HIGH POINT, N.C., Sept. 22, 2010 ? Dr. Jim Casey, assistant professor of English at High Point University, recently published a chapter, titled ?What things you make of us!: Amazons and Kinsmen in Chaucer and Shakespeare? for Cambridge Scholar?s ?Standing in the Shadow of the Master: Chaucerian Influences and Interpretations,? edited by Kathleen Bishop.
Casey’s essay was individually solicited for the critical collection and concludes the section on “Influences.” It discusses Chaucer’s “The Knight’s Tale” and Shakespeare and Fletcher’s “The Two Noble Kinsmen,” paying particular attention to the various depictions of Amazons and kinsmen. Casey notes that most medieval and early modern descriptions of Amazons emphasize the way Amazonian women resist masculine rule. In Chaucer and Shakespeare, however, the women readily submit to the will of their husbands.
Yet Amazons are still dangerous, for they threaten the male-male relationships in both the tale and the play. Palamon and Arcite both stress their “friendship” and “kinship,” but as Palamon’s “aunt’s son,” Arcite would have been a member of a different patriarchal house, a house potentially in competition with Palamon?s for social and financial resources. Thus, because their kinship is “cognatic,” rather than “agnatic” (through the male line), the men fight to the death for the Amazon they both want to possess.
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