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The Absence of AmericaThe London Stage, 1576-1642$
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Gavin Hollis

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198734321

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198734321.001.0001

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Plantation and “the Powdered Wife”

Plantation and “the Powdered Wife”

The Roaring Girl, Eastward Ho!, and The Sea Voyage

(p.72) 2 Plantation and “the Powdered Wife”
The Absence of America

Gavin Hollis

Oxford University Press

The chapter traces the story of a husband who killed and ate his wife in Virginia during the starving time, and places it in conjunction with the commonplace of “never marrying as if you were going to Virginia.” It analyzes Dekker and Middleton’s The Roaring Girl, in which Moll’s warning against choosing a wife in haste is couched in cannibalistic imagery; Jonson, Chapman, and Marston’s Eastward Ho!, in which a ritual feast for Virginia-bound voyagers threatens to turn into both a rape and a cannibal slaughter; and Massinger and Fletcher’s The Sea Voyage, where both shipwrecked gallants and women turn to cannibalism. The chapter considers how, following the 1622 “Indian massacre,” the rhetoric of cannibalism came to be grafted onto the figure of the Indian, while the marriage dyad became a guarantee of the colony’s survival rather than a source of anxiety about whether it would consume itself.

Keywords:   cannibalism, rape, Virginia, Indians, marriage, Indian massacre 1622, The Roaring Girl, Eastward Ho, The Sea Voyage

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