이미영, 르네상스 영문학 장르에 나타난 ‘음란한 과부’ 상투형의 이데올로기적 전용
Mi Young Lee, On Ideological Appropriations of the Stereotype of ‘Lusty Widow’ in Renaissance Literary Genres
The "lusty widow" stereotype was a highly saleable commodity in the early
modern England. It may have owed its popularity to its rags-to-riches fantasy
for the poor young men of the competitive capitalist world of London. Literary
genres used this motif in accordance with their generic rules and demands of
their readers/audience. This paper argues that the stereotype of "lusty widow"
was ideologically appropriated in different genres to construct the modern male
subject. This process, though, was not linear, opening an unexpected space for
the construction of female subject as well in the dynamic and ambivalent world
of literary texts.
Tragedy as a male-oriented genre constructs the patriarchal male tragic
subject by villainizing and punishing the "lusty widow". Titus Andronicus is a
tragedy mainly incurred by Titus's patriarchal obsession, but the play blames
Tamora for its tragedy and constructs Titus's tragic subject by scapegoating her
and thereby validating the patriarchal ideal. Hamlet's tragic subject is also
constructed by villainizing and eliminating Gertrude's sex. To him, the ideal
patriarchal world of his father is tainted by his mother's lust and she has to be
desexualized before he can accomplish his revenge and thereby get his male
subject constructed. The Duchess of Malfi probes a possibility of the female
tragic subject. Though a lusty widow, Duchess is an autonomous female tragic
hero, a rare phenomenon in the male-oriented genre of tragedy. Too dangerous
to be a tragic hero, her subversive sexual energy needs to be contained by being
placed as a mother and idolized after death, thereby denied her autonomy as a
subject in the male dominant world of the play.
The widow remarriage comedies appropriate the "lusty widow" stereotype to
gratify the fantasy of the male audience. In this fantasy, the spent young man
gets money and status by marrying the widow, to get his modern male subject
constructed and his masculinity proved, only by his virility. The "lusty widow"
stereotype makes this possible by making the widow "lusty" and thereby
switches the power relation of the couple, giving the power to the male suitor
while rendering the widow as a passive object. The Widow's Tears is a typical
example of this fantasy, constructing Tharsalio as a male subject. However, the
play leaves a space for the female subject as well by letting Eudora lead
Tharsalio and have her desire fulfilled. The Widow, a late version of this
fantasy, offers a critical distance to this fantasy itself. With its untypical heroes,
this play tries a construction of an autonomous female subject possible only in
Deloney's prose romance, Jack of Newbery magnifies the threats of a lusty
widow wife, only to contain them to construct Jack's male subject. As a whole,
the novel can be read as a manual of the construction of the middle-class male
subject, based on the sex hierarchy, marginalizing and containing women.
However, Jack's marriage life with the widow shows that at least during their
marriage, it is the widow who has the autonomous power and it is only by her
timely death that Jack can be constructed as a male subject.
Key words : lusty widow, stereotype, fantasy, genre, subject, modernity