520 Class 11
SEND UP THE CITIZENS
Primary Reading: Beaumont, The Knight of the Burning Pestle
Secondary Reading: Browse the introduction to Zitner’s edition.
Other References: You’ll find a number of good articles on The Knight of the Burning Pestle listed in the MLA International Bibliography. See also the indices of the monographs on London and theatre. In my discussion, I will draw upon Dillon (reworked in Chap. 5 of Dillon, Theatre, Court and City under the title
Placing the Boundaries: The Knight of the Burning Pestle), Munro, and Stock.
- Beaumont puts the Citizen and his Wife onstage as an audience, then
ridicules their interrupting claims of their right to be in the theatre and
their demand that the players
present something notably in honour of the commons of the city(57). Simultaneously, Venturewell’s plan to marry Luce with a rich husband fails and is satirized throughout the play. What is the social status of the majority of the audience? Do these satires to some extent reflect that the city’s hierarchy was changing as citizens became gradually wealthy? What possible class conflicts does Beaumont suggest in the play? (CZ)
- Both Jasper and Humphrey appear to possess a relative amount of status
within the context of the civitas. We can assume that Humphrey is a
gentleman, because in the
Speaker’s Names(Beaumont 55) he is referred to as
Master Humphrey, a friend to the Merchant.However, Jasper, as that very Merchant’s apprentice and the son of Master Merrythought, also possess a certain degree of status (even if he appears to be younger than Humphrey. In the competition between these characters specifically, a lot is made of very little difference in social status. It appears that Jasper’s sole impediment in marrying Luce is that he is beholden to her father as his apprentice:
Sir, I do liberally confess I am yours, / Bound by both love and duty to your service(1.16-17). Keeping in mind that Beaumont is being satirical with The Knight of the Burning Pestle, is Beaumont really favouring Jasper’s case as the apprentice of a wealthy merchant over that of the lazy and ineffectual Master Humphrey, or is Beaumont simply parodying how this favouring would usually take place in city comedies? Further, would a character any higher in status than Rafe be capable of comedically taking on the role of a Knight? Rafe and Jasper are both apprentices, and yet Jasper is portrayed as more worthy than Rafe. Is this simply Beaumont’s attempt at pulling our leg through comparing an idealized apprentice with a ’real’ one? (AG)
- The citizen’s wife has a large speaking role in The Knight of the Burning
Pestle. This is unusual for city plays from around this period; even in The
Shoemaker’s Holiday, Margery Eyre employs a self-censoring mechanism:
but let that pass(7.46). Does this suggest something about the status of the Citizen’s wife as a loose woman, or in any way shame the Citizen for being too indulgent with her? For instance, when the wife interrupts the play to remark on the sweetness of the children in the boy’s company, all the Grocer condescendingly says is
Chicken, I prithee heartily, contain thyself. The childer are pretty childer, but when Rafe comes, lamb—(1.98-99). As outrageous as Eyre’s treatment of his wife seems to us, would that behaviour be considered more appropriate by audiences at the time than the Citizen’s? (AG)
- here are three plots in The Knight of the Burning Pestle: (1) the Grocer
and his wife going to the Blackfriar’s Playhouse; (2)
The London Merchantwith its intertwined stories of the Merrythought and Venturewell families; and (3) Rafe’s episodic romance quest (one character in search of a plot). Map out the implied spatial trajectories of each of those plots. What parts of London are visited/represented in each story? Where do we begin/end each story? What role does
London—and its constituent places or spaces play in each story? (JJ)
- Beaumont, Francis. The Knight of the Burning Pestle. 1607. Ed. Sheldon P. Zitner. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2004.
- Dekker, Thomas. The Shoemaker’s Holiday. Ed. R.L. Smallwood and Stanley Wells. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1979. The Revels Plays.
Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 9 (1997): 127–48.
Is Not All the World Mile End, Mother?: The Blackfriars Theater, the City of London, and The Knight of the Burning Pestle.
- Dillon, Janette. Theatre, Court and City, 1595–1610: Drama and Social Space in London. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000.
The Knight of the Burning Pestle and Generic Experimentation.Early Modern English Drama: A Critical Companion. Ed. Garrett A. Sullivan, Jr., Patrick Cheney, and Andrew Hadfield. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. 189–99.
’Something done in honour of the city’: Ritual, Theatre and Satire in Jacobean Civic Pageantry.Plotting Early Modern London: New Essays on Jacobean City Comedy. Ed. Dieter Mehl, Angela Stock, and Anne-Julia Zwierlein. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004. 125–44. Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama.
Last modification: 2016-06-04 15:39:30 -0700 (Sat, 04 Jun 2016) (jtakeda)