520 Class 10
THE KING AND THE COBBLER
Primary Reading: Dekker, The Shoemaker’s Holiday
Secondary Reading: Browse the introduction to Smallwood and Wells’s edition.
Other References: The Shoemaker’s Holiday has been well studied, as a quick search of the MLA International Bibliography will show. Of particular interest to us are the pair of essays by historian Paul S. Seaver and literary/textual critic David Bevington in The Theatrical City, and Harris’s essay on
Ludgate Time.Whitney suggests that The Shoemaker’s Holiday satirizes Sir John Spencer (Lord Mayor in 1594-95) and gives a summary of the tension between city and theatres immediately prior to 1599. Straznicky argues that the play
purposely conserves a state of discord(358). Christensen and Arab (in different ways) offer readings of the gender politics of the play. Note! These references are for information only. I may draw upon them in my discussion, but do not expect you to read them.
- Money is always changing hands in The Shoemaker’s
Holiday. Rose pays Sybil to find information about Lacy (II.i);
Ralph gives Jane a gift before going to war; and Firk withholds information
until he receives coins in return, saying
but give me your angel; your angel shall tell you(IV.iv) as though money literally talks. Indeed, it appears that everyone and everything in London can be bought — all except Jane, who
only gives(IV.i), much to Hammon’s repeated astonishment (V.ii). What, then, is the picture one gets of the economy of London from The Shoemaker’s Holiday, and does it accord with other portrayals we have encountered? (KK)
- Whether legitimately or through subterfuge, characters in The Shoemaker’s Holiday frequently switch classes
and receive different treatment because of it. Lacy is able to camouflage
his rank completely as he dresses down to a Dutchman and fools everyone,
with the other shoemakers deciding to
leave the gross work to Hans(III.i); Eyre, on the other hand, becomes Lord Mayor but still speaks mostly in prose, belying his former position — something that did not seem as out of place when he was briefly disguised as an Alderman (III.i). Do you think that the portrayal of upward mobility in the play takes itself seriously? Or, in other words, is there evidence in The Shoemaker’s Holiday to undercut the idea that anyone is able to become Lord Mayor of London? Is the play humorous entirely because of its implausibility, or is there a set of genuine beliefs underlying its action? (KK)
- This play opens with a dialogue between the Earl of Lincoln, a gentleman, and Mayor Oatley, a citizen of London. The two agree that the blossoming romance between their respective children must be stopped. In the formal hierarchy of the period, gentlemen are technically superior to citizens. Twenty-first century readers might expect the citizen to champion his daughter’s relationship with the young noble in an effort to elevate her — and his own — social standing. However, this is not the case in the play. In Scene 1, what attitudes does Mayor Oatley express regarding the gentry? How are the tensions between him and Lord Lincoln treated throughout the play and especially in its conclusion? (BB)
- Notwithstanding his assertion in
The Epistlethat The Shoemaker’s Holiday has no purpose but mirth, does Dekker’s Lacy plot, when juxtaposed with the Ralph and Jane Damport plot, critique class inequality? The apprentice Ralph Damport is separated from his new bride to do his military service in France. Because of his obedient service he is maimed, and almost permanently separated from Jane through remarriage. The noble youth, Lacy, deserts and is ultimately pardoned by the king. Given his status, if Ralph had evaded service, would the King have been as gracious to him as he is to Lacy? Wouldn’t Ralph too, like Lacy, have deserted
not [for] a base want of true valour’s fire / ...but love’s desire(21.56-57)? If there is a critique of class inequality in this play, are there other examples? Alternately, how does Dekker affirm the value of hierarchical class distinctions? Does Dekker both affirm and critique class hierarchy? (BB)
Arab, Ronda A.
Work, Bodies, and Gender in The Shoemaker’s Holiday.Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England. Ed. John Pitcher, Robert Lindsey, and Susan Cerasano. Vol. 13. NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2000. 182–212.
Theatre as Holiday.The Theatrical City: Culture, Theatre and Politics in London, 1576–1649. Ed. David L. Smith, Richard Strier, and David Bevington. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995. 101–16.
Christensen, Ann C.
Being Mistress Eyre in Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday and Deloney’s The Gentle Craft.Comparative Drama 42.4 (2008): 451–80.
- Dekker, Thomas. The Shoemaker’s Holiday. Ed. R.L. Smallwood and Stanley Wells. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1979. The Revels Plays.
Harris, Jonathan Gil.
Ludgate Time: Simon Eyre’s Oath and the Temporal Economies of The Shoemaker’s Holiday.Huntington Library Quarterly 71.1 (2008): 11–32. JSTOR. Reprint. Subscription.
Seaver, Paul S.
The Artisanal World.The Theatrical City: Culture, Theatre and Politics in London, 1574–1649. Ed. David L. Smith, Richard Strier, and David Bevington. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995. 87–100.
The End(s) of Discord in The Shoemaker’s Holiday.Studies in English Literature 36.2 (1996): 357–72.
The Devil his Due: Mayor John Spencer, Elizabethan Civic Antitheatricalism, and The Shoemaker’s Holiday.Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 14 (2001): 168–85. Digital Reprint. LION. Web.
Last modification: 2016-06-04 15:39:30 -0700 (Sat, 04 Jun 2016) (jtakeda)