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Love Will Have Heat

Love Will Have Heat

Shakespeare's Maidens and the Caloric Economy

(p.77) Chapter Two Love Will Have Heat
Humoring the Body
Gail Kern Paster
University of Chicago Press

Extremes of emotion correlate with extremes of temperature. And within these extremes, the doctrine of female coldness imposes itself as a behavioral norm—an ostensible natural limit—governing the appropriateness of affectivity in female characters not only under a given set of dramatic or social circumstances but as a matter of overall obedience to the thermal paradigms of nature. Thus, the social intention deeply, if obscurely, imbricated in the thermal economy not only grants affective privilege to men over women, but it also works to dampen the emotional expressiveness and claim to individuality theoretically granted to women as a whole. This chapter explores how such bodily phenomena as humor, spirit, and temper become performative of versions of femaleness even in contexts where, to us, discourses of sexual difference and the body itself seem barely to be in play. This chapter shows the discourse of female humoralism at work by contrasting selected representations of female melancholy and female rage, mostly, but not exclusively, in three of William Shakespeare's plays: As You Like It, Othello, and The Taming of the Shrew.

Keywords:   William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, affectivity, thermal economy, women, humoralism, melancholy, rage

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