Cosmetic Restoration in Jacobean Tragedy

Farah Karim-Cooper

in Cosmetics in Shakespearean and Renaissance Drama

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780748619931
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652204 | DOI:
Cosmetic Restoration in Jacobean Tragedy

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This chapter attempts to show how Thomas Middleton appropriates cosmetic materiality by deploying it imaginatively in the language and in the action, through violence and terror. It also tries to suggest that both The Revenger's Tragedy and The Second Maiden's Tragedy reflect the contradictions inherent in the cultural attitudes toward cosmetics, contradictions which permeate the cosmetics discourse beyond the stage. The chapter first proposes that these plays not only dramatise the deceptive, yet restorative, nature of makeup, but point to a cultural cosmetics discourse through the language. The relationship of the tongue to cosmetics seems to be registered in the poisoned-kiss sequences of these plays, which dramatised a culture addicted to artifice while commenting upon the contemporary fixation on the body. In both plays, the only painted faces are those of virtuous women.

Keywords: Thomas Middleton; Revenger's Tragedy; Second Maiden's Tragedy; cosmetic materiality; violence; terror; Jacobean tragedy; cosmetic restoration

Chapter.  9008 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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