<<The>> renaissance Griselda : a woman for all seasons
After briefly surveying the fourteenth-century sources of the Griselda story, this essay examines the Elizabethan response to this fundamentally feudal, aristocratic, patriarchal tale. While some sixteenth-century versions are quite straightforward, others update the narrative with contemporary commentary. By variously suppressing or heightening the inherited tale's social, political, and religious implications, the boldest Elizabethan reworkings, both drmatizations, put Griselda to wholly new uses. Early in Elizabeth's reign, John Phillip's militantly protestant interlude transforms romance narrative into a primer on godly christian living that in places seems to contradict or subvert the story it purports to retell. The 1599 public-theater comedy by Chettle, Dekker, and Haughton so radically recontextualizes her tale that most of traditional assumptions are brought into question. Finally, I bring together both fourteenth- and sixteenth-century texts to try to uncover the potential disjunctions and contradictions in Boccaccio's original that allowed, even invited, later writers' intervention and reinterpretation.