Love, Death and Resurrection in Tragicomedies by Seventeenth-Century English Women Dramatists

Marguérite Corporaal
University of Leiden, the Netherlands

Corporaal, Marguérite. "Love, Death and Resurrection in Tragicomedies by Seventeenth-Century English Women Dramatists". Early Modern Literary Studies 12.1 (May, 2006) 3.1-24<URL:>.

  1. In discussing the relationship between gender representation and genre in seventeenth-century English drama, most literary critics have focused on the genres of comedy and tragedy. For instance, Carolyn Ruth Swift Lenz, Gayle Greene and Carol Thomas Neely claim that in comedies “women are most often nurturing and powerful”, whereas the women in tragedy “are often powerless”, and “almost invariably…destroyed” (6). Similarly, Linda Bamber directs her attention solely to tragedy and comedy, making the point that comedies depict witty and active heroines, whereas tragedies mostly stage evil creatures who are “failures as women” (2). The importance of gender to the genre of tragicomedy has, however, received little critical attention.

  2. That critics have directed their concern to the issue of gender in relation to both comic and tragic drama appears logical: most of the limited number of Renaissance and Restoration women writers who engaged with drama opted for either comedy or tragedy. However, there were also a few female playwrights who took up tragicomedy. By 1620 Lady Mary Wroth wrote a closet tragicomedy entitled Love’s Victory. After 1660, when tragicomedy was popular on the London stage (Maguire 42-43), and when women could finally write for the public theatre, two pioneering women dramatists had their tragicomedies staged in London. Frances Boothby’s tragicomedy Marcelia, probably the first play by a woman to hit the London stage, was performed at the Theatre Royal in August 1669. Aphra Behn’s very first play, The Forced Marriage, was also a tragicomedy, staged at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1670.
  3. It is essential to investigate the above mentioned three earliest tragicomedies by English women playwrights in light of gender representations, in particular with regard to the transition from impending tragic disaster to comic resolution that characterises the tragicomic plot. Although there is no evidence that the three women writers knew one another’s work, there is a remarkable similarity between their tragicomedies in that the impending tragedy in the three plays is shown to be bound up with women’s powerless social position. Dramatist Giambattista Guarini states that tragicomedy takes from tragedy “ its danger but not its death”(511), and in his influential “On Pastoral Tragicomedy” (1610) John Fletcher argues: “A tragicomedy is not so called in respect of mirth and killing, but in respect it wants deaths, which is enough to make it no tragedy; yet, brings some near it, which is enough to make it no comedy, which must be a representation of familiar people, with such kind of trouble as no life be questioned”(503). In Love’s VictoryMarcelia as well as The Forced Marriage death and resurrection, which leads to a happy resolution, play a central role, and Wroth, Boothby and Behn use the tragicomic elements of near-death and rebirth as a way of revising ideas about women and agency, power, sexuality and marriage.

  4. At a first glance Wroth’s Love’s Victory appears to be a comedy. The setting is a pastoral world peopled by shepherds and shepherdesses, which is usually a sign of the comic mode (McLaren 224). Furthermore, the play reminds one of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in that supernatural powers seek to direct the love life of mortals: Venus demands that her son Cupid make mortals bow to their power, so that human beings will acknowledge the power of Love again, instead of assuming that they may “uncharm Love’s spell”(II, i, 73). The aim of Venus and Cupid is not primarily to display their power by bringing lovers together, but to make the mortals suffer the pangs of love. As Venus claims, Cupid should not spare the people that scorn their will: “I would have all to wail and all to weep” (I, iv, 1-3). Venus and Cupid do not initially intend a comic resolution in which all lovers can be happily united; they want to extract tragic responses of suffering and sadness rather than mirth and laughter, and this already foreshadows the tragic plot that is to develop in the play: the unhappy love of Philisses and Musella. 

  5. Initially, the play seems to head for an immediate comic resolution: Philisses and Musella confess their love to one another in Act IV, scene one of the play. Yet, Musella’s remark that she “would my life, to pleasure you, forsake“ (IV, i, 50) already forebodes that, like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet the two lovers do not end up in a “wedding-bed“, but in a “tomb” (V, v, 52), having taken a fatal poison. “Love’s tragedy”(V, iv, 72) that has thus developed, is, however, not entirely Cupid’s fault who delights in making the mortals “try/ More pain, ere they their blessings may come nigh”(IV, ii, 13-14). In fact, what lies at the heart of Musella’s and Phillises’ tragedy is society’s control over women with regard to marriage. Musella is commanded by her mother, who in turn seeks to obey her dead husband’s will, to marry the unrefined, but wealthy Rustic: “And yet my true love crossed,/ Neglected for base gain, and all worth lost/ For riches“ (V, i, 3-5). As Lissius tells Musella’s mother, her daughter’s “forced marriage brought her funeral day” (V, v, 119). Powerless against the social code of daughterly obedience, Musella feels there is only one way to stay forever united to Philisses: a joined suicide.

