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The Absence of AmericaThe London Stage, 1576-1642$
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Gavin Hollis

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198734321

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198734321.001.0001

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“He would not goe naked like the Indians, but cloathed just as one of our selves”

“He would not goe naked like the Indians, but cloathed just as one of our selves”

Indian Disguise in The Historie of Orlando Furioso, The Fatal Marriage, and The City Madam

Chapter:
(p.164) 4 “He would not goe naked like the Indians, but cloathed just as one of our selves”
Source:
The Absence of America
Author(s):

Gavin Hollis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198734321.003.0005

This chapter analyzes drama which employs the theatergram in which European males adopt alterity as a disguise and dress themselves as American Indians. Drawing on colonialist propaganda, that stressed the importance of clothing the Indian in Christian civility, this chapter argues that the Indian disguise drew attention to the colonial project of clothing while also stressing the impossibility of converting the infidel, because clothing was both a marker of identity and an index of the inscrutability of identity (because it was attachable and detachable). While Robert Greene’s Orlando Furioso seems to suggest that the Indian could be co-opted by the English and become a civilized advocate for imperialism against the Spanish, Philip Massinger’s The City Madam and the anonymous The Fatal Marriage argue for the futility of this mission, because the Indian treated clothing to disguise their allegiance to the English rather than as a token of their allegiance.

Keywords:   disguise, clothing, nakedness, Indian, conversion, The City Madam, The Fatal Marriage, 1622 Indian massacre

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