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The plays of Ford, the last major tragic dramatist of the Renaissance, focus on profoundly conservative societies whose values are in crisis. Throughout his career he also wrote plays unaided.
Books by Philip Massinger
He died in the London plague of that killed some 40, others; the…. Attempts to separate the shares of Beaumont and Fletcher in any given work are complicated by…. Philip Henslowe , most important English theatre proprietor and manager of the Elizabethan Age. Henslowe had apparently settled in Southwark, London, before He married a wealthy widow and with her money became an owner of much Southwark property, including inns and….
Thomas Dekker , English dramatist and writer of prose pamphlets who is particularly known for his lively depictions of London life.
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For in this comedy, as well as in his tragi-comedy, The Maid of Honor printed in and probably acted less than a decade before , Massinger reveals himself as close to the cleanest and most high-minded of the playwrights of his age, though unluckily the same statement cannot be made about all of his writings, some of which are gratuitously coarse.
Not only morality but also religion often bear leading parts in his works, although there is no necessity for accusing him of turning Roman Catholic because he presents adherents of this church in a particularly heroic light in some of his plays. His women are especially attractive, and in fact offer more variety and interest than his men, who, like his plots, tend to lack originality.
Charles Read Baskervill. New York: Henry Holt and Company, Related Sites. It seems, however, to have been popular, and was several times reprinted before the Restoration. It is a powerfully-constructed play, strong in character and incident.
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Massinger's leaning to Roman doctrine is supposed to be shown by his making one of his heroines--a converted Turk and a sultan's sister--experience complete spiritual transformation after receiving the rite of baptism. But there is a more suggestive and stranger fact than this. The hero, Francisco, is a Jesuit priest, treated with profound respect throughout, a man of noble, unselfish aims, running all risks to save and gain souls, exercising the strongest moral influence for the wisest and most benevolent purposes. Francisco's influence pervades the play, and is crowned with triumph at the end.
He sails back to Venice with a noble lady rescued from the Turk, her virtue protected by an amulet during her captivity, a renegade military hero restored to his country and the church, and the beautiful sister of the sultan converted to Christianity. That a London audience tolerated this glorification of a Jesuit within twenty years of the Gunpowder plot is an extraordinary fact.
It may be doubted whether Massinger was ever a popular dramatist. His poverty is not, indeed, conclusive on this point, for the prices paid for his plays were so small that a dramatist could hardly make a livelihood by play-writing, unless he was also an actor or a theatrical manager. But the best qualities of his plays appeal rather to thoughtful politicians, moralists and students of character than to the simple feelings of the ordinary playgoer. Only one of them, A New Way to Pay Old Debts , still holds the stage, chiefly because the leading character, Sir Giles Overreach, a sort of commercial Richard III, a compound of "the lion and the fox," provides many opportunities for a great actor.
Lik all Massinger's plays, it is most ingenious and effective in construction, but in this, as in others, he has been more intent upon the elaboration of a plot and the exhibition of a ruling passion than upon winning the love and admiration of his audience for heroes and heroines. There are few more stirring scenes in dramatic story than are here provided for the actor who personates the avaricious Overreach.
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- La vigilanza e l’esame di coscienza (lisola) (Italian Edition).
Kemble, Kean and Junius Brutus Booth gloried in the part, and many who heard them give the speech of Sir Giles, furious with impotent rage, have testified to this as being one of their most memorable experiences of the stage. With the exception of this play, the rest by Massinger have been relegated to the study since his own time. The Fatal Dowry , in which Massinger had the assistance of Field, was partially resuscitated by Rowe, being made the basis of the Fair Penitent. In Massinger's own judgment, the Roman Actor was "the most perfect birth of his Minerva.