  6. Similar to Love’s Victory, in Boothby’s Marcelia and Behn’s The Forced Marriage the impending tragedy in the plot is caused by the ways in which society denies women autonomy over their lives. In Boothby’s play Marcelia, who has become betrothed to Lotharicus, becomes the victim of her ambitious cousin Melynet, who, in order to rise in favour with the King, wants to match Marcelia to the enamoured King Sigismund. Successful in his attempts to instil rage and jealousy into Marcelia’s heart, by implying that Lotharicus is unfaithful to her, Marcelia involuntarily becomes involved with the King. On Melynet’s command she “just acts to scorn and despise” (II, 6), while her heart still aches for Lotharicus: “My griefs and passions all shall inward burn“ (IV, 3). Her grief increases when Lotharicus, according to Melynet’s secret plot, appears to have been assassinated on his travels. Overcome by grief, Marcelia wishes to die as well, and is moreover accused by her brother of plotting Lotharicus’ murder and dishonouring him.

  7. Ironically, the point that the play makes is that while patriarchal society accuses women of improper sexual agency, in fact women like Marcelia are completely powerless in a society where men seek to undermine women’s control over their love life. The tragic turn that the play takes with the heartbroken Marcelia and the apparently deceased Lotharicus issues from Melynet’s endeavour to exercise power over his cousin’s existence. Furthermore, through the suffering Calinda who has been deserted by King Sigismund for Marcelia and thus has lost her public honour, Boothby points out that love is often full of tragedy and “destructive danger” (IV, 5) rather than mirth because of men’s inconstant nature and because of women’s dependence on men for their reputation.

  8. In Aphra Behn’s The Forced Marriage the play’s move towards the tragic mode also proves to be related to women’s lack of autonomy in the staged society. Erminia, who has already committed her heart to Prince Phillander, is forced to break her vows to him because her father and the King have promised her to Alcippus. When she tries to convince her father that she should be wedded to Phillander instead, Orgilius angrily replies: “Where got you courage to admit his love,/ Before the King and I did it approve?” (I, iii).  As in Mary Wroth’s Love’s Victory, in Behn’s tragicomedy it is society’s control over women in marriage that form the impetus to the ensuing tragic actions: once the “fatal Knot is ty’de”(II, i) Erminia refuses to share Alcippus’ bed, since she wants to stay constant to Phillander. The tension between Erminia’s two lovers, which already threatens to end in a fatal duel, in the end leads Alcippus to suspect Erminia of adultery. As in Othello, the innocent, chaste woman is strangled by her unjustly jealous husband, and, believing Erminia to be dead, Alcippus comes to regret his fatal mistake in judging her character.

  9. The tragic turn of events is explicitly attributed to the fact that women are denied autonomy in love. As Galathea argues, the King and Orgilius “deserve” the “punishment” of Erminia’s death “ By forcing her to marry with the Generall“ (IV, vii). In other words, the at this stage apparently tragic outcome of Erminia’s death is depicted as a consequence of male control over women’s sexuality: not just the father’s control over the daughter, but, interestingly, also the King’s control over the female subject.  Thus, the play can be read as criticism on the patriarchal body politics as well,1 and perhaps even indirectly as a comment on the ways in which King Charles II controlled the sexual economy of the theatre through his affairs with several actresses.2 The idea underlined by the play that women should be able to exercise control over their love life is further emphasised by Olinda’s assertion that Erminia could never have been Alcippus’ wife “Who by the laws of men and Heaven/ Was to anothers bosom given” (V, ii); a remark which assigns a divine law to promises of love and thus legitimises Erminia’s free choice of Phillander.

  10. Furthermore, Alcippus voices insight that he should have respected Erminia’s earlier vows to Phillander instead of claiming her sexuality: “But madam, you were Wife unto my Prince,/ And that was all my sin” (V, v).  In addition, the subplot of the play which centres on the orphan Aminta who “hast ne’re a father t’obey”(I, ii), shows the happiness in marriage that may follow a woman’s free choice. Aminta can avoid what she calls the “slavery” (II,ii) of imposed marriage and choose a husband she sincerely loves, Alcander.

