Advertisement

The Green Womb

  • Amy Kenny
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)

Abstract

In Cymbeline, Imogen’s death and rebirth critique the way her chastity is commodified by male suitors, exonerating her reputation while exposing male characters as untrustworthy. Her comatose state and subsequent revivification mimic the symptoms of greensickness described in early modern medical texts, which warned practitioners that if womb illnesses were left untreated, a woman could develop temporary paralysis or even die. Sensationalized tales of syncopic women were widespread in the early modern period and served as warnings of the potential corporeal ramifications of perpetual virginity, constructing the conjugal marital bed as safest for women’s humoral balance. The use of greensickness in Shakespeare’s plays exposes the cultural anxiety around the womb by dramatizing women who subversively find empowerment and determination in their chastity.

References

  1. Abbot, George. The case of impotency as debated in England: in that remarkable trial in 1613. London: printed for E. Curll, 1715.Google Scholar
  2. Amatus Lusitanus. In Dioscoridis Anazarbei de materia medica libros quinque enarrationes. Venice, 1556.Google Scholar
  3. Aristotle’s’ Masterpiece. London: J. How, 1684.Google Scholar
  4. Bartholin, Thomas. Bartholinus Anatomy; made from the Precepts of his father, and from the other observations of all modern anatomists, together with his own (London: Nicholas Culpeper and Abdiah Cole, 1663Google Scholar
  5. Belsey, Catherine. “Disrupting Sexual Difference: Meaning and Gender in the Comedies.” In Alternative Shakespeares, ed. John Drakakis, 169–93. New York: Methuen, 1985.Google Scholar
  6. Bodin, Jean. Method for the Easy Comprehension of History. Paris: Martin Le Jeune, 1566.Google Scholar
  7. Boorde, Andrew. Compendious Regiment A Compendyous Regyment or a Dyetary of Healthe Newly Corrected with Dyuers Addycyons. London: William Powell, 1547.Google Scholar
  8. Bourgeois, Louise. The Compleat Midwife’s Practice Enlarged, 2nd edn. London: Nathaniel Brook, 1659.Google Scholar
  9. Brasbridge, Thomas. The Poore Mans Jewel. London: for George Bishop, 1578.Google Scholar
  10. Brumwhich, Ann. Her Booke of Receipts or Medicines for severall sores and other Infermities, 1625–1700, Wellcome MS160, fo. 223 and 214.Google Scholar
  11. Bullein, William. A Newe Boke of Phisicke called ye Government of Health. London: John Day, 1559.Google Scholar
  12. Bullein, William. The Government of Health: A Newe Boke of Phisicke Called the Government of Health. London: John Day, 1558.Google Scholar
  13. Burton, Robert. The Anatomy of Melancholy. London: Henry Cripps, 1621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Capp, Bernard. When Gossips Meet: Women, Family, and Neighbourhood in Early Modern England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cary, Walter. A Briefe Treatise, called Caries Farewell to Physicke. London: Henry Denham, 1583.Google Scholar
  16. Chamberlain John. “To Sir Dudley Carleton 23 June 1613.” In The English Renaissance: An Anthology of Sources and Documents, 123. Edited by Kate Aughterson. London and New York; Routledge, 1998.Google Scholar
  17. Charron, Pierre. 1612. Of Wisdom. Translated by Samson Lennard. LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. Cobbett, William, Thomas Bayly Howell, and Thomas Jones Howell. Cobbett’s Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors, Vol II. London: T. C. Hansard, 1809.Google Scholar
  19. Corlyon, Mrs. A Booke of diuers Medecines, Broothes, Salues, Waters, Syroppes and Oyntementes of which many or the most part haue been experienced and tryed by the speciall practize of Mrs Corlyon. Anno Domini 1606, Wellcome MS213, fo. 193–198.Google Scholar
  20. Crawford, Patricia. “Attitudes to Menstruation in Seventeenth Century England.” Past and Present 91 (1981): 47–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Crawford, Patricia. “The construction and experience of maternity in seventeenth century England.” In Women as Mothers in Pre-Industrial England, edited by Valerie Fields, 3–38. London: Routledge, 1990.Google Scholar
  22. Crooke, Helkiah. Microcosmographia, A Description of the Body of Man. London: W. Jaggard, 1616.Google Scholar
