Bartholomew Fair Questions and Answers
by Ben Jonson

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In Ben Jonson's play Bartholomew Fair, what kind of a man is Zeal-of-the-Land Busy? How is he treated and what happens to him - what interpretation can be made?

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Zeal-of-the-land Busy, a character in Ben Jonson’s play Bartholomew Fair, is one of the typically hypocritical Puritans whom Jonson so often satirizes in his works.  Jonson disrespected the Puritans for criticizing the alledged sins of others while being so full of flaws themselves. Thus, the first extended description of Busy suggests that although he is ostensibly opposed to gluttony, he is himself a glutton. Another character reports that he is cleaning his beard (which is presumably dirtied with food droppings) and says,

I found him, fast by the teeth, i’ the cold Turkey-pie, i’ the cupboard, with a great white loaf on his left hand, and a glass of Malmsey [that is, wine] on his right. (29; citations are to pages of the early Yale edition [see link], which does not provide continuous line numbers. Quotations are modernized.)

Nevertheless, Busy is regarded, at least by the other Puritans, as a particularly pure man and as a kind of prophet. Jonson therefore mocks not only Busy...

(The entire section contains 577 words.)

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