Overbury’s characters of women…

are actually not that far off from some internet comments I’ve read. Eek!

A Good Woman

— her chiefest virtue is a good husband, for she is he. (200)

A Very Woman

— is Soloman’s cruel creature and a man’s walking consumption. (201-201)

A Whore

Her body is the tilted lees of pleasure dasht over with a little decking to hold colour. Taste her, she’s dead and false upon the palate. (227-229)

A Very Whore

is a woman. (229)

A Maquerela, in Plain English a Bawd

Her teeth are fallen out … she’s not ripe till she be rotten. (241)

These chambermaids

are the lotteries: you may draw twenty ere one worth anything. (243)

A Fair and Happy Milkmaid

She dares go alone and unfold sheep i’th’night, and fears no manner of ill because she means none. (255-256)

A Virtuous Widow

is the palm tree that thrives not after the supplanting of her husband. For her childrens’ sake she first marries, for she married that she might have children, and for their sake she marries no more. She is like the purest gold, only employed for princes’ medals: she never receives but one man’s impression. (270-271)

The most disturbing description, for me, is the milkmaid, but only because it uses the tired “act chaste and you’ll be chaste” (so if you get raped it’s your own fault, somehow) argument. Guhhh.

9 November 2011 ~Hamilton

Works Cited

Overbury, Sir Thomas (and others). Characters. Ed. Donald Beecher. Ottawa: Dovehouse Editions, 2003.


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