Speaking Stones: Memory and Maternity in the Theatre of Death

Chris Laoutaris

in Shakespearean Maternities

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780748624362
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671687 | DOI:
Speaking Stones: Memory and Maternity in the Theatre of Death

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This chapter discusses that the age of Shakespeare gave rise to a poignant language of maternal memory. It explains the enigma of the specifically maternalised cast of the memorials which followed the appearance of the Elizabeth Russell monument. It also shows the way in which Shakespeare's play dramatises the conflict between already entrenched and emergent modes of memorialisation. Russell's ghost is not confined to the half-lit rooms of Bisham Abbey where she is said to roam, but also haunts the maternal tombs which were erected in imitation of her daughter's monument. The performance of maternity in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra is then detailed. Antony and Cleopatra encloses what was a new epistemological culture of memorialisation. Cleopatra's ending recapitulates the ‘good death’ of the Renaissance mother as it was reconceived by those women whose legacies are ours to cherish today.

Keywords: maternal memory; Shakespeare; Elizabeth Russell; memorialisation; Antony; Cleopatra; Renaissance mother

Chapter.  19353 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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