Manly Drunkenness: Binge Drinking as Disciplined Play

  • Gina Bloom
Part of the Early Modern Cultural Studies book series (EMCSS)

Abstract

Shakespeare’s The Turning of the Shrew opens with what appears to be a straightforward condemnation of the vice of excessive alcohol consumption, as a lord, finding a drunken tinker passed out before an alehouse, exclaims in disgust: “O monstrous beast, how like a swine he lies!”1 The lord’s outrage is not surprising from the perspective of early modern moralist discourse, which, associating drunkenness with idleness and disorder, figures it as dehumanizing and, thus, emasculating. Thomas Young defines drunkenness as “a vice which stirreth up lust, griefe, anger, and madnesse, extinguisheth the memory, opinion, and understanding, maketh a man the picture of a beast, and twise a child, because he can neither stand nor speake.”2 Excessive consumption of alcohol compromises reason and bodily control, traits thought to distinguish men from beasts as well as from other ostensibly less rational creatures, such as children, women, and men of low status. Sir Walter Raleigh’s advice to his son triangulates drunkenness, beastliness, and emasculation when it warns that wine not only “transfer meth a man into a Beast” but also “wasteth the naturall heate and seed of generation.”3 For those who aspire to the kind of “patriarchal manhood” Raleigh espouses—where manhood is achieved through the demonstration of self-control, power over dependents, and ability to produce heirs, among other things—drunkenness is necessarily unmanly.4

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Notes

  1. 1.
    William Shakespeare, The Turning of the Shrew: Texts and Contexts, ed. Frances E. Dolan (Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1996)Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    Roger Caillois, Man, Flay and Games, trans. Meyer Barash (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001[1958]).Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    Bruce R. Smith, Shakespeare and Masculinity, Oxford Shakespeare Topics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 44–54.Google Scholar
  4. 16.
    Qtd. in Peter Clark, The English Alehouse: A Social History, 1200–1830 (London: Longman, 1983), 49.Google Scholar
  5. 17.
    Leah S. Marcus, The Politics of Mirth: Jonson, Herrick, Milton, Marveil and the Defense of Old Holiday Pastimes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  6. 19.
    Jean Howard, Theater of a City: The Places of London Comedy, 2598–2642 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006)Google Scholar
  7. 25.
    Richard Brathwaite, The Law of Drinking, ed. W. Brian Hooker (New Haven, CT: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor, 1903), 71.Google Scholar
  8. 42.
    The most useful of sources on maiden cups is Yvonne Hackenbroch, “Wager Cups,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 26.9 (1968): 380–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 43.
    Sophia Lee, The Worshipful Company of Vintners: A Catalogue of Plate (London: Vintners’ Company, 1996), 37.Google Scholar
  10. 45.
    William H. Sherman, “What Did Renaissance Readers Write in Their Books?,” in Books and Readers in Early Modern England: Material Studies, ed. Jennifer Andersen and Elizabeth Sauer (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 119–37.Google Scholar
  11. 46.
    G. R. Quaife, Wanton Wenches and Wayward Wives: Peasants and Illicit Sex in Early Seventeenth Century England (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1979), 170.Google Scholar
  12. 48.
    Gina Bloom, Voice in Motion: Staging Gender, Shaping Sound in Early Modern England, Material Texts (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Natasha Korda, Shakespeare’s Domestic Economies: Gender and Property in Early Modern England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Amanda Bailey and Roze Hentschell 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gina Bloom

There are no affiliations available

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