The Tomb Womb

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


Shakespearean tragedy offers a theatricalized inversion of the leaky humoral body by presenting unspoiled female cadavers. Instead of highlighting the superfluous, involuntary bloodshed of the womb, these death scenes sanitize the female corpse, cultivating a more classical embodiment. Posthumously producing the female body on stage often serves no plot purpose, which extends the erotic spectacle by subjecting her to blazon poetry in male-authored language. By figuratively dissecting the female corpse, the audience engages in an egotistical exploration of the female body beyond what is visible. As the poetic device moves from abstract to carnal, the characters on stage are exposed to the audience’s gaze, which ultimately culminates in a critique of the male blazoner attempting to garner rhetorical control over the female corpse.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

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

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