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Mothers and Meaning on the Early Modern English Stage$
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Felicity Dunworth

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780719076329

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719076329.001.0001

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(p.222) 8 Conclusion
Mothers and Meaning on the Early Modern English Stage

Felicity Dunworth

Manchester University Press

This book has argued for the importance of motherhood in the drama of early modern England, and has attested to the mother's value both as a signifier of unchanging values and as a figure whose representation readily responds to the demands of ideological and political change. It has contended that the religious conflict of the English Reformation and its attendant issues of national identity created a complex series of dramatic possibilities for the mother figure which allowed her to function as a religious and political emblem that developed in complexity and dramatic value in the period. The argument that change was affected by politics is substantiated in a different context by Margot Heinemann. It seems that what Patrick Collinson once termed the ‘turning inward’ of later Protestantism has its analogy in representations of motherhood, so that the mother's function became once again symbolic of a conflict at the heart of the state and church which resonated at local and national levels as the Protestant nation struggled to hold the two together.

Keywords:   motherhood, drama, England, religious conflict, Reformation, mother figure, politics, Patrick Collinson, Protestantism, Margot Heinemann

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