Heywood’s The Fair Maid of the West, Part One
This chapter argues that The Fair Maid of the West’s dramatic geography allows its playwright, Thomas Heywood, to join the intertheatrical conversation regarding the relationship between romance and commerce that had been initiated by Marlowe and Shakespeare, and to ask further questions concerning the relevance of chivalric ideals in late-Elizabethan England. Reading Heywood’s play as part of a wider debate about birth and nobility in early modern England, the chapter focuses in particular on how, by placing the working-class heroine Bess Bridges at the centre of a romance narrative, The Fair Maid is able to challenge the aristocratic and masculinist values generally inscribed within the tradition.
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