Twelfth Night

Dis[man]tling the Blazon: The Relationship of Women and the Poetic Convention College

Originally used to signify a shield or a coat of arms, the term 'blazon' transformed it meaning through the description of virtues or positive attributes, usually of a woman, in late sixteenth century poetry. 'Blazon' can either denote a noun, signifying the actual list of virtues, or a verb, signifying the process of praising, adorning, describing, or boasting of.[1] Through poetry, the word transfigures its meaning depending on its relevance to the subject and its intended purpose. A blazon is frequently performed in relevance to the female form in an erotic admiration. However, through texts such as William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, his Sonnet 130, and Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella, the convention if the blazon is blurred and nuanced in relation to its performer and its recipient, creating the argument that perhaps the blazon is more than just a poetic tradition.

Before it can be determined what exactly a blazon does, it would be poignant to consider what a traditional blazon would entail. Literary and cultural studies scholar Nancy Vickers looks at the original sonneteer, Francesco Petrarch, through a lens that is hypercritical of the execution of his blazons. Petrarch's oft-portrayed, absent, yet passionately...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 972 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7756 literature essays, 2169 sample college application essays, 323 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in