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Chapter Five
Spenser's Customs of Courtesy

The decrees of society are temporary ones.

In the first half of his Faerie Queene , published in 1590, Edmund Spenser generally looks to the distant past for those values that would fashion a gentleman to the ideals of chivalry. By the time he published the second installment of his poem in 1596, Spenser seems to have struggled more openly with the relationship between social practice and values: Should one tolerate customs of which one disapproves? What can be done when others condemn what one believes is right?

The allegory of Book VI, the legend of courtesy, foregrounds these questions. The hero of this section of Spenser's romantic epic is Sir Calidor, charged by the Faerie Queene to track down the Blattant (or Blatant) Beast, a houndlike creature that Spenser named after the beste glattisant that the pagan knight Sir Palomides tracks as hopelessly as he pursues the love of Isode in Malory's Morte Darthur : Calidor's quest is also incomplete, for he finds the baying animal but cannot muzzle it permanently.


The critical consensus that the Blattant Beast represents the inevitability of slander or detraction has not been matched by agreement over the way the rest of Book VI manifests the operation of courtesy. Hamilton's introduction finds no adequate social context for the story, declaring that "allegorical interpretation [is] entirely inadequate, irrelevant and disposable. Of all the books, Book VI seems closest to romance with its aura of manifold, mysterious meanings conveyed in a 'poetic' context and not at all in any abstract moral, philosophical, or historical argument."[2] Most critics find the central theme of the legend in Calidor's vision of the Graces during the pastoral interlude in cantos 9 through 11.

What Hamilton and others attribute to the magic of romance, however, can be shown to be a deliberate vagueness that solves a problem that an enthusiastic reformer like Spenser could not avoid: how to establish good conduct, when too radical a theory of change will leave one's own system exposed to a similar revolution. Only by defining "custom" in general and universal terms as "courtesy" can Spenser open up the possibility for change and claim the prerogative to effect it. Faced with the problem that no simple rule or persuasive argument suffices to establish the priority of one of two competing moral systems, Spenser constructs a narrative solution in The Faerie Queene by drawing on the conventions of chivalric romance, which he read in ethical terms. Three times in the first half of Book VI, once at Crudor's Caste and twice at Sir Turpine's Caste of the Ford, Spenser uses the custom of the caste topos, a narrative structure in which clashing standards of behavior open a gap between moral knowledge and moral action. Spenser could have found the topos in many chivalric romances, but he certainly knew it from Malory's Morte Darthur and Ariosto's Orlando Furioso . In earlier books Spenser adopted the convention for the unchaste usage of Malecasta (FQ 3.1), the suffocating social arrangements of the Caste of Couples (FQ 4.1), and the injustice of Pollente's bridge (FQ 5.2).[3] Unlike Britomart and Artegall, the heroes of Book VI find greater difficulty in countering charges of their own ill conduct, as first Sir Calidor, then Sir


Calepine, and finally Prince Arthur face customs that someone else regards as proper.[4] Their tribulation—the difference between what they think is right and what action they can effect—foreshadows Calidor's ultimate failure to eliminate detraction.

The narrative convention of the custom of the castle, as a model of moral uncertainty, allows the Book of Courtesy to make its point that courtesy is characterized by imprecision and vagueness. This lack of formal definition characterizes other virtues, but it seems more paradoxical in Book VI, since we usually associate courtesy with show and explicit forms of behavior. Red Crosse takes precise steps and learns fairly exact lessons (the seven acts of mercy) in the House of Holiness. But Spenser's letter to Walter Raleigh emphasizes what Spenser calls "the show" rather than "precepts . . . sermoned at large."[5] Sir Calidor therefore properly enters a world of romance, pastoral woodlands and pirates, whose surface hides practical reasoning. For if good customs are merely equivalent to manners and fashion, then their social construction and relativity become embarrassingly obvious in the encounter with the Other. But if courtesy resides in the mind as some sort of universal ideal, then it can assume various outward forms.

The need for a general understanding of courtesy coincided with Spenser's early experience in Ireland. The flexible planning necessary to implement English social control over Ireland encouraged the optimistic attitude toward social change that Book VI explores. The other lesson of Book VI, that denigration accompanies accomplishment, warns that if a courteous knight wants to be a reformer, his reputation will fare better in Fairyland than in Ireland.


We first see Sir Calidor, a knight known for his "faire usage" (his moral habits, FQ 6.1.3), congratulating Sir Artegall, from whom he learns that Artegall's attempts to embody Justice in Book V have aroused Envy and Detraction and attracted the Blattant Beast. Artegall's perhaps mis-


placed certainty of his own virtue ("I that knew my selfe from perill free," FQ 6.1.9) contrasts to Calidor's perhaps overly pessimistic foreknowledge that his quest is endless and without instruction ("an endlesse trace, withouten guyde," FQ 6.1.6). Their encounter suggests that a clash of values may be resolved not by proving the invalidity of another culture (Artegall's task) but by striving to put one's own house in order. But few rules suffice for all occasions in the Book of Courtesy.

Sir Calidor attempts to apply the self-reliance Artegall preaches during his first adventure, when he confronts the foul customs of Briana and Crudor. The knight travels until by chance he finds a squire tied to a tree, who tells him about the local practice of exacting a toll (a form of custom) from passing knights and ladies:

Not farre from hence, uppon yond rocky hill,
Hard by a streight there stands a castle strong,
Which doth observe  a custome lewd and ill ,
And it hath long mayntaind with mighty wrong:
For may no Knight nor Lady passe along
That way, (and yet they needs must passe that way,)
By reason of the streight, and rocks among,
But they that Ladies lockes doe shave away,
And that knights berd for toll, which they for passage pay.
        (FQ  6.1.13; my emphasis)

Calidor also learns that the source of the custom is Sir Crudor, who demands that Briana make a mantle "with beards of Knights and locks of Ladies lynd" (FQ 6.1.15) to win his love. Calidor unbinds the squire and then rescues the squire's maiden by killing Maleffort, who works for Briana.[6] Calidor next invades Briana's castle and slays the porter. He is putting the castle to the sword, sweeping away the inhabitants like flies ("bryzes," FQ 6.1.25), when Briana accuses the knight of courtesy of murdering her men—and of threatening to rob her house and ravish her. Hamilton hears an invitation in her declaration of helplessness,[7] but surely the point of the scene is to force Calidor verbally to defend his at-


tack on the custom of the castle. The rules of civility vary in different times and places. Spenser's scene therefore gives prominence not just to the difficulty but to the uneasiness that accompanies the establishment of civility. Briana's charge that the knight of courtesy has vilely murdered her men dramatizes the perception that one has a difficult responsibility when imposing upon the customs of others.

False traytor Knight, (sayd she) no Knight at all,
But scorne of armes that hast with guilty hand
Murdred my men, and slaine my Seneschall;
Now comest thou to rob my house unmand,
And spoile my selfe, that can not thee withstand?
Yet doubt thou not, but that some better Knight
Then thou, that shall thy treason understand,
Will it avenge, and pay thee with thy right:
And if none do, yet shame shal thee with shame requight.
        (FQ  6.1.25)

Chagrin takes hold of Calidor, as he listens to Briana: "much was the Knight abashed at that word" (FQ 6.1.26). Puttenham's term for this significant pause is "aporia," whose effect is to raise doubt, as "when by a plaine manner of speech wee might affirme or deny him."[8] The nervous anxiety raised by the question of customary behavior gives a false edge to Calidor's response to Briana. First Calidor denies responsibility for what he has done. "Not unto me the shame, / But to the shameful doer it afford" (FQ 6.1.26). Calidor's speech implies that good customs, which characterize civility, preexist the evil efforts of Briana and her people to negate them.

Bloud is no blemish; for it is no blame
To punish those, that doe deserve the same;
But they that breake bands of civilitie,
And wicked customs make, those doe defame
Both noble armes and gentle curtesie.
No greater shame to man then inhumanitie.
        (FQ  6.1.26)


Briana, however, remains deaf to the "courteous lore" of Calidor, forcing him to fight Crudor.

The battle between Calidor and Crudor figures the particular strain felt by someone who alters the custom of others.[9] Their lives are compared to castles, impenetrable, as each seeks entrance to the other. With no direction—no fixed rules of deportment—Calidor and Crudor "tryde all waies" (FQ 6.1.37). Their battle mirrors Calidor's perennial pursuit of the Blattant Beast, "an endlesse trace, withouten guyde" (FQ 6.1.6). The phrase tells us that no written manual of instruction exists. The duel of Crudor and Calidor therefore figures the wandering ways, the labyrinth of fairyland.

Calidor's strain and chagrin undercut his reformation of Crudor. The battle technically ends when Calidor reduces Crudor's pride and cruelty, imposing humility on the fallen foe whose life he spares. Calidor then lectures Crudor on the Golden Rule and demands that he marry Briana without a dowry. Glad to be alive, Crudor agrees to his terms. At once something snaps in Briana (her sudden "affect").[10] She quiets down and gives her castle to Calidor, who redistributes the property to the squire and lady to recompense their lost beard and hair.

The moral would seem to be that a rude population will offer up their property in grateful exchange for lessons in civility—a fit fantasy for an English colonist in Ireland—were not Crudor's reformation curiously incomplete. How can Calidor's lesson in chivalry ("Who will not mercie unto others shew, / How can he mercy ever hope to have?" FQ 6.1.42) guarantee a new mode of conduct? Pressured by the threat of death, forced to swear allegiance on his conqueror's sword and the holy cross, Crudor bends to superior power rather than to reason. Does his mind remain stubborn?

Spenser never lets us trust what we see as each quest of The Faerie Queene opens. Here, he casts doubt on the extent to which Crudor takes to heart the new custom of courtesy, for if Crudor arises as bidden, he does so "how ever liefe or loth" (FQ 6.1.44). This episode is self-contained in the canto and never referred to again. Yet there are enough


clues to the problems of reformation that we may suspect we are not violating the poem's artistic premises by wondering whether the new custom has indeed become customary, or whether Crudor's behavior may revert in an instant. Faced with a similar scoundrel, Boiardo's Brandimarte says, "A frog will never leave the mud!" (OI 2.19.43). Spenser's attitude is not devoid of such aristocratic disdain for the lower classes, but in contrast to Boiardo's rule of force in the face of hopeless intransigence and his appeal to a limited audience, Spenser's epic promises to fashion a gentleman without distinguishing whether he means to fashion one from scratch or merely to polish a gentleman born.

A spectacle, rather than specificity, solves the problem for one who, like Spenser, stands in the present and wonders what is the right thing to do today and how to ensure that pattern of behavior for the future. Cicero regarded eloquence as the source of civility, and we usually regard Spenser as promoting this humanist view. But the first custom of the castle scene in the legend of courtesy suggests that eloquence is a necessary but limited means of shaping social behavior. Calidor makes Crudor agree not to mistreat strangers. He tells him to help ladies, without explaining how. Crudor must marry Briana without demanding a dowry, but he receives no instructions on daily behavior. Such negative injunctions merely check the inclinations, including such selfishness as Crudor and Briana show.[11] The purpose of the scene in the legend of courtesy is therefore not to promote Calidor or condemn Crudor and Briana, let alone to propose a blueprint for land appropriation or marriage settlements, but to explore social customs as a scene of contested values.


Spenser adopted the archaic mode of chivalric romance both for its essentially arbitrary form and to allow him to claim the authority of the past for those virtues he was keen to convey as guides for the future. But other people's customs represent formidable obstacles, because they too


can claim the authority of the past. How can a reformer justify change without generating an uncontrollable force that can destroy the reformation process? To illustrate this issue, the custom of the castle motif operates as a dialectical structure in which social issues may take narrative form without our resorting to the ethical habit "of ranging everything in the antagonistic categories of good and evil" with the result that "what is bad belongs to the Other."[12] The custom of the castle raises, as Jameson phrases it, "in symbolic form, issues of social change and counterrevolution."[13]

There is, therefore, no bright line test for courtesy in The Faerie Oueene . The Blattant Beast represents neither good nor evil but the way of the world: not just slander, but inevitable slander, from which no pastoral retreat provides protection (FQ 6.10.2). His bite seems arbitrary, like fashions or the complex set of duties determined by the rank of those one faces. Following the reformation of Crudor's castle, Spenser's narrative voice suggests that such courtesies are so bewildering that nature eases things for some people by making them naturally civil.[14] Calidor, for example, has nature's gift, but Sir Calepine, Calidor's lesser image, is less fortunate in this respect, as the narrative proceeds to demonstrate.

