Farah Karim-Cooper's Cosmetics in Shakespearean and Renaissance Drama PDF

By Farah Karim-Cooper

Farah Karim-Cooper examines women's beauty practices and the staging of painted good looks in Shakespearean and Renaissance drama. the one in-depth research of beauty tradition and its visible illustration at the Renaissance degree, this quantity info the materials, tools, and fabrics utilized in production cosmetics, together with a number of beauty recipes, and the way the performs of Shakespeare and his contemporaries dramatize the cultural preoccupation with cosmetics. Karim-Cooper identifies a 'culture of cosmetics' and describes its visualization at the Renaissance level. She additionally investigates beauty recipes and their dating to drama and to the development of early glossy identities.

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Extra resources for Cosmetics in Shakespearean and Renaissance Drama

Sample text

Celia’s beauty is also seen as financial property, a commodity, suggested by the reference to her flesh as ‘gold’, an image that reflects the pervasive, textual prescriptions for female beauty. An unfamiliar, yet intriguing example comes from The Tragi-Comedy of Calisto & Melibaea (1520). Calisto, who is excessively in love with Melibaea, attempts to justify his emotions by defending his position in a blazon: I begin at her hair, which is so goodly, Crisped to her heels, tied with fine lace. For shining beyond fine gold of Araby: I trow the sun colour to it may give place; That who to behold it might have the grace .

63 Both beauty and plainness count against women, and trying to enhance or rectify either cosmetically is treated with suspicion. ’64 In The Second Maiden’s Tragedy (1611) the painted face of the dead Lady does 48 Cosmetics in Shakespearean and Renaissance Drama indeed function as a trap for the Tyrant, who is physically contaminated by the paint when he kisses the Lady’s corpse. This dramatic event encapsulates the anti-cosmetic cliché that painted ladies are traps but, as I will show in the next chapter, the painted Lady in this play is virtuous and her cosmetic tincture restores health to the political body by cleansing the court of its perverse usurper.

This legitimisation undermines the anti-cosmetic argument, which attempts to stamp on to the painted woman the brand of whore, a word, which Dympna Callaghan insists, was ‘probably the worst name you can call a woman in Shakespeare’s England’, owing to ‘its capacity to deprive women . . 3 However, paradoxically, women of the upper court circles and social levels were not only openly painting, but were, strikingly, expected to have a working knowledge of the rituals and intimate secrets of the female dressing chamber.

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