||From Reality to Metaphor: Latent Cityscape in Thomas Middleton’s City Comedies
||Department of English
early modern London
|| The building of theaters provided a new space of daily entertainment for early modern Londoners. City comedy was emergent in early seventeenth century, which depicted the contemporary society satirically. Thomas Middleton was one of the playwrights whose plays represent not only the social reality, but also a vision of the city.
This thesis examines the representation of early modern London in Middleton’s city comedies. Such representation includes two parts: reality and metaphor of the city. On stage, reality is portrayed as the cultural and topographical cityscape dominated by issues of commercial transaction. By plotting and setting the trickery in any forms of transaction, the cityscape becomes a microcosm of commercial world. Middleton offers a panoramic view of his contemporary society by mapping the places with the connotations of commercial spaces in his plays. Further, the world is displaced by the device of metaphor in dialogues. I argue that the displacement of time and space implies Middleton’s attempt to create a vision of the city. When the vision encounters with reality, the theatrical spaces are turned to be what Michel Foucault called “heterotopias.”
Chapter One clarifies the roles in trickery which are mainly divided into tricksters and gulls, the victims of tricks. The change of roles between tricksters and gulls refer to the power struggle among citizens. Chapter Two distinguishes the settings from the public to the private spaces and their corresponding places. By showing the continuum among different spaces, the cityscape filled with cultural meanings is displayed on stage. Chapter Three points out how metaphors in dialogues serve to the playwright’s intention to create a vision of the city. Finally, I conclude this vision with the latent cityscape.
i. Jacobean City Comedy and Thomas Middleton (1)
ii. Plotting, Setting, and Displacing: Middleton’s Strategies for Representation (3)
iii. Cityscapes in Middleton’s City Comedies (13)
Chapter One Plotting: Cultural Cityscape (16)
i. Credit (17)
ii. Marriage (22)
iii. Death (29)
Chapter Two Setting: Topographical Cityscape (38)
i. Streets and Shops (42)
ii. Houses and Chambers (45)
iii. The Church (55)
Chapter Three Displacing: Metaphorical Cityscape (58)
i. Metaphors of Animals (59)
ii. Metaphors of Water (65)
iii. Metaphors of Land (75)
Works Cited (85)
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