Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
A production in a London theater is abruptly interrupted when George, a greengrocer, declares that he wants to see a new kind of play, one in which the common man of London is glorified. Sitting beside him in the audience, George’s wife, Nell, further suggests that there be a grocer in the play and that he kill a lion with a pestle. The indulgent speaker of the prologue agrees to these demands after George offers his apprentice, Ralph, to play the part of the commoner-hero. The play begins.
For presuming to love Luce Venturewell, the daughter of his master, apprentice Jasper Merrythought is discharged. Old Venturewell chooses Master Humphrey, a foolish young citizen, for his daughter, but Luce, in league with Jasper, tells the gullible Humphrey that to win her love he must abduct her and take her to Waltham Forest, where she plans to meet Jasper. In the audience, Nell, the grocer’s wife, comments that Humphrey is a fine young man.
In a grocer’s shop, Ralph reads a chivalric romance and, yearning for the olden times, determines himself to become a knight-errant. He enlists his two apprentices, Tim and George, to be his foils: the one, his squire, the other, his dwarf. Dubbing himself the Knight of the Burning Pestle, Ralph explains the rules of knight-errantry to his amused followers. Nell, pleased with Ralph’s first appearance on the stage, clamors for his immediate return.
Jasper goes home and collects his patrimony—all...
(The entire section is 1420 words.)
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