The Shoemaker's Holiday Analysis

Places Discussed (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Tower Street

Tower Street. London residence and workshop of Simon Eyre, who rises from master shoemaker to become lord mayor of London. A chaotic place populated by Eyre, his wife, his apprentices, and numerous hangers-on, it sees thwarted romances, the comic social-climbing of Mrs. Eyre, and street brawls as the apprentices try to avenge the wrongs inflicted on their fellow Rafe, who has been conscripted to fight in England’s wars in France. The setting reflects the unruliness and uncertainty of the era in which Dekker’s characters live.

*Old Ford

*Old Ford. Country house belonging to Sir Roger Oteley, lord mayor of London at the outset of the play. Oteley has sent his daughter Rose to the country to separate her from Sir Rowland Lacy who, like Lacy’s uncle, opposes a match between the two young people because of their unequal status. Bucolic and beautiful, Old Ford also holds sadness and danger. There, Rose is separated from her lover and falls prey to Hammon, her father’s choice as her husband. When Simon Eyre is elevated to alderman, he visits Old Ford, which he declares the perfect residence. Eyre’s admiration for Old Ford indicates that his increasing status has caused him to forget his origins in the rowdy streets of London.

*France

*France. None of the play’s action takes place here, but England’s wars with the French affect all the play’s characters. Simon’s assistant, Rafe, for example returns from the wars a cripple whose wife has been duped into believing he is dead.

*Leadenhall

*Leadenhall. Enormous new London guildhall built to celebrate Eyres’s rise to lord mayor of London. However, even its one hundred tables accommodate less than a fourth of the guests at the Shoemakers’ Shrove Tuesday feast. The holiday atmosphere provides the opportunity for the king to pardon Lacy and Rose for defying their elders and to unite them in marriage. This marriage, the reunion of Rafe and Jane, and the expulsion of Hammon symbolize the return of order after the disorders inflicted by interfering parents and disruptive foreign wars.

The Shoemaker's Holiday Bibliography (Great Characters in Literature)

Dekker, Thomas. The Shoemaker’s Holiday. Edited by R. L. Smallwood and Stanley Wells. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 1979. An edition whose comprehensive introduction places the play in its biographical, historical, and literary context. Also discusses Dekker’s use of sources, analyzes the work, and reviews its stage history.

Kaplan, Joel H. “Virtue Holiday: Thomas Dekker and Simon Eyre.” Renaissance Drama 2 (1969): 103-122. A study of the main character, who rises rapidly from shoemaker to Lord Mayor of London through luck and his expansive good nature. Demonstrates how Eyre’s rhetorical skills enhance his pervasive social influence.

Mannheim, Michael. “The Construction of The Shoemaker’s Holiday.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 10 (1970): 315-323. An analysis of how Dekker, with apparent ease, unifies his several plots, focusing on the central importance of an attack the playwright has Simon Eyre level at the courtiers in the third act.

Price, George R. Thomas Dekker. Boston: Twayne, 1969. One of the few generally available biographical and critical book-length studies of Dekker’s plays (including collaborations) and nondramatic works. Especially useful is the discussion of Dekker’s social attitudes and the concluding overall assessment of his achievements.

Toliver, Harold E. “The Shoemaker’s Holiday: Theme and Image.” In Shakespeare’s Contemporaries, edited by Max Bluestone and Norman Rabkin. 2d ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1970. An examination of how Dekker presents at once a realistic and romanticized view of London life. Shows how the playwright offers remedies for human faults that cause social deficiencies.