The plays in this study cover nearly one hundred years, from 1570, the earliest possible date of Clyomon and Clamydes, to 1662, the publication date of the plays Margaret Cavendish wrote during the Interregnum. However, they provide little evidence in the way of a chronological argument. They neither clearly support nor obviously refute the view that social constraints against female homoeroticism increased as the eighteenth century neared. Such an argument presumes that English culture approached depictions of female homoeroticism consistently within a given historical moment and that the acceptance or rejection of female homoeroticism depended on its appearance within a historical progression. The evidence from dramatic literature, however, does not endorse this kind of chronological argument. Rather, dramatic narratives of female homoeroticism varied widely throughout this nearly hundred-year period and suggest that constraint did not emerge as a historical consequence but that differing depictions of desire were always more or less acceptable. Playwrights always exercised careful control over depictions of female homoerotic desire within already established metaphors of love. In short, playwrights condemned lust but constructed laudatory scenarios of selfless, romantic love between women.
KeywordsFemale Character Romantic Love Heterosexual Marriage True Love Feminine Persona
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- 1.Maurice Charney, Shakespeare on Love and Lust (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 211.Google Scholar
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- Marsilio Ficino, Commentary on Plato’s Symposium on Love, trans. Sears Jayne (Dallas: Spring Publications, 1985), 118–19.Google Scholar
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