Reading the Rhetoric of Revenge From Jacobean Drama to Milton

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Studies early 17th century dramatic themes, characters, and rhetoric in relation to recent advances made in understanding Milton, Machiavelli, and political theory in general as it developed after Elizabeth I’s death. It provides a vital and long-neglected connection between the revenge drama so popular after Elizabeth’s death and the political atmosphere of dissent that led to Charles I’s beheading.


“This book provides a fascinating discussion of the growing influence of Machiavellian Rhetoric as reflected in the popular literature of seventeenth-century England. Using passages from Jacobean drama and Milton’s Paradise Lost, Campbell traces the growing viability of deliberative rhetoric as impetus to action in the political arena…. The discussion of the power of language to make and unmake identity in King Lear offers keen insight into the role of deliberative rhetoric as the English began the course that would result in regicide in 1649.” – Anne C. Magnum

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
1. A Rhetoric of Revenge: Critical Inquiries into Jacobean Drama as a New Rhetorical Terrain
2. The Birth of Psyche in the New Revenge: Shakespeare, Middleton (or Tourneur), and Ford (King Lear; The Revenger’s Tragedy; ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore)
3. A New Culture of Women’s Voices: Female Subjectivity and Revenge in Two Jacobean Comedies (The Dutch Courtesan; The Roaring Girl)
4. The Sovereignty of Self: The Trope of the Malcontent (Bussy D’Ambois; The Duchess of Malfi; The Malcontent)
5. The Price of Imagining the Malcontent: Milton’s Re-invented Humanism and “The Unconquerable Will and Study of Revenge” (Paradise Lost)
Bibliography; Index

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