Languages and Literature, University of Birmingham
My thesis explores both male and female Restoration playwrights’ depictions of sex and marriage and the growth of female sexual agency through the application of Gilles Deleuze’s theory of Masochean masochism. Applying this psychological construct of erotic fantasy and the pleasure of denial to Restoration comedy 1670–1700 exposes this period’s prevalent male anxieties around virility and perceived female dominance: specifically exploring how unreciprocated libertine desire creates a male sexual identity crisis. In the plays of the period, men are feminised and rendered submissive while women are granted sexual agency to inflict mental pain through humiliation and emasculation. My research combines Deleuze’s conceptual vision with meticulous historical research to consider whether this submissiveness becomes a fetishistic desire that satisfies men’s sexual fantasies, ultimately affirming masculinity.
The depicition of hypochondria on the stage 1660–1700