George Chapman Drama Analysis
George Chapman’s plays are diverse in structure, topic, and style, yet they are united by his interests in learning and learned people, his dismay at the unfairness of human society, and his moral beliefs. Beginning with boisterous and exuberant comedy, moving through satire and tragicomedy, then through violently dynamic tragedies, and ending with philosophical tragedies, Chapman’s plays reveal a remarkably coherent ethos and a mastery of poetry and prose that allows for wonderful diversity in the dramas.
The Blind Beggar of Alexandria and An Humourous Day’s Mirth
The first extant play by Chapman, The Blind Beggar of Alexandria, exists only in a truncated version. It was very popular and was often performed, but only its subplot was printed in 1598. Its main plot can be interpolated only from fragments found in the subplot’s story of Iris, the blind beggar. It shares with the play that followed it, An Humourous Day’s Mirth, the distinction of being a comedy of humours—a play in which each of the characters represents an aspect of human nature, such as greed or sloth. Although Ben Jonson’s Every Man in His Humour (pr. 1598) is sometimes credited with being the first comedy of humors, both of Chapman’s plays predate it. Therefore, Chapman’s first two plays have historical importance as the earliest extant examples of an important late Renaissance form of comedy, although the question of who...
(The entire section is 3509 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of George Chapman Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!