Thomas Middleton (1580-1627), a bricklayer's son, rose to become one of the most eminent playwrights of the Jacobean period. Along with Ben Johnson he helped shape the dynamic course of drama in Renaissance England. His range is broad, as his work successfully covers comedy, tragedy, and history. Praised during his life as well as today, Middleton remains relevant and influential. In "A Chaste Maid in Cheapside" (1630), we see Middleton at the heights of his comedic powers. A satire set in the city, this play examines the power of money and sex in rapidly growing London. The titular maid, Moll Yellowhammer, is courted by several men, all eager to gain access to her father's fortunes. This romantic comedy rolls with a bawdiness and frivolity that is the source of its hilarity. Driven by a fundamental cynicism, the play is lightened by its unrelenting wit. Considered Middleton's best comedy, "A Chaste Maid in Cheapside" resonates today as it did upon its release.
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January 01, 2013
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