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However, Their Eyes does not reject charges of African American women's libidinousness at the expense of sexual expression, as literary critics have argued of other texts from this period.
Gertrude is characterized by her outspoken libidinousness throughout the play; she has just sung a snatch of lewd song and is shortly to be heard singing an obscene parody of Ophelia's last mad song in this very scene, so we can be sure that similar associations are intended to accompany the reference here to `milk'(6) (footmen, as Webster makes clear in his Character of a footman,(7) were assumed to supply sexual services to their mistresses, as the name suggested in Elizabethan slang(8)) and her reproof of her mother can be taken as an indication that she is not interpreting the use of the hobby horse in any innocent sense (the Elizabethan slang connotation of `ride' would provide the necessary connection).
These plots of course are designed to preempt white stereo-typing of black libidinousness and laziness; but further, through the dramatization of racial conflicts as love choices or religious inner struggles, the writers link marriage to civil responsibility and privileges (p.