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Revenge and Gender in Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Literature

Edited by Lesel Dawson, Fiona McHardy

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Explores the representation of revenge from Classical to early modern literature

This collection explores a range of literary and historical texts from ancient Greece and Rome, medieval Iceland and medieval and early modern England to provide an understanding of wider historical continuities and discontinuities in representations of gender and revenge.

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Contents; List of Figures; Acknowledgements and Dedication

Introduction: Female Fury and the Masculine Spirit of Vengeance, Lesel Dawson

The Gendering of Revenge

1. Why are the Erinyes Female? or, What is so Feminine about Revenge?, Edith Hall

2. Re-marking Revenge in Early Modern Drama, Alison Findlay

Friends and Family: ‘Revenging Home’

3. Vengeance and Male Devotion in Laxdæla saga and Njáls saga, Ian Felce

4. 'Now I am Medea': Gender, Identity and the Birth of Revenge in Seneca’s Medea, Kathrin Winter

5. The Avenging Daughter in King Lear, Marguerite Tassi

6. ‘Brother Unkind’: Annabella’s Heart in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, Sara Eaton

Women’s Weapons

7. Cursing-Prayers and Female Vengeance in the Ancient Greek World, Lydia Matthews and Irene Salvo

8. ‘The Power of our Mouths’: Gossip as a Female Mode of Revenge, Fiona McHardy

9. ‘Women’s Weapons’: Education and Female Revenge on the Early Modern Stage, Chloe Preedy

Women Transmogrified

10. The Vengeful Lioness in Greek Tragedy: A Posthumanist Perspective, Alessandra Abbattista

11. ‘She’s Turned Fury’: Women Transmogrified in Revenge Plays, Janet Clare

Lamentation, Gender Roles and Vengeance

12. A Phrygian Tale of Love and Revenge: Oenone Paridi (Ovid Heroides 5), Andreas N. Michalopoulos

13. Lament and Vengeance in the Alliterative Morte Arthure, Annie Baden-Danetree

14. What’s Hecuba to Shakespeare?, Tanya Pollard

15. ‘Nursed in Blood’: Masculinity and Grief in Marston’s Antonio’s Revenge, Rebecca Yearling

16. Outfacing Vengeance: Heroic Dying in Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi and Ford’s The Broken Heart, Lesel Dawson

Details of Contributors

About the Author

Lesel Dawson is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Bristol. She is the author of Lovesickness and Gender in Early Modern English Literature (OUP, 2008) and has published journal articles on John Ford, the Elizabethan succession crisis and early modern ideas about menstruation and Quentin Tarantino.

Fiona McHardy is Professor of Classics at the University of Roehampton. She is author of Revenge in Athenian Culture (London: Duckworth, 2008).


The intersection of gender trouble with the ambivalence of revenge provides a theme sufficiently broad to be of general interest, and yet sufficiently well defined to produce a coherent volume, in which intriguing connections are on display between various cultures, periods, and textual genres.

- Richard Seaford, University of Exeter