The Role of Masculinity, Honor, and Chastity in “Rape if Lucrece”

Lucrece's catastrophic downfall in Shakespeare's Rape of Lucrece can be essentially blamed on virile rivalry. Her unfortunate story began with a challenge to determine which man possesses the most virtuous wife. After Lucrece was decreed the most dutiful, Sextus Tarquinius, a Tarquin prince and acquaintance of Collatine, becomes "inflamed with Lucrece's beauty...treacherously stealeth into her chamber, violently ravished her…[and] early in the morning speedeth away." In the grandiloquence of Early Modern masculinity, the chastity of women is a cause for great angst, for though it was the basis of male honor. However, chastity is ultimately beyond male’s control. Men resolve their ...

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sex to weep are often willing" (Line 1237). Likewise, Lucrece's chastity, that upholds Collatine's masculine honor, was written on her body and was used in "Lucrece" as an give-and-take between men. Lucrece can be analogous to a market economy, where desire and conquest deem power and her body as currency. In this poem, A chastise wife bring honor to her husband and family. Men were judged by other men by their ability to maintain modesty and respect with their wives. At a deeper glance, this becomes a hypocritical standard with respect to the complex mating rituals of humans that had developed: part of establishing respect and chastity, depends on the ability of a man to please his wife sexually, so that she is less desirous to see other men. Another part of this standard also stems from a code of moral value that women must somehow also embody. To exercise power over the female body, men must maintain strict transparency in their relations with their wives. To prove ...

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of invasion is pervasive in the poem, as the story is set during the Tarquin invasion of Ardea. The personal tale of Lucrece is a tale of invasion: Lucrece, a nobleman's wife, lives under and within the grand narrative of a man’s struggle to gain power. For the men in "Lucrece", invasion is the natural method of asserting power. When Tarquin invaded Collatine's home and Lucrece's feminine space, Shakespeare depicts a war scene where Tarquin is a soldier and Lucrece the battle field. The battlefield is beautiful; "a silent war of lilies and of roses, Which Tarquin viewed in her fair face's field" (Lines 70-72). As the battleground, the violence of conquest is carried out upon and through ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 3/29/2011 06:30:07 PM
Submitted By: imanofpiano
Category: Shakespeare
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 1994
Pages: 8

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