1988).
. Lisa Jardine, “Reading and the Technology of Textual Affect,” Reading Shakespeare Historically (London: Routledge, 1996) 78-97.
. Allen 33.
. Maus 16-24. See also James C.W. Truman, “John Foxe and the Desires of Reformation Martyrology,” ELH 70.1 (2003): 35-66.
. Debora Shuger has elegantly shown how suffering is used to constructing the “psychic depth” in Shakespeare, following Foucault’s model of the “pastoralization of power,” as character depth is a function of the appropriation of religious forms of subjectivity to the realm of the secular which “demarcate[s] a generic selfhood distinct from one’s public, social identity—a selfhood already present in medieval religious texts but in Shakespeare for the first time transposed into secular, literary forms.” “Subversive Fathers and Suffering Subjects: Shakespeare and Christianity,” Religion, Literature, and Politics in Post-Reformation England 1540-1688, ed. Donna B. Hamilton and Richard Strier (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press) 59. I would argue for a broader origin of these tropes of suffering; i.e. it is not an exclusively theocentric form of subjectivity.
. Women’s social position within the patriarchal structures of early modernity was primarily contingent upon their function as exchangeable commodities between men; in the process of this control, “‘woman’, unlike man, is produced as a property category.” Peter Stallybrass, “Patriarchal Territories: The Body Enclosed,” Rewriting the Renaissance: The Discourses of Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe, ed. Margaret W. Ferguson, Maureen Quilligan, and Nancy J. Vickers (Chicago: U Chicago P, 1986) 127.
. For a historicization of this link between the “active” as the masculinized position and the “passive” with the female, see Ian McLean, Renaissance Notions of Woman (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1980); Linda Woodbridge, Women and the English Renaissance: Literature and the Nature of Humankind, 1540-1620 (Urbana: U Illinois P, 1983). By the 19th century, the very formulation of a pathologized desire for submission was given the name “masochism” by Kraft-Ebbing, and became formed in the discourse of psychoanalysis as femininity’s defining characteristic. My project is not intended to be a psychological analysis of early modernity in terms of masochism, nor is it an attempt to construct a genealogy of masochism. Cynthia Marshall’s The Shattering of the Self: Violence, Subjectivity, and Early Modern Texts (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2002) has begun a very useful investigation into the tropes of masochism and the structure of early modern subjectivity. Her elegant readings, though, tend to elide the particular sociopolitical effects of the suffering subject—which my argument hopes to illuminate. Much recent work in psychoanalysis that offers useful approaches to rethinking the psychological and political relationship between masculinity to suffering: see Leo Bersani, “Is the Rectum a Grave?” October 23 (1987): 197-222; Kaja Silverman, Male Subjectivity at the Margins (New York: Routledge, 1992); John K. Noyes, The Mastery of Submission: Inventions of Masochism (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1997); and Jessica Benjamin, The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and the Problem of Domination (New York: Pantheon, 1988). My project is also informed by critics who have begun to historicize the notion of the suffering body, primarily in the early Christian church. See Judith Perkins, The Suffering Self: Pain and Narrative Representation in the Early Christian Era (New York: Routledge, 1995), and Stephen Moore, God’s Gym: Divine Male Bodies of the Bible (New York: Routledge, 1996). There have also been extremely useful work on the politics of suffering and masculinity in postmodern America. See William Warner, “Spectacular Action: Rambo and the Popular Pleasures of Pain.” Cultural Studies, ed. Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, and Paula A. Treichler (New York: Routledge, 1992) 672-688; and David Savran, Taking it Like a Man: White Masculinity, Masochism, and Contemporary American (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1998).
. See Valerie Traub, “Desire and the Difference It Makes,” Desire and Anxiety: Circulations of Sexuality in Shakespearean Drama (New York: Routledge, 1992); Stallybrass, “Patriarchal Territories;” Thomas Laquere, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1990); and Sawday, The Body Emblazoned. This early modern hierarchical structure of gender and sexuality is analogous to the formulations of the sex/gender system in the ancient world. See Jonathan Walters, “Invading the Roman Body: Manliness and Impenetrability in Roman Thought,” Roman Sexualities, ed. Judith P. Hallett and Marilyn B. Skinner (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1997) 29-46.
. See Valerie Traub, “(In)significance of Lesbian Desire,” Queering the Renaissance, ed. Jonathan Goldberg (Durham: Duke UP, 1994) 62-83, and Stephen Greenblatt, “Fiction and Friction,” Shakespearean Negotiations (Berkeley: U California P, 1988) 66-93.