  11.  Aristotle’s view that tragicomedy is “tragedy that ends happily for the good characters” (quoted in Foster 16) applies to the tragicomedies by Wroth, Boothby and Behn. In line with Fletcher’s ideas about the genre, the supposedly dead characters of the plays—the good Musella and Phillises, the virtuous Lotharicus and the innocent Erminia, prove to be alive at the dramatic conclusion. Moreover, the impediments to the lovers’ happiness have been removed, so that Musella and Phillises get married; Lotharicus can wed his Marcelia, and the ending of The Forc’d  Marriage stages the voluntary and desired marriages of Aminta and Alcander, Erminia and Phillander and Galathea and the forgiven, remorseful Alcippus.  

  12. In her extensive study of the tragicomic genre, Verna Foster points out that the comic resolution in tragicomedy is often brought about either by divine power or by a character in the play “who stands in for the dramatist”(55) by driving the plot to a happy conclusion. Yet to what extent does gender play a role in the transformation of tragedy to comedy in tragicomic plots? A look at some Shakespearean tragicomedies reveals that the character who creates the comic resolution is as often male as female.  For instance, in Measure for Measure (1604) it is the Duke of Vienna who artificially creates the conventional happy ending by staging the bed-trick which makes Angelo end up in bed with the woman to whom he is betrothed, Mariana; and by reconciling Claudio and Luvio to the mistresses they have wronged and deserted. Although the happiness of the ending may be questioned, in that lovers are united against their own desires, the patriarchal ruler of the city at least  regain control over the the moral code of the Viennese according to which “[s]ome rise by sin, and some by virtue fall” (II, i, 38). By contrast, in The Winter’s Tale (1611) it is a female character, Paulina, priestess of Apollo, who triggers the happy resolution of the play by restoring Hermione’s reputation, and consequently by reconciling Leontes and Hermione: “ There is none worthy,/Respecting her that’s gone“(V, i, 34-35).

  13. Interestingly, while examples of male and female dramatis personae effecting tragicomic resolution were equally available in the early modern English theatrical tradition, women writers of tragicomedy make their female characters exclusively responsible for the denouement that results in happiness. In Love’s Victory it is the female dramatis personae, Venus and Silvesta, that bring about the play’s happy ending, while male characters function as evil plotters who move the plot into the direction of tragedy.  As we have seen, when Venus believes that the mortals have suffered enough in love, Cupid is not yet satisfied and desires the human beings to suffer even more for the cause of love. The fact that his remark immediately precedes the tragic course of  Musella’s and Phillises’ love affair, suggests his agency in the destroyed happiness of the lovers. However, Cupid is not solely involved in constructing the tragic mood in the play. Arcas, intending to ruin Musella’s mother, “with skilful art” manipulated the mother in assuming that “ Musella/Did wantonly seek Philisses’ love” (V, v, 126-29). By thus slandering Musella’s name, Arcas ensured that her mother would force Musella into a speedy union with Rustic.

  14. Venus enters the world of the mortals to subvert the tragic ending that was plotted by Cupid. Exclaiming “Lovers be not amazed!/ This is my deed,/ Who could not suffer your dear hearts to bleed”( V, vii, 67-68), Venus resurrects Musella and Philisses from their apparent deaths, makes sure that the lovers are united in marriage and punishes the villain Arcas: “you here must still abide/ In these fair plains, where you shall never hide/ The shame of falsehood printed in your face“ (V, vii, 143-45). It is important to note that whereas in the earlier stages of the play Venus leaves the plot in the hands of her unruly son Cupid, Venus manages to restore harmony at the point where she undertakes action herself. This suggests that the play provides a positive view of female agency.

  15. This suggestion is endorsed by the fact that restorative female agency is not restricted to a Goddess in the play, but also extends to female mortals. Silvesta’s importance to the development of a comic resolution in the play is enormous.3 As we have noticed, Act IV seems the prelude to a straightforward happy ending in that Musella and Philisses admit their love for one another. This earlier moment of reconciliation is partly created by Silvesta. Silvesta tells Musella that Philisses is in love with her, and with an almost superhuman aptitude for self-effacement desires to promote Musella’s happiness even if she loves Philisses herself: “And I’ll wish but the means to work you bliss” (III, i, 68). She persuades Musella to court Philisses in a way that is appropriate for a woman, since “ a woman to make love is ill (III, i, 79). She advises Musella to go to the woods where Philisses usually pines away for his secret love and “ show yourself but kind“ (III, i, 86), which evokes Philisses’ confession.4 In this way, Silvesta’s dramatic agency serves to break through gender roles concerning courtship. Furthermore, as the “instrument ordained” (V, vii, 71) by Venus, Silvesta prevents Mussella and Philisses from slaying themselves with a dagger, instead administering a potion to them that would enable Venus to resurrect them.

