Examine the Depiction of Urban Space and Social Roles in Dekker and Middelton's the Roaring Girl and Johnson's the Alchemist

Topics: Gender role, Sociology, Paulo Coelho Pages: 4 (1400 words) Published: April 25, 2013
But those who transgress gender categories may be more radically ambiguous. The real-life transvestite Moll Frith, who is staged in Middleton and Dekker’s The Roaring Girl (c.1610), is ‘woman more than man, / Man more than woman’ (I.ii.130-1). As a result of this gender hybridity, she is defined not only through ambiguous clothing but also through an association with both closed and open spaces, ‘chamber[s]’ (IV.i.86, 93) but also extra-domestic spaces like ‘Grays Inn Fields’ and the like (II.i.294). Jonson’s Epicoene ends with the revelation that Morose’s bride is really ‘a gentleman’s son’ (V. iv.183) and that the marriage is therefore, to Morose’s immense relief, invalid. Margaret Cavendish’s The Convent of Pleasure reveals that the princess ‘of a Masculine Presence’ (II.3. Shaver ed. 1999:226) is really a prince In The Alchemist, Ben Johnson's treatment of the self works to maintain a conservative worldview where identity is intimately tied to one's social standing. The permanence of the self is shown to be dependant upon both continued performance and ongoing social reinforcement. Character traits are treated as stubbornly enduring coping strategies rather than as signs of a coherent, internally unified self. Johnson's treatment of his characters' fantasies as vices to be exploited rejects the idea of an internally created self where fantasy is the impetus for change and self-improvement. The allegorical effect of The Alchemist presents an anti-existentialist treatment of the self that privileges knowledge of one's social role and standing above introspection and self-contemplation.

In The Alchemist the unity of the self is provisional, dependant upon continuous social reinforcement. The characters who are successfully gulled are the ones who lose sight of their socially reinforced identities as they play out their fantasy ideal selves.

Mammon and Surly are prime examples of charact...

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