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Thomas Middleton, Renaissance Dramatist by Michelle O'Callaghan

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By Michelle O'Callaghan

Thomas Middleton is an important English Renaissance dramatist, in league with Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, and Ben Jonson. identified for his darkish humor and wry therapy of sexuality, morality, and politics, Middleton is a consummate specialist dramatist, combining the visible and the verbal to surprising influence. Michelle O'Callaghan reports the stagecraft of Middleton's significant performs. The playwright experimented with various genres—city comedy, tragicomedy, romance, and revenge tragedy. O'Callaghan figures how those performs paintings when it comes to the early glossy theater and dramatic genres, and she or he elucidates the wider cultural concerns shaping the performs. She additionally introduces the serious readings of Middleton's performs and their glossy performances, mapping how glossy critics, manufacturers, dramatists, and filmmakers deal with Middleton's darkish and hard works in our time. (1/1/10)

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The tricks Follywit plays on his grandfather possess a certain viciousness. The play clearly presents his pranks as criminal in nature and intent. His companions are disbanded or disgraced soldiers, no longer bound by military codes of honour, and instead have taken their violence to the streets to become types of ‘roaring boys’. As we shall see in relation to The Roaring Girl, this renegade 38 thomas middleton, renaissance dramatist military subculture was closely associated with the criminal underworld in early modern pamphlets (see below, p.

IV, i, 18). A useful comparison can be made with the Country Wench in Michaelmas Term. Just as the Country Wench is transformed by her costume into a gentlewoman, Frank Gullman employs her superior acting ability to play 40 thomas middleton, renaissance dramatist the part of modest and ‘sweet virgin’ (III, i, 28). Her final trick is to gull Follywit into marriage by adeptly performing the role of ‘a perfect maid’ (IV, vi, 77) – this is the trick that finally catches Follywit. It too could be seen to mirror the punishment of Andrew Lethe in Michaelmas Term, who is forced to marry his whore.

One could argue that, in this example, female wit is conceived negatively since it is her trick that opens the citizen wife to adultery – a ‘trick’ that is repeated by Livia in Women Beware Women. Thus it would seem the female wit is a sexually unruly woman who is identified with lechery. The recurrent analogy between sex and death tends to find its point of reference in Frank Gullman and is realised in the moralising logic of her trickster plot, which ends when Penitent Brothel is visited by a succubus in the likeness of Mistress Harebrain.

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