Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Yorkshire. Historic county in northern England in which the play is set. Yorkshire and its inhabitants are usually described as bleak, independent, dour, and craggy. The play’s regional setting, with Yorkshire’s small, self-policing communities, middle-class marriages, religious underpinnings, and bumpkin servants, is typical of domestic tragedy dramas. Unlike other plays usually grouped with it, however, Heywood’s experimental play is not based on any known contemporary scandal.

Frankford’s house

Frankford’s house. Home of the provincial gentleman John Frankford. A large house and rural estate that is one of the finest in Yorkshire, Frankford’s home symbolizes the confident wealth of this gentleman-farmer and his new marriage to his aristocratic wife, Anne. The house itself may be viewed as one of the principal presences in the play, a kingdom in which the husband is regent.

By using a comical array of servants, key social rituals, and unusually extensive stage directions, Heywood constructs a realistic portrait of household activity. The subversion of Frankford’s marriage and middle-class values of hospitality is symbolized by his having to break into his own house at night, like a robber. He is barely prevented from killing his wife’s lover by an anonymous maid, whom some critics have read as the domestic spirit of the house itself.

Mountford’s estate

Mountford’s estate. Neighboring estate of the provincial nobleman Sir Charles Mountford, in central Yorkshire, that has been in Mountford’s family for three hundred years. After killing two men in a fight over a wager, Sir Charles is forced to spend his patrimony, descending into poverty and eventually prison in York Castle. The importance of house and land to his family’s honor becomes apparent when Sir Charles opts to sacrifice his willing sister to an unhappy marriage and likely suicide rather than lose his property.