Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Bartholomew Fair

*Bartholomew Fair (BART-le-mee). London’s raucous Bartholomew Fair, held at Smithfields from 1120 onward. The original site was the area where animals were slaughtered and sold. During the reign of Queen Mary, the fair was suspended, and Smithfields became the site where heretics were burned at the stake. The fair was reestablished in the 1560’s after the accession of Elizabeth I. Symbolically, the fair represents the world, with all its liveliness, riot, and sinfulness. Representatives of the law, such as Justice Overdone, and the rigid Puritan sect, such as Zeal-of-the-Land Busy, invade the fair to ferret out its evils and ultimately shut it down. Their encounters with the cutpurses, pimps, horse thieves, pig women, and gingerbread sellers, who ply their wares at the fair, leave these self-righteous individuals humiliated and chastened. The vitality of the fair exerts its influence and defeats the intentions of those who would condemn it.

*Ursula’s pig booth

*Ursula’s pig booth. Booth at which “Bartholomew Pig” is sold—where the fair’s ultimate excesses are centered. The Littlewits go to the booth hoping that indulgence in greasy roast pork will help Win to conceive. Mrs. Overdone and Dame Purecraft, representatives of middle-class morality, become drunk and are mistaken for whores.

*Leatherhead’s puppet booth

*Leatherhead’s puppet booth. Country bumpkin Bartholomew Cokes, who thinks the fair is his fair since they share the same name, is drawn into the world of the puppet show featuring Hero and Leander, though he understands not a word of it, just as he is lost in the world of the fair.

*Hope Theatre

*Hope Theatre. Bankside theater in which Jonson’s play was first produced in 1631. It becomes the site of a scene in the play itself. The introduction sees the book holder, the stage manager, and the scrivener make a compact with the audience not to condemn the excesses of either the stage production or Bartholomew Fair.