Abstract and Keywords
In both its source material and in later adaptations, the Cardenio plot involves an attempted rape of a servant woman while cross-dressed as a shepherd by her employer, the Master of the Flock. In almost every instance, the Master of the Flock discovers that the shepherd is really a woman before attempting to rape her. In this essay, I focus in on this moment, querying why this might be so. Juxtaposing more recent adaptations of its source materials with Lewis Theobald’s Double Falsehood, I analyse how these two aspects of identity—‘woman’ and ‘shepherd’—influence the impact of the assault, particularly in terms of genre. Using the lost play-text as a way to theorize other absences in our histories of rape, I argue that Cardenio maps not only our cultural willingness to define some acts of violence as rape but also our willingness to ignore others.
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