The Tragedy of Mariam


The Tragedy of Mariam

"The Tragedy of Mariam, the Fair Queen of Jewry" is a Jacobean era closet drama written by Elizabeth Tanfield Cary, and first published in 1613. The play is the the first work by a woman that was published under her own name. The play received only marginal attention until the 1970's, when feminist scholars recognized the play's contribution to English literature. Since then the play has received a large amount of scholarly attention.

The play was written between 1602 and 1604, [Cerasano and Wynne-Davies, p. 47] was never staged in its own historical era, and apparently was never intended for stage performance by its author. It was entered into the Stationers' Register in December 1612. The 1613 quarto was printed by Thomas Creede for the bookseller Richard Hawkins. Cary's drama belongs to the sub-genre of the Senecan revenge tragedy. The primary sources for the play are "The Wars of the Jews" and "The Antiquities of the Jews" by Josephus, which Cary used in Thomas Lodge's 1602 translation.

ynopsis

"The Tragedy" tells the story of Mariam, a member of the Hasmonean dynasty and the second wife of Herod the Great, king of Palestine 39-4 B.C. When the play opens, in 29 B.C., Herod is thought dead at the hand of Octavian (later Caesar Augustus), and Mariam faces her ambivalent feelings about her husband; Herod had loved her, but had also murdered her grandfather and brother. In Act IV, however, Herod returns, dispelling the false report of his death. Though Mariam is the title character and the play's moral center, her part in the play amounts to only about 10% of the whole; [Elaine Beilin, in Pacheco, p. 137.] Cary uses a set of secondary characters to provide a multi-vocal portrayal of Herod's court and Jewish society under his tyranny. The ending of the play is consistent with the tyranny of both its fictional Herod and the actual historical figure: six characters die, including Mariam.

The play has been edited and published in several modern editions, and has acquired a large and growing body of critical and scholarly commentary.

Notes

References

* Cary, Elizabeth. " [http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/cary/mariam/mariam.html The tragedie of Mariam, the faire queene of Jewry.] " On-line edition at [http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/ A Celebration of Women Writers]
* Cary, Elizabeth. "The Tragedy of Mariam, the Fair Queen of Jewry." Stephanie Hodgson-Wright, ed. Guelph, ON, Broadview Press, 2000.
* Cary, Elizabeth. "The Tragedy of Mariam, the Fair Queen of Jewry." Barry Weller, Margaret W. Ferguson, eds. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1994.
* Cerasano, Susan P., and Marion Wynn-Davies, eds. "Renaissance Drama by Women: Texts and Documents." London, Routledge, 2003.
* Lewalski, Barbara. "Writing Women in Jacobean England." Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1994.
* Pacheco, Anita, ed. "A Companion to Early Modern Women's Writing." London, Blackwell, 2002.


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