The London Cuckolds
The London Cuckolds is a play that was written by Edward Ravenscroft in 1681. This play is full of jokes as young horny men are seen jumping across hoops to seduce married women (Ravenscroft, pg. 258). Therefore one the themes in this play is promiscuity. Young men seducing married women to have sex with them. The married women on the other hand, do not resist the seduction and fall into temptations. The themes of fortune and opportunity are also prominent in this play. For instance several men are fortune enough to have sex with married women and go scot free (Ravenscroft, pg.260). However one is unfortunate when he is caught by the husband who covers himself with the wife clothes to pretend that he is the women. The man is punished by being "burned with coals, beaten with cudgels and soaked in urine". On the other hand, the young men are taking the opportunity of the reckless women who are willing to have sex with anybody including young men.
Historically, the play presents the events and writings during the restoration periods. During the restoration period, the restoration comedy represented two types of heroes; rakes and rovers. Rakes heroes were aggressive and exploitive while rovers were happy heroes who accepted any the pleasure that came their way (Jose). Thus Cuckolds represents the rovers' heroes who could take up any pleasure present which included sleeping with married women. This comedy is unique in a way that it describes events that happened in the 16th century, but they are still relevant today. Promiscuity is still practiced in the present day.
The lady of pleasure
This play was written by James Shirley in 1637. The three major themes in this play are sexual gratification, infidelity, and boredom. Sexual gratification and infidelity are practiced by people of a certain class; aristocracy or upper class (Shirley pg.925). Sir Thomas Bornwell together with his wide Lady Bornell Aretina moves from rural areas to town areas because Laby Bornwell feels bored with the life in rural areas and wants to interact with people in town. On the other hand, sexual gratification take when Sir Bornwell makes love with Celestina and praises her over Lady Bornwell. It is funny how Sir Bornwell praises Celestina in the presence of Lady Bornwell who seems not to care. This indicates how infidelity was somehow acceptable. Another theme that is present in this play is the status difference between the poor and the rich. The rich are the leaders in the society and use the poor to do anything they want. For instance, Lady Bornwell uses Littleworth and Kickshaw to do anything she wants. In one instance, she tells them to help her wipe all the lifestyles and behaviors of her son Fredrick who she believes was corrupted by the University. Littleworth and Kickshaw feel sorry for Fredrick, but there can do nothing given that is was a command from their boss (Shirley pg.925).
This play was written in the 17th century during the Renaissance period. The comedies written in this period were trying to talk about the changes that were taking plays in London (Beecher). Shirley's plan seems to represent the fashionable London. London was changing to a town of fashion self-desire and pleasures. This is well depicted in the play by characters such as Aretina, Fredrick, and Celestina. Aretina moves in town areas because she feels bores, Fredrick seems to be corrupted by university education while Celestina who seems to start to enjoy freedom through extravagant luxury living after her husband died. This play is unique since it depicts the true picture of how modernization started taking shape in the Western world. Dramatically, it is full of humor and conflict.
This play in the form of drama was written by John Marston in 1603. Two of the prominent themes in this pay are scheming and adultery. Malevole, who is a judge in courts, have moved to Genoa where he now practices. He has gained popularity among the people of Genoa due to his courage in courts and out of courts. It is however noted that Malevole is a schemer. He uses a spy by the name Celso to learn about his enemies, their weakness and secrets, and strikes when the opportunity is present (Geckle pg.202). For instance, he incites Pietro that his wife is having an unfair with Mendoza. When Aurelia and Mendoza plan on how to kill Pietro, Melevole uses his scheming tactics to go against Mendoza. He gives Mendoza two boxes of poison yet they were empty. Melevole approaches Pietro and convinces him to throw himself into the sea to escape Mendoza's plans. He gains popularity through these schemes. On the other hand, the theme of adultery is seen when Melevole exposes Aretina's affair with Mendoza (Geckle pg.202). It is later found the Aretina is also having an affair with Ferneze.
