This paper traces out the various plotlines in Rowley’s The Birth of Merlin by examining the behaviors of the female characters as they act out their sexuality within the confines of patriarchal expectation. Though each female character confounds traditional expectations with her individual deviant behaviour, by the end of the play all of the females are sequestered into confines of one type or another – whether they are enclosed by choice or by force depends on how they use, or refuse to use, their bodies. The mapping of these representations reveals the power of the female body wielded in a potentially threatening way and the (un)surprising traditional conclusion of such power display.
Monika Karpinska completed her MA at McMaster University in 2005. She has a BA (Honours) and a BEd (Secondary) from the University of British Columbia. Her literary interests span a range of periods, focused especially on the medieval period and early modern drama.
'Bawdily Manipulations: Spheres of Female Power in The Birth of Merlin'.
9.1 (2006): 123-9 (paper). Article 7.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/earlytheatre/vol9/iss1/7