A biographical and critical study of the life and work of Elizabeth Carey, 1st Viscountess Falkland (1585-1639)
This thesis argues for a full recognition of the significance of Elizabeth Carey and her literary works by offering new theoretical and critical approaches to her life and her two major works, The Tragedy of Mariam and The History of the Life, Reign and Death of Edward II. The Introduction offers an assessment of the recent critical works on Elizabeth Carey and ultimately rejects the prevalent tendency to interpret her works simply in terms of her life. Chapter 1 constitutes a biographical study of Elizabeth Carey which focuses upon the roles she played: as wife, recusant and writer. Chapter 2 examines Carey's use of two sources of "patriarchal" authority - Seneca and Flavius Josephus - in her composition of The Tragedy of Mariam. It explores the ways in which she manipulates these sources in order to create a text which offers resistance to patriarchal authority. Chapter 3 is a reading of The Tragedy of Mariam which eschews the traditional critical opposition between "virtuous" and "vicious" characters in the text. Rather, the text is viewed as a set of competing discourses which, by their very competition, effect a de construction of patriarchal ideology. Chapter 4 seeks to re-establish Carey's claim to the authorship of The History of the Life, Reign and Death of Edward II. This issue of authorship has been confused by the existence of the text in a longer, folio form and a shorter, octavo form. Here, I argue against a recent publication to show that Carey is the author of the folio but not the octavo. Chapter 5 focuses upon the historical and literary contexts of The History of the Life, Reign and Death of Edward II, beginning by exploring the possibility that the text is a criticism of Buckingham's role in the courts of James I and Charles I. The chapter then focuses upon the ways in which Carey rejects the characterisation of Queen Isabel by Drayton and Marlowe and constructs her own version of the history in which Isabel is both powerful and sympathetic.