Revenge and Gender in Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Literature

Lesel Dawson, Fiona McHardy

Research output: Book/ReportEdited book


This collection focuses on the complex interrelationship of revenge and gender, probing revenge’s gendering, its role in consolidating and contesting gender norms, and its relation to friendship, family roles and kinship structures. It argues that while revenge frequently functions as a repressive cultural script that reinforces conservative gender roles, it also repeatedly triggers events that disturb gender norms, blurring conventional male/female and animal/human binaries, and provoking wider ontological questions. It analyses the ways in which women are seen to be transmogrified by revenge and asks whether there are particular forms of revenge (such as cursing or gossip) that are gendered female. It also examines lamentation, a female-gendered activity which enables women to play an important role in revenge narratives, arguing that the change in lamentation’s status and function over time has wider implications for women’s roles and for the gendering of the male revenger. Spanning Western ideas of revenge in literary works from ancient Greece to early modern England, including texts by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Seneca, Kyd, Shakespeare, Marston and Ford, as well as Icelandic sagas, this collection explores continuities between historical periods as well as the ways in which texts and traditions diverge.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEdinburgh UP, Edinburgh
ISBN (Print)9781474414098
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


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