The rude forest figures the uncertainty of moral guidelines by offering Calepine and his lover Serena opportunities for behavior that others—courtiers in a castle, for example—might regard as uncivil. Calepine and Serena are sporting in the forest when Calidor happens upon them, replaying a previous adventure in which a discourteous knight (slain by Tristram) stumbled on Aladine and Priscilla making love outdoors. Unlike the earlier knight, Calidor is too well heeled to stoop to jealous envy of their game; instead, he engages Calepine in conversation until they hear the screams of Serena, whom the Blattant Beast snatches in his jaws as she wanders away to make a garland for her head (FQ 6.3.23). The beast soon releases her, but Calidor continues chasing it, and we do not see him again until he begins his pastoral interlude in canto 9. Meanwhile, Calepine finds Serena wounded and travels with


her till nightfall, when a "fair and stately place" beyond a river comes into view as they seek shelter (FQ 6.3.29).

The place is Turpine's castle, and its custom is discourtesy. Turpine refuses to help Calepine carry Serena across the ford. Calepine crosses anyway, then calls on Turpine to fight and justify his failure to lend assistance to those in need. When Turpine ignores him, Calepine calls him a coward, as Arthur will later. Turpine represents more than cowardice, however. He stands for the inevitability of social detraction when two competing sets of values confront each other.

Normally the foul custom of a castle is that one must fight for lodging rather than receive unquestioned hospitality. Turpine's custom adds a twist by setting this battle not in the present or future but in the past. The porter shuts the gates in Calepine's face and tells him

                        that there was no place
Of lodging fit for any errant Knight,
Unlesse that with his Lord he  formerly  did fight.
        (FQ  6.3.38; my emphasis)

The custom doubly bars Calepine from entering since not only does Turpine fail to appear at his castle, but he has already refused to battle him at the ford. Turpine's barrier to entry is the kind of catch-22 or double bind that Spenser characteristically gives to villains who keep castles in Book III, the legend of chastity: the custom of Malecasta's Castle Joyous precludes any escape (FQ 3.1);[15] Paridell will seduce Hellenore whether Malbecco watches jealously or not (FQ 3.9); and Amoret suffers whether she yields to or resists Busirane's black magic (FQ 3.12). Spenser does not label these practices as customs, but where a central personality organizes events, the pattern of behavior established by the moral habits of the individual symbolize those of an institution, as in the Roman de la Rose , the allegorical ancestor and source for medieval conventions of love.

Like the complex game of love that hinders access to the Rose in Jean de Meun's poem, the logic of Turpine's custom bewilders a naive Cale-


pine. Turpine fails to abide not just by the rules of hospitality, but even by the normal foul custom of a castle, where a host insists on fighting his guests before giving them harbor. Calepine misses the point that he is therefore ineligible to enter. Sounding like Malory's Sir Dinadan (MD 9.23), he tells the porter, who "no manners had," that he is weary, his lady is wounded, and he is in no mood to fight his host (FQ 6.3.38-39). He does not know that the man who refused to help him cross the ford also owns this castle. When he asks the porter for the name of the "Lord / That doth thus strongly ward the Castle of the ford" (FQ 6.3.39), it seems that he has not conceived who and what he is up against. The custom of Turpine's castle finally forces Calepine and Serena to sleep outdoors, under a bush (FQ 6.3.44)—appropriately for them, for they earlier made love outdoors "in covert shade" (FQ 6.3.20).

Calepine's obtuseness reflects his incomprehension of the basis on which others disapprove of his conduct. The custom of Turpine's castle, which Calepine cannot overcome, therefore represents the larger social power that underlies the force of detraction. By keeping Calepine out, the society he faces robs him of his dignity. The custom of the castle distorts Calepine's reputation. Even Turpine's name infects the final syllable of "Calepine," which otherwise echoes Calidor as well as the generic Renaissance word for a dictionary: both Calepine and a word book are open to the inspection of others not familiar with their culture or language. They list rules for those not to the "manner" born. Moreover, Turpine causes not just mischief to Serena but inconvenience. English law distinguished an inconvenience from a mischief. An "inconvenience" results when the public is affected (publicurn malum ), while a "mischief" (privatum damnum ) concerns private individuals.[16] Serena inconveniences Turpine, in this public sense, so he refuses to admit her. Turpine's response is that of society—of those who believe the slander of the Blattant Beast, whose bite has wounded her.

As a "dark conceit" of detraction, Turpine continues his attacks after Calepine and Serena proceed on their way.[17] Just as Calepine did not equate the knight at the ford with the keeper of the castle, so he does not


realize that the knight who attacks him the next day is that lord of the castle whom he never saw the night before. The image of Calepine hiding behind "his Ladies backe" as Turpine attacks shows not a coward but someone who pays a social penalty for his actions.[18] Calepine lacks awareness, as happens when one does not suspect the ill will of others. Turpine and his castle hold a distorting mirror up to the social reputation of whoever approaches them. They represent the sheer otherness of customs.

Detraction cannot harm one outside the society that circulates a slander. Once away from society, Calepine and Serena are safe. It is therefore fitting that "a salvage man" (FQ 6.4.2) rescues them from Turpine. The savage's invulnerable skin, a romance image of his outsider status, makes him immune to the uncivil society Turpine represents. After chasing Turpine away, the savage invites Calepine and Serena to his forest home. Ensuing events suggest, indirectly, that Serena gives birth and Calepine arranges a foster family for the baby.[19] When Calepine wanders away from her, he suddenly has an infant on his hands, which he gives to Matilda.[20] Serena meanwhile is lodged in rustic solitude. She hurls herself down until her bleeding "did all the flore imbrew" as she lies "long groveling, and deepe groning" (FQ 6.5.5). Spenser's romance uses uncertain, vague imagery and the temporal dislocations of entrelacement to avoid limiting the social allegory of Turpine's castle to a particular attitude about one issue, in this case the one raised by Serena's pregnancy. Serena's condition offers a specific but morally unnecessary reason why she and Calepine are not allowed inside Turpine's castle. The point is that the society of Turpine's castle, whatever one thinks of it, finds them unfit.


Spenser criticism is still reeling from the picture in Stephen Greenblatt's Renaissance Self-Fashioning of a poet participating in the cruder moments of colonization, repressing his sexual instincts in the name of


a false civility, and helping himself to the wealth of a nation whose presence and practices provoked Spenser's deepest fears about his own stability.[21] But the darkening of Spenser's world has the paradoxical effect of keeping his poem alive. For if Spenser's View of the Present State of Ireland and parts of Book V, the legend of justice, show us a man willing to starve a population or threaten it with the sword, Spenser's thought in The Faerie Queene depends on the narrative mode of romance.[22]

The custom of the castle topos offered Spenser's romance a way to present social solutions without promoting specific programs. Arbitrary rules characterize the artificial castes where custom demands one's beard or locks or upper garments of travelers. Such rules also characterize the pastoral world that Sir Calidor enters in canto 9, where Calidor attempts to win Pastorella's love by his considerate treatment of his rival Coridon. Calidor gives Coridon a garland that he had himself obtained from Pastorella: "Then Coridon woxe frollicke, that earst seemed dead" (FQ 6.9.42). Despite Coridon's delight, the garland seems like the sign of a loser, for Calidor gives Coridon another one after he throws him in wrestling (FQ 6.9.44). Boccaccio's Filocolo questions what it means for a lady to give someone a garland: is it a mark of favor, or a sign that the receiver is too poor to provide for himself? Boccaccio suggests that the meaning of the action can only be interpreted in terms of the customary behavior of lovers.[23]

Such ambiguous images and courtly love games provided romances with materials to symbolize larger questions of how to conform to social customs: how to talk, eat, get ahead, or survive. Puttenham gives a nice example of how one must tailor one's actions to what others are doing when he discusses the trope of hysteron proteron . What he calls "the preposterous" occurs "when ye misplace your words or clauses and set that before which should be behind, & è converso , we call it in Englishe proverbe, the cart before the horse." Whether the sentence "I kist her cherry lip and took my leave" is a figure of speech depends on whether it is the custom to kiss first and then bid farewell, or to first take your leave and then kiss, thereby "knitting up the farewell," in which case the


order of events is reversed. He wryly advises to "let yong Courtiers decide this controversie."[24]

Spenser relies on romance images of arbitrary and symbolic behavior—bearding knights, denying hospitality, stripping upper garments—because he seeks a nonspecific picture of courtesy, conceived as a struggle to promote civic welfare. "Vertues seat," Spenser says, "is deepe within the mynd, / And not in outward shows, but inward thoughts defynd" (FQ 6.proem.5). A virtue that lies deep within the mind would create a problem for a mimetic poet precisely because the virtue cannot be seen. But nothing Spenser shows us in his nonmimetic mirror of chivalry need be courtesy itself.

When Spenser makes courtesy a mental phenomenon, he parts from Renaissance theorists like Erasmus and Bacon and Montaigne, who almost invariably defined custom as a form of pedagogy, the training of the individual to perform or to endure. Bacon's essay on custom amounts to a program based on the idea that one can get used to anything. His real subject is habit, which has a notable power of persuasion, as when Hamlet tells his mother she can overcome the "monster custom" to develop a taste for abstinence in her relations with his uncle (Hamlet 3.4.161). The first half of Montaigne's essay "Of Custom" is similar to Bacon's essay. It is about how habits developed since childhood create one's character. In the second half, Montaigne switches to public usages, which a strong educational system helps one adopt as personal habits.

In terms of fashioning a gentleman, Spenser's retreat to generality answers a paradox that Jacques Derrida identified in Rousseau's Emile: "Pedagogy cannot help but encounter the problem of imitation. What is example? Should the teacher make an example of himself and not interfere any further, or pile lesson upon exhortation? And is there virtue in being virtuous by imitation?"[25] A measure of humility for the teacher is also involved, since as Descartes observed, "those who take the responsibility of giving precepts must think themselves more knowledgeable than those to whom they give them, and, if they make the slightest


mistake, they are blameworthy." Descartes suggests a practical solution: a historical account or a fable may be allowed to contain examples one may follow as well as "others which it would be right not to copy."[26] Philip Sidney's Defense of Poetry recommends fables over history for one who seeks to create role models. Spenser avoids the problem of constructing role models by adopting the form of nonimitative romance.

Vagueness, or generality, fittingly attends to the three goddesses who dance on Mt. Alcidale, near the end of the legend of courtesy. They are said to be the source of all civility, but they are not models for imitation. Euphrosyne, Aglaia, and Thalia offer no specific instruction in the general fields of "comely carriage, entertainement kynde, / Sweete semblaunt, friendly offices that bynde, / And all the complements of curtesie" (FQ 6.10.23). Another hundred graces circle them to the tune played by Colin Clout, who represents Spenser in his role of inspired poet. They are said to be the "complements" (specific ceremonies) of courtesy, but Spenser does not name their qualities. The omission seems deliberate in a poem capable of listing every river in England and Ireland (FQ 4.11.20-47). The name of the goddess whom Colin calls the mother of the graces reinforces Spenser's representation of a wide picture of courtesy rather than a list of rules: She is Eurynome (FQ 6.10.22), and her name combines a suffix for laws, custom, or organization (-nomy , perhaps from nomos ) with a modifier (eury ) meaning broad.[27] Her presence on Mt. Alcidale indicates that courtesy requires a wider ability than that of mastering rubrics in a handbook. Aladine and Calepine and Tristram, knights whose names come from books, never reach the standard of behavior of Calidor, whose generic name says that good conduct is a gift.

Spenser's fascination with transcending customs sets his romance beyond the clash of English and Irish cultures or the skeptical acceptance of a Montaigne or More or any of the Renaissance thinkers (Bacon is often cited) who realized that customs were a suitable instrument of social control. The mode of the poem mirrors the poet's mode of life. Spenser always operated with an eye to the future, conceiving plans for his ca-


reer, organizing the vast project of The Faerie Queene , and eagerly participating in property speculation in Ireland. This latter activity gives us a clue to his imaginative association of courtesy and the spacious ways of romance as a literary form.

The Munster settlement in which Spenser participated in the late 1580s, as he finished the first three books of The Faerie Queene , raised the issue of any large entrepreneurial enterprise, how to plan when tomorrow brings change. The English resettlements gave this issue unprecedented scope. Elizabeth's privy council under Lord Burghley promoted settlement not under color of military conquest, though soldiers and their attendant violence were common, but through the subtler procedures of property development and social engineering. The result was a keen awareness of the difficulty of planning, of allowing for delays, disappointments, and competition. This activity gave Spenser a felt need for modes of conduct that would be both widely applicable and flexible.

