Spring 5-5-2018

Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Mathur, Maya

Department Chair or Program Director

Richards, Gary

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Major or Concentration


Department or Program

English, Linguistics, and Communication


The societies in the Arden of Faversham (1592) and The Tragedy of Mariam (1613) reflect the patriarchal values of Renaissance England. Alice Arden, Arden’s female lead, and Salome, the antagonist in Elizabeth Cary’s Mariam, defy the social and legal parameters placed on early modern women by killing their husbands in order to marry their lovers. While Alice and Salome succeed in carrying out the respective murders, Alice is killed for her crimes and Salome remains unpunished.

In this paper, I argue that Alice’s lack of access to legal power means that she must act outside the law; however, her reliance on multiple accomplices also leads to her downfall. In contrast, Salome's unchecked access to her brother, King Herod, ensures her husband's execution for treason. While Alice's failure stems from her lack of access to men in authority and her inability to act in secret, Salome's success results from her discretion and the assistance of powerful men.