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Vendible Virginity | Early Modern and Open Access

By November 22, 2015 No Comments

This is part of a weekly series here at TSS: Early Modern and Open Access regularly showcases peer-reviewed articles (or other resources) of interest to early modernists that are freely available in open access formats.

Citation and Link:

Emily C. Gerstell, “All’s [Not] Well: Female Service and ‘Vendible’ Virginity in Shakespeare’s Problem Play,” Journal of Early Modern Studies 4 (2015): 187-211.


The article examines the economics of female service in William Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, paying particular attention to the role Helena plays as mistress to the Widow Capilet and Diana. Such a focus reveals that what lies at the heart of All’s Well is not only, as previous scholarship has suggested, a battle between the sexes but also an intense focus on class and money. By examining both the ties between women and the ties between men that Helena forges and strengthens, I demonstrate that issues of economics and self-interest govern not only male-female relationships but also those between women. In particular, such attention highlights the role that service – conceived of as both economic and sexual – plays in driving the action and the ‘problem’ of All’s Well.


Author Lindsay

Lindsay Ann Reid is a regular contributor to The Scrivener and Early Modern and Open Access. She holds a PhD from the University of Toronto and is a Lecturer in English at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

More posts by Lindsay

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