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Greek Tragic Women on Shakespearean Stages$
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Tanya Pollard

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198793113

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198793113.001.0001

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Parodying Shakespeare’s Euripides in Bartholomew Fair

Parodying Shakespeare’s Euripides in Bartholomew Fair

(p.205) 6 Parodying Shakespeare’s Euripides in Bartholomew Fair
Greek Tragic Women on Shakespearean Stages

Tanya Pollard

Oxford University Press

Chapter 6, “Parodying Shakespeare’s Euripides in Bartholomew Fair,” argues that Shakespeare’s fascination with Greek tragedy’s female icons led his contemporaries to identify him with the dramatic tradition they represented. In particular, Ben Jonson adopts an Aristophanic strategy to parody Shakespeare’s versions of Euripidean heroines in Bartholomew Fair. The play simultaneously imitates, mocks, and pays homage to Shakespeare’s tragicomic restorations, through parodic versions of the Greek female figures who shape their miraculous reversals. Allusions to Ceres, Furies, and Hero and Leander highlight Greek tragic patterns including suffering mothers and daughters, reunions with veiled wives returning from a mock-underworld, and a suffering virgin escaping the sacrifice of an unwanted marriage. Tracing these Euripidean underpinnings illuminates Jonson’s responses not only to Shakespeare, but also to Greek plays. In his tongue-in-cheek recreations of Shakespeare’s Euripidean plots, Jonson recreates their pleasurable redemptions while maintaining his wry skepticism toward their miraculous resolutions.

Keywords:   Parody, Jonson, Shakespeare, Bartholomew Fair, tragicomedy, heroines, Greek, Aristophanes

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