. See Catharine Belsey’s analysis of masculinity defined by agency in The Subject of Tragedy 13-93. On the significance of analogy in early modernity, see Foucault, The Order of Things (New York: Vintage Books, 1974). For a useful discussion of the eroticization of violence during public execution see Frances Dolan, “‘Gentlemen, I have one more thing to say’: Women on Scaffolds in England, 1563-1680,” Modern Philology 92.2 (1994): 157-78.
. Alan Bray’s work has shown that sodomy was a crime not analogous to modern conceptions of “homosexuality” as it is now organized around object choice. It was not limited to same-sex liaisons, and included bestiality (as in the famous case in colonial New England). Nor was it necessarily a sexual crime, since transgressions such as counterfeiting, and treason were included in the broadest definition of sodomy. Yet the United States Supreme Court, as well as modern Bible translations, have made the mistake of equating sodomy with modern homosexuality because the act that primarily structured the definitions of sodomy was focused on the legal terms of sexual crime of “buggery,” which was generally used in tandem with the term “sodomy.” Alan Bray, Homosexuality in Renaissance England (London: Gay Men’s Press, 1982); Alan Bray, “Homosexuality and the Signs of Male Friendship in Elizabethan England,” Queering the Renaissance, ed. Jonathan Goldberg (Durham: Duke UP, 1994) 40-61.
. Quoted in Jonathan Goldberg, “Sodomy and Society: The Case of Christopher Marlowe,” Staging the Renaissance: Reinterpretations of Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama, ed. David Scott Kastan and Peter Stallybrass (New York: Routledge, 1991) 75-82.
. John Foxe, “The Utility of this History,” Actes and Monuments (London, 1563) n.p.
. John Donne, Death’s Duel (London, 1631).
. As Bray and others have shown, a clear figuration of “homosexuality” was not operative before the 18th and 19th centuries. See Jeffrey Weeks, One Hundred Years of Homosexuality and Other Essays on Greek Love (New York: Routledge, 1990).
. I borrow the term “homosocial desire” from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (New York: Columbia UP, 1985). My project aims to historicize a particular form of that homosociality.
. This is particularly evident in the conflict in Shakespeare’s sonnets between the platonic love of the poet and the young man, and the eroticism surrounding the Dark Lady. For the traditional view of Renaissance friendship as a non-physical, platonic abstraction, see Laurens Joseph Mills, One Soul in Bodies Twain: Friendship in Tudor and Stuart Drama (Bloomington: Principia, 1937).
. Francis Bacon, Francis Bacon: A Critical Edition of the Major Works, ed. Brian Vickers (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996) 391.
. See Bray, “Friendship;” Jeffrey Masten, Textual Intercourse: Collaboration, Authorship, and Sexualities in Renaissance Drama (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997); Bruce Smith, Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare’s England: A Cultural Poetics (Chicago: U Chicago P, 1991); and Laurie Shannon, Sovereign Amity (Chicago: U Chicago P, 200 2).
. Masten 35.
. Masten 35.
. Masten 35.
. Of course, as Mario DiGangi eloquently points out, “just because the discourse of male friendship allowed a place for homoerotic desire does not mean that all friendships were necessarily homoerotic,” but that early modern friendship certainly involved a powerful erotic element. Mario DiGangi, The Homoerotics of Early Modern Drama (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997) 12.
. Masten 37.
. Richard Rambuss, Closet Devotions (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1998) 39.
. George Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie (London: 1589) 226.
. Philip Sidney, “A Defense of Poesy,” The Oxford Poetry Library: Sir Philip Sidney ed. Katherine Duncan-Jones (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994) 111.
. On the “theater of martyrs” see Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning, Knott, and Ritchie Kendall, The Drama of Dissent: The Radical Poetics of Nonconformity (Chapel Hill, U North Carolina P, 1986). For while Foucault and the new historicists have shown that monarchical authority is established in theatrical representation, I follow Maus in arguing that theatricality is not equitable with an absence of depth.
. William Prynne, Hystrio-mastix: The Player’s Scourge or Actor’s Tragedy (New York: Garland, 1974) 340-341, quoted in Laura Levine, “Rape, Repetition and the Politics of Closure in A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Feminist Readings of Early Modern Culture, ed. Valerie Traub, M. Lindsay Kaplan, and Dympna Callaghan (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996) 222.
. Meredith Hamner, “The Translator unto the Christian Reader as Touching the Translation of these Auncient Histories,” The Auncient Ecclesiasticall Histories (London: 1577) iv.
. Arthur Marotti, “‘Love is Not Love’: Elizabethan Sonnet Sequences and the Social Order.” ELH 49 (1982): 396.