The experience of the undertakers reinforced an axiom of anticipation that applies today. Where the future is uncertain, an employer, or undertaker, will find his or her interests best served not by constructing laws for his employees but by guidelines full of vague references to fairness and best efforts, to following standards according to the customs of others in similar enterprises, to duty and loyalty—in short, to equity and values. Equity is a judgment that depends on a total context, not strict rules. It offers open-ended flexibility. The drawback is that it courts uncertainty, especially in costs. Trying to account for activity in Ireland, the government regularly inquired into the exact numbers of English settlers transported to Ireland. Significantly, Sir Walter Raleigh was probably the most successful at settling large numbers of English tenants. But Raleigh's "short, rather vague, and detached" responses to the crown's 1592 inquiry were too imprecise to satisfy Burghley. According to MacCarthy-Morrogh, "Back came a letter demanding amplification upon a number of points including the English population: 'whose those be, or to what number, is not expressed, as the articles of


the instructions did require.'"[28] In fact, Raleigh raised working capital by offering land to Londoners whose goal was to profit by resale, not settlement.[29]

The undertakers resorted to vagueness precisely because they bore the onus of day-to-day management and accountability, which belied the numbers Burghley might conjure up, sitting before his maps in his London chamber.[30] Spenser must have felt the weakness of the settlement scheme as he wrote or revised Book VI during the 1590s. There should have been 1,575 armed settlers according to Burghley's covenants; in fact, there were hardly that many Englishmen in Munster, of whom perhaps three hundred were ready to fight, and there was lack of provision for enclosures or defensive buildings.[31] In 1598, for reasons still obscure, the authorities suppressed publication of Spenser's analysis of what was wrong with the laws, customs, and religion of Ireland.[32] The settlement plans failed completely that year, when the local Irish rebelled, and Spenser's castle at Kilcolman was burned. Spenser had become sheriff of Cork, but died in 1599 after sailing to London, paradoxically, to petition for help in controlling a society whose ways he knew as well as any man alive.

As romance versions of the Irish Other, Crudor and Turpine, Briana and Blandina base judgments on their own provincial terms, twisting the good intentions of Calidor, Calepine, and Prince Arthur. Turpine's detraction, in particular, stands for a "can't do" attitude, which must have been anathema to the poet who wrote the most mellifluous rhymed epic in English. Such an attitude never dies, but must be ignored by the successful undertaker, just as Turpine is not eliminated, only baffled, probably temporarily, like the Blattant Beast. That the conflict between another's views and one's own may seem preposterous (the key notion of Puttenham's definitions of asteismus and hysteron proteton ) finds expression in the outcries of Briana and Blandina, in Serena's belated labor (after Calepine gives away a baby), and in Arthur's inability to punish Turpine because of slander that has always already occurred.[33] The successful person, planning for tomorrow, learns to tolerate carping. The


ultimate failure of Spenser's own career may disprove his message in particular but does not lessen the general power of courtesy conveyed by his chivalric romance.


Prince Arthur offers an ambiguous solution to the problem of the uncivil social other when he confronts Turpine in the middle of the legend of courtesy. The ambiguity arises because, if Turpine represents society's judgment of others, Arthur is not only judged but discriminates too. The narrative raises the question of Arthur's opinion in a subtle way, by sending him to Turpine's castle not by chance but to "avenge th'abuses" that Serena complains of (FQ 6.5.34). Elsewhere in Arthurian romance, knights errant do not usually witness foul customs in operation before personally confronting them. In Spenser's poem, however, Calidor finds a squire tied to a tree and sees Maleffort tearing the hair from a maiden's head before he takes action. Serena suffers from Turpine's discourteous custom and then tells her story to Prince Arthur. The pattern continues when the narrator of The Faerie Oueene mentions that Calidor once met Turpine ("that proud Knight, the which whileare /Wrought to Sir Calidore so foule despight," FQ 6.6.17). Since we only see Calepine and Arthur, not Calidor, meet Turpine, this reference may be a misprint or a mistake. If "Calidor" is correct, however, it underscores the structural principle of the scene of Turpine's confrontation with Prince Arthur, who, it turns out, has heard yet another story about Turpine before he reaches his castle.

For Arthur accuses Turpine of despoiling knights and ladies of their arms or upper garments (FQ 6.6.34), although this practice is mentioned nowhere else in the poem. Turpine's counterpart in the Morte Darthur on this matter is Sir Turquin, or Tarquin, who beats his prisoners "with thorns all naked" (MD 6.1) as he goes about capturing King Arthur's knights during his search for Lancelot. Prince Arthur has such an act of public shaming in mind when he accuses Turpine of stripping


his victims (also the practice of Ariosto's Marganorre, who short skirts ladies, and Malory's King Ryence, who collects beards and serves as a model for Sir Crudor). The public aspect that connects Turpine to Malory's Turquin is slightly roundabout, because we must consider the entire context of Turquin's story, but clear enough if we remember that the Turquin episode represents Lancelot's first appearance in the Morte Darthut and that Lancelot's reputation instantly becomes an issue. Because Lancelot rejects the sexual favors of four queens (Morgan, the queen of Northgales, the queen of Eastland, and the queen of the Out Isles, 6.3), public speculation becomes so intense that "it is noised" (MD 6.10) that Lancelot loves Queen Guenevere. Lancelot denies the allegation but at the same time recognizes the logic of public infamy—"I may not warn people to speak of me what it pleaseth them" (MD 6.10). Public gossip makes it difficult for characters like Calepine, Serena, or Timias to alter the way of the world that Turpine represents.

Spenser added the motif of public opinion to the traditional topos of the custom of the caste to make Arthur's encounter with Turpine not a confrontation between right and wrong but a conflict between different opinions. That Arthur's own reputation may also be at stake at Turpine's castle helps explain his strange behavior there, for the strategy Arthur employs in attacking Turpine owes something to a trick Lancelot uses to defeat Sir Peris de Forest Savage, someone closely associated with Turquin in Malory's story ("For like as Sir Turquin watched to destroy knights, so did this knight attend to destroy and distress ladies, damosels, and gentlewomen," MD 6.10). In an unusual and seemingly ungallant maneuver, Lancelot sends a damsel before him while he keeps himself "in covert." When Sir Peris knocks the damsel from her horse, Lancelot rebukes him and cuts his throat. In The Faerie Queene , Prince Arthur easily passes through Turpine's gates, then, like Lancelot, he dissimulates. Arthur feigns distress to give Turpine's porter an opportunity to deny him hospitality, the usual foul custom of romance (FQ 6.6.21), just as Lancelot exposes Sir Peris by hiding while Sir Peris makes a damsel his victim.


Arthur's reformation of Turpine is inconclusive, as was Calidor's victory over Sir Crudor's custom early in Book VI, because in both cases the violence of the heroes distorts their intent. The savage man who accompanies Arthur tears Turpine's porter to pieces, while his attack on a biblical quantity of "forty" yeomen causes Turpine, like Briana, to blame Arthur for killing his people (FQ 6.6.25). Even though Turpine then attacks Arthur from behind and flees from room to room through his castle, he survives because he has used the issue of violence to cloud the moral certainty of Arthur's position. Arthur's sword twists in his hands, as happens in romances whenever the author wants to spare someone from the overwhelming force of a hero ("Yet whether thwart or flatly it did lyte, / The tempted steele did not into his braynepan byte," FQ 6.6.30), while Arthur refrains from a second stroke because Blandina shrieks, shrouds Turpine, and entreats Arthur on her knees to spare him. Arthur calls Turpine a "vile cowheard dogge" (FQ 6.6.33), then lectures him on social courtesy instead of killing him.

The prince of magnificence finds himself in a strangely unsettling situation—such as a foreign culture might offer—where he must abandon traditional notions of right and wrong as he instructs this allegorical figure of social detraction. Arthur accuses Turpine of cowardice, but at the same time, he oddly voices respect for Turpine's right to live as he pleases. We hardly believe Arthur when he informs Turpine that bravery in a bad cause is no vice ("for oft it falles, that strong / And valiant knights doe rashly enterprize, / Either for fame, or else for exercize / A wrongfull quarrell to maintaine by fight," FQ 6.6.35). Turpine need not provide lodging for the wounded, Arthur says, as long as he does not attack secretly or from the back, since, even when defending bad causes, knights have "through prowesse and their brave emprize / Gotten great worship in this worldes sight. / For greater force there needs to maintaine wrong, then right" (FQ 6.6.35; my emphasis). Arthur means to persuade Turpine that it takes little pain to maintain what is right and that Arthur's own violent entry to the castle was of small moment compared to what it might have been had Arthur been in the wrong. Yet his mes-


sage seems overly casuistic, ironically not forceful enough, since Arthur seems to praise the "greater force" needed to maintain wrong while he also he gives Turpine a choice how to behave. He seems to be saying, "your country, right or wrong," as long as you are strong. It is the colonizer's creed.

We recognize what is happening to Arthur from other examples of foul customs in chivalric romances. Normally a knight errant is trapped into upholding local law by the pressure of the population, a provision of the custom itself, or a double bind. Arthur succumbs to this literary tradition by agreeing to Turpine's practice of keeping people out. He ceases to reform the local inhabitants, an act figured by his calling off the savage, who kills yeomen downstairs while Arthur spares Turpine upstairs. Finally he settles down to a "goodly feast" and entertainment provided by Blandina, Turpine's wife, who hides her true aversion to his reform. At Malory's Weeping Castle, Tristram and Galahalt find a way to "fordo" the foul custom when they submit to each other under the guise of sparing one another the shame of defeat (MD 8.27). Arthur spends the night at Turpine's castle after seeming to achieve a similar resolution.

But it is not clear that Arthur makes the correct choice when he yields to Blandina's persuasions and spends the night, although two examples of the custom of the castle topos in Malory's Morte Darthur show that a knight may ignore the behavior of others and depart without fully reforming their foul ways: Sir Dinadan refuses to lodge where the custom of the castle is to joust for bed space (MD 9.23), and Galahad rightly forsakes to kill the seven brothers who maintain the foul custom of the Castle of Maidens (MD 13.16). Here, however, Arthur's reformation proves useless because it depends on a sense of shame that Turpine does not feel. The next morning Arthur leaves Turpine's castle intact, and Turpine continues his attacks.

According to the narrator, Turpine's problem lies in his "vile donghill mind" (FQ 6.7.1). Using his wits, he convinces two knights to kill Arthur by telling them that Arthur ravished his lady, which distorts but


does not totally falsify Arthur's sojourn with Blandina. Arthur's response depends on both prowess and deception. He kills one knight and forces the other, Sir Enias, to bring Sir Turpine to him. Then, in a ploy that seems designed to attack not just Turpine's practice but his mental attitude, Arthur falls asleep—and his savage page wanders off in the woods (FQ 6.7.19)—as Sir Enias, whose name recalls the medieval reputation of Aeneas as the betrayer of Troy, fetches Turpine by tricking him into thinking Prince Arthur is dead. The ruse works, and when the prince wakes and grabs his sword, Turpine falls on the ground and holds up his hands for mercy (FQ 6.7.25).

All values need to be examined. Nothing Arthur does eliminates the social power that Turpine represents and that finds its cause in Turpine's intractable attitude. Arthur sets his foot on Turpine's neck "in signe / Of servile yoke, that nobler harts repine," but since Turpine's heart is not noble, he cannot "repine" or feel shame (FQ 6.7.26). The gesture is lost on him and once again Arthur fails to reform his ways. Arthur calls Turpine names and strips him of his "knightly bannerall," but he did essentially the same thing earlier in the castle, when he forbade him to bear arms and call himself a knight (FQ 6.6.36). Arthur's final act is to hang Turpine by his heels as a warning to others, but what warning can counter detraction? Puttenham translates what the Greeks called asteismus into English as the "merry scoff" or the "civil jest." He gives the example of one who knocked Cato on the head with a long piece of timber, then bade him beware. "What (quoth Cato) wilt thou strike me again?" The humor, Puttenham explains, arises because a warning should be given before, not after. Turpine's punishment is always too late because it comes after the fact: after his slander is already circulating.[34] The "civil jest" reminds us that detraction is not just a court foible, but a deeply rooted confrontation with the Other, because reputations depend on someone else's point of view. Arthur's encounter with Turpine shows a poet concerned about reforming society for a better future but in no sense an idealistic dreamer of utopias.


Chapter Six
Hamlet's Ghost Fear

Quam multa iniusta ac prava fiunt moribus.