This play represents the Italianate tragic comedies that were written at the beginning or mid of the 17th century. The play highlights the tragedy that comes to Pietro after realizing that his wife was cheating on him. Instead of Aretina facing the consequence of adultery, Pietro dies tragically. This play is dramatically unique in that it unfolds the idea of dilemma throughout the play.
The revenger's tragedy
Thomas's revenger's tragedy is a tragedy-comedy just as is illustrated by the title. Just as the title suggests the prominent theme in this play is revenge. At the start of the play, Vindice is presented as a person who wants to avenge the death of his girlfriend. Later, he tries to avenge everyone that he knows. Additionally, Antonia also wants to avenge the rape of his wife (Tech.Org). Similarly, Duchess wants to revenge since Duke refused to let her son out of jail. Hipolito on the other hand wants to help Antonio and Vindice revenge for the misfortunes of their loved ones. The other theme that is present in this play is lust. The Dukes family can be said to be obsessed with sex. They are involved in poisoning, rape, cheating and paying to get into people's pants. The play also highlights incidences of sex outside marriage and infidelity. These actions have highly praised the play (Tech.Org). Even those who are virgins and monogamous, they are still sexually obsessed as it can be seen with Vindice.
This play, which was written and played in 1606, is dramatically unique since it illustrates the themes of tragedy in a satiric and cynicism manner. Tragedies are often expected to be sorrowful and thrilling. However, Tourneur makes his play funny and attractive through the use of satire. Historically, the play was written in restoration period which had the theme of rovers which could get pleasure by doing anything (Jose). The play uses Dukes family as the rover who could poison, rape and pay anything to be sexually satisfied.
A new way to pay old debts
Philip Massinge wrote this play in 1633 during the Renaissance period. Just like the title of the pay suggests, one of the prominent themes is the theme of depts. The story starts with the main character Frank Welborn who is being flashed out of the alehouse by Froth and Tapwell. He cannot take any other tobacco or booze since he has an enormous debt that he cannot pay. Welborn is in a financial crisis since he has fallen a victim of Sir Giles manipulations. He has lost estates and reduced to penury. Welborn cannot even accept the new offer by Allworth to pay his debt knowing how young the boy was (Massinge, pg.365). The other theme that is present in the play is marriage. Sir Giles Overreach plans to marry Lady Allworth and also help her daughter Margaret be married by Lord Lovell who was rich. Margaret is however in love with Allworth and is helped with Lovell to keep the relationship a secret. Welborn is given money by Overreach to pay his debts and allow Overreach to marry Lady Allworth. It is later discovered that Margate married Allworth and Overreach plans failed (Massinge, pg. 356).
This is one of the dramatic Renaissance dramas. It is full of jokes and funny characters such as Welborn. Historically, the play was written in the Renaissance when the Western world was experiencing changes. One of the changes that were being experienced was the cultural changes (Beecher). In the play, it depicts some of the cultures that took place. For instance, the father could choose where the son would marry or where the daughter could be married to. The change of such culture is seen when Margaret refuses to be married by Lovell and instead is married by Allworth as per her wish.
"The Revenger's Tragedy, By Thomas Middleton." Tech.Org, 2018, http://www.tech.org/~cleary/reven.html. Accessed 16 Apr 2018.
Beecher, Donald. Renaissance Comedy. University Of Toronto Press, 2008.
Geckle, George L. "Review Of Marston's The Malcontent." PMLA, vol 86, no. 2, 1971, p. 202. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/460944.
Jose, Nicholas. Ideas Of The Restoration Of English Literature, 1660-71. Harvard University Press, 1984.
Massinge, Philip. "A New Way To Pay Old Debts." The Antioch Review, vol 20, no. 3, 1960, p. 365. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/4610273.
Ravenscroft, Edward. "The London Cuckolds." Theatre Journal, vol 33, no. 2, 1981, p. 258. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/3207311.
Shirley, James. "The Lady Of Pleasure." The Modern Language Review, vol 84, no. 4, 1989, p. 925. JSTOR, doi:10.2307/3731179.
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