Felicity Dunworth
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Motherhood and the household
Domestic tragedy and city comedy
in Mothers and meaning on the early modern English stage
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This chapter considers the mother's physical presence in relation to spaces; to the geography that signifies and comprises her social function and status. The focus is upon the representation of domesticity in domestic tragedies, which turn upon the dangerous potential of motherhood in an uncertain Protestant world, and city comedies, which farcically expose the tensions and hypocrisies of an environment where social and economic considerations are shown to predominate. The complex social structures in such a world are clearly adumbrated in A Warning for Fair Women, A Yorkshire Tragedy and A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, where the family is the smallest unit of an integrated society that is based upon the importance of geographic locality and economic interdependence. In such conditions, maternity is vulnerable, and with it, the fragile stability of the social structures that depend upon it.

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