When the Empress and her agents surround and use topoi of the familial and the maternal to give shape to political relationships not only among themselves but also with their adversaries, the image of syphilis becomes more explicit, especially after it joins that of the alien 'ill' nurse in the play(35).
While the natural bodies of the Empress and her agents can be understood to be marked by outward signs of contagion, so too can their deceit-filled language and intent.
Despite Titania's directive to 'build about our waters wooden walles' to protect her openings against infiltration by the Empress's and her agent's 'wild-fire balles', the lasciviousness of Spain, France, and Italy finds admittance into the queen's presence without complication, suggesting that Titania's girdle is not as impenetrable as the Empress surmised (1.
Even though the kings' proposals do not contain explicit images of the pathologic, readers have been forewarned of the kings' treachery by way of earlier dialogues between the Empress and her agents as well as between Titania and her court.
Here Spain conjoins language of the vituperative and grotesque with the image of the Empress giving him suck, imparting venom to his body so that he can in turn spread disease and death.
Although Babylon's initial efforts to wrest Fairyland from Titania's control fail, the Empress and her agents try again by targeting some of Fairyland's most vulnerable inhabitants.
Here such serpent imagery connotes duplicity and lust as it did earlier when the Empress instructed her kings to 'Dissemble, flatter .
Titania's personal physician Ropus, who has ironically vowed to the Empress to 'cure' the Queen with medicine, is another whose heart has been 'Babylonized' (3.
When Fidelli recognizes Paridell as a 'Woolfe' and a 'Toade' that 'swelles red with poyson', he recalls Plaine-Dealing's earlier assessment of the Empress as venereally diseased (5.
Bitterly disappointed at the failure of the first two waves of assault, the Empress cries out for a new plan of attack:
The image of the Empress with 'royall' blood that courses through veins like boundless seas (an image that points subtly to a later description of the Empress's 'sophisticated' wine and 'ranke poyson') represents early modern conceptions of female incontinence and transgressive, unchaste behaviour as those that can erupt any moment (3.
reuenge, / A full and swelling saile', the Empress rouses her navy with vituperative language steeped in images of pregnancy ('child-birth panges'), childbirth (the delivery of 'great bellies'), and violence (crying children and 'gellyed goare') (3.