Thomas Dekker Drama Analysis
Critical condemnation of Thomas Dekker as “a moral sloven” or as a hack with a marginal understanding of dramatic structure is chiefly based on unsympathetic readings of such early plays as Old Fortunatus, Patient Grissell, and Satiromastix. To some extent, the adverse assessments are justified, for these plays are quite severely lacking in structural coherence. Part of the problem, however, may lie in the sheer intransigence of Dekker’s sources. The fact that Dekker did possess a keen sense of dramatic structure and moral integrity can easily be demonstrated by an analysis of two of his finest works, The Shoemaker’s Holiday and The Honest Whore, Part II.
The Shoemaker’s Holiday
Based on Thomas Deloney’s prose narrative The Gentle Craft (1597-c. 1598), The Shoemaker’s Holiday reveals its structural strategy in the opening scene, in which a discussion between Sir Roger Otley, Lord Mayor of London, and Sir Hugh Lacy, the powerful Earl of Lincoln, is animated by the latent hostility that divides the landed nobility and the wealthy, self-made citizenry of London. Both men fear an elopement between the earl’s nephew, Rowland Lacy, and Rose, the Mayor’s daughter. Rather than expose his treasury to the frivolous exploitation of a courtly son-in-law, Sir Roger has ordered his daughter into rustic banishment. The earl, to avoid besmirching the family dignity and...
(The entire section is 3949 words.)
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