Representation and Ideology in Jacobean Dramathe Politics of the Coup De Théâtre

Author: Rizzoli, Renato
This study analyzes a characteristic feature of some Jacobean plays, the serialization of coup de théâtre, by first tracing back and theoretically reconstructing its pattern in Aristotle’s Poetics and later in the Italian literary debate and experiments on tragicomedy of the late Renaissance. The adoption of the larger European perspectives allows the study to document the peculiar, original solutions adopted by the Jacobean dramas, where this pattern is not only integrally reproduced in the case of Beaumont and Fletcher’s tragicomedy, but also inventively used in a critical way by dramatists such as Tourneur, Middleton and Webster in order to create highly problematical and radical tragedies.


“. . . a highly original study that employs a variety of critical methods to describe one of seventeenth-century drama’s distinguishing characteristics, the sudden and shocking reversal of fortunes occurring onstage. . . their sources and effects have seldom been so well traced as in Rizzoli’s study. In doing so he also draws upon a wealth of continental scholarship that will probably be new to most English-speaking readers. . . . His argument in brief is that the plays dramatize power relationships. . . the dramatic structure built up on the coups de théâtre mimics the exercise of power in a corrupt court. This tack constitutes the originality of Rizzoli’s work, and I don’t know of anyone else who has shown it, in a way so thoroughly grounded in Renaissance literary theory.” – Coborn Freer

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
1. The Coup de Théâtre in Aristotle’s Poetics : the Theorization of the Peripéteia
2. The Primacy of the Coup de Théâtre: from Continental Baroque Poetics to the Jacobean Stage
3. The Subject of Absolutism: the Building of Consensus in Philaster
4. The Revenger’s Tragedy: Revenge and Court Ideology
5. Revenge as Power: The White Devil
6. Between Inhibition and Desire: Women Beware Women
Bibliography, Index