Tradition may justify social usages of all degrees of importance, because customs "contain in themselves the authority of the ancestral ghosts," according to William Graham Sumner: "It may well be believed that notions of right and duty, and of social welfare, were first developed in connection with ghost fear."[2] Anxiety arises because "the ghosts of ancestors would be angry if the living should change the ancient folk-ways."[3]

The phenomenon of "ghost fear" as it lingers in the custom of the castle is the tribute paid by romance to the necessarily irrational foundations of community itself, a tribute to the power of an institution or way of life, though posed in narrative terms. An example of ghost fear occurs in a scene in the prose Tristan , one that Malory abridges and that was a source for Ariosto's Tower of Tristan episode. The scene occurs after Tristan and Sir Dynadans ask some shepherds (whose acumen impressed Ariosto) if they know of any lodging. The shepherds say that a castle is nearby, where the custom is that knights must joust against their hosts. The moral issue of knowingly maintaining a foul custom soon


emerges. Dynadans excoriates the "vilainne coustume" that they maintain in their "ostel" (T2 2:132). Only a "vilain," not a knight, makes stranger knights battle before receiving hospitality! The knights answer that their fathers long maintained this custom ("Or saciés bien que nostre peres maintint ceste coustume mout longement," T2 2:133). Therefore they must maintain it until they die, for love of them ("pour l'amour de lui," T2 2:133). Dynadans responds that they offer hostility, not hospitality ("vostre maison n'est pas herberge, ains est tout droitement osteus, car il oste menu et souvent ses ostes!" T2 2:133). Although the lords of this castle make no impression on the japing Dynadans, their excuse is powerful. They maintain the custom because their fathers established it.

Another example, in Malory, occurs when Brunor le Noire, called La Cote Male Taile, explains that he wears a rich but hewn garment because his father was slain in it as he slept, and Brunor seeks revenge on his killer. Brunor accepts his duty without anxiety (and Malory merely comments at the end of his story that he avenged his father's death, after Arthur awards him the Castle of Pendragon which escheated from Sir Brian de les Isles, MD 9.9). In the story of the Weeping Castle, as we have seen, Galahalt feels compelled to avenge his father's death even though he despises the distant isle where he was born and the custom whose maintenance made Sir Tristram his enemy.

Ghost fear also holds Hamlet in its grip, as he feels pressured to conform to the old ways of the past, to take the revenge his father's ghost asks for, even though his reason is unpersuaded. Terry Eagleton contrasts Hamlet's commitment to traditions with the disdain for popular customs expressed by Coriolanus, who represents a new type of "bourgeois individualist," scornful of public forms and "as superbly assured in his inward being as Hamlet is shattered in his."[4] Stanley Cavell claims that Hamlet's father's request for revenge "deprives his son of his identity, of enacting his own existence—it curses, as if spitefully, his being born of this father."[5] Hilary Gatti relates Hamlet's father to the collective ghosts of all ideal fathers: she thus identifies Hamlet's grounds for


"revolt against prevailing cultural modes in the name of a more heroic past symbolized in the figure of a lost father."[6] The phenomenon of "ghost fear," which links Hamlet to the old romance topos of the custom of the castle, involves the recognition by members of a human community that such "irrational" bonds as custom or taboo play a tremendous role in sustaining communities as communities. Whether registered on the level of superstition or general cultural anxiety, the "irrational" custom or tradition plays a role in sustaining society as a sphere within which it is then possible to make "rational" decisions about right and wrong, justice and injustice.

Justice is not a few rules or a set of demands, such as the acceptance of a duty of revenge. It requires knowledge, not a blind following of convention. Socrates makes this point in Plato's Republic , which concludes that virtue depends on the status of an agent, not his or her deed. As Julia Annas explains, "You cannot say what a virtue is by giving a list of kinds of action, for the same kind of action might not display that virtue, and the virtue might be displayed in other kinds of action."[7] Spenser puts the same idea into narrative form in the legend of courtesy, where he refuses to list specific attributes of the virtue. Shakespeare's Hamlet seeks a similar resolution, but in a dramatic mode, to the conflict between action and knowledge. Like a castellan, or a knight errant who suddenly finds himself or herself forced to defend the foul ways of a castle, Hamlet explains the ways of Denmark to Horatio, raises questions about the meaning of what he must do, engages in a duel, and seems committed to customs. More important, the play throws onto the audience the burden of thinking about the arbitrary nature of convention and the relationship between force and justice. The play therefore mirrors Plato's conception of justice, with devices similar to those of chivalric romance, but with a twist. Where chivalric romance represents social practice in the form of a joust to win hospitality or a woman or to escape the demand for a toll as a way of talking about justice, violence, order, and civility, Hamlet represents the force of customs by hiding them.



We want desperately to know the customs of Denmark, and much of the power of Hamlet derives from the fact that we never do. Custom is mentioned more times in Hamlet than in any other Shakespeare play, and given a full range of meanings, but specific customs are often shrouded in mystery, making it difficult to project how Danes should behave. "Is it a custom?" asks Horatio in the fourth scene, after Hamlet explains how the king revels, but to what does Horatio refer? The king's drinking, his excessive drinking, or his drinking late at night? The kettledrum and trumpet "triumph" that follows each draught? Or—perhaps most logically—the disconcerting discharge of artillery, about which Horatio first asks, "What does this mean, my lord?" Hamlet answers directly—"it is a custom"—but pursues his own line of thought, never clarifying the custom (Hamlet 1.4.15). Eventually he gives Horatio a moral discourse about the effect of drunkenness on the national character. From this swirl of uncertainties, some meaning emerges: there is a royal Danish tradition of reveling to the point even of cannon fire that Hamlet's father had demurred from observing.

Despite this seeming clarity, cloudiness prevails in Denmark. The most ambiguous element in this midnight conversation is Hamlet's concession that he is "native here / And to the manner born." His saying "but to my mind, though I am native here" implies that he disagrees with his country's custom, that he approves of breaching it—"it is a custom / More honor'd in the breach than the observance" (Hamlet 1.4.15-16). But if Hamlet agrees with this breach, this battering of the wall of custom, his "though" is unnecessary. For the concessive suggests that Hamlet opposes even that custom he has witnessed, when not in Wittenburg, during the thirty years of his life—the time of his father's reign. He should say, "But to my mind, and I am a native here / And to the manner born," we don't usually do this sort of thing, although there is an old out-of-date tradition for it. A copulative would serve, but it


would also provide a definite statement of what the custom has been.

Such precision the play avoids here and everywhere. Certainly Danish drunkenness has never gone out of style, or Hamlet could not complain that his country is "traduc'd and tax'd of other nations." But the nature of the drunkenness oscillates. Drinking in Denmark is both excessive—"they clip us drunkards"—and minimal, important in its unimportance, a "vicious mole," "defect," or "dram of eale" whose corrupting influence is out of proportion to its size (Hamlet 1.4.18-36). We may say that Hamlet objects to the sign of the drinking, not the drinking itself. Rather than condemning the vice in his ensuing speech, Hamlet complains about how foreigners perceive Danish drunkenness. But if he is indeed meditating on the corrupting influence of Claudius, it is a corruption that at this point, before the appearance of his father's ghost, only he can see. His literal objection, this early in the play, would then be not to the stain of Claudius but to his uncle's Machiavellian exploitation of a popular Danish pastime to ingratiate himself with the people. For if all Danes drink, then Claudius is merely one of the boys, so to speak, and cannot infect the state. This logic supports the normal reading, that the custom to which Hamlet objects is the loud ceremony that accompanies and calls attention to the drinking. This is the custom one usually honors by breaching it, by not observing it. The custom of this custom is that it is not a custom—the custom is out of fashion.

The anxieties of a culture caught in a moment of painful transition shape the patterns of customary behavior in Hamlet that form and un-form before our eyes. Within the castle walls at Elsinore, codes of behavior have been lost or no longer obtain. The resulting social crisis has been obscured by debates about Hamlet's character or strictly ontological issues such as whether the ghost is really a demon, or whether an injunction to revenge is morally valid or was considered morally valid by Shakespeare's original audience. Hamlet's actions have been treated as a problem of individuality and identity. But that Shakespeare hides the mores of Denmark does not mean that such issues are aspects of Hamlet's or Gertrude's or the ghost's character and status. Instead, the play is


about our struggle to make sense of patterns, codes, and ideals of conduct that have suddenly become important to a man living through a social transition.


Custom, writes Jonathan Dollimore, was the sixteenth century's word for ideology. Customs were regarded as both social practices and a means for the ruling class to control society.[8] But customs are not just instruments of oppression, argues Marshall Sahlins in Culture and Practical Reason . They are expressions of a more deeply symbolic order. Customs are arbitrary in the sense Ferdinand de Saussure meant when he noted that there is no inherent relation between a sound-image and a concept. All words that express similar concepts in a given language determine the value of any term. Moreover, language mediates our perception of objects. Taken alone, neither practical reason nor culture (defined as a common understanding that transcends immediate circumstances) accounts for the symbolic logic that organizes behavior. Both together determine social forms. For Sahlins, therefore, a culture harnesses nature to its own symbolic work, because symbolism is not inherent in objects, but instead arises from a culture's perception of objects.[9]

Hamlet faces a particular, even emblematic, problem of custom when he must respond to his dead father's presence. More than a catalyst to action, the ghost's appearance calls Hamlet to articulate his passionate attachment to the forms of things past whose loss he mourns. A variety of social ambiguities tease us because they offer themselves to historical positioning—current debates over drinking,[10] or the fashion of wearing hats, or child actors—everything from suits of woe to Italian penmanship. Hamlet dies in a rapier duel, a social practice that had only recently come into fashion in late sixteenth-century England.

The effect of Hamlet's mirroring of contemporary England is to establish the illusion that new customs are urging themselves to the fore


in Elsinore. Ophelia takes as a sign of madness that Hamlet came to her with "no hat upon his head" (Hamlet 2.1.76). But later, Hamlet offers Osric a subtle lesson in how a social system may refuse to recognize another's good intentions, when he mocks Osric's social address by asking him to put his "bonnet to his right use, 'tis for the head" (Hamlet 5.2.92).[11] For Osric, the forms of ceremony require that he take off his hat when speaking to his superior. Osric then experiences the panic of one for whom specific rules fail. When Montaigne visited Italy, he could not get over the fact that Alfonso if, the duke of Ferrara, removed his hat as a mark of respect to his visitors when they entered, and did not replace it until the audience ended.[12] In contrast a later entry in his journal noted that the pope doffed his cap to no one ("le pape ne tire jamais le bonnet à qui que ce soit").[13] Lancelot Andrewes traces to the Apostles' times the contention over "whether men were to pray uncovered , and women veiled or no?"[14] Sumner (who knew Hamlet ) cited tipping the hat among usages that "contain no principle of welfare, but serve convenience so long as all know what they are expected to do."[15] Although Boccaccio in his Filocolo makes a game of whether doffing a garland or putting it on signals more respect, the issue could be very serious.[16] Suffolk's pride could not endure that he should "stand uncover'd to the vulgar groom" (2 Henry VI 4.1.124-128). These questions of what came to be called etiquette produce an anxiety of civility—civility in the sense Puttenham means it, as that which has to do with public society.[17]

If sixteenth-century thinkers did not define customs as the arbitrary and symbolic expression of a culture, they nonetheless questioned the validity of customs as a source of values, despite their apparent usefulness. Customs represented the voice of the past but still required interpretation, giving them a two-faced or Janus-like quality. They were able to undergo change through time while remaining one and the same thing, like a substance that remains constant while what Aristotle would call its "accidents" change. Customs, since they were of no certain origin, were both always old and always new. This notion of precedence is the key to the strange concept of the "ancient constitution" that played


such a strong role in shaping English common law in the years when Shakespeare was writing.

The essence of custom was that it was immemorial, and the argument could . . . be used that, since the people had retained a given custom through many centuries, it had proved itself apt to meet all the emergencies which had arisen during that period. Custom was tam antiqua et tam nova , always immemorial and always perfectly up-to-date.[18]

Custom was also a rhetorical as well as legal topic.[19] When Thomas Wilson in his Arte of Rhetorique defined custom as that "which long time hath confirmed, being partly grounded upon nature, and partly upon reason," he did so to show how an orator could manipulate custom to suit his persuasive purpose.[20] That is, the orator could discourse on time, nature, or reason, and define each to suit his topic. In particular the possibility of defining time to fit one's argument had been recognized at least since Saint Augustine, who confessed that he knew what time was as long as no one asked him, but when someone asked "What is time?" he did not know. Paul Ricoeur begins Time and Narrative with Augustine's remark to support his claim that time cannot be defined, only narrated.[21] Ricoeur's thought, in turn, suggests that narrative is not so much a literary form as a category of knowledge, as time and space were for Kant. In postmodern terms, stories structure our experience of the world.[22] When a dying Hamlet instructs Horatio "to tell my story," he realizes that Horatio will only be able to recount it "more or less": "the rest is silence" (Hamlet 5.2.349, 357-358).

