Witness to Despair: The Martyr of Malfi’s Ghost

  • Kim Solga


The performance of salvation produces a domestic martyrdom: it obscures the bodily and psychic destruction wrought by household violence, positing union with God as a battered wife’s happy reward. Household becomes scaffold as the quietly suffering wife becomes her husband’s spiritual exemplar; her quiet submission to violence becomes proof of her commitment to the integrity of his household and family, devotion to which stood as a cipher for devotion to God in post-Reformation England (Peters, 2003, pp. 291–2; Owens, 2005, pp. 107–8). Such stoic – even apparently pleasurable – suffering, moreover, gave a wife like Anne Frankford the temporary authority to speak freely, to testify to her religious commitment in a semi-public way. Nevertheless, as the final moments of Mitchell’s Woman Killed remind me, the performance of salvation is always a precarious act, forever haunted by the violence it forecloses and by the tension, ambivalence, terror, and doubt that violence trails in its wake.


Female Body Audience Member Bodily Surveillance Death Scene Final Moment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Kim Solga 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kim Solga

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations