As a result, his plays include characters from all social levels, offering an accurate portrayal of what life was like in London at this time. In fact, some critics have gone so far as to call Middleton a realist, since he, above many other playwrights of the time, was so adept at exposing the harsh, unromanticized reality of human vice and corruption. The play is intricately plotted and consists of several stories about many families which are ultimately resolved at the same time. Because of this masterful plotting and because the play was so audacious in its exploration of the depths of human depravity—which Middleton exploited for comic purposes—many critics consider the play to be one of his finest works. A current copy of the play can be found in the paperback edition of Five Plays, which was published by Penguin USA in
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As a result, his plays include characters from all social levels, offering an accurate portrayal of what life was like in London at this time. In fact, some critics have gone so far as to call Middleton a realist, since he, above many other playwrights of the time, was so adept at exposing the harsh, unromanticized reality of human vice and corruption. The play is intricately plotted and consists of several stories about many families which are ultimately resolved at the same time.
Because of this masterful plotting and because the play was so audacious in its exploration of the depths of human depravity—which Middleton exploited for comic purposes—many critics consider the play to be one of his finest works. A current copy of the play can be found in the paperback edition of Five Plays, which was published by Penguin USA in Although most scholars list April 18 as his christening date, most are unable to confirm his actual birth date.
The playwright began writing at an early age, publishing at least three nondramatic pieces as a teenager. Especially in the early part of his career, Middleton often collaborated with other playwrights as part of his work for the famous producer Philip Henslowe.
Middleton wrote his plays during the late-Elizabethan period and was a contemporary of William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson , two playwrights with whom he is often compared. In his time, Middleton was an extremely popular playwright and was often commissioned to write and produce plays for noble or political clients.
In , Middleton started serving as city chronologer, a post he held until his death. The latter is very critical of her daughter saying that she is not very feminine and that she should feel lucky that she is getting married. At the same time, the Yellowhammers receive a letter from their son Tim who is returning from college. The Yellowhammers present Moll to Sir Walter, who initially tries to flee, afraid of her impending marriage.
Touchwood Junior, a young man who is in love with Moll, dupes Yellowhammer into making him a wedding ring.
He also says that he needs the ring quickly, as he is trying to steal his bride away from her father. Yellowhammer does not see through this speech to realize that Touchwood Junior means Moll. Allwit whose wife is expecting a baby.
Allwit delivers a lengthy monologue that describes how Sir Walter has taken care of the Allwits for many years. He alludes to the fact that Sir Walter has had a long-standing affair with Mrs.
Allwit and that Sir Walter is the father of their children. Sir Walter enters and asks Mr. Allwit and two servants if anybody else has slept with Mrs. Allwit including Mr. They all deny it and Sir Walter says that if anybody else does sleep with her, he will marry somebody else and leave them all without money. Allwit tells the audience that he will fight to keep Sir Walter single, so that the knight continues to feel compelled to sleep with Mrs.
Allwit, Wat and Nick, come in to say hello, and Sir Walter makes plans to get rid of them before his marriage by sending them off to be apprentices. They talk about the fact that they must live separately because Touchwood Senior is so fertile that his wife keeps having babies which they cannot afford to raise. Touchwood Senior gives her some money, and she leaves him alone.
They both exit and the Kixes note that while Touchwood Senior is financially poor, he is rich in children. They on the other hand, are rich but have been unable to conceive, a fact that makes both of them bitter and causes them to fight because they need an heir to claim the property that will otherwise go to Sir Walter.
A maid breaks up their fight, saying that Touchwood Senior has a fertility water that he drinks, which could make Lady Kix pregnant. The maid says that if Sir Kix is willing to pay Touchwood Senior a lot of money, he will give them some of the fertility water. Allwit offers to get Touchwood Junior, whom Sir Walter does not know, to serve as another witness.
Allwit spies two promoters, authorities who were given the power to take meat from citizens who were not supposed to be eating it during Lent. Allwit insults them. The promoters are upset but return to their watching and soon confiscate some meat from one man. Another man works for somebody who pays off the promoters so they let him go. Finally, the woman with the child from the previous scene walks by the promoters, blatantly carrying a basket of meat with the baby hidden underneath.
When the promoters take the basket and the woman leaves, they realize that they have been had and that the woman has dumped her unwanted child on them. Act 2, Scene 3 Allwit and Davy get ready for the christening of Mrs. The various witnesses including Puritan women, arrive on the scene and get ready to go inside to the christening. Meanwhile, Touchwood Junior has picked up the ring that he had Yellowhammer make and he and Moll make plans to steal away and be secretly married.
Sir Walter enters and is introduced to Touchwood Junior, who is supposed to serve as one of the witnesses. The women squabble over their line order for going into the christening. Act 3, Scene 1 Meanwhile, Touchwood Junior sneaks away and joins with a parson, who is going to marry Touchwood Junior and Moll in secret.
Moll arrives with Touchwood Senior and the secret ceremony begins but is broken up by Yellowhammer and Sir Walter. Yellowhammer leaves with Moll whom, he says, he is going to lock up. Sir Walter disavows any friendship with Touchwood Junior since he tried to steal Moll away from him. Act 3, Scene 2 During the christening, the various women remark how much the large child looks like its father, meaning Allwit.
