The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1178  Wednesday, 7 June 2000.

From:           Jen Drouin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 6 Jun 2000 15:01:17 -0300
Subject:        Re: Isabella's Chastity

I've found this discussion extremely interesting. I believe that at the
beginning of the thread a couple of people mentioned rape because of the
coercion involved and the inequality in the balance of power and
authority between Angelo and Isabella.

I remember reading recently in relation to Taming of the Shrew (in
either Dolan's intro to the Bedford edition or Rebhorn's article on
rhetoric) that in the early modern period rape was solely a question of
coopting the will rather than what actually happens physically.  Thus,
if a woman conceives as a result of rape, it is not rape since she
willfully allowed it, and because it was assumed that a woman couldn't
conceive against her will.  Inversely, even if rape doesn't physically
take place but her will is coerced, then it is rape (as best I
understand the Renaissance view).

Does anyone have any thoughts then on how, if at all, this applies to
Isabella's situation? She is coerced to submit to Angelo even though
nothing actually happens to her. Is it still rape then from a
Renaissance viewpoint?

Jennifer Drouin
Universite Sainte-Anne

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