Just Anger: Representing Women's Anger in Early Modern England. (Reviews).Gwynne Kennedy, Just Anger: Representing Women's Anger in Early Modern England.
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ISBN n abbr (= International Standard Book Number) → ISBN m : 0-8093-2261-7.
Gwynne Kennedy's Just Anger examines early modern representations of anger in a wide range of works by women writers A
[Middle English, from Old English wrth; see wer-2 in Indo-European roots. , as well as pseudonymous Refers to a pseudonym, which is a fictitious name or alias. Pronounced "soo-don-a-miss." Contrast with anonymous, which means nameless. texts published under women's names. Kennedy's interest throughout is in the strategies women use to express anger at their inferior status in a culture that views women's anger as confirmation of that inferiority. Drawing on an early modern "discourse about emotions," as well as current psychological and anthropological theories of anger, Kennedy argues that "the emotions have a crucial role in constructions of female subjectivity" and that period representations of women's anger reveal "how emotions and emotion theories can be not only invoked in the service of oppression but also mobilized against it" (22).
Kennedy's first chapter provides a valuable survey of the gendering of emotions in early modern commentaries on the passions, including treatises devoted specifically to anger. She observes that while both classical and Christian traditions advocate emotional self control, they also define grounds for legitimate or righteous anger. As Kennedy points out, however, such legitimate anger is "either explicitly or implicitly gendered masculine" (12). Early modern English Early Modern English refers to the stage of the English language used from about the end of the Middle English period (the latter half of the 15th century) to 1650. Thus, the first edition of the King James Bible and the works of William Shakespeare both belong to the late phase culture assumes women are more quick to anger than men, while less able to "master" that anger, with the result that "an angry woman must defend both her character and her anger at the same time, since one implicates the other" (4).
In her second chapter, "Angry Readers," Kennedy addresses women's anger where it is most directly expressed: in texts engaged in the controversy over women. Kennedy's focus on anger illuminates the way attacks on women attempt to undermine rebuttal rebuttal n. evidence introduced to counter, disprove or contradict the opposition's evidence or a presumption, or responsive legal argument. by characterizing an angry response as typical female shrewishness Shrewishness
See also Irascibility.
Shyness (See TIMIDITY.)
Similarity (See TWINS.)
Sinfulness (See WICKEDNESS.)
Caudle, Mrs. Margaret
nagging, complaining wife. [Br. Lit. . Kennedy explores the strategies female respondents employ "to put together two things that the attacks insist on keeping separate: women's virtue and anger" (31). Such strategies range from Rachel Speght's careful argument and controlled satire to Constantia Munda's outright aggression. Kennedy wisely sets aside the issue of authorship with the possibly pseudonymous Jane Anger, and the certainly pseudonymous Rachel Sowernam and Constantia Munda, arguing that whether female-authored or using female personae, the defenses "give women more rhetorical options for expressing just indignation at misogynistic mi·sog·y·nis·tic also mi·sog·y·nous
Of or characterized by a hatred of women.
Adj. 1. misogynistic - hating women in particular
ill-natured - having an irritable and unpleasant disposition thinking" (43).
Subsequent chapters explore Elizabeth Cary's and Mary Wroth's representations of angry women in their literary works. Kennedy finds in both authors a deep ambivalence over women's anger and the patriarchal and monarchical systems that proscribe pro·scribe
tr.v. pro·scribed, pro·scrib·ing, pro·scribes
1. To denounce or condemn.
2. To prohibit; forbid. See Synonyms at forbid.
a. To banish or outlaw (a person). a subordinate's anger against a superior. Kennedy reads Cary's drama The Tragedy of Mariam, Fair Queen of Jewry in the light of marriage texts that forbid wives from expressing anger against their husbands, showing how Mariam, Salome, and Doris redirect their anger at each other, asserting "superiority through a moral, racialized, and class-inflected language" (69). Comparing Cary's History of the Life, Reign and Death of Edward II with other contemporary versions by Marlowe, Hubert, and Drayton, Kennedy clearly establishes that only Cary represents Queen Isabel as justly angry because she is motivated by political concerns, not just sexual desire. But Cary's ambivalence over women's anger, and women's status, surfaces at the end of the History, when Isabel's controlle d anger devolves into irrational rage, a shift Kennedy explains as part of the text's "tension between resistance and obedience" (112).
Kennedy finds an even greater tension between resistance and obedience in Mary Wroth's Urania Urania (yrā`nēə): see Aphrodite; Muses.
muse of astrology. [Gk. Myth. , with its profusion of abandoned women who strive for "heroic constancy con·stan·cy
1. Steadfastness, as in purpose or affection; faithfulness.
2. The condition or quality of being constant; changelessness.
Noun 1. " by controlling their anger against the men who have rejected them. Kennedy convincingly demonstrates that Wroth, like Cary, creates a moral hierarchy in which women who are aristocratic and fair are better able than lower class or culturally other women to control their anger. Kennedy links Uranid's promotion of female constancy and emotional control with its endorsement of obedience to the crown.
The last chapter, "Angry for God," considers the strategies Anne Askew uses in the Examinations to "communicate feelings of righteous anger and desires for revenge" (144). Kennedy calls attention to Askew's anger and self assertion by showing how Bale's commentary tends to minimize or deny them, making Askew a·skew
adv. & adj.
To one side; awry: rugs lying askew.
[Probably a-2 + skew. appear more conventionally feminine. While useful in itself, this analysis of Askew seems somewhat out of place, following as it does on discussion of Cary's and Wroth's largely secular works written some 65-80 years later. Kennedy might have done better to make stronger links with the scripture-based defenses in the debate over women and engage more with Calvinist commentaries on emotion.
Taken as a whole, however, Just Anger admirably explores both secular and religious constructions of anger in early modern England. Kennedy's study adds substantially to our knowledge of early modern theories of the passions, and of the interrelations between emotion, gender, and personal and political subjectivity in women's writing.