They also note how gallant Sir Walter looks when compared to Mr. Sir Walter gives Mrs. Allwit a very generous gift which the various women remark on, saying it is too rich. The nurse comes in bringing sweets and wine and Allwit notices that some of the women take more than their share. However, since Sir Walter is footing the bill, Allwit has nothing to worry about. The men leave and the nurse lets Mrs. Allwit know that her son Tim has arrived. Tim comes into the room, sees all of the married women and leaves.
The nurse drags him back in. Tim suffers welcoming kisses from all of the married women. Allwit vows to stop the marriage. Act 3, Scene 3 Touchwood Junior tells his older brother about his plan to steal Moll away from Yellowhammer. Touchwood Junior also encourages his virile older brother to get Lady Kix pregnant so that Touchwood Senior can claim that it was due to the fertility water and make money out of the deal.
Sir Kix and his wife enter, fighting about their inability to conceive. Touchwood Senior sells Kix the fertility water, which is really just almond milk, then tells the knight that he must ride for five hours to shake up the elixir and make it work. Sir Oliver gives Touchwood Senior one hundred pounds and then promises to give him another hundred when his wife gets pregnant, a third hundred when she is bedridden and a fourth hundred when she actually has the child.
Sir Oliver leaves for his five-hour journey, and Touchwood Senior and Lady Kix go to her coach so that he can impregnate her. Act 4, Scene 1 Tim and his tutor get in a semantic argument in Latin which is broken up by Maudlin Yellowhammer. Tim says he can prove anything by logic and says that he will prove a prostitute to be an honest woman.
Maudlin sends the Welsh gentlewoman in to Tim, hoping to strike up a love affair between them while Maudlin and the tutor leave. Tim tries to speak to the woman in Latin, but she does not understand it and she thinks that he does not understand English. As a result, she tries to speak to him in Welsh, but Tim does not understand. She sings and Tim is impressed. They all leave and Yellowhammer and Allwit have a private conference in which Allwit claims to be a relative.
He also tells Yellowhammer that Sir Walter is a ladies man who has been sleeping with the wife of a man named Allwit for seven years. Since Yellowhammer does not know who Allwit is, he does not realize that Allwit is talking to him. Although Yellowhammer tells Allwit that he will not let Sir Walter marry his daughter, secretly, he says he will, since Yellowhammer himself has also kept mistresses.
Maudlin comes in and says that Moll has escaped. Act 4, Scene 2 Touchwood Junior and Moll attempt to escape across the river, but Maudlin jumps in the water and drags Moll back to land. Yellowhammer tells Sir Walter that they should be married first thing in the morning to prevent her from escaping again. Sir Walter arrives, obviously hurt. Although Allwit first tries to help him, Sir Walter will have none of it and keeps accusing him and Mrs.
Allwit of being his undoing. He says that they are the cause of his sin and that they have encouraged it. Now he wants only to repent and they keep showing him signs of his sin, such as three of the bastard children—Wat, Nick, and the baby girl—that he had by Mrs. Allwit brings Sir Walter so that he can make his will, and Sir Walter savagely bequeaths curses, plagues, and other miseries to the Allwits.
A servant enters and says that Touchwood Junior is dead, killed from the wounds given to him by Sir Walter. The Allwits suddenly change their tune and refuse to harbor Sir Walter now that he is wanted by the law as a murderer and can no longer be of any financial use to them. In addition, both of the Allwits refuse to acknowledge the fact that he has slept with Mrs. Sir Walter leaves and the Allwits resolve to use the riches that they have acquired over the years from Sir Walter to get a house in the Strand, the most fashionable part of London.
Act 5, Scene 2 The Yellowhammers nervously attend to Moll who appears to be on her deathbed from a sickness she got while being dragged out of the water by her mother.
Touchwood Senior enters with a letter from his younger brother, whom he says is dead. Moll appears to die and is carried out. By doing this, they believe that they will get the riches that Sir Walter promised while not having to marry their daughter to Sir Walter, since he is wanted by the law. Act 5, Scene 3 Sir Oliver speaks with his servants noting that his wife, Lady Kix, is newly pregnant. He instructs the servants to pay Touchwood Senior his next hundred pounds.
The servants tell Kix about the impending funeral for Moll and Touchwood Junior. Act 5, Scene 4 At the funeral, Touchwood Senior asks the assembled crowd if they would have been joyous to see Moll and Touchwood Junior married. The crowd says yes, at which point the two lovers rise from their coffins admitting that they faked their deaths and are married by the parson.
A Chaste Maid in Cheapside
Plot[ edit ] The play presents multiple plots centered on the marriage of Moll Yellowhammer, the titular maid, who is daughter to a wealthy Cheapside goldsmith , and, in particular, her intended husband, Sir Walter Whorehound. Tim, a fatuous scholar, returns to London from Cambridge University with his Latin tutor. Sir Walter is also having an affair with the wife of Allwit, a knowing cuckold , his name an inversion of "wittol," who lives happily on the money Sir Walter gives his wife. He and his wife must separate to avoid another pregnancy, which they cannot afford. His salvation comes from the Kixes, an aging couple who have not been able to conceive. This is important because if they have a child, Sir Walter a relation of theirs will not inherit their fortune, on which he has confidently depended, going so far as to live beyond his means.
A Chaste Maid in Cheapside by Thomas Middleton: Summary & Themes
A Chaste Maid in Cheapside Essay