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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Act 4, Scene 2.

Allwit prefers to prostitute his wife to Sir Walter than work, and in one scene a young cheapsire abandons her baby as if it were a leg of mutton. No matter how true or false Middleton’s characters are to themselves, a vast gap remains for all of them between what they do and what they say. When Allwit comes to see Yellowhammer, he poses as a relative who is trying to give Yellowhammer some advice.

London, for example, lost more than 30, people in the plague of —4; and man’s only effective weapon against death was procreation. The term Elizabethan period, named for England’s Queen Elizabeth Ihas not been defined in any cheapsife terms. Money tyrannizes over love in the Yellowhammers’ insistence that their daughter chaate the profligate, but titled, Sir Walter Whorehound against her will.

From the very beginning of the play, most characters are depicted as being very immoral.

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The Allwits suddenly change their tune and refuse to harbor Sir Walter now that he is wanted by the law as a murderer and can no longer be of any financial use to them.

However, it is soon revealed through the use of double entendre that Maudlin is saying that, when she was young, she was sexually active with her dancing instructor. Even in this plot, love triumphs over all odds; and the double wedding with which the play concludes—Touchwood Jr. This is important because if they have a child, Sir Walter a relation of theirs will not inherit their fortune, on which he has confidently depended, going so far as to live beyond his means.

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, by Thomas Middleton

This play, like many of Middleton’s other works, details several plots carried out by unscrupulous people in search of chsste, marriage, or sex—and sometimes all three. This is a comedy dripping in blood when Sir Walter is fatally wounded his intestines unravel like a string of sausagesand the design for this Almeida touring production places it largely in the abattoir.


In composing A Chaste Maid for the public stage, he faced the problem of turning satiric comedy into popular comedy, or at least of merging the ironic vision of his coterie dramas with the festive spirit of that particular dramatic chepside which a play like Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday epitomizes.

When the country girl leaves him to fare for herself in Puritan London with his latest bastard her fifth childthe impoverished Touchwood Sr. The play features two examples of the legal system in London at this time. Allwit who suggests they use their extra possessions to secure a house in the Strand.

Allwit is also suspicious of Sir Walter, cautious that his benefactor cheapsive someday try to marry and no longer need Allwit’s wife. Meanwhile, Touchwood Senior the elder brother of Moll’s true love prepares to depart from his wife; prodigiously ceapside, he impregnates any woman he sleeps with. While some only call dramas Elizabethan if they were written from toElizabeth’s actual reign, others call any drama up to —when the theaters were closed—Elizabethan drama.

Touchwood Senior, the older brother of Touchwood Junior, enters with his wife. Dahanna is hoping that if Allwit can stop the marriage and Sir Walter dies childless, Dahanna may gain the inheritance from his maidd relation, Sir Kix. Allwit and two servants if anybody else has slept with Mrs. Tim ij he can prove anything by logic and says that he will prove a prostitute to majd an honest woman.

However, after he dupes Sir Kix into believing that it was his fertility water—and not Cheapeide Senior’s affair with his wife—that got Lady Kix pregnant, Sir Kix offers to take care of whatever children Touchwood Senior has.

Although Yellowhammer tells Allwit that he will not let Sir Walter marry his daughter, secretly, he says he will, since Yellowhammer himself has also kept mistresses. Touchwood Senior’s wife leaves and another woman, carrying a child enters. Covatta says, “They are quite willing to use their post for personal profit but feel they cannot break their word. Sir Walter leaves and the Allwits resolve to use the riches that they have acquired over the ij from Sir Walter to get a house in the Strand, the most fashionable part of London.


Their attempts to marry are thwarted on several occasions. By marrying Moll, Sir Walter will get two thousand pounds in a dowry.

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside

He tells Yellowhammer that Sir Walter is an adulterer and Yellowhammer tells Allwit that he will not have Sir Walter marry his daughter. Sampson notes in his introduction to Masterpieces of the English Drama: By the time Middleton wrote the play in the early s, most of his comedies had been performed in front of private audiences.

Now he wants only to repent and they keep showing him signs of his sin, such as three of the bastard children—Wat, Nick, and the baby girl—that he had by Mrs.

Kix blames her husband, saying that she never had fertility problems before. Next, they try to run away together across the river, but Maudlin Yellowhammer jumps in the river, catches Moll, and drags her out.

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside – Act 1, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Although at first he is apprehensive about his intended union with the Welsh Gentlewoman, he grows to be very fond of her. Yellowhammer does not see through this speech to realize that Touchwood Junior means Moll.

A very limited excerpt from the play, titled A Posy for the Ring for the occasion, was acted at Earls Court on 16 September In the harmony that is reached between need and abundance, the force of fertility is finally liberated. However, Yellowhammer does not suspect that he is that man and so criticizes any father who is so blind.

Because of this masterful plotting and because the play was so audacious in its exploration of the depths of human depravity—which Middleton exploited for comic purposes—many critics consider the play to be one of his finest works.

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