By Felicity Dunworth
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Extra resources for Mothers and Meaning on the Early Modern English Stage
90 The body politic was supposed to be contained within the natural body of the Queen. When lawyers spoke of this body politic they referred to a specific quality: the essence of corporate perpetuity. 91 The theatrical union of Mary and Respublica, then, represents the monarchy at its most complete; the unification of the political and personal, as the body natural of the reigning queen contains the actor representing the body politic within her arms. The highly affective tenor of much of the polemic of the early years of Mary’s reign was crucial to its initial successes, as Mary’s Guildhall speech, quoted above, indicates.
5 Julian’s concern to fix maternal meaning upon the figure of Jesus reminds us that ‘mother’ asserts a human figure as much as a metaphysical idea. The word always foregrounds its material meaning – the individual person, the mother figure; so that ‘mother’ is always signifier as much as signified. This quality had informed an allegorical tradition which allowed the concept of motherhood both to focus and to represent a complicated and shifting set of meanings. 6 Astell shows, importantly, how this is the consequence of ‘the fusion of two histories’: that of the evangelical biography of Mary, and the literal meaning in the Song of Songs, leading to the construction of a figure where the literal bleeds into the allegorical, enhancing her affective power.
Qxd 3/11/09 14:57 Page 33 The transformation of tradition 1111 2111 3 4 5111 6 7 8 9 10111 11 1211 31 4 5 6 7 8 9 20111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40 1 42111 33 audience that must be engaged emotionally if the serious matter of the drama is to be appropriately received. Vanhoutte shows how Bale echoes Morison’s polemic strategy, quoting Morison’s tract A Lamentation in Which is Showed what Ruin and Destruction Cometh of Seditious Rebellion, in which a personified England bemoans the rupture that treason has wrought: ‘I am one, why do you make me twain?