How does Thomas Middleton's, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside portray sexual desire?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The play opens with an argument in a goldsmith shop. The argument is started by Maudlin, the mother of Moll. She wants her daughter to marry Sir Walter Whorehound. A wealthy and well connected man. Moll is not in love with him and wants to marry Touchwood Junior. Her parents have arranged the marriage with Sir Walter and will not hear of Moll marrying a poor man like Touchwood Junior. 

Sexual desire is portrayed in the way that most people handled sexual desire in that time. It is dealt with scandal and selfishness. Sir Walter has a mistress and as soon as he marries Moll and gets her dowry, he will throw her over for his mistress. Touchwood Senior, the brother of the man Moll loves, has talked his wife into them keeping their distance from each other. She agrees. He is very fertile and they have many children. He wants to have a sexual relationship, but just not with his wife, they can't afford another child. Sir Oliver and Lady Kix, an aging couple, have no children. They are worried because they have ho heirs, and all that they have will go to Sir. Walter. Sir Walter knows this, so he spends as if he already has their fortune. Touchwood Senior agrees to have sex with Lady Kix and gets her pregnant. Moll tries to escape from having to marry Sir Walter and tries to cross the Thames. She is captured, but is drenched. She becomes ill. Touchwood Junior and Sir Walter fight in the street and both are wounded. Moll gets a letter saying that Junior has died, and she faints. Everyone thinks she is dead, as well. The two coffins are side by side and Moll and Junior, both rise from the coffin and then get married. The whole thing was set up.

This play was written in 1613 by Renaissance Playwright Thomas Middleton. In this play he portrays sexual desire as a means to an end for some people. Usually the most selfish people were the ones with the sexual desire in these plays. It was never written about love, it was always a way for that person the get something. Throughout history, sex has been used as a means to an end for some people. Thomas Middleton is just one playwright who wasn't afraid to write about such things.

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A Chaste Maid in Cheapside

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