Tragicomic Men

Trish Thomas Henley

in The Oxford Handbook of Thomas Middleton

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199559886
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Tragicomic Men

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)



This article investigates Middleton's use of the transgressive genre of tragicomedy to critique both dominant and emergent discourses of masculinity. What happens when ideologies of male honour, rank, and family conflict? What do these contradictions do to early modern notions of male subjectivity? What do they say about a political system predicated upon patriarchal ideology? And, lastly, how do definitions of male subjectivity shift when the patriarchal economy moves from feudalism to the proto-capitalist marketplace? The article argues that Middleton's dialogic tragicomedy makes clear the contradictions inherent in patriarchal ideology and reveals even the most traditionally ‘honourable’ of masculine subject positions to be motivated by self-interest and narcissism.

Keywords: Thomas Middleton; transgressive genre; tragicomedy; masculinity

Article.  8493 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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