Publication details

"But Honest and Pure Love to Thee" — True Love in the City Comedies of Thomas Middleton



Year of publication 2015
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The paper focuses on city comedies by one of the most notable playwrights of Jacobean England, Thomas Middleton (1580-1627), which usually take place in London and reflect ordinary London life. The majority of Middleton's characters are morally twisted individuals who are lustful, greedy and dishonest. They do not have any deep relationships; they cheat and lie and long only for sex and money. These "goods" most often lay the foundations of London marriages. But can there actually be a true love? A love that is pure, honest and lustless? This paper explores several couples from Middleton's city comedies and claims that a true love exists even in Middleton's London. Making use of the examples of Moll Yellowhammer and Touchwood Junior (A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, 1613), Mary Fitzallard and Sebastian Wengrave (The Roaring Girl, 1607), Joyce and Theodorus Witgood (A Trick to Catch the Old One, 1605), and Katherine and Fitsgrave (Your Five Gallants, 1607), the paper argues that in Middleton's London it is possible to find a real love, free from cheating, lying, and mere satisfying sexual and financial needs. However, such a love is hindered by immoral characters, be it family members, or another suitors, who want to abuse the lovers for their own selfish urges. With these couples, Middleton shows that even in London there is still purity and hope, although even these couples do not use the most honest ways to overcome all the obstacles.
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