（云南大学,云南 昆明 650500）
【Abstract】Unlike Geek Tragedies that h论文范文e a rigid control over the form, Arden of F论文范文ershaｍ which has a simple plot and an incomplete form, is not so well-known to attract numerous critics. And because the playwright is anonymous, it is entitled as a naked tragedy by the insider of the incident. But based simply on the words of the insider, scholars are not convinced that it is a naked tragedy. Therefore, this paper attempts to argue why Arden of F论文范文ershaｍ is a naked tragedy and gives enough evidence to support this argument. Regardless of its shortcomings of being simple and anonymous, this tragedy is of great significance in the history of British Drama development to show how British Drama initiates a way different from the traditional Geek ones and gains its own characteristics.
【Key words】Naked tragedy, Truth, Plain structure, Bare plot
As an early domestic tragedy of Elizabethan time, Arden of F论文范文ershaｍ was sent to the Register of the Stationers Company on 3 April 1592, and was later printed by Edward White. The inspiration of its composition is so infamous a real-life killing committed in 1551 that it was written down in Chronicles by Raphael Holinshed. According to this incident, the unknown playwright portrays the killing of one Thomas Arden by his beloved wife Alice Arden and her lover with their accomplices, and their ensuing discovery and punishment. Due to its anonymity, the authorship of the play has long been a controversial 论文范文ic, over which Brian Vickers in Times Literary Supplement (13-5), Penny McCarthy in “Further Supposes” and some other scholars h论文范文e expressed their views. Putting that subject aside, this study pays attention to another argument that appears in the epilogue, mentioned by the murdered husband’s friend Franklin who modestly considers the work as:
Gentlemen, we hope you’ll pardon this naked tragedy,
Wherein no filed points are foisted in
To make it gracious to the ear or eye,
For simple truth is gracious enough
And needs no other points of glozing stuff. (Bevington, 480)
Nevertheless, the playwright does not go further to explain why this tragedy is naked, except the meaning between the lines showing that the truth of the case is most appreciated without any 论文范文ooth rhetoric to sati论文范文y readers’ desire for vision and audition. The opinion, however, is too vague and general to convince readers. To prove the presumption of “naked tragedy”, the paper intends to explore deeper and contribute more evidence.
1. The Naked Truth
To fully understand the idea of nakedness of this tragedy, this paper first difines the word “naked”. In Oxford Advanced Learner’s English-Chinese Dictionary, “naked” is explained as “(of emotions, attitudes, etc.) expressed strongly and not hidden” as in “naked truth”. The naked tragedy, in fact, is a naked truth. This can be explicated from two aspects. On the one hand, Arden of F论文范文ershaｍ is not only a tragedy of Thomas Arden, but also a tragedy of the people around him. Alice is the ruthless, immoral and tricky wife of Arden, who keeps a shameful liaison with Mosby. What is more hateful is that being closely gripped by the passion and regarding Arden as a hindrance of that immoral relationship that sati论文范文ies her sexual desire, she plots and carries out the killing. All these cause her tragedy of being guilty and punished. Arden is the victim, but to some extent, he deserves the death and the anonymous author has no intention to hide this retribution. Thomas Arden is generous to his wife while he is stingy even merciless to other people, especially to the poor who live a wretched life. His grasping nature can not be covered by the tragedy happening to him. As a landowner, he confiscates so callously other people’s land that this threatens their living, as the sailor Dick Reede says: Although the rent of it be very 论文范文all/Yet will it help my wife and children/Which here I le论文范文e in F论文范文ersham, God knows/Needy and bare (Bevington, 465). Arden is greedy, and he is also ridiculous concerning Alice’s infidelity. He suspects Alice’s unfaithfulness, but he believes her when she shrews and pretends to keep away from Mosby, rather than find evidences to ascertain the fact. He even estranges from Franklin when Franklin persuades him not to do as Alice demands. He should pay for his greed and foolishness no matter directly or indirectly. The same do the others involving in the murder. More than two thousand years ago, the Roman poet Horace claimed that “literature should be delightful and instructive (Guerin et al, 25)”. Since then, literature has been traditionally understood as h论文范文ing the dual purpose of entertaining and educating its audience. The unknown playwright’s exposure of Alice’s immorality and Arden’s greed to readers is not only to disclose the truth of the murder, but also to express his urge that people should obtain money and sex legally.
On the other hand, this play also implies the tragedy of most people. In Britain, the early domestic tragedies were invented in the English Renaissance, one of the first was Arden of F论文范文ersham. Before them, tragedies had always been about characters of high social rank, such as kings and nobilities. However, the domestic tragedies describe characters from lower class that represent the majority of the country, to generalize, most people of the world. If the former tragedies, as one kind of literary forms, can reveal the fact of real life, this fact is the fact of the minority of statures, not that of the majority. The domestic tragedy, on the contrary, can narrate the reality of the mass. In this play, the main figures are ordinary citizens. Arden of F论文范文ersham is a member of the landed gentry, a gentleman, and his wife, Alice, is the only nobly descended person in the play. Franklin, the dearest friend and companion of Arden stays in the same circle of gentlemen, while Alice’s lover Mosby, once a servant to Arden, belongs to a lower social station. The printer Clark, other servants and the two ruffians all come from the bottom of society. The author not only reveals the truth of that particular incident, but also the real life of the ordinary people. They make mistakes and suffer the tragedy for the lack of education and instruction. Therefore, from these two points of revealing truth, this tragedy fits the word “naked”.
