Saturday, January 22, 2011

School Book: A Chaste Maid in Cheapside

A Chaste Maid in Cheapside is one of the other plays included in Women Beware Women. I didn't have to read A Chaste Maid in Cheapside yet, but it was rather short so I decided to read ahead a bit so I can concentrate on my second class this week.
I have to say that I really enjoyed A Chaste Maid. There's a lot going on in this play, and once you understand just how bad most of the characters are, it's really funny. Moll, the daughter of a goldsmith, is being courted by two men. One of them, Sir Walter Whorehound, is an adulterer, and happens to be the man her parents approve of. The other one, Touchwood Jr., is the man she loves, but her parents want nothing to do with him. Moll and Touchwood Jr. try multiple times to get married in secret, but every time they are thwarted by her parents. Sir Walter has many kept women, including the wife of Master Allwit, by whom he has three children. Master Allwit knows he is being cuckolded, but could care less - he gets to coast through life without having to pay for anything. So the subplots tend to revolve around adulterous affairs with the other women in the play.
I have to say, I love the irony with Moll's name. As I learned from The Roaring Girl, "Moll" was a common name for a whore. And the Moll of this play happens to be the only chaste maid in Cheapside (which is another irony - the joke is that there are no chaste maids in Cheapside).
I admit, right near the end I wasn't quite sure if this was going to be a tragedy or a comedy. The very end was unexpectedly surprising. All in all, I really enjoyed reading this. It was short and good fun.

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