. One significant exception to this pattern is Cynthia Marshall’s chapter “‘To Speak of Love’ in the Language of Petrarchanism” in The Shattering of the Self 56-84. Marshall’s psychoanalytic approach, while it elegantly maps a structure of masochistic desire in the sonnets, overemphasizes the disintegration of the petrarchan subject while neglecting the potential for this rhetoric of pain to create an autonomous, authorized voice.
. For a discussion of the complex relationship between Elizabethan petrarchism and its predecessors (and particularly the rhetoric of anti-petrarchism), see Heather Dubrow, Echoes of Desire: English Petrarchism and its Counterdiscourses (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1995).
. The most exhaustive reading of interiority in English renaissance lyric has come from Anne Ferry, The “Inward” Language: Sonnets of Wyatt, Sidney, Shakespeare, Donne (Chicago: U Chicago P, 1983).
. The link between suffering and interiority may be seen emerging in the Rime Sparse as well, which is clearly linked to Petrarch’s indebtedness to the Christian Augustinian tradition of the “inner life.” While it goes beyond the scope of this project to attempt to map the forms of interiority and suffering across all of European Renaissance, I would venture that Petrarch’s model of a secularized suffering subject is reasonably peculiar in the 14th century—certainly the forms of martyrology, as in the Golden Legend, did not follow such a logic of interiorized suffering as following Protestant forms did. The 16th century’s adaptation of the Petrarchan suffering subject would mark, then, not a point of origin, but a moment of dramatic expansion, in the articulation of individuation through suffering.
. This aesthetic of suffering interiority, I contend, offers some historical specificity to Scarry’s theory of pain’s inaccessibility.
. The new historicist reevaluations of Elizabethan courtly literature, of course, makes this argument possible. As Katherine Eggert points out:
If nearly twenty years of new-historicist studies of early modern England have taught us anything, it is that England’s literature from 1558 to 1603 was preoccupied with the anomalous gender of the country’s monarch, Elizabeth Tudor. In other words, Elizabethan literature must be regarded as just that, Elizabethan, in ways that earlier critics did not take into account.
Katherine Eggert, Showing Like a Queen: Female Authority and Literary Experimentation in Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton (Philadelphia: U Penn P, 2000) 1.
. Marshall 56-84.
. Maureen Quilligan, Milton’s Spenser: The Politics of Reading (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1983) 198. “One of the paradoxes of Petrarchan poetry [is that] although the lover depicts himself as humble suitor to a dominating lady, he actually performs an act of public mastery, demonstrating his virtuosity in the practice of a masculine convention.” Ann Rosalind Jones and Peter Stallybrass, “The Politics of Astrophil and Stella,” SEL 24 (1984): 54-55. See Nancy Vickers’ work, especially “Diana Described: Scattered Woman and Scattered Rhyme,” Writing Sexual Diversity, ed. Elizabeth Abel (Chicago: U Chicago P, 1982) 95-108; and Vickers, “‘The Blazon of Sweet Beauty’s Best’: Shakespeare’s Lucrece,” Shakespeare and the Question of Theory, ed. Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman (New York: Methuen, 1985) 95-115. In the case of women writers like Lady Mary Wroth, the dyadic structure would remain consistent, with the authors working to strategically invert or shift the dialectic form even as they maintained it. See Mary Moore, Desiring Voices: Women Sonneteers and Petrarchism (Carbondale: U Southern Illinois P, 2000). As Montrose summarizes, “the Petrarchan persona is a distinctly masculine subject explicitly fashioned in relation to a feminine other…. The Petrarchan lover worships a deity of his own making and under his own control; he masters his mistress by inscribing her within his text, where she is repeatedly put together and taken apart—and, sometimes, killed.” Montrose, “Elizabethan Subject” 325. Maureen Quilligan, Milton’s Spenser: The Politics of Reading (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1983) 198. Katherine Eggert’s interpretation of Hamlet and the production of the proto-modern subject as a reaction against a female monarch is particularly apt here, despite not being specifically about petrarchism. See Eggert 100-131.
. As Bruce Smith describes, the “Myth of Combatants and Comrades is both the starting point and, in a sense, the whole… All other myths take this one as a subtext.” Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare’s England: A Cultural Poetics (Chicago: U Chicago P, 1991) 76.
. This has been seen, by Marrotti and other new historicists, as a biographically specific set of images, reflecting Sidney’s prowess as a soldier both in tournaments and in real battle. However, we should not be distracted by the ease with which the “autobiographical effect” can offer significance to these sorts of images.
. See Wendy Wall, Staging Domesticity: Household Work and English Identity in Early Modern Drama.(Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002) 59-93; and Alan Stewart, Close Readers: Humanism and Sodomy in Early Modern England (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1997).
. Sedgwick 39.
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