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Dancing Towards Death: Masques and Entertainments in London and Florence as precedents for Thomas Middleton's <i>Women Beware Women</i>

Barbara Ravelhofer

in Dance Research

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780748635849
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671120 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748635849.003.0005
Dancing Towards Death: Masques and Entertainments in London and Florence as precedents for Thomas Middleton's Women Beware Women

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Thomas Middleton’s tragedy Women Beware Women (c. 1613–21), includes in its fifth act a masque during which the play’s miscreants are severally killed and its corrupt society collapses. The masque’s debt to Ben Jonson’s Hymenaei is discussed, together with its possible recollection of Florentine entertainments, including those staged in 1586 for the wedding of Cesare d’ Este with Virginia de’ Medici. The play is based on fact, centring on the seduction of Bianca Cappello and her marriage with the Grand Duke Francesco de’ Medici. Middleton makes considerable efforts to provide an ‘authentic’ Florentine setting for his play including, it is suggested, recalling the celebrated series of Medici wedding entertainments and touching on the fascination of an early seventeenth century elite society with Florentine culture.

Keywords: Thomas Middleton; Ben Jonson; Florentine entertainments; Medici influence; the English Masque

Chapter.  5420 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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