  23. Culpeper, Nicholas. Culpeper’s Directory for Midwives: or, A guide for women, The Second Part. London: Peter Cole, 1662.Google Scholar
  24. Dodoens, Rembert. A Niewe Herball or Historie of Plantes. Antwerp: H. Loë for G. Dewes, 1578.Google Scholar
  25. Fissell, Mary E. Vernacular Bodies: The Politics of Reproduction in Early Modern England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.Google Scholar
  26. Floyd-Wilson, Mary. “English Mettle.” In Reading the Early Modern Passions, edited by Gail Kern Paster, Katherine Rowe, and Mary Floyd-Wilson, 130–146. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.Google Scholar
  27. Floyd-Wilson, Mary. English Ethnicity and Race in Early Modern Drama. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  28. Fontanus, Nicholas. The Woman’s Doctor or, An exact and distinct explanation of all such diseases as are peculiar to that sex. London: John Blaque and Samuel Howes, 1652.Google Scholar
  29. Fuchs, Leonhart. De historia stirpium. Basileae: In officina Isingriniana, 1542.Google Scholar
  30. Garber, Marjorie. Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety. New York: Routledge, 2011.Google Scholar
  31. Gerard, John. The Herball or General History of Plants. London: Adam Norton and Richard Whitakers, 1633.Google Scholar
  32. Graunt, John. Natural and Political Observations. London: John Martyn, 1665.Google Scholar
  33. Greenblatt, Stephen. “Fiction and Friction.” In Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England, 66–93. Berkeley: U of California P, 1988.Google Scholar
  34. Guillimeau, James. Child-birth, or The Happy Delivery of Women. London: Anne Griffin for Joyce Norton and Richard Whitaker, [1612] 1635.Google Scholar
  35. Hall, John. “Select Observations on English Bodies or Cures both Empirical and Historical performed upon eminent persons in desperate diseases, 1657.” In Shakespeare’s Son-in-Law: John Hall Man and Physician, 104–320. Edited by Harriet Joseph. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1964.Google Scholar
  36. Hippocrates. On the disease of virgins, trans. Calvus 1525.Google Scholar
  37. Houlbrooke, Ralph A. The English Family 1450–1700. London and New York: Longman, 1984.Google Scholar
  38. Jardine, Lisa. Still Harping on Daughters: Women and Drama in the Age of Shakespeare. Sussex, UK: Harvester Press, 1983.Google Scholar
  39. Jorden, Edward. A Briefe Discourse of a Disease Called the Suffocation of the Mother. London: John Windet, 1603.Google Scholar
  40. Kenny, Amy. “The ‘squeaking Cleopatra boy’: Performance of the Queen’s Two Bodies on the Early Modern Stage.” In Shakespeare’s Queens, edited by Valerie Schutte and Kavita Finn, 503–518. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.Google Scholar
  41. King, Helen. Hippocrates’ Woman: Reading the Female Body in Ancient Greece. London and New York: Routledge, 1998.Google Scholar
  42. King, Helen. The Disease of Virgins: Green Sickness, Chlorosis, and the Problems of Puberty. New York: Routledge, 2009.Google Scholar
  43. Lange, Johannes. “De morbo virgineo, Epistola XXI.” In Medicinalium epistolarum miscellanea. Basle: J. Oporinus, 1554. Reprinted in Ralph H. Major, Classic Descriptions of Disease. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas, 1932.Google Scholar
  44. Lange, Johannes. Medicinalium epistolarum miscellanea. Basel: J. Oporinus, 1554.Google Scholar
  45. Langham, William. The Garden of Health. London: deputies of C. Barker, 1597.Google Scholar
  46. Lemnius, Levinius. A Discourse touching Generation. London: John Streater, 1667.Google Scholar
  47. Mendelson, Sara and Patricia Crawford. Women in Early Modern England, 1550–1720. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  48. Mercado, Luis. De mulierum affectionibus. Venice: 1587.Google Scholar
  49. Moffett, Thomas. Health’s Improvement. London: Printed by Thomas Newcomb for Samuel Thomson, 1665.Google Scholar
  50. Myrepsus, Nicolaus. Liber de compositione medicamentorum. Vueissenhorn: Johann Agricola, 1541.Google Scholar
  51. Napier, Richard. 14 June 1600 10:25am, MS Ashmole 202, f. 108v.Google Scholar
  52. Orgel, Stephen. “Nobody’s Perfect: Or, Why Did the English Stage Take Boys for Women?” In South Atlantic Quarterly 88 (1989): 7–29.Google Scholar
