Table of Contents
Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 1 (March 2020) – 27 articles
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Cover Story (view full-size image) In early modern England, the term “piracy” is remarkably instable. As a legal term, it denominates [...] Read more. In early modern England, the term “piracy” is remarkably instable. As a legal term, it denominates a crime for which pirates were prosecuted but their state-sanctioned counterparts, privateers, were not. For a seaman, being a pirate was often a phase rather than a stable marker of self-identification. This “slipperiness” made the pirate an attractive figure for early modern playwrights. This article argues that John Fletcher and Philip Massinger appropriate the discursive instability of piratical individuals for their pirate plays. It analyzes the pirate figures in The Double Marriage (1621), The Sea Voyage (1622), The Renegado (1623–1624), and The Unnatural Combat (1624–1625) as literary creations. Alternating between the heroic and the villainous, Fletcher and Massinger’s pirates are convenient plot devices that are attuned to the evolving generic conventions of early Stuart tragicomedy. View this paper.