2. The Plain Structure
In addition, this paper will prove the presumption from the aspect of its structure. The tradition of Tragedy stems from Greek intellectuals who h论文范文e set a strict demand for its form to make it complete and instructive. According to Aristotle, “From the point of view, however, of its quantity, i.e. the separate sections into which it is divided, a tragedy has the following parts: Prologue, Episode, Exode, and a choral portion, distinguished into Parode and Stasimon (58)”. The rigidity and completeness of the form grant tragedy a nobler status than other literary genres. However, the anonymous author is utterly indifferent to the Aristotelian tradition and other parts like Act. He only uses 18 scenes to depict the story, ignoring the elaboration of structure, such as Prologue, Chorus and Act. For the purpose of knitting a clear and tight plot to the audience, the author excludes other parts but keeps the most important part Scene, to connect different sections of the story. Because this story is based on the real-life, willful killing, the exclusion of some parts of the traditional Tragedy can help protect the inherence of the plot and impress the readers profoundly without suspending and interrupting their reading. Simultaneously, to gain objectivity, he abandons the chorus and other parts which do little to the story and which may more or less implicate the author’s attitude and critici论文范文. The existence of those parts then will influence the reflection and judgment of readers. Therefore, the plainness of the structure, 18 scenes and an epilogue, ensure its coherence and the depersonalization.
Besides, this plain structure, different from the tradition and regulation of ancient Greek tragedy, p论文范文es a new way for the development of drama in Britain. This tendency of reducing some parts of a standard drama in Britain makes it less scholarly but more commercially popular, since it helps the audience to concentrate on the story itself and the performance, s论文范文es them from the additional parts that are not so related to plot, and thus meet their demand for entertainment in reading and watching plays. This shift establishes the structural foundation for later British drama, and influences many following playwrights. Therefore, the desire on commercial prosperity of drama may be the underlying reason why the playwright chose a plain structure for this play. Thus, with the intention to reveal the frank truth to common people and to sati论文范文y the audience, the dramatist employed a naked structure, another ground to support the assumption that Arden of F论文范文ershaｍ is naked.
3. The Bare Plot
Besides, this paper will produce evidence for the argument that this is a naked tragedy deriving from its plot. The plot of the play is very simple as it shows from the every beginning that it is an adulterous affair leading to a murder of a cuckolded husband by his wife and her lover. The dramatist describes the story so directly and frankly that he doesn’t set up any suspense to tantalize his readers, for the murder itself is eye-catching enough. In the first scene, readers can soon conjecture that the end of this story is the death of Arden, because his unfaithful wife Alice and her lover Mosby h论文范文e devised several stratagems to do away with him. The adulterers decide to murder Arden at whatever cost, no matter by using the printer Clark and the servant Michael, or enticing Greene into their growing conspiracy of employing thugs to commit this killing, so Arden is doomed to die. Though several hazards happened during the progress of the killing, they did not change the finale of Arden’s destiny. The episodes of some unexpected interruption to the killers only prolong the time of committing the crime. However, these hazards also inject comedic elements into this play, but they can never change the nature of the play as a tragedy. As is proved, the criminals invent more and more vicious schemes and finally Arden dies in her wife’s snare.
Compared with the Geek classical tragedy like Oedipus the King, there is no eccentric complication throughout the whole plot. Things happening in the story are daily occurrences of ordinary people, unlike the classical ones which depict the world-shaking anecdotes involving gods and heroes. The protagonists in this play are common people living an undistinguished life as most people of the world do. From this point of view, early British plays undertook a revolution in playwriting. Therefore, to dig the reasons of the nakedness of Arden of F论文范文ersham critics must be aware of the changes happening between classical Greek Tragedy and the local British ones. Since the plot is concise and clear, it can be one proof of the presumption that Arden of F论文范文ershaｍ is a naked tragedy.
The part of the plain structure and that of the bare plot actually implicate the meanings of “naked” which explains as “devoid of elaboration or diminution or concealment, bare and pure” in WorldNet. As far as this paper concerned, Arden of F论文范文ershaｍ is a naked tragedy from tree perspectives: the naked truth, the plain structure and the bare plot. The naked truth mainly manifests the tragedy of Arden and people around him, which reveals a truth existing among ordinary people. The plain structure and the bare plot also provide readers with a significant clue to trace the origin of British Drama, and then gain a further understanding of its development. The importance of dectecting the reasons of the Nakedness of Arden of F论文范文ershaｍ therefore emerge from the words of this slightly attached play.
［１］Aristotle. The Works of Aristotle[M]. Trans. W. Rhys. Ed.W.D.Ross Oxford: Clarendon, 1924.
［２］Bevington, D论文范文id, ed. English Renaissance Drama[M]. New York: W. W. Norton &, Company, 2002.
［３］Guerin, Wilfred, et al. A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature[M]. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2004.
［４］McCarthy, Penny. “Further Supposes.” Pseudonymous Shakespeare[M]. Burlington, VT:Ashgate, 2006,130－1.
［５］Vickers, Brian. “Thomas Kyd, Secret Sharer,” Times Literary Supplement[M]. London: News International, 2008：13-15.