Sunday, 5 August 2012

Dryden's 'Theodore and Honoria'

I read Dryden's 'Theodore and Honoria' (1700): wow.  Theodore loves Honoraria, but she spurns him.  One day he chances upon the ghost of one of his ancestors, on the forest, hunting on horseback with dogs the ghost of the woman he loved in his life, but who spurned him.
I lov’d this haughty Maid;
What did I not her stubborn Heart to gain?
But all my Vows were answer’d with Disdain;
She scorn’d my Sorrows, and despis’d my Pain.
Long time I dragg’d my Days in fruitless Care,
Then loathing Life, and plung’d in deep Despair,
To finish my unhappy Life, I fell
On this sharp Sword, and now am damn’d in Hell.
Short was her Joy; for soon th’ insulting Maid
By Heav’n’s Decree in the cold Grave was laid,
And as in unrepenting 3 Sin she dy’d,
Doom’d to the same bad Place, is punish’d for her Pride;
Because she deem’d I well deserv’d to die,
And made a Merit of her Cruelty.
There, then, we met; both try’d, and both were cast,
And this irrevocable Sentence pass’d;
That she whom I so long pursu’d in vain,
Should suffer from my Hands a lingring Pain:
Renew’d to Life, that she might daily die,
I daily doom’d to follow, she to fly;
No more a Lover but a mortal Foe,
I seek her Life (for Love is none below:)
As often as my Dogs with better speed
Arrest her Flight, is she to Death decreed:
Then with this fatal Sword on which I dy’d,
I pierce her open’d Back or tender Side,
And tear that harden’d Heart from out her Breast,
Which, with her Entrails, makes my hungry Hounds a Feast.
Nor lies she long, but as her Fates ordain,
Springs up to Life, and fresh to second Pain,
Is sav’d to Day, to Morrow to be slain.
So he does. Theodore persuades the haughty Honoria to the forest the following week to see this spectral spectacle, and it is enough to persuade her to change her mind: she marries Theodore and they live happily ever after. The moral is clear: any woman who repulses the advances of a man she finds repulsive, particularly if he is a violent and sexually harassing sort, faces a simple choice: die and go to hell, or give way to the man.

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