Elizabeth Cary The Tragedy Of Mariam Analysis

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Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam makes many valid points about women’s identities in marriage. Mariam’s choices throughout the play reflect her understanding of the fact that in the world she lives there is no space for a chaste, honest, independent woman. The standards that a woman of the time are impossible and Mariam’s attempts to grapple with them are doomed to fail. After experiencing the freedom of self expression afforded to her after she believes her husband has died she is unwilling to re-enter the position of a subordinate. Mariam is aware the death is the only way to maintain the self she has created. In the first act of the play Mariam comes to turns with her husband’s death and demonstrates her pride in herself. She feels…show more content…
In vain ye speak
To live with him I so profoundly hate” (3.3.17-20).

That she says her fate is cursed suggests that she understands the potential consequences of the actions she is about to take. Mariam begins to think of possible ways to deal with Herod’s return, she says she could “enchain him with a smile” (3.3.45) meaning she could play her part and rely on her physical appearance but she ultimately rejects this course of action. She says, “I scorn my look should ever man beguile, / or other speech than meaning to afford” (3.3.47-8), meaning that her desire to express herself honestly outweighs her fear of Herod. In her initial confrontation with Herod after his return, Mariam addresses her changing sense of self. When Herod asks why she is dressed in dark colors she says, “my lord, I suit garment to my mind / and there no cheerful colors I can find” (4.3.5-6). She seems aware of the effect her words will have and chooses to draw Herod’s attention to her complaints against him. She then directly tells Herod her complaint. Saying: “Your offers to my heart no ease can grant,
Except they could my brothers life restore.
No, you had wished the wretched Mariam glad,
Or had your love to her been truly tied
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