The temporal indeterminacy of Shakespeare's As You Like It , another play about a young man whose father's spirit impels him to action against current corruption,[23] corresponds to our inability to construct a full account of Hamlet . In the comedy, probably written just before Hamlet , it is unclear how long Duke Senior has lived in the Forest of Arden: Charles the wrestler implies at one point that Duke Frederick has only recently banished his brother, but Celia later says she was "young"


when the banishment occurred.[24] When Duke Senior asks his forest followers whether "old custom" has not "made this life more sweet / Than that of painted pomp?" (As You Like It 2.1.2.), he may mean that he and his followers have grown accustomed over a long time to winter and rough weather, or he may mean that they have rediscovered in the pastoral setting certain lost virtues of friendship and consideration—the "old custom" that, the play suggests, they will bring back to court as soon as the plot allows them to return after their sojourn in the forest.

Hamlet never learns what to do—or more precisely, when to do it. Orlando, by contrast, receives good instruction. Rosalind's education of her lover, moreover, takes the form of lessons in timing, from her initial lecture on the varying pace of time—it trots, ambles, or gallops according to circumstances—to her insistence that Orlando be on time in keeping his appointments with her. As a strong woman who shapes the social order to suit herself, Rosalind is Shakespeare's successor to Spenser's Britomart and Ariosto's female warriors (Marfisa and Bradamante), who compete with men in the customs of chivalry, often by controlling time, while wandering through the forests of romance. Rosalind's instruction of a rather bewildered Orlando—she cures his passion by polishing his manners—turns her restoration, by means of the play's powers of illusion, into the vision of a better world of courtesy and civility, a world of good customs to which the medieval concept of chivalry continues to be applied.[25]

The proper names of As You Like It (Arden, Orlando, Oliver, Charles) echo those of the Italian romanzi . (In Thomas Lodge's euphuistic pastoral Rosalynde , Shakespeare's direct source, the hero is named Rosader, not Orlando.) Shakespeare almost certainly knew the custom of the castle topos, not just from John Harington's translation of the Furioso or from The Faerie Queene , but also from commonly reprinted chivalric romances such as Malory's Morte Darthur, Bevis of Hampton, Palmerin of Englande, Palmerin d'Oliva , and especially Amadis of Gaul , where every adventure of both Amadis and his brother Galaor involves a castle and a foul custom, often the product of an enchantment that prevents a young


lady from attaining her rightful inheritance.[26] Given the shift in mode from chivalric narrative to drama, the custom of the castle forms the background to Shakespeare's imagery if not the object of his direct imitation. Customs remain an important theme in Shakespeare's later plays, one whose meaning can be brought out by keeping in mind the elements of the custom of the castle topos: the keeper of the custom, the errant knight who faces it, the nature of the custom, and the castle that contains it.


Shakespeare rarely uses the word custom in plays earlier than Henry V , where the first use of a form of the word occurs when York speaks of the king's "customary rights" in France. Attracted by the perquisites of custom, King Henry sends Exeter to France to say that he intends to have all the honors that belong to the crown of France "by custom, and the ordinance of times" (Henry V 2.4.83). By the end of the play, Henry finds in his use of custom a way to legitimize the royal inheritance left him by his usurping father. His boldness contrasts to the vascillations of disinherited Hamlet.

To avoid offending the ghost of those ancestral kings whose line his own father had usurped, Henry V learns to manipulate customs. We see his political acumen in symbolic form at the end of the play as Henry woos Katherine of France. When he wants to kiss her, he ignores her appeal to custom, which is given in French to stress its ineffectiveness (just as York wants the king to say "pardon" in French to nullify the efficacy of the words in Richard II ): "Les dames et demoiselles pour être baisée devant leur noces, il n'est pas la coutume de France."[27] When Henry kisses her, he overcomes custom as a sign of Katherine's otherness and opposition to him. He also affirms his political dominance.

O Kate, nice customs cur'sy to great kings. Dear Kate, you and I cannot be confin'd within the weak list of a country's fashion. We are the makers of manners, Kate; and the liberty that follows our places


stops the mouth of all find-faults, as I will do yours, for upholding the nice fashion of your country in denying me a kiss; therefore patiently and yielding. [Kissing her .] (Henry V 5.2.268-275)

Henry's theory that he can create customs—although he leaves unsaid the usual justification that he is only restoring an older usage that has been usurped—reappears in Hamlet in the opening speech of Claudius. The new king welters between nature and reason (which Claudius calls "discretion"). But Hamlet calls into question Claudius's political manipulation of custom. Where Claudius thinks Hamlet's time of mourning too long, Hamlet thinks it too short. Where Claudius is justified by reason, which claims to understand death and so control one's reaction to it, Hamlet claims to be justified by nature, which would mourn. Claudius condemns his nephew's behavior as "a fault to nature, / To reason most absurd, whose common theme / Is death of fathers" (Hamlet 1.2.102-103). But Hamlet's scorn raises questions: Why not "mirth in funeral" and "dirge in marriage" (Hamlet 1.2.12)? What is the customary period of mourning for a father? For Gertrude's dead husband?

Distracted by the reappearance of his father's ghost, which now only he can see, Hamlet, who thinks himself one who must set things right, accuses his mother of staining his father's memory. Wildly assuming she has intercourse with Claudius every day (what is the norm for married Danish royalty where the male partner drinks excessively?), he would have her refrain from her adulterous bed for one night, "and that shall lend a kind of easiness / To the next abstinence, the next more easy; For use almost can change the stamp of nature" (Hamlet 3.4.161-162). His lecture to her reflects an approach to moral education through "habituation" that, R. M. Frye observes, "can be traced through Luther, Erasmus, Aquinas and many others, back to Aristotle."[28] It is her ability to choose, and the uncertainty of the moral value of an action, that leads him to call custom a "monster" (as Viola in Twelfth Night calls herself a monster because, disguised as a man, she is half one thing and half an-


other). Hamlet tells his mother that she has the power to choose whether she will rely on a habit that makes her "act in character" in an unproblematic way, or whether she will consider that her lovemaking is a habit that ought to be changed because it leaves her vulnerable. But does Gertrude have such a choice?

Besides leaving us uncertain about some customs and habits, certain judgments in Hamlet assume an unsupportable definitiveness. Laertes and Polonius, for example, tell Ophelia how to behave with Hamlet, but the play is vague about premarital conduct. Hamlet's behavior is not custom but "a fashion and a toy in blood" (Hamlet 1.3.6). Laertes objects that Hamlet's inheritance makes him unfit for Ophelia: "His greatness weigh'd, his will is not his own." But since Gertrude has no objections ("I hop'd thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife," Hamlet 5.1.244), we cannot be sure what the custom is. What should Ophelia do? Laertes lectures her, but she asks him to consider his own behavior. On that subject, Renaldo seeks to learn from Polonius, whose standards are not clear, what is expected of a young Dane in Paris.

By withholding evidence of Hamlet's normal patterns of behavior and daily routine—whether he practices fencing or plays pranks (such as, perhaps, appearing in slovenly dress before Ophelia)—the play makes it impossible for us to judge how far he deviates and whether he is mad. Everything in the play seems deviant, but in another culture—in England, as the grave digger says—no one would notice (Hamlet 5.1.155). Shakespeare can make his characters do anything and make us believe anything he puts into the world of Hamlet because he withholds the norms.[29]

Shakespeare eliminates what Fredson Bowers called "the normal guideposts to assist an audience in its interpretation of the action."[30] The resulting "vagueness" (Bower's word) shifts our attention to the moral status of Hamlet, a status that seems to alter in the last act.[31] In answer to our own puzzlement, we seem to glimpse Hamlet's soul when he lectures Horatio on the fall of a sparrow and declares that the "readiness is all" (Hamlet 5.2.219-222). As G. K. Hunter writes, Hamlet's


heroism depends less on "acting or even knowing than upon being. "[32] The shift parallels Plato's search for the meaning of justice elsewhere than in the world.

Our view of Hamlet's inner history may change, but not that of others: Claudius is still a murderer who, although he loses his life, gets his man. As Harry Levin observes, "Tragedy always culminates when the survivor takes over with an appeal to the restoration of order."[33] Might not right triumphs in the form of Fortinbras, who orders a military funeral for Hamlet, although Hamlet has shown no inclination for life in a regiment. What is the funeral custom for a prince? Is it to be buried in armor, like his father's ghost? Or is the equation of royalty with soldier-ship the form the Norwegian Fortinbras prefers, the custom he intends to establish, once the election lights on him, when and if he takes up residence within the battlements of Elsinore, keeping the customs of the Danes?

Hamlet , like Spenser's Book of Courtesy, questions whether civility can ever be defined in a particular way. All custom of the castle scenes are images of social integration, but some of them give special emphasis to the particular strain of altering custom. Doubt and uncertainty attend the realization that customs may be created, that people alter the institutions they pass to the future. The next chapter shows Shakespeare's solution to this anxiety in the castles of Macbeth , which illustrate the distant, future orientation of English customary law. The model for the displacement of medieval castles in subsequent fiction, Macbeth offers an oxymoronic vision of the future as the time of good customs.


Chapter Seven
Macbeth's Future: "A Thing of Custom"

Sixteenth-century Protestantism solved the problem of social change by projecting itself not as revolutionary but as a return to the better ways of the past. The restored church modeled itself on the ways of Christ's first apostles.[1] This pattern extended from religious to legal and political affairs. The fiction of common lawyers in the early seventeenth century was that custom was always up-to-date, or the people would discard it; at the same time, it was by definition immemorial, "in the full sense of 'traceable to no original act of foundation.'"[2] Sir Edward Coke argued to King James what would become Edmund Burke's Whig position, that no man could be wiser than the laws, because the law, based on ancient customs, contained the sum of many men's wisdom. It did not matter that customs could only be thought immemorial by men whose historical imaginations failed to consider the effect of the Norman conquest.[3] The result was a valorization of common law as "nothing else but the Common Custome of the realm."[4]

Not unexpectedly, the past was then harnessed to political agendas. During Shakespeare's prime working years, the Parliamentary party argued that ancient customs formed the very basis of English common law. By 1604, when King James assumed the throne and Macbeth was


first produced, the value of custom as a means of reading the past and preparing for the future had reached a new urgency. The key to customary law was that the future could always be justified by the past, a trick that civil law, which James favored, could not perform.[5]

This chapter argues that just as English customs could be used to justify a better future, Macbeth empties Dunsinane of himself, a form of exorcism that allows an oppressive castle to be reinscribed as a sign of justice. Midway through the play, Lady Macbeth strives to excuse Macbeth's derangement as a "thing of custom" (Macbeth 3.4.96), but we know it arises from his fear of Banquo's ghost. The play ends when Macbeth at Dunsinane proclaims that "Our castle's strength / Will laugh a siege to scorn" (Macbeth 5.5.2-3), then inexplicably abandons his fortress. In so doing, Macbeth allows what he perceives to be the significance of his own castle to solve the social, political, and personal problems his ambition has created.

Exorcizing a castle, whether by siege or dispossession, offers a powerful image of the establishment of a civil society. André Chastel has shown how Protestant propaganda turned Rome into an infernal Babylon before imperial troops entered the city in 1527. Rome was first demonized by propaganda and then exorcized by invading troops. Thus emptied, its walls could be reinscribed with the new ideologies that Chastel traces through later sixteenth-century art.[6] The formula of demonization, exorcism, and reinscription imitates the origins of Christianity, the new law that replaced the old. The formula also describes what happens to the image of a castle when a knight errant overcomes its foul customs.

Critics have generally interpreted the castles of Macbeth as images of hell. Macbeth's porter, after all, claims to be tending hell's gates when he answers Macduff's knocking, and Macbeth turns Scotland into an inferno to defend the usurped crown he wears.[7] Christ's harrowing of hell was a favorite theme of the morality plays, the source usually cited for Macbeth . The morality plays end with demonstrations of God's mercy; in the Castle of Perseverance (1405-1425), for example, which David Bev-


ington calls "the grand archetype of moral plays," the conclusion finds the protagonist "unprepared for Death, sin-ridden, deserted by friends, his worldly treasure, and his heirs, and so deficient in good deeds that he must depend solely on God's mercy."[8] Macbeth, "sick at heart" as his thanes fly from him, recognizes this abandonment as his own situation: "And that which should accompany old age / As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends, / I must not look to have" (Macbeth 5.3.24-26). Just as medicines can be poisons if misapplied, Macbeth's admirable desire for a safe tomorrow and peaceful old age elicits his murderous depravity in that strange combination of good and bad qualities—of good qualities made fatal by circumstances—that we regard as essential to a properly tragic hero.

