Melancolia e disincanto in John Marston

  • Valentina Serio
Keywords: John Marston, Elizabethan literature, Elizabethan theatre, critic melancholy, disenchanted melancholy


In this article, my aim is to show a peculiar typology of melancholy through John Marston’s works. During the Renaissance the prevailing understanding of the melancholic character was linked, on the one hand, to the image of a solitary genius or, on the other hand, of a dull and lazy person; nonetheless, it is possible to recognize a very different representation of the melancholic in Elizabethan literature and theatre. I’m referring to what could be labelled as disenchanted or critic melancholy. In this perspective, black bile is not conceived as an intellectual-aesthetical ideal anymore, since its main trait is represented by conflict. The melancholic type is now an agent of discord and polemics, and brings a destructive potential – deeply disturbing for the Elizabethan world, shacked by deep social and political unrest. By anal analyzing John Marston’s The Malcontent, a most precious case-study in this respect, I try to show more in detail the concrete development of such a view.


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