Both of the central characters, Britomart and the Duchess represent the autonomous feminine self of a woman ahead of their times, but Britomart’s self-ruling zeal is much more suppressed by the genders constructs of her society than the Duchess in hers. Indeed Adam Polgar more…
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Britomart, the central character Book III of in Spencer’s “Faerie Queen” is assigned with the role of a sophisticated representative of the Elizabethan patriarchal society, the eponymous heroine in the “Duchess of Malfi” appears to be the projection of a freewill feminine zeal against the patriarchal authority of the Jacobean Era (Roider). Though the texts deal with the patriarchal zeal of the authors’ societies, their central characters reflect these patriarchies in opposite fashions. While the silhouette of Britomart’s character is determined by the author’s conformation with the existing patriarchal structure of the society, the heroine in “Duchess of Malfi” appears to be in conflict with her society. On the surface level, Britomart’s quest for the Queen seems to glorify the position of women in Elizabethan society. But if she is examined from a more critical perspective, she appears to be a perfect patriarchal heroine who, though, is free of the negative chauvinistic view of the society.
The gender constructs of both of the Elizabethan and Jacobean societies appears to be the same and to be the typical features of a patriarchal society. But the compliance levels of the two heroines with the expectations of patriarchy from the “inferior sex” differ from each other. In his analysis of the social constructs, Adam Polgar refers to the fact that Britomart’s characters is laden with what the Elizabethan expects from a woman. She is not only the warrior lady in concrete sense, but also a moral warrior who fights for her chastity, the moral expectation of her society. He more likely views Britomart’s quest for her future husband as her effort to save her chastity and loyalty to her future husband. Therefore she appears to be the perfect heroine for the Elizabethan readers. According to him Britomart’s armor that symbolizes her chastity, is the social construct of her gender and she complies with this ...
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