A Readers Companion to Mary Wroths The Countess of Montgomerys Urania, Part I


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His textual land dignified her name. This signification of virtuoso linguistic display appears within the Arcadia, where the aristocratic language spoken by Prince Musidorus proclaimed an elite status at odds with his disguise as a shepherd.

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The contemporary reception of the Arcadia as a manual of style affirmed the capacity of linguistic display to reveal—or to confer—elite status. Raphael Falco has convincingly shown how succeeding poets, including Edmund Spenser, Ben Jonson, and John Milton, represented Sidney as their modern English progenitor. Palgrave MacMillan, , Literary Genealogy in Renaissance England Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, , Clare Kinney Burlington, VT: Relative Values New York: While biography often veers off into fantasy in their narratives, these identifications themselves are unmistakably present and require no inside knowledge.

Rather than amusing only the members of the Sidney-Herbert family group, they extend outward to print readers as well, creating them as virtual members of this noble community. The small reader-figures at the left base of the frontispiece themselves become avatars for print readers, as they enter the landscape of the Urania under the cartouche signifying the Sidneys, to become if not their virtual kin then their invited guests and ideally their political allies.

This discovery of noble birth is more or less standard for romance. But remarkably in the next few pages, similar discoveries are made by two young hunters Steriamus and Selarinus, with their sister Selarina, who are, as it turns out, the kidnapped children of the exiled king of Albania, dwelling in a nearby cave. Elevating the Status of Romance This affirmation of the social status of the characters, of herself as author and virtuoso of ornate prose and poetry, and of us her readers who are ideally connoisseurs well equipped to appreciate her romance accomplishes other tasks in addition to the enhancement of the Sidney family with its social and political concerns.

If the Sidney lineage required some affirmation, so did the genre of romance.

As the printing press published a growing supply of prose romances in 39 Wroth, First Part, 1. First, there was its noticeable popularity in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. As the pig approaches a rose bush, a script over the rosebush reads: Columbia University Press, , 1, 8.

Herford and Percy Simpson. Oxford, Clarendon, , 6: Aris and Phillips, , 1: Routledge, , Any place will better like them: For without Arcadia nothing growes in more plenty, then Lettuce sutable to their Lippes.

The wortheles Reader can neuer worthily esteeme of so worthye a writing: Any receptive reader is invited to assume the aristocratic persona of the reader-figures poised to enter her text. This representation of romance as suitable reading primarily for women was strategic rather than reflective of 48 Wendy Wall, Imprint of Gender Ithaca, NY: Cambridge University Press, O pardon, Cupid I confess my fault Then mercy grant me in soe just a kind For treason never lodged in my mind Against thy might soe much as in a thought P As a young woman, she committed to the legal ties of marriage and became the wife of Robert Wroth.

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However, ceremonious oaths did not prevent Wroth and her cousin Pembroke from fulfilling their ardent deisres. Together they defied the boundaries of matrimony and of social decorum, though the degrees of penalty for such defiance were foreseeable and grim. Barbara Lewalski explores the impact of social ideologies on women writers, including Wroth, in their struggles to develop a strong sense of self.

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Specifically, Lewalski argues that these women "did not of course float free of the ideology and institutions that structured Jacobean society," and yet they proved that "inner resistance and a critical consciousness can develop even while ideological conformity is being rigorously enforced" 3. As a wife, and later, an adultress, Wroth captures the mixed loyalties and social influences Lewalski describes in her argument. Thus in developing her "authorial identity," Wroth draws from her experiences with conformity and rebellion, a practice that is evident in the mixed dictions of legalism and romantic zeal in Pamphilia to Amphilanthus.

In poems , entitled "A Crowne of Sonetts dedicated to Love," Wroth stages Pamphilia in an emotional maze where she must use her heart and mind to find her way out: In this strang labourinth how shall I turne? Wayes are on all sids while the way I miss: If to the right hand, ther, in love I burne; Lett mee goe forward, therin danger is" P Within this "labourinth" of love, Pamphilia faces a multiplicity of options amidst the love that burns within her heart.

Accepting the challenge before her, Pamphilia resolves to rely on love itself amidst sentiments of disorientation and distress: Thus lett mee take the right, or left hand way; …I must thes doubts indure with out allay Or help, butt traveile find for my best hire; Yett that which most my troubled sence doth move Is to leave all, and take the thread of love 9. For example, in sonnet 86, Wroth illustrates this cool and even impersonal attitude as Pamphilia describes love and its virtue with a keen sense of rationality: Bee from the court of Love, and reason torne For Love in reason now doth putt his trust, Desert, and liking are together borne Children of love, and reason parents just, Reason adviser is… P Here Pamphilia speaks with highly judicial language, making reference to "the court of Love," and "Reason" as the "adviser" to love.

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Lewalski argues as well that within this sonnet arises "the rightly ordered internal state: Throughout the remaining sonnets of Pamphilia to Amphilanthus , Wroth also employs Pamphilia to demonstrate a passionate counter-approach to love by incorporating a more intuitive, emotional diction. For example, in sonnet 98, she recalls a moment in which she saw her beloved and experienced an unexpected surge of "Fear, and desire": Amidst this quarrel between self-doubt and jealous desire, Pamphilia becomes almost paralyzed in emotional distress.

RENAISSANCE: Lady Mary Wroth

Nevertheless, Wroth provides Pamphilia with the power to combat this vice and find assurance in her own ability to be a faithful, constant woman. And although she later describes it as a force that can "please," it is yet able to "Rule" and "wounde" her 7. However, in the final sonnet, Pamphilia expresses a newfound sense of peaceful acceptance as she addresses her muse in the opening lines: However, unlike Pamphilia, Wroth does not demonstrate such a simple, steady practice of constancy in her own love relationships.

Works Consulted Dubrow, Heather.

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A Reader's Companion to Mary Wroth's The Countess of Montgomery's Urania, Part I - Kindle edition by Amy Greenstadt, Mary Ellen Haugh Rubick. Download it . Mary Ellen Haugh Rubick is the author of A Reader's Companion to Mary Wroth's The Countess of Montgomery's Urania, Part I ( avg rating, 1 rating, 0 r.

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University of Tennessee Press, Haselkorn and Betty S. The University of Massachusetts Press,