The paradigm of the custom of the castle suggests that Macbeth's death benefits society as well as his soul.[9] The self-exorcism of Dunsinane blurs the issue of guilt and innocence, increasing Macbeth's heroic stature even as his murders and guilty conscience make us wish for his defeat. Macbeth's castles, once haunted by foul crimes, stand open to new masters, new customs.

I. Inverness

T. S. Eliot contrasted Dante's allegorical style—where images are clear, even if their meaning is uncertain—to the unique convergence of "intelligibility and remoteness" that makes Shakespeare's English harder for a non-native speaker to understand than Dante's Italian. Eliot chose the castle description of Macbeth as his example:[10]


This castle hath a pleasant seat, the air


Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself


Unto our gentle senses.



This guest of summer


The temple-haunting [martlet], does approve,


By his lov'd [mansionry], that the heaven's breath


Smells wooingly here; no jutty, frieze,


Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird


Hath made his pendant bed and procreant cradle.


Where they [most] breed and haunt, I have observ'd


The air is delicate.


(Macbeth 1.6.1-9)

Duncan and Banquo actually describe not the castle but the air around it. Literally, their words indicate that the location of Macbeth's castle positions it so that a wind clears it of the smells associated with lack of sanitation. On a map, Inverness stands at the top of Loch Ness, where to Shakespeare's imagination the breeze would doubtless be brisk. Movie versions show us the castle in the distance, and stage notes have Lady Macbeth greet Duncan outside the castle.[11] Yet the torches and hautboys of the First Folio suggest an interior scene.

Poetry projects olfactory sensations with difficulty. It is easy to miss that Banquo and Duncan describe what they smell as much as what they see. Harry Berger has argued that Banquo hides his thoughts from Duncan in this conversation, although he projects himself as a war bird (mar tlet) whose procreant cradle will produce future kings of Scotland.[12] If the play closes by raising the possibility that Macduff may become Malcolm's Macbeth—he has killed one king of Scotland (Macbeth) and may make a habit of it—at this point Banquo, who knows the witches' prophecy for Macbeth, may intuit—or smell into (as the Fool says in King Lear )—more than he reveals.[13]

Like the uncertain future that stretches beyond dusty tomorrows, the innocent past lies tantalizingly beyond the bounds of the play. Macbeth's letter and sudden arrival makes indeterminable the precise point at which Macbeth and Lady Macbeth begin to wish Duncan dead. Even as he prepares a dagger for Duncan's throat, Macbeth conjures a former social order of "even-handed justice" (Macbeth 1.7.10) which the movement of the play will eventually reimpose. This vision of a former world raises the hope for a better tomorrow, just as ancient customs theoretically determine future conduct in the common law.


Shakespeare's sources offered no details about Duncan's murder except that, prodded by his wife, Macbeth kills the king "at Enverns, or (as some say) at Botgosuane."[14] Nothing in the play raises specific alternatives to the murder plot Lady Macbeth devises, such as the possibility of Macbeth's killing Duncan in a jealous rage after finding him in bed with Lady Macbeth, or "accidentally" pushing him off a battlement, or poisoning his supper. The suitability—as Lady Macbeth sees it—of a lone Scottish castle for murder disguises the question of whether Macbeth's letter implies that the couple had previously discussed the death of Duncan.

If the play's sleight of hand precludes one from imagining a better murder plan than that cobbled together under the pressure of Duncan's sudden arrival, the eventual failure of Macbeth's purpose for murdering Duncan gives the lie to Lady Macbeth's declaration that time and place "have made themselves" (Macbeth 1.7.53). When Lady Macbeth herself greets Duncan, the porter is significantly absent: his romance role would have been to explain the castle's ways, that a king who enters risks death. Lady Macbeth substitutes. But she has replaced Banquo's martlets with her own raven thoughts; called on spirits, murdering ministers, and night; and haunted the castle before Duncan's entrance to its battlements. When she and Duncan exchange convoluted courtesies, the double duties Lady Macbeth advertises—"All our service / In every point twice done, and then done double" (Macbeth 1.6.14-15)—mimic her double purpose and duplicity.

Whereas Macbeth tells himself that his only fear is to lose "the present horror of the time, / Which now suits with it" (Macbeth 2.1.59-60), his wife consciously expresses a visionary future. Eager for murder, when she first greets Macbeth she tells him she feels "the future in the instant" (Macbeth 1.4.57). "Tomorrow" (Macbeth 1.4.59)—to her mind the day when Duncan remains alive—need never come. Shakespeare's characters typically listen to what others say, and may use a word scenes or acts later because prompted by something spoken earlier. Lady Macbeth's narrow view of "tomorrow" haunts Macbeth, until he turns the word over three times on hearing she has died.


From the time of Chrétien de Troyes, romances reflect the situation of a feudal nobility caught between what Erich Köhler called an ambitious and increasingly centralized monarchy and a rising urban bourgeoisie of merchants, manufacturers, and jurists.[15] Macbeth is a nobleman, and the play's opening scenes further establish him as a type of knight or warrior used to killing at close quarters. He slays the merciless Macdonwald with a reverse sword stroke typical of romance heroes, unseaming him from the "nave to th' chops" (Macbeth 1.2.22). Editors with an eye on Shakespeare's sources have rightly glossed the sisters whom Macbeth meets as images of fate, the Anglo-Saxon "weird," but the consistent spelling of weird as "weyward" in the 1623 folio, our only early text of the play, suggests the theme of knight errancy as well—the wanderings and errors and right ways and wrong ways and crossroads and Herculean Y's of romance knights seeking adventure.

As the wolf howls and Macbeth moves with "Tarquin's ravishing strides" (Macbeth 2.1.55), like injustice incarnate, toward the chamber where Duncan sleeps, he fears not so much the event or failure or eternal damnation, though each of these enters his consideration. More strikingly, his mind leaps to that point in future time just beyond his control; he craves finality, to "jump the life to come" (Macbeth 1.7.7). But closure eludes his imagination, and this factor also contributes to the portrait of Macbeth as a knight of romance, the literary form that, David Quint argues, lacks the ability of epic to terminate.[16] Instead of projecting a kind of teleological sublime, Macbeth's thoughts form a court for "judgment," where his "vaulting ambition" takes sides against the logic of precedent: "we but teach / Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return / to plague th' inventor" (Macbeth 1.7.8-10, 27). Unable to project a settled future to justify his gruesome course, Macbeth passes sentence against himself as he broods on "consequence":

                    This even-hand justice
Commends th' ingredience of our poison'd chalice
To our own lips.
        (Macbeth  1.7.10-12)


Like Brutus or Othello, Macbeth projects conditions under which he deserves to perish. When he abandons Dunsinane, his imaginings find a way out.[17]

II. Forres

Succession—the issue that preys on Macbeth's mind—is a powerful instance of social custom. The rules of Tanistry obtain in Scotland, in Holinshed's account, whereby the title devolves by popular election on the warrior best able to sustain it. A few years after Macbeth , the rule of Tanistry would be outlawed in Ireland—the country whose customs seem to have made England so conscious of her habits and manners.[18] Macbeth thinks Duncan defrauds him, because

by the old lawes of the realme, the ordinance was, that if he that should succeed were not of able age to take the charge upon himselfe, he that was next of bloud unto him should be admitted.[19]

The play, by contrast, ignores the Tanistry issue, making it seem that only Macbeth's perverse ambition leads him to believe that he and not Malcolm should be named as successor.

Duncan announces the succession at Forres, where he also conjures an image of a nostalgic time, when traitors were executed and hypocrites, whose faces did not betray them, were exposed. Macbeth professes his loyalty in the kind of intricate language associated with ceremonial customs and the ritual expectations of feudal exchange, although his words hint at his concern for his own posterity: "Your Highness' part / Is to receive our duties; and our duties / Are to your throne and state children and servants" (Macbeth 1.4.23-25). Mimicking the inscrutable features of his predecessor, the Thane of Cawdor, which led Duncan to conclude that "There's no art / To find the mind's construction in the face," Macbeth seeks to disguise his "deep desires" before Duncan calls Macbeth's valor a "banquet" during the first scene set at Forres (Macbeth 1.4.11-12, 51, 56).


Later in the play, Forres offers itself as a place where Macbeth can harbor himself, his murderous ways, and his brittle deluded hopes (before the witches dash them in act four) of passing his title to a son. At Forres, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth seek to establish ceremonial order after the death of Duncan. The banquet scene at the royal palace plays out the conflict between Macbeth's murders and a vision of a future when Macbeth can be free from fear, a vision conjured by the open sky of Scone where Macbeth was crowned, "whole as the marble, founded as the rock, / As broad and general as the casing air" (Macbeth 3.4.21-22). As Macbeth welcomes his guests, he makes his banquet the image of former, untroubled times. As in some noncompetitive golden age, the guests each know their "own degrees" (Macbeth 3.4.1). No keeper of the castle is needed to seat them, as if the absence of a castellan indicates the absence of evil custom. Macbeth condescends to mingle, while Lady Macbeth keeps her woman's place of silence apart—"my heart speaks they are welcome" (Macbeth 3.4.7), letting her husband talk formally for her.

The banquet at Fortes uses ceremonies and priorities of seating to give physical shape and civilized expression to underlying debts and obligations and competition. But Macbeth's murderers disrupt this expression of social order, prompting Lady Macbeth to complain that Macbeth's private conversation with them, in drawing him apart, devalues the meal's "ceremony" (Macbeth 3.4.35). In Holinshed's ambiguous account, Macbeth, it may be argued, has Banquo murdered on his way home from dinner at Fortes, "so that he would not have his house slandered."[20] Shakespeare clearly puts the murder first, so that Banquo's ghost can invade the ceremonial dinner. The entrance of Banquo's ghost thrusts the image of order into the past—the image of what a shaken Macbeth calls "th' olden time, / Ere humane statute purg'd the gentle weal" (Macbeth 3.4.75).[21] Lady Macbeth desperately attempts to give the name of normalcy to the disorder that Banquo's ghost stirs in Macbeth—"Think of this, good peers, / But as a thing of custom" (Macbeth 3.4.95-96). It is not obvious to Lady Macbeth—nor would it have been


clear to many English jurists—that disorder cannot be justified and social concord restored under the sign of "custom."

III. Dunsinane

Macbeth is at first a just king in Holinshed, who rules well for ten years. Then he starts to fear that "he should be served of the same cup, as he had ministered to his predecessor."[22] Once he eliminates Banquo, he finds that he benefits in two ways from killing off his nobility: they cannot threaten him, and he gets their property. He orders the construction of Dunsinane as an image of central power and a way to dominate his nobles, who must in turn finance and assist in its construction:

Further, to the end he might the more cruellie oppresse his subjects with all tyrantlike wrongs, he builded a strong castell on the top of an hie hill called Dunsinane, situate in Gowrie, ten miles from Perth, on such a proud height, that standing there aloft, a man might behold well neere all the countries of Angus, Fife, Stermond, and Ernedale, as it were lieing underneath him.[23]

In the Holinshed tradition, the castle at Dunsinane—a high hill surveying several counties—offers Macbeth an image of his pride and a place from which to oppress his nobles. The castle is not primarily defensive. When the English forces arrive, Macbeth leaves its walls to face the enemy in the field.

In Shakespeare's play, by contrast, Dunsinane shelters a man who lives in constant fear. Like Inverness, where Macbeth hears noises after he murders Duncan, Dunsinane becomes a projection of Macbeth's psychic state, for Dunsinane represents a riddle of the future. Macbeth hears the name when he seeks two prophetic answers from the "wey-ward" sisters.[24] First, he wants to know if he will be killed. Second, he wants to know if Banquo's issue will reign. After Macbeth is shown three apparitions—the armed head, the bloody child, and the child crowned, with a tree in his hand—he concludes that he "shall live the lease of na-


ture, pay his breath / To time and mortal custom" (Macbeth 4.1.99-100). The question about Banquo's issue is answered by "a show of eight Kings , [the eighth] with a glass in his hand, and Banquo last." Macbeth believes the two answers contradict each other: why, if the witches correctly (as he believes) predict that he will live long will Banquo's issue inherit the throne?

