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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: Troubles of the Marriage-Bed
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1050  Monday, 2 June 2003

[1]     From:   Peter Donaldson <
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        Date:   Sunday, 1 Jun 2003 23:53:19 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1030 Troubles of the Marriage-Bed

[2]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Monday, 2 Jun 2003 11:45:37 GMT0BST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1030 Troubles of the Marriage-Bed


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Donaldson <
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Date:           Sunday, 1 Jun 2003 23:53:19 -0400
Subject: 14.1030 Troubles of the Marriage-Bed
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1030 Troubles of the Marriage-Bed

Troubles of the marriage bed might be multiple and various. The plural
leaves room for imagination, but inability to find a husband isn't a
trouble of the marriage bed (though keeping one in one might be), and
fear of "the" (singular) physical act is too narrow. The BBC Luciana's
interpretation suggested sexual troubles but her smile kept us guessing
as to what she might think those might be.  In any case, there's an
opportunity here to measure Luciana's patriarchal ideology against her
lack of experience and resistance to acquiring any.  I wonder if
"troubles of the marriage bed" has its own life as a phrase in the
period. There is a commonplace dulce bellum inexpertis ("war is sweet to
those who haven't known it" ?); Luciana's lines are the marital
equivalent.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Monday, 2 Jun 2003 11:45:37 GMT0BST
Subject: 14.1030 Troubles of the Marriage-Bed
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1030 Troubles of the Marriage-Bed

On 'troubles of the marriage bed' cf. Ben Jonson, the Barriers in
Hymenaei, where Opinion defends the state of virginity in a memorable
critique of the ideals of matrimony.  This is the relevant extract:

Untouched virginity laugh out to see
Freedom in fetters placed, and urged 'gainst thee.
What griefs lie groaning on the nuptial bed?
What dull satiety? In what sheets of lead
Tumble and toss the restless married pair,
Each oft offended with the other's air?
From whence springs all-devouring avarice,
But from the cares which out of wedlock rise?
And where there is in life's best-temp'red fires
An end set in itself to all desires,
A settled quiet, freedom never checked;
How far are married lives from this effect?

Needless to say, Opinion loses the contest, and Truth, her adversary and
supporter of marriage wins.

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