From Court to Playhouse and Back: Middleton’s Appropriation of the Masque

Caroline Baird


Bringing a thorough study of court masques to bear on reoriented readings of The Revenger’s Tragedy, Women Beware Women, The Changeling, and the lesser known Your Five Gallants, I show that Thomas Middleton’s intimate knowledge of the Jacobean court masque enables him to exploit its conventions, iconography, and structural functions for use in the playhouse. Middleton confidently ‘decon­structs’ masque dramaturgy to create a masque episode which encapsulates the play’s overarching theme and engineers the resolution. At the same time, by sub­verting the very device used to represent the court to the world, he subtly critiques king and court.

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