  53. Paré, Ambroise. The Works of that Famous Chirurgeon. Translated T. H. Johnson. London: Mary Clark, 1678.Google Scholar
  54. Paré, Ambroise. Les Oeuvres en vingt-six livres. Paris: Buon, 1575.Google Scholar
  55. Paster, Gail Kern. The Body Embarrassed. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993.Google Scholar
  56. Pechey, John. A Collection of Chronical Diseases. London: J. R. to be sold by Henry Bonwicke, 1692.Google Scholar
  57. Peterson, Kaara L. “Shakespearean Revivifications: Early Modern Undead.” Shakespeare Studies, 32 (2004): 240–266.Google Scholar
  58. Philip Barrough, The Method of Phisick, Containing Cases, Signs, and Cures of Inward Diseases in Man’s Body (London: Richard Field, 1596), 185–88.Google Scholar
  59. Pierre de La Primaudaye, The second part of the French academy wherein, as it were by a natural history of the body and soul of man, the creation, matter, composition, form, nature, profit and use of all the parts of the frame of man are handled. London: G.B., R.N. and R.B. 1594.Google Scholar
  60. Rackin, Phyllis. “Androgyny, Mimesis, and the Marriage of the Boy Heroine on the English Renaissance Stage.” PMLA 102 (1987): 29–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Raynalde, Thomas. The Birth of Mankind, Otherwise Called The Woman’s Book. Translated by Thomas Raynalde. London: By Thomas Raynalde, 1545.Google Scholar
  62. Raynalde, Thomas. The Byrth of Mankynde. Translated by Richard Jonas. London 1540.Google Scholar
  63. Read, Sara. Menstruation and the Female Body in Early Modern England. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Reynolds, Edward. A Treatise of the Passions and Faculties of the Soul of Man. London: R. H. for Robert Bostock, 1640.Google Scholar
  65. Rickman, Johanna. Love, Lust, and License in Early Modern England: Illicit Sex and the Nobility. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008.Google Scholar
  66. Ross, Alexander. Arcana microcosmi, or, The hid secrets of man’s body discovered in an anatomical duel between Aristotle and Galen concerning the parts thereof. London: Thomas Newcome for John Clark, 1652.Google Scholar
  67. Rösslin, Eucharius. The Birth of Mankind, Otherwise Called The Woman’s Book. Translated by Thomas Reynalde. London: J. L., Henry Hood, Abel Roper, and Richard Romlin, [1545] 1654.Google Scholar
  68. Rösslin, Eucharius. The byrth of mankynde, newly translated out of Laten into Englysshe. Translated by Richard Jonas. London: T[homas] R[aynald]], 1540.Google Scholar
  69. Rowlands, Samuel. ’Tis Merry When Gossips Meet. London: W.W., 1602.Google Scholar
  70. Rowlands, Samuel. A Whole Crew of Kind Gossips, All Met to Be Merry. London: John Deane, 1609.Google Scholar
  71. Rüff, Jacob. The Expert Midwife, or An Excellent and Most Necessary Treatise of the Generation and Birth of Man. London: E. Griffin for S. Burton, [1554] 1637.Google Scholar
  72. Sadler, John. The Sick Woman’s Private Looking Glass. London: Anne Griffin for Philemon Stephens and Christopher Meredith, 1636.Google Scholar
  73. Sennert, David, Nicholas Culpeper and Abdiah Cole. The Sixth Book of Practical Physik of Occult or Hidden Diseases. London: Peter Cole, 1662.Google Scholar
  74. Sharp, Jane. The Midwives Book: or the Whole Art of Midwifery Discovered. London, 1671.Google Scholar
  75. Sokol, B. J. and Mary. Shakespeare, Law, and Marriage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Stone, Lawrence. The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500–1800. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1977.Google Scholar
  77. Vassès, Jean. Claudii Galeni de causis respirationis libellus. De usu respirationis liber unus. De spirandi difficultate libri tres. Paris 1533.Google Scholar
  78. Vesalius, Andreas. De humani corportis fabrica libri septem. Basile, 1543.Google Scholar
  79. Williams, Katherine E. “Hysteria in seventeenth-century case records and unpublished manuscripts.” History of Psychiatry, 1 (1990): 383–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Wright, Thomas. Passions of the Minde in Generall. London: Valentine Simmers for Walter Burre, 1604.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy Kenny
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

Personalised recommendations