The Anatomy Of Melancholy: Episode 19

This version is captioned, a non-captioned version can be seen here.

The Anatomy Of Melancholy was written to be read by both women and men. Mostly it doesn’t distinguish between the genders, though of course if the activities under discussion have a gender imbalance then the advice will itself be reflect this. Occasionally however women and men are separated out has having their own distinct relationship with melancholy. In Episode 3 we learnt that men are more subject to melancholy but women, if they do suffer from it, suffer more acutely. Menstruation plays an important role, we are after all much concerned with bodily fluids, including blood, its retention and evacuation. You will be pleased to learn we have left phlebotomy out of this adaptation – along with trepanning!

This episode is devoted specifically to women and one of the subtleties of the stage adaptation we have lost here is that in on stage Rochi was dressed as a man, as if she had infiltrated the scholarly fraternity in disguise. In that version she bursts out with these thoughts and then, as if realising she may have blown her cover, backs down apologising, claiming to be a bachelor leading a monastic life. It’s all original Burton text, just distributed in a different way.

I love this episode’s closing section, which is about as animated and forceful as Burton gets in the whole book. He rants about the awful acts that follow on from enforced celibacy in what seems a very personal way and more or less threatens to see those imposing these rules outside in the car park – ‘let the politicians, the physicians and the theologians look out. I shall more opportunely meet with them elsewhere’.

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