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Lawyers at PlayLiterature, Law, and Politics at the Early Modern Inns of Court, 1558-1581$
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Jessica Winston

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198769422

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198769422.001.0001

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Marriage Plays at the Inns

Marriage Plays at the Inns

Negotiating Professional Jurisdiction

(p.193) 8 Marriage Plays at the Inns
Lawyers at Play

Jessica Winston

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines plays produced after Gorboduc at the Inns of Court in the 1560s. Critics have suggested that these plays comment on the succession, but I argue that the post-Gorboduc plays share an unusual plot feature: they are set up to comment on political topics, but by the end, they swerve away from or undercut this narrative potential, dwelling instead on the psychology and social positions of the characters themselves. In this way, the plays suggest that members use dramatic performance to announce the prerogatives of their members and the Inns themselves in the political nation, but in turning away from these topics, the plays negotiate jurisdiction, indicating that political advice is a prerogative that members will not engage. The plays discussed include Thomas Pound’s two marriage masques (1566), Jocasta and Supposes, and Gismond of Salerne.

Keywords:   institutional drama, 1560s, Inns of Court, political commentary, Jocasta, Supposes, Thomas Pound, Gismond of Salerne, jurisdiction in literature, marriage plays

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