Would you explain about the plot of John Fletcher's The Woman's Prize? Thank you.Actually, I just want to make sure about the elements of John Fletcher's The Woman's Prize, especially about its...

Would you explain about the plot of John Fletcher's The Woman's Prize?

Thank you.

Actually, I just want to make sure about the elements of John Fletcher's The Woman's Prize, especially about its plot? Thank you.

Asked on by hinsani

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jlbh | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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The basic plot of this late Jacobean comedy is this:  Maria attempts to control her bullying and manipulative husband Petruchio by refusing him sex until he changes his ways. She persuades several of her married friends to join the protest, and they barricade themselves in the upper storey of Maria's house while their husbands complain loudly below. A sub-plot involves Livia, who joins the protest, but her real motive is to avoid an arranged marriage to elderly and nasty Moroso, and marry the man of her choice. All the women succeed in achieving their demands by the end of the play.

The play was subtitled 'or the Tamer Tamed', and it was undoubtedly intended as a sequel and a reply to Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shew (c.1590/1) - in which the gender tables are turned, and the 'tamer' Petruchio becomes 'the tamed'. In Fletcher's response, Petruchio's wife Katherine has died, and he marries Maria, who proves even more resistent to domination than Katherine. There is an obvious reference to Aristophanes' play Lysistrata (c.411 BC) in which women stage a similar protest against a male dominated society (in this case, to prevent a war.) Not surprisingly, the ancient play, and Fletcher's take on it, have attracted a great deal of feminist attention over the centuries.

The play was controversial - both it and The Taming of the Shrew were revived and staged in 1633 but it was considered 'foul and offensive' by the then Master of the Revels, who was effectively the public censor. It was revised before its Court production for King Charles I, and the existing Prologue and Epilogue date from that performance, and are probably the work of the anonymous editor.

The Woman's Prize is difficult to date precisely - it was atually published in 1647 (the Beaumont & Fletcher Folio) long after Fletcher's death. Some scholars argue for as early as 1604, because of the reference to the Siege of Ostend in Act 1. Fletcher (c.1579-1625) almost certainly collaborated with Shakespeare on Henry VIII and Two Noble Kinsmen, and their careers overlapped, with Fletcher apparently working exclusively for the King's Men as Shakespeare had, after Shakespeare's death in 1616. There was much rivalry, some of it entirely good-humoured, between the dramatists of this period, and it makes sense that the play was written not very long after the success of The Taming of the Shrew.

Is it a 'feminist' text? Undoubtedly, given the triumph of the women. Whether Fletcher had actual sympathy with a proto-feminist cause is less certain - a stage-able controversial topic is always fun, as is turning the tables on a rival - but perhaps this doesn't matter much. It is fun, and we can cheer.

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