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Roaring Girl


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AT: Moll Cutpurse A: Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton Pf: 1611, London Pb: 1611 G: Com. in 5 acts; prose and blank verse S: London, 1611 C: 30m, 5fSebastian Wengrave wishes to marry Mary Fitzallard, but his father, Sir Alexander, is opposed to the match. So Sebastian pretends to woo Moll Cutpurse, a notoriously dissolute character, in the hope that his father will be so alarmed that he agrees to the marriage to Mary. While others are pursuing a number of illicit love affairs, Moll, dressed as a man, defeats one of the lechers in a duel, and after quarrelling with Trapdoor, hires him as a servant, unaware that he is also in the pay of Sebastian's father. All attempts by Trapdoor to ensnare Moll in a crime fail, and Sir Alexander is horrified to imagine that his son might marry Moll. His worst fears appear confirmed when Sebastian arrives home with a veiled woman, who turns out to be Moll. But Mary is soon revealed as his true bride, now welcomed by Sir Alexander, and Moll declares that she would never marry anyway.

AT: Moll Cutpurse A: Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton Pf: 1611, London Pb: 1611 G: Com. in 5 acts; prose and blank verse S: London, 1611 C: 30m, 5f

In a reasonably authentic London setting, but with highly stylized rogues and lechers, Middleton, here in collaboration with Dekker, once again explores the cunning of the young in outwitting the old, a theme stretching back to the fooling of the senex (old man) in Roman comedy. At the centre of the action and sometimes distracting from the main thrust of the plot, stands the Roaring Girl herself, a highly idealized representation of the unscrupulous historical Moll Cutpurse (c.1584–1660), arguably the first truly independent woman in world theatre.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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