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Ways of the WorldTheater and Cosmopolitanism in the Restoration and Beyond$
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Laura J. Rosenthal

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501751585

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501751585.001.0001

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Indian Queens and the Queen Who Brought the Indies: Dryden, Settle, and the Tragedies of Empire

Indian Queens and the Queen Who Brought the Indies: Dryden, Settle, and the Tragedies of Empire

(p.88) Chapter 3 Indian Queens and the Queen Who Brought the Indies: Dryden, Settle, and the Tragedies of Empire
Ways of the World

Laura J. Rosenthal

Cornell University Press

This chapter explores how “mixed marriages” captivated audience sympathies. In their dramas, John Dryden (The Indian Queen; The Indian Emperour); Elkanah Settle (The Empress of Morocco); Edward Howard (The Womens Conquest); and Aphra Behn (The Rover; The Widow Ranter) explore intercultural romance as a figure for the benefits and volatility of cosmopolitanization. Often in the plots, opposition to affection across boundaries is what leads to disaster. Restoration theater culture produced some remarkably powerful exoticized women. The dramatic unions between European men and foreign women point in two directions at once. On the one hand, they work through new questions about race, gender, and identity in a globalized context. The sexual union of two figures from different nations explores the boundaries of identity and of humanity itself. At the same time they have a specific referent that has attracted less attention. The paradigmatic “mixed marriage” in this period was between Charles II and his Portuguese bride. Dryden's and Settle's plays work through broader issues of shifting identities in a globalized context through powerful exoticized women who resonate as figures for the Portuguese queen. Settle, creates a vicious Empress of Morocco at the height of conflicts over the expense of defending Tangier as an English colony. Dryden, offers a more complicated picture. His Indian queens seek power, but also remains vulnerable to falling in love and suffering rejection and abandonment. These abandoned women also evoke the losers of not just love but of history, those peoples left vulnerable by England's cosmopolitanizing ambitions.

Keywords:   mixed marriages, John Dryden, exoticized women, Elkanah Settle, shifting identities, Edward Howard, Restoration theater culture, cosmopolitanization, intercultural romance, The Widow Ranter

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