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Drugs and Theater in Early Modern England$
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Tanya Pollard

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199270835

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199270835.001.0001

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Poisoned Kisses: Theater of Seduction

Poisoned Kisses: Theater of Seduction

(p.101) 4 Poisoned Kisses: Theater of Seduction
Drugs and Theater in Early Modern England

Tanya Pollard (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the threat that female beauty posed for men. A surprising number of plays from this period dramatize the motif of death by poisoned kiss. The chapter focuses on three plays: Middleton’s The Second Maiden’s Tragedy, Massinger’s The Duke of Milan, and The Revenger’s Tragedy, in which men die from necrophilic embraces with female corpses painted with poisons. It is argued that these plays identify sexuality, particularly the desirable female body, with both remedy and poison. Furthermore, these plays identify an idolatrous attraction to painted corpses with the risks of being seduced by the artificial world of the theater.

Keywords:   corpse, idolatry, necrophilia, The Second Maiden’s Tragedy, The Duke of Milan, The Revenger’s Tragedy

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