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    Title: Urban Sociability in Ben Jonson's Epicene
    Other Titles: 姜生《寡言女》中的都市社交
    Authors: 王慧娟
    Contributors: 淡江大學英文學系
    Keywords: 社交;禮節;城市喜劇;前現代時期倫敦;sociability;civility;city comedy;early modern London
    Date: 2013-07
    Issue Date: 2014-11-18 12:55:04 (UTC+8)
    Publisher: 台南市:成功大學外國語文學系
    Abstract: 姜生的《寡言女》咸被認為是復辟時期喜劇的前身。本劇描繪十七世紀初期在倫敦逐漸形成的上流社會的社交風貌。十七世紀初期由於幾項因素結合,導致世居英格蘭鄉間的仕紳與貴族階級紛紛聚往倫敦,停留時間日漸增長。連接古老的倫敦城與王宮所在的西敏城之間的大馬路,the Strand,及其周邊街道遂成為上流人士置產賃屋之處。仕紳貴族匯聚一處,彼此往來頻繁,社交禮儀遂日形重要。蓋同儕相處須注意禮貌,配合他人的性情與好惡,避免得罪別人。更由於物以類聚的原則,故擇友須謹慎,以免與不適當之人為伍,而遭旁人看輕。姜生以人文主義對文明禮儀的概念為準,觀察這成形中的上流社會,發現許多值得批判之處,因此在《寡言女》中以嘲諷筆法呈現一群滿口客套裝模作樣的可笑人物。此劇主人翁雖身居都會,卻拒絕與人往來,完全無視上流社會對社交的重視。有三位聰明的年輕人自成一菁英小團體,儼然是社交圈的品味裁判,對不夠聰明的人表面禮尚往來,背後則極盡嘲笑之能事。由此可見,社交亦是區分人己親疏關係的手段。
    Ben Jonson's Epicene, or the Silent Woman, first performed in 1609/10 by the Children of the Queen's Revels at the Whitefriars theatre is regarded as a precursor to Restoration comedy, devoted to the portrayal of the manners and mores of the ”Town,” i.e. the fashionable society of London. Unlike most other city comedies of its period, Epicene focuses exclusively on a very narrow social group, the upper classes of Jacobean England. These are people with sufficient wealth and leisure to pursue sociable activities more for the sake of conviviality than for any commercial purpose. Instead of fraudsters, gentlemen with cash flow problems, and dupes ripe for fleecing that city comedies are usually peopled with, Epicene features wits, fops, and talkative women. When Epicene was written, the fashionable society was in the making around the Strand and its neighbouring streets: Jonson saw the people and their lifestyle, and he did not like what he saw. The playwright assessed their social life by humanist notions of civility and found much to criticize and satirize.The development of London as the political and social centre of the nation in Tudor and Stuart England drew the landed classes to the capital to settle around the royal court. The notion of civility as politeness and agreeable manners was important in this urban context where one sought to be pleasant and accommodating in company and to avoid offending others. Urbanity gave the urban gentry an identity, but this identity was fragile. A man is known by the company he keeps; therefore, if he is not careful who he socializes with, his status could be misunderstood.The narrow social group in Epicene identifies with the culture of the Strand neighbourhood, subscribing to the lifestyles and social rituals of the community. On the other hand, the playwright also highlights the different categories within this group through their practices of sociability. The odd man out in this group is a social recluse who tries to avoid all human contact. The sociable kind is dominated by a trio of witty, suave young men about town who, while offering friendship to fellow gentlemen and gallantry to ladies, actually speak of those people with contempt. The trio constitutes an in-group of elites who judge the taste, manners, and intelligence of others. In the interactions throughout the play we can see that sociability is employed for both social inclusion and exclusion.
    Relation: 小說與戲劇=Fiction and Drama 22(2),頁83-110
    DOI: 10.6271/fd.2013.22.2.04
    Appears in Collections:[英文學系暨研究所] 期刊論文

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