Rebecca Potter, Ph.D.
The British Early Modern Period was a time of shifting social ideologies where class as well as gender were mapped onto bodies and embedded in the very material conditions of life. But class and gender were not discreet categories with dichotomous definitions like ‘male’ and ‘female’, or ‘nobility’ and ‘peasant’. They had many inbetweens, and the theater was perhaps the most glaring inbetween of all. The theater necessarily complicates definitions and ways of viewing bodies as no body is what they seem. And at the heart of these ambiguous identities lay the fat body. It is consumptive, it is transgressive, and it is sterile. It, much like the theater it is reproduced on, contributes nothing to society of cultural or economic value. It produced only pleasure. And the fat body’s literary inhabitants are the ones (re)producing anxiety and pleasure. Falstaff of Shakespeare’s Henriad and Moll Cutpurse of Thomas Middleton and Dekker’s The Roaring Girl are the problems their respective plays are trying to flatten out.
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Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles
Van Atta, Lauren, "Ambiguous Pleasure(ers): Negotiating the Bodies of Falstaff and Moll" (2017). Honors Theses. 122.