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Een mozaïek van stemmen : Verbeeldend lezen in Vondels Gysbreght van Aemstel

By M. Prandoni


The present thesis offers a critical reconsideration of the tragedy Gysbreght van Aemstel (1637) of the playwrigth Joost van den Vondel. In my analysis I take into account performance-aspects (with particular attention to the performance-history of the play) as well as 'literary' ones, this classicist tragedy of the Renaissance being a good example at the same time of a theatrical play and of a pure literary work.\ud \ud This study combines several critical approaches. I draw mainly on intertextuality, genre and gender study and analysis of narrative in drama. The main focus is intertextual. I concentrate on the possible activation by the public of several interwoven intertexts: primarily Aeneid II, but also a wide range of epic and tragic intertexts. The major consequence of having the Aeneid as a reference-model is that the tragedy shows evident epic features. This is particularly the case in the large military narratives where the war in Amsterdam is told. The Vergilian imitation is very far-stretching, at all levels, but never slavish. By a close analysis we can appreciate the subtlety of this literary operation. \ud \ud However, this is just one edge in the wide range of intertextual relations which can be activated by the spectator/reader in the rest of the tragedy, which are almost never obvious and unproblematic. Different genres are contaminated: they interact and sometimes clash with each other. And not only 'high' genres in the literary system of the Renaissance as tragedy and epos. In one case, that of the trickster Vosmeer, 'lower' comic-realistic genres as the farce and hybrid genres like the novel are activated: the old evergreen chapbook of Reynard the Fox and the modern picaresque novel over the outcast Lazarillo de Tormes.\ud \ud Generic expectations are continuously activated and then often frustrated: for example the gender-expectations about the staging of models of masculinity and femininity (which usually are standardized according to the codes of representation of specific gendered genres). This is evident in the case of Badeloch.. She gradually outgrows the gender and generic expectations about her role in the plot and her ultimate fate (i.e. her husband will die and she will become a widow), staging her own model of femininity, at the edge of gender transgression.\ud \ud The final chapter offers a general overview of the tragedy by focusing on the main character, Gijsbreght. In the opening monologue he shows quite evident analogies with the character of William of Orange in the dramas around the death of the Prince. But in the course of the action he develops from an exemplary epic-like figure into a tragic one because of his failure to behave like an exemplary public leader, who is in charge of his people when in need. However, the divine intervention forces Gijsbreght to change his prospect completely and to accept to leave his city. The future prophecy revealed by the angel shows the peculiarity of Gijsbreght's destiny in relation to the epic and tragic tradition. He is not called to any fatal mission, but has to show a different sort of heroism in accepting humbly to give up the fight and to leave his homeland (and by admitting that his wife was right in pleading to leave). This is compensated by a prospect of future personal happiness in the new homeland, together with his wife and with his nuclear family.\ud \ud I finally pay attention to the historical dimension of the staged facts, which appear to recall events from the recent past of the city, during the years 1572-78, when Amsterdam was almost the only city in Holland which remained loyal to the Catholicism and to the Spanish rule and refused to join the side of the Prince of Orange (especially the attempt to conquer the city by surprise in 1577 is alluded to in the plot of the tragedy). The recalling of the past of the city is meant as a tribute to all the suffering that the people from Amsterdam had to endure during the Revolt: on the Catholic side in the first place, but also on the Protestant one

Topics: Letteren, Gysbreght van Aemstel, Joost van den Vondel, Aeneis, tragedy, epos, gender, genre, narrative, drama, intertextuality, Amsterdam
Publisher: Uitgeverij Verloren
Year: 2007
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