Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Clerimont and Truewit, young men-about-town, meet and discuss various matters, including the relative merits of natural beauty and the use of cosmetics. Shifting the topic to their friend Sir Dauphine Eugenie, they wonder how he is able to put up with his uncle Morose, an eccentric character who can abide no noise except the sound of his own voice. Clerimont’s page amuses them with accounts of various noisy pranks that have been played on the ridiculous old man. Sir Dauphine joins them and complains that his uncle blames all the pranks on him and his friends and that he threatens to marry and leave his fortune to his new wife instead of to his nephew. Morose has heard of a soft-voiced woman, extremely frugal of speech, and has negotiated with his silent barber, Cutbeard, to arrange a meeting, possibly even a marriage, with her.
Truewit, amazed at hearing of a silent barber and a silent woman, is struck with a sudden inspiration and excuses himself. After Truewit departs on his undisclosed mission, Sir Amorous La-Foole arrives to invite the gentlemen to a feast at the home of his kinswoman Mistress Otter. The guests are to include the silent Mistress Epicne, Lady Haughty, Lady Centaur, Mistress Mavis, and Sir John Daw. Sir Dauphine and Clerimont identify Sir John and Sir Amorous as ridiculous targets for comedy.
Meanwhile, Morose is instructing his servant Mute to use only sign language or, in extreme emergencies, to speak through a tube when...
(The entire section is 1316 words.)
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