Hamlet, Henry, Epicoene, and Hebraica: Marriage Questions
This chapter explores marital and gender issues as they are dramatized in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Jonson’s Epicoene. The conflict between Prince Hamlet and Claudius can be recast as a scriptural conflict between the incest taboo of Leviticus 18, which forbids marriage to a sister-in-law, and the rule of levirate marriage in Deuteronomy 25, which commands a brother to marry his deceased brother’s widow. Of relevance here is Henry VIII’s divorce of Catherine of Aragon, the widow of his brother Prince Arthur, in order to marry Ann Boleyn, mother of Elizabeth I. Jonson’s Epicoene strongly alludes to Henry’s ‘great matter’. Selden refers to a suppressed manuscript that hints at one of Henry’s tricks, getting the Pope to agree to a second wife. The chapter finds the source in Ausonius of Selden’s praise of Jonson as poet laureate in his Titles of Honor.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.