What seems to ensue—if we accept Banquo as the ancestor of King James—is that Macbeth soon dies, while Banquo's issue succeeds. One set of prophecies (the apparitions) is ambiguous, the other (the show of kings) accurate. But why should the witches' spectacle of kings unambiguously foretell the future? They do so because Dunsinane represents that "imagined better state" that R. S. Crane identified as the key to Macbeth's conduct.[25] As an omen of social change, Dunsinane is first mentioned when the weird sisters produce their third apparition, the child crowned. A shift in accent suggests that Macbeth misinterprets what the sovereign child tells him about the length of his own reign. Informing Macbeth that he will rule just as long as Birnan Wood does not move, the apparition gives Dunsinane a penultimate stress ("Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be untíl / Great Bírnan wóod to hígh Dunsínane híll / Shall come against him," Macbeth 4.1.92-94). Macbeth pronounces it another way ("Till Birnan Wood remove to Dunsináne / I cannot taint with fear," Macbeth 5.3.2). Macbeth regards Dunsinane as an image of his own safe future, but the shift in pronunciation reinforces his self-deception.

After Macbeth takes (false) hope from the witches in act four, Dunsinane becomes his sole habitation. We see him nowhere else. He mentions the Birnan Wood prophecy frequently while there, though he says nothing about the succession that tormented him earlier ("For Banquo's issue have I fil'd my mind," Macbeth 3.1.64). He sends others to kill Lady Macduff (he personally murders her in Holinshed). While he remains within, he orders Seyton to scour the countryside and hang those who talk of fear (Macbeth 5.3.36). From a military perspective, there is no reason not to believe him when he proclaims that "our castle's


strength / Will laugh a siege to scorn" (Macbeth 5.5.3-4). Macbeth has "supp'd full with horrors" (Macbeth 5.5.135), but at Dunsinane, he seems to have buried his fear while conducting a reign of terror.

Dunsinane appears to Macbeth as a refuge. He constandy scrutinizes it as a way to control society, ostensibly because it keeps him safe as long as Birnan Wood stays away. Lady Macbeth's death changes his perception. Psychologically, Macbeth removes himself because his caste, haunted by his dead wife, no longer corresponds to his vision of a safe future. Despite the advantage of the castle, Macbeth then arms and meets the English forces in the field.

To understand this shift we need to recognize that Lady Macbeth's death takes place in the same interval of the eternal present that confines Macbeth throughout the play—cut off from the past, unable to reach the safe future. First, Macbeth hears a cry. Before he learns the source of the sound, he recalls a happier time, before blood had dulled his sensibilities, a time when he could feel horror—"The time had been, my senses would have cool'd / to hear a night-shriek" (Macbeth 5.5.10). Seyton then announces Lady's Macbeth's death. His words prompt Macbeth's soliloquy on the empty significance of tomorrow. The announcement of Birnan Wood's movement closes the interval in which Macbeth loses his hold on that "imagined better state" whose heroic pursuit turned his murders into tragic misdeeds. Realizing his future is empty, Macbeth engages in a form of sympathetic magic: he empties his castle to allow its reinscription by others. The gesture reveals the courage that makes Macbeth attractive despite his foul deeds. His departure, with harness on his back, leaves the edifice open to the invading forces.

Emptied by Macbeth, Dunsinane welcomes the English as Macbeth fights in the field. "This way, my lord, the castle's gently rendered," Siward tells Malcolm: "Enter, sir the castle" (Macbeth 5.7.24, 30). Shakespeare's direct sources provide nothing like this moment. But the literary roots of a castle that both symbolizes the law and also shelters foul customs stretch back through chivalric romance. The sea change in


Macbeth's perception of Dunsinane—his self-abandonment of what previously had represented future hope but now seems only a reminder of past sin—depends on the symbolism that made castles a sign of status and future hope.

Macbeth's intuition that he is the keeper of foul customs leads him to face the invading forces, a military decision also found in one of the chivalric romances Shakespeare may well have read, Anthony Munday's 1591 translation of Palmerin d'Oliva:

When the King of Scots understood the coming of the King of England, and that in all haste he would bid him battle [he conferred] with his Captains about their present affairs, concluding to offer the enemy skirmishes, because thereby they would know their intent.

Although the confrontation seems unsettled, the Scottish king suddenly foresees the future, to the amazement of the English:

Notwithstanding he gave order to prepare for battle, because he knew the King of England came for no other purpose. The Englishmen, not suffering the Scots to have leisure to fortify themselves, were by the king the next morning commanded in array, and all wings and squadrons appointed.[26]

Dunsinane, as Macbeth abandons it, represents his recognition of society's need to forget—in the name of futurity—the amount of injustice and repression that goes on in the process of civilization. With Macbeth's demise, banished good returns, evil is purged, savage customs are tamed. Macbeth's foul ways and his castles yield to the new dominion promised by Malcolm: domestic order, civility, proper burial, true succession. At the political level, the northward march of Malcolm, Siward, and their English troops, who join disaffected Scottish lords at Birnan, softens what might otherwise be viewed as imperial conquest. As the play ends, the invaders appear to restore sound but temporarily displaced Scottish traditions, which dovetail with good English manners. Malcolm—the son of Duncan, the virgin warrior and instrument of jus-


tice—renames his "thanes and kinsmen" with the English word "earls" (Macbeth 5.9.28-30). But he maintains the custom of being "crown'd at Scone," a nostalgic but powerful sign, the image of a wild, romantic past when kings were freely chosen in the open air, when justice still walked on earth, and ghosts did not yet dance on castle ruins—an image that Protestant propaganda used to justify attacks on Church of Rome property, as in Lewes Lavatar's gloss on Isaiah 34:

In the ruinous and tottering Pallaces, Castles, and houses, horrible spirits shal appeare with terrible cries, and the Satyro shal call unto hir mate, yea the night hags shal take their rest there. For by the sufferance of God, wicked Devils work strange things in those places where men have exercised pride and cruelty.[27]

By exorcizing such demons from old castles, the social resolution envisioned by Macbeth combines the old and the new, the distant source of ancient and good customs and the present that winnows away foul accretions, to provide a glimpse of a proper future, a more civil society.


Chapter Eight
Epilogue: The Disappearing Castle

The universal tension between public justice and private control underwent a radical change in vocabulary during the 1020s, according to Georges Duby, as new divisions of power were established in France. The heart of the new social unit was the castrum , or castle; it was a tower in the countryside, and its design echoed the walls of a city under regal control. "The castle was an ambivalent symbol: it was both the seat of justice and the base of a potentially oppressive power, a sign of the lord's duty to protect his people and also of his right to command and, if necessary, punish them."[1]

The Normans who invaded England relied on such castles to maintain their authority over a large and far-flung population.[2] Castles functioned to protect the realm, as residences for the king, and as centers of shrieval administration. Royal castles also provided a depository for public records, food supplies, wine, and prisoners.[3] By the early fourteenth century, according to N.J.G. Pounds's recent study The Medieval Castle in England and Wales , at least half of the fifteen hundred castles built since the Conquest had been deserted.[4] Others were crumbling. Their importance diminished as the king's courts spread their influence and the costs of maintenance increased. Their military significance faded except on the borders, while the number of great


barons diminished until the peerage numbered no more than sixty or so families. Gunpowder made smaller castles useless.[5]

During the War of the Roses, castles had no military impact:

Strategically castles proved as insignificant as cities. The private castles of the nobility might never have existed for all the effect they had upon the wars. Of the royal castles, only Harlech, for reasons now obscure, withstood a long blockade. The rest of the Welsh castles, like Pembroke and Radnor, and the great northern castles, Alnwick, Bamborough, and Dunstanborough, which figure so prominently in the meager narratives of the 1460's, never held out more than a few weeks.[6]

Castles had been licensed by the crown, and the custom continued during the fifteenth century in the need to apply for permission to crenellate a dwelling. Thus the outward form of the castle became what Pounds terms an "empty symbol," but nevertheless the "object of ambition of every aspiring member of the upper classes."[7] By the time of Spenser and Shakespeare, a castle offered status to the newly ennobled, and its designs were perpetrated by academic and charitable institutions. Real fortresses were redesigned according to foreign styles, as when from 1538 to 1540 Henry VIII built coastal artillery forts along the Thames to Portsmouth.

The fourteenth-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight illustrates the appearance and disappearance of the castle as a sign of status and good manners.[8] The fantastic and sudden presence of the Green Knight's castle of Hautdesert, just as Gawain prays for harbor, emphasizes its symbolic character, which David Aers identifies as the conflict between individual identity and social standards.[9] The seductive behavior of Bercilak's wife suggests at first that Hautdesert is designed to call into question the values of the Arthurian community, but the castle turns out to be a courtly mirror of chivalry, a school for refinement. The name of Bercilak's castle, Hautdesert (high reward?), indicates its function as part of a traditional chivalric Bildung , a story of personal moral


development. There is some irony in the poem's celebration of courtly culture. The pentangle Gawain wears represents his private devotion to the "sacralization of the court's values, practices, and language,"[10] but he never objects to the rules of the game played at the Green Knight's castle. Instead he blames himself for his failure to reveal the girdle he has received from Bercilak's wife. Although Gawain considers himself a moral failure, Bercilak and Arthur's court regard him as a hero and accord him the social status that the image of the castle came to represent.

Spenser's Faerie Queene maintains the old dichotomy of the castle, which could represent either justice or oppressive power. The poem recapitulates a long history of literary usage. It uses the word "castle" to refer to houses, palaces, temples, and towers. It draws on centuries of tradition in which the edifice represented vices and virtues; goodness, holiness, and honor; pleasure, felicity, and the soul. Castles are built of glass, on rock or sand, and there is even a parody of the Italian rocca (a castle or fortress), when Malengin lives literally in a "rock," or cave, instead of a more civilized structure (FQ 5.9.4). Spenser's castles may be figures of speech, as in the caste of health (FQ 1.9.31).[11] Or they can be emblematic, like the sign of Philip II, king of Castile: in a dedicatory sonnet to Lord Howard, Spenser refers to the Spanish Armada as "those huge castes of [the] Castilian king."[12] The castle can be a synecdoche for a larger war: Spenser represents the whole battle against the Spanish in the Low Countries by the siege of Antwerp (FQ 5.10.25-39), where Arthur imposes "new laws and orders new" (FQ 5.10.27). (In a similar way, the eleventh-century Roman d'Eneas turned the field camp of Aneas into a medieval castle, and the Trojan soldiers wage war as armed knights.)[13] Or the castle can project psychic states: C. S. Lewis referred to Spenser's houses and castles (the terms are interchangeable in The Faerie Queene ) as "prolonged states of inner weather."[14]

Spenser's castles also symbolize ideals or a vocation, thereby representing the inscrutable future. In Book IV, Artegall leads Britomart, Scudamor, and Glauce as all four search for Amoret (who has been snatched by Lust). He and Britomart have just recognized each other


for the first time, although Britomart has previously seen in Merlin's glass that Artegall will be her husband. Artegall guides her to "some resting place" where they can heal their wounds, enjoy "dayly feasting both in bowre and hall," and get to know each other (FQ 4.6.39). Artegall's edifice is not a lowly cottage like the House of Care (FQ 4.5.32), whose hammering blacksmiths reminded Coleridge of an opium nightmare.[15] It is well appointed; indeed, it is too pleasant to be in the middle of nowhere. It is there when needed, then gone. Within what Philip Sidney, using a proverbial phrase, called a "castle in the air,"[16] a daydream, Artegall lays siege to Britomart, "continuall siege unto her gentle hart" (FQ 4.6.40). The exercise is superfluous, since she is already in love and has been pursuing him since the beginning of Book III. But Artegall needs the absent edifice for a symbolic reason besides the love allegory of wooing. It provides a proper setting for Artegall's declaration of a "custome ancient" (FQ 4.6.44) according to which he must travel from there with no guide, leaving Britomart behind while he strives to bring justice to the world in Book V. The place appears out of nowhere, but this is its significance—only Artegall sees it at first.

The castle, in the eyes of Artegall, represents a vision of a just future, a sign of dominion where the horrors of the past on which it is founded are forgotten. This vision helps explain the imagery of Shakespeare's Richard II . Castles are mentioned more often in Richard II than anywhere else in Shakespeare. Successive scenes are set at Bristol Castle, where Richard's favorites, Bushy and Green, take refuge; at Berkeley Castle, which its lord surrenders in the company of York, who berates his nephew Bullingbroke for his treason before abandoning Richard to join with him; at "Barkloughly castle" (Harlech, in northern Wales), where Richard lands on his return from Ireland, salutes the earth, and learns the extent of his misfortunes; and finally at Flint Castle, where Richard goes to "pine away," realizing that he must soon yield up his crown, jewels, scepter, and "gorgeous palace" (a phrase from Philip Sidney's Defense of Poetry that Prospero will use in The Tempest ).[17] In each case we hear the word castle , although in later scenes in this well-


balanced drama the term is avoided. At the end of the play, Northumberland tells Richard that he "must to Pomfret," where he later is murdered, not to Pomfret "Castle," and Windsor Castle, where Bulling-broke pardons Aumerle, is not named.

