Sung Silence: Complicity, Dramaturgy, and Song in Heywood’s <i>Rape of Lucrece</i>
The songs of Valerius in Thomas Heywood’s 1607 The Rape of Lucrece negotiate the line between ironic distance and genuine compassion for the victim of sexual violence. Valerius sings them as a traumatized response to his own complicity in the rise of the Tarquin regime, a trauma that effectively silences his participation in politics. His final song, ‘Did he take faire Lucrece by the toe man?’ acts as a metatheatrical return of the rape, which forces the audience to verbally re-enact the occluded violence, but also allows for Valerius to rediscover his voice and ability to act politically.
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