Aurélie Griffin
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Love melancholy and the senses in Mary Wroth’s works
in The senses in early modern England, 1558–1660

Robert Burton indicates that love, just like melancholy, can be detected through a number of symptoms, which are similar to the symptoms of melancholy that are consistently identified in the medical literature of the period. This chapter examines the effects of love melancholy over the senses in the works of an early modern woman writer, Mary Wroth. Wroth's works deal with love melancholy, and consistently evoke its effects over the characters in terms of an opposition between the 'external' and the 'internal senses'. The chapter demonstrates that this distinction was formulated by Thomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages and had an important influence on Renaissance medicine. It examines several examples taken first from Countess of Montgomery's Urania, then from Love's Victory, and finally from Pamphilia to Amphilanthus, which best illustrate Wroth's understanding of love melancholy as a disruption of the division between the 'external' and the 'internal senses'.

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