The Heroines of English Pastoral Romance

August 2007
256 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Renaissance Literature
ISBN: 9781843841241
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
BISAC LIT004020, LIT004180

The Heroines of English Pastoral Romance

Sue P. Starke

The figure of the woman as hero in pastoral romance is shown to grow in importance and complexity in this important new study.
The genre of pastoral romance flourished dramatically in Renaissance England between 1590 and 1650. One of its key elements is that it is the daughter, not the son, of the gentle family who increasingly becomes the subject of the romance's attempt to define and illustrate heroism. The pastoral heroine's task is paradoxical: to break out of her pastoral paradise in order to ensure its reconstitution. She is the princess, the shepherdess, the Lady, or the virtuous daughter who becomes a repository of honor and virtue in a changing society where traditional chivalric definitions of honor hold decreasing purchase.

This groundbreaking book examines the typical challenges faced by the pastoral romance heroine as she matures within the pastoral locus amoenus: the foundling dilemma; the loop-shaped quest: the rhetorical battle; the chastity threat; the reconciliation of beauty to virtue; and familial reunification. It illustrates how the allegorical, symbolic, and psychological characterizations of pastoral heroines in the works of Sidney, Spenser, Wroth, Fletcher, Milton, and Marvell anticipate developments in the representation of female subjectivities normally associated with the novel.

SUE P. STARKE is Associate Professor of English at Monmouth University, New Jersey.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781846155543), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.

Table of Contents

The Pastoral Romance Heroine in English Renaissance Literature
The Arcadian Prison: Chastity and the Defense of the Princesses in Sidney's Two Arcadias
Spenser's Romance Heroines: The Heroic and the Pastoral in Books 3 and 6 of The Fairie Queene
Growing out of Pastoral: Wroth's Urania and the Female Pastoral Career
Fletcher's Clorin and Milton's Lady: The Performance of Chastity in Pastoral Drama
Milton's Eve and Marvell's Maria Fairfax: Wives and Daughters in the Pastoral Family Circle


A stimulating and well-written study. [...] Dr Starke's observations on the variations of the main theme are in most cases very perceptive and enrich our understanding of the texts under scrutiny. ENGLISH STUDIES

Also in Series