Nice Wanton, c.1550

John J. McGavin

in The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Drama

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199566471
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Nice Wanton, c.1550

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)



This article analyzes the mid-Tudor interlude, Nice Wanton. The play is about three children, two of whom, the daughter Dalila and a son Ismael, are spoiled by their mother, Xantippe, who indulges their youthful errors, despite the advice of a neighbour, Eulalia. As well as behaving abusively in the vicinity, they despise the good child, Barnabas, whose eagerness for education they mock and obstruct by their truancy. Without parental control, they abandon their schooling and descend into vice, which leads eventually to Dalila dying of syphilis and Ismael being hanged. Worldly Shame then aims to complete this disaster by prompting the culpable mother to suicide. Barnabas, who has given what comfort he could to Dalila in her final days, also now comforts his mother, and the action ends with his turning to give advice on bringing up children to the audience. Nice Wanton proves a useful catalyst for revealing the complex cultural forces at work in mid-sixteenth-century England.

Keywords: Tudor theatre; plays; Tudor interludes; cultural forces; sixteenth-century England

Article.  8925 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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