Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Heroines of English Pastoral Romance

The Heroines of English Pastoral Romance

Sue P. Starke
Volume: 20
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt81rbn
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Heroines of English Pastoral Romance
    Book Description:

    The genre of pastoral romance flourished dramatically in Renaissance England between 1590 and 1650. One of its key elements is that it is the daughter, not the son, of the gentle family who increasingly becomes the subject of the romance's attempt to define and illustrate heroism. The pastoral heroine's task is paradoxical: to break out of her pastoral paradise in order to ensure its reconstitution. She is the princess, the shepherdess, the Lady, or the virtuous daughter who becomes a repository of honor and virtue in a changing society where traditional chivalric definitions of honor hold decreasing purchase. This groundbreaking book examines the typical challenges faced by the pastoral romance heroine as she matures within the pastoral 'locus amoenus': the foundling dilemma; the loop-shaped quest: the rhetorical battle; the chastity threat; the reconciliation of beauty to virtue; and familial reunification. It illustrates how the allegorical, symbolic, and psychological characterizations of pastoral heroines in the works of Sidney, Spenser, Wroth, Fletcher, Milton, and Marvell anticipate developments in the representation of female subjectivities normally associated with the novel. SUE P. STARKE is Associate Professor of English at Monmouth University, New Jersey.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-554-3
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Chapter 1 THE PASTORAL ROMANCE HEROINE IN ENGLISH RENAISSANCE LITERATURE
    (pp. 1-40)

    THE ROMANCE GENRE in the Renaissance is known for its mixed properties; its associations are both high and low, martial and erotic, masculine and feminine, humorous and heroic. This capacious form, however, has been considered the most important secular genre of the age.¹ The purpose of this study is to examine one key aspect of romance’s efflorescence in Renaissance England: the enduring vitality of pastoral romance between 1590 and 1650. This strand of romance, influenced by a newly discovered appreciation for fifth-century Greek romances, was particularly well received in aristocratic and gently born circles, while versions of medieval chivalric narrative...

  6. Chapter 2 THE ARCADIAN PRISON: CHASTITY AND THE DEFENSE OF THE PRINCESSES IN SIDNEY’S TWO ARCADIAS
    (pp. 41-85)

    IN BOTH VERSIONS of Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia, the first pastoral romance in English, the royal sisters Pamela and Philoclea are double heroines, offering two contrasting models of the ideal young gentlewoman. Pamela, variously described as “noble,” “wise,” “virtuous,” and “disdaining,” and Philoclea, whose epithets include “amiable,” “sweet-minded,” and “gentle,” provide the reader with examples of how, and how not, to manage the perils of feminine erotic maturation. Sidney’s characterization of the sisters has been seen as a rhetorical exercise in antithesis. According to this line of thinking, the reader is not required to judge their comparative merits but only...

  7. Chapter 3 SPENSER’S ROMANCE HEROINES: THE HEROIC AND THE PASTORAL IN BOOKS 3 AND 6 OF THE FAERIE QUEENE
    (pp. 86-106)

    EDMUND SPENSER’S great mixed-mode romance The Faerie Queene (1591; 1596) is a capacious catalogue of Renaissance heroic archetypes. Not surprisingly, it offers its own shifting reflections of romance heroism between the chivalric and the pastoral generic models. Spenser’s most extensive engagement with pastoral takes place in Book 6, the book of Courtesy. The shepherdess Pastorella, the beloved of the hero Calidore, provides a more typical model of the heroine of English Renaissance romance than does Britomart, the female knight of Chastity in Book 3. It is the last book, then, that provides an example of the “new” romance heroine who...

  8. Chapter 4 GROWING OUT OF PASTORAL: WROTH’S URANIA AND THE FEMALE PASTORAL CAREER
    (pp. 107-141)

    LADY MARY WROTH’S prose romance, The Countess of Mongomery’s Urania, published in 1621, is known as the first romance written by a woman in English. It appeared around the same time as a reprint of The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, by Wroth’s illustrious uncle Sir Philip Sidney.¹ That Wroth wished her romance to be considered as a legacy of her uncle’s work is evident, from the title announcing the dedication, to the inconclusive ending of an incomplete sentence. Wroth’s romance is indeed as capacious and errant as her uncle’s, and she honors his example with numerous allusions to the plot...

  9. Chapter 5 FLETCHER’S CLORIN AND MILTON’S LADY: THE PERFORMANCE OF CHASTITY IN PASTORAL DRAMA
    (pp. 142-179)

    THE PASTORAL MODE was a widespread and popular one in English Renaissance drama. Pastoral elements infuse everything from Lyly’s plays to Shakespeare’s comedies and later romances to the tragicomic entertainments of Daniel and Fletcher. The pastoral heroine of the stage is a major character type; Shakespeare’s Rosalind (based on Lodge’s Rosalynde) is perhaps his best-known non-tragic heroine, even today, but she combines conventional features of her pastoral predecessors. With her rhetorical facility and her own version of the pastoral romance loop, Rosalind falls squarely into the category of heroines with which we are concerned here. Shakespeare’s As You Like It,...

  10. Chapter 6 MILTON’S EVE AND MARVELL’S MARIA FAIRFAX: WIVES AND DAUGHTERS IN THE PASTORAL FAMILY CIRCLE
    (pp. 180-226)

    THE LAST TWO authors discussed in this study revisit the figure of the pastoral romance heroine toward the close of the English Renaissance. Eve, humanity’s mother in Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667), presides over the locus amoenus of Eden but nonetheless rejects her generic casting in favor of adventure and intellectual risk, while General Fairfax’s young daughter Maria in Marvell’s Upon Appleton House (ca. 1652) reverses Eve’s effect on nature and mankind with her magical ability to stop time and fix nature. Eve and Maria engage in reflective solipsism with vastly different ethical results. While Eve falls to the temptation of...

  11. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 227-238)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 239-246)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 247-249)