INTRODUCTION. Most scholars believe that Thomas Middleton’s A Chaste Maid in Cheapside was first performed sometime between and , although. Complete summary of Thomas Middleton’s A Chaste Maid in Cheapside. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of A Chaste Maid in Cheapside. Thomas Middleton’s early 17th-century city comedy is set very particularly during Lent, a time when eating and trading in meat was forbidden.

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Touchwood Senior enters with a letter from his younger brother, whom he says is dead. Allwit whose wife is expecting a baby. Farr notes of the play in her book Thomas Middleton and the Drama of Realism: Davy, Sir Walter’s poor relative and personal valet, comes across Mr.

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside – Wikipedia

Saddened, the Yellowhammers agree to Touchwood Senior’s request that the young lovers receive a joint burial. Act 4, Scene 2. Elizabethan dramas were performed on stages that were vastly different from those used in classical and medieval times.

The Puritans were the most zealous Protestants and as their name implied, they sought to be the most pure and to enforce this pure way of life on others. Tim comes into the room, sees all of the married women and leaves. Allwit prefers to prostitute his wife to Sir Walter than work, and in one scene a young woman abandons her baby as if it were a leg of mutton.

Covatta says, “They are quite willing to use their post for personal profit but feel they cannot break their word.

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside – Act 1, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Act 3, Scene 1. However, since Sir Walter is footing the bill, Allwit has nothing to worry about. Tim is a university student who is unwittingly led to marry a prostitute posing as the Welsh Gentlewoman.

Middleton does not seem to judge his characters for their inability to live up to their more noble dreams. Allwit has had by Sir Walter. Kix, wife of Sir Kix, is distraught that they cannot conceive a child so she gets pregnant by Touchwood Senior. For this reason, the Kixes’ childless state becomes a source of strife between them, and Mrs. They both exit and the Kixes note that while Touchwood Senior is financially poor, he is rich in children.


Allwit of Sir Walter’s impending marriage. Touchwood properly buys a ring for his beloved and brings in a priest to consecrate their union. Allwit is also suspicious of Sir Walter, cautious that his benefactor may someday try to marry and no longer need Allwit’s wife.

Although Tim is distraught when he finds out he has married a prostitute, she tells him that marriage makes her honest.

Mistress Allwitt, who x borne him seven illegitimate children, wishes to appear a respectable matron. If Allwitt stands on the bottom rung of Middleton’s moral ladder, Moll, the “chaste maid” of the title, and her reasonably virtuous lover, Touchwood Junior, cling somewhat clumsily near the top.

On the second occasion, Maudlin literally drags Moll out of the river by her hair. Many critics cite the play’s deft combination of comedy and tragedy, especially as it serves to highlight humanity’s vices.

In composing A Chaste Maid for the public stage, he faced the problem of turning satiric comedy into popular comedy, or at least of merging the ironic vision of his coterie dramas with the festive spirit of that particular dramatic tradition which a play like Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday epitomizes.

Sir Kix has said that he will pay for any children that Touchwood Senior has. Tim and his tutor get in a semantic argument in Latin which is broken up by Maudlin Yellowhammer. A man’s happy when he’s at poorest that has matched his soul as rightly as his body. Their son, Tim, wants to be considered a learned gentleman. Cuckoldry, which was depicted by multiple horns on the cuckolded husband’s head, was often used to provide humor in plays like this.

Her parents are so caught up with trying to marry Tim to the Welsh gentlewoman that they do not attend the funeral where Moll and Touchwood Junior rise from their coffins and are happily married. These two hired spies demonstrate that they are willing to take meat away from the poor but will also turn a blind eye to anybody who bribes them enough. When Thomas Middleton wrote A Chaste Maid in Cheapside —his finest and most complex comic drama, he was already a practiced and successful private theater playwright.


Finally, the woman with the child from the previous scene walks by the promoters, blatantly carrying a basket of meat with the baby hidden underneath. In this book, Pritchard assembles a number of writings from Shakespeare’s contemporaries, including excerpts from books, plays, poems, letters, diaries, and pamphlets. Obsessed with their desire for a family, they are willing to “give a thousand pound to purchase fruitfulness,” an offer tailor-made for Touchwood Sr. Many of the male characters in the play have engaged in extramarital affairs and so have some of the women.

The flesh, which they actually serve, but puritanically pretend to despise, has its revenge on them. In fact, although Middleton pairs Allwitt’s zeal for revealing the naked truth with a deeply corrupt soul, Middleton is unsparing with his characters who refuse to see the truth when it stands clearly before them.

As a result, he tries to use Latin whenever he can, mmaid to the dismay of his mother and the Welsh Gentlewoman who thinks he is insulting her. Touchwood Junior tells his older brother about his plan to steal Moll away from Yellowhammer. They all leave and Yellowhammer and Allwit have a private conference in which Allwit claims to be a relative. Tim is very dim-witted, but he thinks that cheapslde university education makes him smart.

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Act 2, Cyaste 4. A current copy of the play can be found in the paperback edition of Five Playswhich was published by Penguin USA in