이진아, 메리 로쓰: 로만스와 소넷의 여성적 변용
Jin-Ah Lee, "Mary Wroth
and Her Transformation of Romance and Sonnet"
Wroth is the first English woman writer to have published an original work of
romance, The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania (1621) and a sonnet sequence,
Pamphilia to Amphilanthus (1621). As a member of the illustrious Sidney family,
“Daughter to the right Noble Robert Earl of Leicester, and Niece to the ever
famous, and renowned Sir Philip Sidney knight, and to the most excellent Lady
Mary Countess of Pembroke,” she was endowed with literary and musical talents.
This primary identity left a decided mark on all her writing. The major literary
precedents of her works were her uncle and aunt’s romance The Countess of
Pembroke’s Arcadia and her uncle’s sonnet sequence, Astrophel and Stella. Mary
Sidney was well-known literary patron, edited her brother's Arcadia and
completed the translation of the Psalms after his death. She was a literary
mentor for Mary Wroth.
However, Wroth ventured into a totally different
literary arena in which men had always been the creators and women the passive
recipients of the finished artefact. This was the world of chivalric romance,
love, and Petrarchan lyrics. Urania’s intricate and interlaced narratives follow
the fortunes of two central heroines, Pamphilia and Urania, as well as numerous
other characters, whose actions range over the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe.
Pamphilia, a symbol of constancy, is always faithful to her love, her own self
who is “all-loving.” She is a queen, who inherits the crown and kingdom of her
uncle and is a poet, and whose love for her fickle first cousin Amphilanthus
occasions much of the travelling, story-telling, and exchange of love lyrics.
She is also the narrator in the sonnet sequence Pamphilia to Amphilanthus,
appended to Urania. Especially, in her sonnet sequence Wroth reversed the
customary gender roles of the sonnet sequence. The complaining Petrarchan lover
attempting to court a cool, unwilling woman is replaced by a woman who wrestles
with her own emotions and with the absence of her beloved. In Wroth’s own life
the role of Amphilanthus seems to have been played by her first cousin, William
Herbert, third earl of Pembroke, the father of two of Wroth’s three children.
In these two related works, Wroth explores “spider love” that can entrap
and entangle, most frequently from a woman’s standpoint. Thereby, Wroth
investigates female subjectivity and autonomy. With these works, she departed
from traditional women's genres such as epitaph and translation, helped to open
up the English literary world to women, and allowed female writers to move
beyond religious subject matter.
Mary Wroth, Sir
Philip Sidney, Mary Sidney Herbert, Urania, Pamphilia to Amphilanthus, romance,