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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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Her parents are so caught up with trying to marry Tim to the Welsh gentlewoman that they do not attend the funeral where Moll and Touchwood Junior rise from their jaid and are happily married.

Even when Touchwood boldly claims that Moll is almost a perfect copy of his beloved and uses her finger in fitting the ring, Yellowhammer, perhaps blinded by Touchwood’s guarantee of payment, regardless of whether the ring fits or not, remains unseeing.

This is one of the more tame passages in the play.

This first arrangement also introduces the first deception. Moll continues to be very sick; when Touchwood Senior brings word that his brother has died, she faints and appears to die while Susan, her servant, is let in on a secret plan. In The Old LawAgatha, chepaside is sentenced to death under the outrageous edict stipulating that all men over eighty and all women over sixty are to be executed, makes a pathetic attempt at feigning pregnancy by hiding a cushion under her gown in order to be allowed to survive.

Tim tries to speak to the woman in Latin, but she does not understand it and she thinks that he does not maix English. In A Chaste Maid in Cheapsideas in many of his other plays, Middleton’s double entendres have sexual connotations.

In addition to double entendres, which are spoken out loud in dialogue with another character, Middleton also makes use of asides—comments directed at the audience, which the other characters cannot hear.

At the funeral, Moll and Touchwood Junior cheapdide from their coffins and the mourning turns to celebration. Thomas Middleton, American Book Company,pp.

Sir Oliver wishes his wife happiness at any price, then descends into recriminations about her fertility within half a page of dialogue. Middle class parents try desperately to marry their children into an upper class that tries desperately to hide the impending doom of poverty. His solution was to utilize much of the thematic material he had handled in his earlier works—materialism and avarice, bourgeois pretensions, aristocratic degeneracy, religious hypocrisy, libertinism and prodigality—but also to expand his treatment of human sexuality to lay new stress on the theme of fertility and, hence, make Eros, not Momus, the god of his comic world.


After the coffins of the young lovers are brought onstage to file dirgeful music of recorders, attended by the play’s major characters with the exception of the Yellowhammers, who appear later, and Sir Walter, who is in a hospital recovering from his woundsTouchwood Sr. The nurse drags him back in.

Tim thinks that logic can solve anything and spends much of his time locked in logical debates with his tutor.

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside – Drama Online

The flesh, which they actually serve, but puritanically pretend to despise, has its chasste on them. Middleton wrote his plays during the late-Elizabethan period and was a contemporary of William Shakespeare and Ben Jonsontwo playwrights with whom he is often compared. 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.

Contemporary audiences would have recognized the joke in the play’s title. In such cheeapside as Michaelmas TermA Mad World, My Masterand A Trick to Catch the Old One he had helped to perfect the form of city comedy that was so fashionable in early Jacobean London, reflecting, as it did, the intellectual sophistication, moral scepticism, and taste for irony of its educated audience.

For Allwit and for his wife, their marriage is more like a business arrangement than a traditional, romantic marriage. In mmaid own time, Middleton was a popular playwright with audiences, but was not held in as high esteem critically as was William Shakespeare, Ben Jonsonand other major playwrights of the Elizabethan and Jacobean time periods. After an abortive attempt to elope with Touchwood Junior, Moll is guarded at home. The Yellowhammers nervously attend to Moll who appears to be on her deathbed from a sickness she got while being dragged out of the water by her mother.

Why does Middleton give such seeming concern for truth to a character as corrupt as Allwittt? The various witnesses including Puritan women, arrive on the scene and get ready to go inside to the christening.

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside |

Their attempts to marry are thwarted on several occasions. Allwit a very generous gift which the various women remark on, saying it is too rich. One of the most famous examples from the play is the scene with the two promoters. Mistress Allwitt, who chastte borne him fheapside illegitimate children, wishes to appear a respectable matron. Meanwhile, Touchwood Senior the elder brother of Moll’s true love prepares to depart from his wife; prodigiously fertile, he impregnates any woman he sleeps with.


By doing this, they believe cheapsdie they will get the riches that Sir Walter promised while not having to marry their daughter to Sir Walter, since he is wanted by the law. They on the other hand, are rich but have been unable to conceive, a fact that makes both of them bitter and causes them to fight because they need an heir to claim the property that will otherwise go to Sir Walter.

Yellowhammer leaves with Moll whom, he says, he is going to lock up. With her husband’s knowledge, Mrs. Elizabeth toed the line during her long reign, not willing to endorse cjaste side mad and the religious tension increased.

When the “water” has worked its magic and Lady Kix’s pregnancy is verified, Sir Oliver thinks that he has sired a child with the help of Touchwood Senior’s medical skills and is so rapturously happy that he proposes, with comic unconsciousness, that their two families live in a kind of symbiotic relationship. He alludes to the fact that Sir Walter has had a long-standing affair with Mrs.

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside

When Moll uses this incident to fake her own death, Moll’s parents mourn her loss but do not attend the funeral because they are too busy trying to marry their son Tim to the Welsh Gentlewoman before Sir Walter Chate finds out that his intended bride is dead. For example, in his essay on Middleton for The Best Plays of the Old Dramatists, Algernon Charles Swinburne argues that Middleton is a “genius,” and calls A Chaste Maid in Cheapside “a play of quite exceptional freedom and audacity, and certainly one of the drollest and liveliest that ever broke the bounds of propriety or shook the sides of merriment.

However, Maudlin reminds him that he once said he could prove a prostitute to be an honest woman and now he has his chance. He is not willing to give up on them, either. In this action, love must be liberated from the tyranny of money, or at least there must be a reconciliation of Eros and Pecunia, a harmony toward which the play as a whole must move; for the drama’s hero and heroine, Touchwood Jr. He also tells Yellowhammer that Sir Walter is a ladies man who has been sleeping with the wife of a man named Allwit for seven years.