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Othello's Island 2015

at the Severis Foundation • Nicosia • Cyprus


Speaker: Dr. Alexandra Stachurová (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic)

Title: "“By My Troth, She’s a Whore”: Sexually Available Women in the City Comedies of Thomas Middleton"




Thomas Middleton (1580-1627) was an English Jacobean playwright. In his city comedies, Middleton describes the life of Jacobean London and its inhabitants. A significant role in these comedies is given to sexually available women, in several cases accompanied by allusions to historic Western caricatures of Turkish or Muslim males as a men blinded by lust. Be it courtesans, prostitutes, adulterous wives, kept women, or simply girls who fall prey to false promises, the fate of these women in Middleton’s plays is very much the same. They use their wit and manage to get married to some fool.


Making use of the examples of A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (1613), A Mad World, My Masters (1605), Michaelmas Term (1604), A Trick to Catch the Old One (1605), and Your Five Gallants (1607), this paper introduces the sexually available female characters of Middleton’s city comedies, looks into the ways Middleton treats such characters, explores the typical framework of these characters in plots, and tries to answer the question if Middleton’s view on Jacobean women is too harsh, pragmatic, or even sympathetic.





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