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Music and a “Spectacle of Strangeness”
International Journal of Literature and Arts
Volume 2, Issue 5, September 2014, Pages: 211-223
Received: Sep. 21, 2014; Accepted: Oct. 7, 2014; Published: Oct. 10, 2014
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Author
Shokhan Rasool Ahmed, English Department, University of Sulaimani, Sulaimani-Kurdistan, Iraq
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Abstract
This paper examines Ben Jonson’s The Masque of Queens (1609), and The Wonder of Women, Tragedy of Sophonisba (1604-6) by John Marston, considering the topic of the nature and status of stage directions related to the hags in Jonson’s play, and how they make their entrances and exits from the stage and to hell. In Tragedy of Sophonisba, I examine the way the entries and the music of this play were performed by youths alongside the dramatic techniques of the play, and address the question of whether Marston’s hags flew or not while they scatter on stage to the accompaniment of the music. In sum, I explore how Jonson and Marston present the visual spectacle of their witches on stage, how Jonson’s masque and Marston’s play represent witchcraft and how their witches fit in this masque and play. What binds Jonson’s masque and Marston’s play together is the use of music and dance through which the hags appear on stage. Both Jonson (in all the nine Charms - list of spells) and Marston (Act III. i & IV. i) explore the nature of witchcraft through music and dance: Jonson’s hags disperse on stage and the manner of their dance is full of a ‘spectacle of strangeness’ while Marston’s characters are led away to seduction with a musical accompaniment. In each play I will concentrate on the matter of authorship and the status of stage directions in the printed text, and whether the stage directions (only those involving the supernatural characters) in this masque and play were originally written by the author himself or were revised or supplied by editors.
Keywords
Ben Jonson’s The Masque of Queens, John Marston’s the Wonder of Women or the Tragedy of Sophonisba, a “Spectacle of Strangeness”
To cite this article
Shokhan Rasool Ahmed, Music and a “Spectacle of Strangeness”, International Journal of Literature and Arts. Vol. 2, No. 5, 2014, pp. 211-223. doi: 10.11648/j.ijla.20140205.18
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