The disappearance of the term reinforces the symbolic nature of castles in the world as the play's characters conceive it. Richard compares the king's two bodies to a castle. The castle wall is both "brass impregnable" where the king can "monarchize, be fear'd, and kill with looks," and also mere flesh, through which death can bore, piercing the "castle wall, and farewell king!" (Richard II 3.2.165, 170). Bullingbroke compares Richard's ruin to the "tottered battlements" of Flint Castle (Richard II 3.3.52), and Richard rings changes on the humiliation of the lower courtyard or "base court" to which he must descend: "Down court! down king!" (Richard II 3.3.182).[18] If Richard foresees his loss of kingship at Flint Castle, his descent and the disappearance of the word from the play also comment on the historical transition of the castle from a military outpost—that place of both justice and oppression—to a sign of status. Having lost his castle literally, Richard loses it figuratively as well.

Earlier in the play, Richard's opponent Bullingbroke makes his first appearance in England after his banishment while traveling through the Gloucestershire countryside, looking for Berkeley Castle. "How far is it, my lord, to Berkeley now?" he asks Northumberland, who is himself lost and weary, when up rides Northumberland's son, Harry Percy, the Hotspur of 1 Henry IV , whose sole appearance in Richard II occurs in this scene (Richard II 2.3.1). Hotspur has been sent by his uncle Worcester to scout the forces at Berkeley. He has learned that the Lords of York, Seymour, and Berkeley occupy the castle as they await King Richard's return from Ireland. The symbolism of the scene, as Hotspur meets his father and Bullingbroke, turns on what they can and cannot recognize. Hotspur knows where Berkeley Castle is, but he does not recognize Bullingbroke. Chastised by his father, he excuses himself for omitting the proper courtesy to the future Henry IV, saying, "I never in my life


did look on him" (Richard II 2.3.38). But that is a poor excuse for not recognizing a king. It reduces Bullingbroke to the level of the helpless dauphin, who thinks he can hide his majesty from Joan of Arc (1 Henry VI 1.2.65). Symbolically, Bullingbroke has not the aura of royal power to induce recognition in Hotspur. Hotspur can, however, see Berkeley Castle. And he can see it from where he stands, while his father and Bullingbroke cannot. Northumberland echoes Bullingbroke's opening line, "How far is it to Berkeley?" and Percy, who stands just where they do, points it out: "There stands the castle, by yon tuft of trees" (Richard II 2.3.51, 53).

Hotspur's perception is more than just that of someone who has been scouting the local countryside. He views the world as a gallant fighter who lives for glory. In the next play, he will spin the tale of Mortimer's unreal, single combat with Glendower on "Severn's sedgy bank" (1 Henry IV 1.3.98). He will seek bright honor horse to horse with Prince Hal. Hotspur can see Berkeley Castle because he lives by those values of chivalry and honor and combat that literary castles once represented.

Any castle can be polarized between good and evil, a home to some, a source of repression to others. Hotspur's perception makes the castle a romantic image to which his father and Bullingbroke, a couple of opportunists in these plays, are blind. They cannot see the ideal image of chivalry, even though it is just beyond "yon tuft of trees." When they look for a castle, they are looking for a fortress. For them the castle represents the dreary, oppressive necessity of power.

Just as Artegall and Hotspur literally see castles where others do not, Prince Hal is also able to separate the contradictory qualities of oppression and justice symbolized by the medieval castle and also, I would argue, by the character who first appeared in Shakespeare's play as Sir John Oldcastle. (Shakespeare changed the name when descendants of the real John Oldcastle complained about the unseemly depiction of an ancestor who was regarded as a religious martyr, not a figure of fun.)[19] The name change buried an important line of imagery that reinforces the theme of transition from the old ways to the new in these history


plays, for Prince Hal finds qualities in Falstaff that escape his father the king.

We glimpse a rift in the old world of chivalry, for example, when Hal associates castles (and Falstaff) with inns. In 1 Henry IV , Hal parodies Falstaff's reference to mine "hostess of the tavern" by referring to his boon companion as the "old lad of the castle." But in 2 Henry IV , where the prince and Falstaff carouse at the Old Boar Inn in Eastcheap, Hal refers to Falstaff as "the old boar" (2 Henry IV 2.2.146). Falstaff represents—for Hal as a character within the plays—not only the old castle where good and bad customs obtain but also the old and eventually discredited ways of the past. When he becomes king, Hal gives up the alehouse and sheds Falstaff from his presence. The king who names his most famous victory after the "castle" of Agincourt marks the perception and recognition of loss that occurs when new social modes replace old ways.

Shakespeare's Henry VI plays (written earlier in Shakespeare's career) continue the devaluation of the sign of the castle. Henry V is no sooner dead in the first scene of 1 Henry VI than the scene shifts to France for an early demonstration of how gunpowder made castle architecture obsolete. A French sharpshooter kills Salisbury as the English stand on a turret's top, looking down into Orleans. Outmoded by new weapons and specialized fortresses, the castle no longer represents a threat.

Although written earlier than Henry V , the Henry VI plays represent a later era, when chivalry was further in decline. In what was probably the third scene Shakespeare wrote, he uses the Tower of London as an image for polarizing the sides of a religious dispute. Cardinal Winchester's men have locked out Gloucester, the lord protector, who represents the crown. Ethical lines are clearly drawn, for Gloucester's character coincides with John Foxe's estimate of him as "the good Duke" and "a supporter of the poor commons."[20] The evil cardinal maintains the inside of the tower, just as the "custom of the castle" places the Other inside a castle, which a knight errant seeks to enter. Here, as in the origins of the Weeping Castle founded by Dialetes, religious difference underlies the


confrontation between chivalry and foul ways. Like Foxe's Book of Martyrs , Shakespeare's plays typically project the Protestant Reformation back into history. His King John, for example, brazenly and anachronistically defies the pope and employs Falconbridge to expropriate church property.

Although Winchester meets Gloucester outside the walls, where the mayor of London intervenes to separate the two adversaries, what Gloucester says to Winchester two acts later shows that the Tower represents more than a young playwright's haphazard choice of location. The word "castle" occurs in a figure of speech that in combination with the scene at the Tower shows the sediment of the old romance image. Gloucester confronts Winchester in Parliament and accuses him of plotting against him, "In that thou laidst a trap to take my life, / As well at London Bridge as at the Tower" (1 Henry VI 3.1.22-23). Winchester angrily answers, "And am I not a prelate of the Church?" as if to say that the accusation is absurd. But Gloucester's retort has the ring of truth in the way it implicates Winchester in a tradition of nobles whose private fortresses protected foul customs. The "use" Gloucester complains of is mere theft:

Yes, as an outlaw in a  castle keeps
And useth  it to patronage his theft.
(1 Henry VI  3.1.147-148; my emphasis)

But Gloucester's role as prototype of English xenophobic Protestantism charges his lines with the fundamental antagonism of religious difference.

The Henry VI plays empty knights errant and castles of their heroic status. York calls Talbot a "noble chevalier" (1 Henry VI 4.3.14), and Somerset calls his attack on Bordeaux a "wild adventure" (1 Henry VI 4.4.7): these phrases use the language of chivalry.[21] Yet even though Talbot praises old Bedford as one who once "couched lance" (1 Henry VI 3.3.134), that medieval military tactic seems to vanish before our eyes, because it never occurs in the history plays. Similarly the English no longer trust themselves to castles.[22]


Castles nonetheless retain a symbolic function. At the beginning of 2 Henry, VI , a spirit conjured up at the urging of Eleanor, the duchess of Gloucester, warns that Somerset, a Lancastrian, should "shun castles" (2 Henry VI 1.4.35). The prophecy proves ambiguous, as the castle turns out to be no fortress but an inn.[23] Richard of York observes Somerset's place of death after he kills him and solves the riddle of the prophecy:

For underneath an alehouse' paltry sign,
The Castle in Saint Albans, Somerset
Hath made the wizard famous in his death.
        (2  Henry VI  5.2.67-69)

Somerset's death at an alehouse suggests that as long as there is genuine contest for values, there is a need for a symbolic site of social confrontation. C. S. Lewis somewhere remarks on the disappointment of the early explorers, who found few wealthy cities waiting in the New World. What was the use of traveling if not to reach, like Ulysses, exciting civilizations?[24] The only castles Columbus saw in the New World were those that sailed from Europe and anchored off the flat beaches. Both the bow and the stern of Spanish ships were referred to as a "castle": the sterncastle (castillo de popa , where Columbus stood when land was first sighted in 1492) and the forecastle (castillo de proa ).[25]

Later conquistadors, however, found masonry structures in mainland America. So powerful was the custom of the castle as a way of thinking about social confrontation that the fantasy of the Spaniards provided castles for the Indians in America. Then they made them disappear.

The Mayan civilization was in decline when Cortés sailed before the walls of Tulum in the Yucatan in 1519. With watchtowers and a superstructure resembling a castle—although recent research has shown the temple towering over the Caribbean Sea to be astronomically aligned, much like Stonehenge or Ireland's Newgrange—the edifice must have seemed reassuringly familiar. The result is inscrutable, like the fate of Castle Cruel. The explorers then proceeded west. In a passage that is often cited to show how romances colored the perceptions of the Span-


ish conquistadors, Bernal Díaz del Castillo describes his first vision of Mexico City:

We were amazed and said that it was like the enchantments they tell of in the legend of Amadis, on account of the great towers and cues[26] and buildings rising from the water, and all built of masonry. And some of our soldiers even asked whether the things that we saw were not a dream.[27]

Michael Murrin compares this vision to the dream of empire represented by Spenser's fairyland—politically, those realms controlled by the Habsburgs, who were interlopers, according to Spenser's myth, on lands previously visited by English heroes.[28] Stephen Greenblatt identifies a crisis of representation, the impossibility of describing the absolutely other. The Spanish are excluded, but by destroying the city, they make it real and therefore subject to possession. First they identify themselves with the Aztecs; then comes the terrible moment when they begin to regard the Indians as totally alien and other.[29] Both critics read the passage as wish fulfillment, which they associate with romances.[30] But the reference to Amadis and its enchantments has a slightly different function in this passage by Díaz.

The purpose of the passage is to conjure a vision of a castle in order to make it disappear. "Of all these wonders that I then beheld," Díaz writes in his account later in the century, "today all is overthrown and lost, nothing left standing."[31] How could such a center of power be overthrown?

The passage answers us in the language of romances. Following the expected topos, the Spaniards observe and scorn the local customs. They wander among the flowers and fruit trees, palaces and gardens, temples and idols, zoos, aviaries, slave markets, and scenes of human sacrifice—foul customs in abundance. The Spaniards are greeted, escorted into town, lodged and dined, the usual ritual of hospitality. Because the Aztecs keep the Spaniards at arm's length culturally, they do not imprison them or ask them to do anything. To the contrary, the


Spaniards even "placed their artillery in a convenient direction," as if Montezuma completely disregarded it. Montezuma, it seems, plays the role of an unwilling keeper of foul customs. He provides what the Spaniards need to eat and feed their horses "according to [their] own use and custom."[32] A contest of courtesy, and Montezuma's undoing! For Cortés takes Montezuma prisoner, plays off the fictions created by the power of the Aztecs and their customs of human sacrifice, staves off a rival Spanish offensive, survives a native siege of his headquarters, then manages to withdraw with his treasure. The old romance image becomes the new historical truth.

The custom of the castle topos ended when chivalric romances no longer persuaded audiences that their fictions, even when playful, represented such serious issues. Although a flexible mode of thinking about tradition and social convention was lost, castles continued to appear in Gothic fiction as images of domestic ideology.[33] Novels like Walpole's Castle of Otranto (1764) and those of later writers like Anne Radcliffe or Jane Austen or Emily Brontë begin with the premise that a castle, or its later variant the country house, represents a social space of confinement or oppression as well as good manners.

In the early modern era, a refinement of manners accompanies the growth of manors—from the French châteaux to the great English country houses. The pun is well established by 1603 when Anne, the fallen wife of Thomas Heywood's play A Woman Killed with Kindness , is carted off to the country by Jenkin, who quips, "A man cannot say by my old master Frankford as he may say by me, that he wants manors; for he hath three or four."[34] As castles give way to rural estates, new images arise for the containment of social behavior. The literary depiction of social intercourse shifts from violence to domestic etiquette. Social justice dwindles into social sentiment. Morality becomes less a series of prohibitions than prescriptions for correctness.[35] The novel, the new narrative mode, found new ways to represent the strains of civil society.


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