Thursday, February 26, 2009

Arden of Faversham (13 - End)

I expected everyone to die at the end of this tragedy because it is a tragedy, even if it does have some characteristics of a comedy. I was of course not surprised when the mayor sentenced Alice to be "burnt". This is the most likely punishment for murderous women of the period. What interests me most though is this: Whose tragedy is this?
We spent some time in class discussing the fact that although Alice would likely be found out and face death, the tragedy is not named for her. This interested me most before I finished the play, because I viewed the tragedy to be Alice's tragedy. I felt that the entire story was about her actions, her mistakes, and finally her death which was meant to be a direct result of her deeds. In other tragedies this is usually how it works. After finishing the play though, I can see how this tragedy is Arden's. In the Epilogue Franklin states: "But this above the rest is to be noted: / Arden lay murdered in that plot of ground / Which he by force and violence held from Reede, / And in the grass his body's print was seen / Two years and more after the deed was done. (9-13). This statement makes me believe that not only is this Arden's tragedy, but it is his actions that we must analyze more closely to see where he went wrong along the way. I have been focusing all of my energy on Alice because I felt sure that the play would focus on her mistakes and she would die as a result of her terrible behavior. I now think that the play is meant to demonstrate where Arden went wrong. Even though Alice's stereotypical mood swings and contemptible actions are obvious throughout the play, there are also many times within the play that Arden is portrayed as a greedy man who thinks that since he belongs to a higher class, everything within his reach is his for the taking. We also get several glimpses into his life with Alice that, although they are somewhat typical for the time period, allow us to see his tyrannical nature. Even if his words seem to belong to a man who is dominated by his wife, his actions demonstrate something quite different. Either way I certainly believe that this play deserves a closer look.

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