INTRODUCTION. Most scholars believe that Thomas Middleton’s A Chaste Maid in Cheapside was first performed sometime between and , although. Complete summary of Thomas Middleton’s A Chaste Maid in Cheapside. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of A Chaste Maid in Cheapside. Thomas Middleton’s early 17th-century city comedy is set very particularly during Lent, a time when eating and trading in meat was forbidden.

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A current copy of the play can be found in the paperback edition of Five Playswhich was published by Penguin USA in This “landed niece” is in reality one of Sir Walter’s mistresses, who has no land in actuality.

In an absolute world, Touchwood Senior stands on very shaky ground, but Middleton uses him as the instrument to grant the wishes of Lord Oliver and Lady Kix, who then reward Touchwood by promising to provide for him and all cheaapside future children.

This new cheapsidee is anticipated by certain elements in his previous plays, such as the marriages and festivities at the end of A Mad World and A Trickcomedies which vheapside the sterner, judgment-scene conclusions of the earlier, more didactic pieces, The PhoenixYour Five Gallantsand Michaelmas Term.

Poquette has a bachelor’s degree in English and specializes in writing about literature. Ben Harrison’s production finally begins to get to grips with the play’s underlying viciousness in the second half, but too often treats Middleton’s satire on greed and double dealing as if it were a not very chfapside saucy seaside postcard or a Carry On film.

Clarendon Press, ; Vol. Despite his own adherence to a chaste lifestyle, however, Heller notes that this good intention is offset by Junior’s “active promotion of his senior brother’s arrangement with the Kixes. The playwright began writing at an early age, publishing at least three nondramatic pieces as a teenager. Functioning effectively as a life-principle in a world threatened by moral and physical disease and death, he has the incredible—and comically magical—ability of having his every act of intercourse result in a pregnancy.

Although Henry intended for the Church of England to remain Catholic, his successor, Edward VIintroduced many Protestant reforms during his short reign. Mulryne says in his entry on Middleton for British Writers, “The play’s gusto and seriousness, combined, make it one of theater’s richest statements on money, sex, and society. Meanwhile, Touchwood Junior has picked up the ring that he had Yellowhammer make and he and Moll make plans to steal away and be secretly married.


In the early seventeenth century, the chances of finding a chaste maid in Cheapside were slim. Charles Barber says in his critical introduction to the University of California Press version of the play, “The young lovers….

A man’s happy when he’s at poorest that has matched his soul as rightly as his body. When Sir Walter seeks redemption at the end of the play, thinking he is mortally wounded, Allwit tries to comfort him by bringing in two of these bastard children—Wat and Nick.

shakespearefactory | A CHASTE MAID IN CHEAPSIDE

In its joyous celebration of man’s procreative energies, A Chaste Maid is close in spirit to comedy’s origin in phallic song—a virtually prototypical comic drama in Susanne Langer’s definition of the form”erotic, risque, and sensuous if not sensual, impious, and even wicked. If Allwitt stands on the bottom rung of Middleton’s moral ladder, Moll, the “chaste maid” of the title, cheapsidd her reasonably virtuous lover, Touchwood Junior, cling somewhat clumsily near the top.

Allwit is about to give birth to her latest child by Sir Walter. The lovers try to marry in secret, but they are caught before they can be wed. In fact, Middleton almost seems to question truth’s usefulness by giving Allwitt, an extremely corrupt character, such concern for it. When Lady Kix asks him how she should take her medicine, this “doctor,” who has, incidentally, just finished a meal of aphrodisiac foods, tells her, “Yours must be taken lying,” and leads her off to have intercourse—in her coach, if necessary.

The ambiguous morality in Cheapside and of England overall may have been the consequence of an ambiguous and constantly changing cheapsjde system. Within this twisted world, the young lovers behave with as much honor as may be realistic: Farr says, “In the code of both, greed excuses lechery.

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside – Wikipedia

The play is powered by the grasping, restless energy of the urban and the mercantile and a society in a state of flux. A servant enters and says that Touchwood Junior is dead, killed from the wounds given to him by Sir Walter.

Eros is freed from bondage finally in the context of a conventional but highly theatrical device. The romping is all half-hearted, there is a lot of slightly desperate mugging, and since the play is written in what amounts to a series of vignettes, it is hard for such a large cast to establish themselves with the audience. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside is a city comedy written c.


Thomas Middleton”he who would understand the immense vivacity of Elizabethan drama must come to perceive that our forbears saw the funny side of many things which to us are beneath or above contempt. Because of his collaborations, some of Middleton’s plays have only been fully attributed to him since the s, when Middleton scholarship increased significantly. As a result, the Yellowhammers arrive too late to Moll’s funeral—where Moll and Touchwood Junior reveal that they are alive—and are unable to stop Moll and Touchwood Junior from marrying.

He and his wife must separate to avoid another pregnancy, which they cannot afford. Allwit calls for Tim’s tutor who has arrived with him from college.

This page was last edited on 8 Mayat These double meanings show up in the very first exchange of the play when Maudlin Yellowhammer is scolding Moll for not taking her dancing lessons seriously. This book offers essays about Middleton from three different centuries, giving readers an overview of Middleton’s critical reception throughout the years. Covatta says, “They are quite willing to use their post for personal profit but feel they cannot break their word.

Chzste Tim is distraught when he finds out he has married a prostitute, she tells him that marriage makes her honest. A husband willingly allows his wife to have sex with another man in return for financial security; another unwittingly pays for the opportunity to be cuckolded; and, a bastard child is wittingly cheaoside to royal spies by being disguised as a basket of meat. In this tissue of double entendres, there is a spirit of vitality and play that distracts the audience from the potential moral issues in such rambunctious sexuality.

From this point on the Yellowhammers try to keep Moll under lock and key until she is to be wed to Sir Walter.

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside

Dunces spout Latin to prove their erudition. Sampson says, “The Elizabethan with utter frankness reveals passions and prejudices, foolish, ignominious, or debasing, but he is free of bitterness and superiority.

There is no evidence that the play was revived during the Restoration period, or that it was staged in any form between then and the twentieth century.