  16. In Boothby’s Marcelia the role of woman in bringing about the comic resolution of the tragic turn of events is more restricted. Returning in disguise, the presumed assassinated Lotharicus can expose the plot that Melynet has devised against his life, and show King Sigismund how Melynet has abused his royal favour by giving out a death warrant in the king’s name. However, Marcelia still has a vital role in the transformation of the play’s mood from tragedy to comic resolution. As Alison Findlay has rightly suggested, “[t]he play’s comical resolution depends on Marcelia’s constancy” (131). Believing that Lotharicus has been untrue, Marcelia nevertheless scorns him and accepts King Sigismund’s attentions, but she never returns the latter’s affection. She cannot rid herself of her feelings for Lotharicus, and even wants to join him in “Gluttonous death” whose “cold imbraces” she desires (IV, 9); a remark which indicates that she is by nature chaste, longing for a “cold” constant passion rather than hot desire. While Marcelia’s confession at this point of the play proves her innocence to her brother Euryalus, at the same time her unswerving passion allows for a reconciliation with Lotharicus, hence for a happy conclusion of the play. Thus, woman is granted an essential role in effecting comic resolution, but at the same time this resolution depends on the conventional, feminine norm of chastity. 

  17. Intriguingly, at the dramatic closure, the moment of reconciliation is at first entirely in Marcelia’s hands. King Sigismund leaves Marcelia the freedom to choose between him and Lotharicus, saying “Marcelia shall freely chuse me or you“ (V, 5). However, Marcelia rejects this opportunity to exercise autonomy over her love life, stating “heaven leaves me not to an Election free” (V, 5). As a result, King Sigismund decides over Marcelia’s fate and gives her hand away to Lotharicus. Although Lotharicus is really the choice of Marcelia’s heart, so that the play ends happily for her, the moment in itself is remarkable. The scene implies that Boothby envisages woman’s freedom to choose their own partners as desirable, but at the same time testifies of anxiety to break the gender norms with regard to marriage. In other words, the possibility of gender subversion is introduced, but not realised. Furthermore, the play thus suggests the possibility for a female dramatic agency, while at the same time this option is forfeited. Perhaps the ending of the play can be read as a Royalist confirmation of the position of King Charles II in society; as the monarch’s power to have the last say in all matters. Another possible interpretation may have to do with the theatrical context in which Boothby’s play was performed, The Theatre Royal. By assigning direction to the King in the last scene of the play, Boothby may point to the fact that, while she constructs the plot of the play, its performance and success depend on the King’s support. In other words, the limited degree of agency that Marcelia allows herself appears to parallel the restricted autonomy that Boothby may have wanted to appropriate as a dramatist.  

  18. In Behn’s tragicomedy the agency which results in the comic resolution of the plot is closely bound up with theatricality. Erminia appears dead to Alcippus, but is in fact not entirely suffocated by him, being brought back to consciousness by her woman Isillia. In Act IV, scene viii, we see her entering “ veil’d with a thin Tiffany“ while Falatius and La Bree take her for a ghost and flee. Erminia’s performance of her ghost is a successful way of averting further cruelty from Alcippus and thus of protecting herself. Erminia plays an active role in impersonating her own phantom. However, in the end the direction of the plot through which Alcippus will be convinced to release his hold over the memory of Erminia and through which Phillander and Erminia can be married lies in Phillander’s hands. Having discovered that Erminia is not a ghost, but still alive, Phillander proposes to create a plot in order to manipulate Alcippus: “but you, my dearest/ Shall as the spirit of Erminia act,/ And reap the glory of so good a part:/ I will advance the new design I have“ (IV, ix). Subsequently, Erminia, dressed with angel’s wings, performs her role as ghost in front of Alcippus, accompanied byAminta playing the part of Glory, Alcander representing Honour and Olinda performing the part of Fortune. When Alcippus witnesses this masque like performance, directed by Phillander, he can at last obtain the insight that Erminia should never have been his wife, and thus the way is cleared for the happy marital unions at the end of the play. Although the women play a significant role in the theatricals, in the end their dramatic agency is confined, for Phillander directs the plot. As in Boothby’s play, man’s power over the transformation from tragedy to comedy may mirror the position of the woman playwright whose plot was eventually appropriated by the theatre director.5

  19. As we have observed, the three plays stage the near death and resurrection of particular characters. As will be demonstrated, death and resurrection are intertwined with gender issues in these tragicomedies. Gordon McMullan and Jonathan Hope claim that while tragicomedy “is driven by certain forces of reconciliation and regeneration […] such regeneration frequently comes in the form of a displacement of the political status quo”(10). McMullan’s and Hope’s statement can well be applied to tragicomedies by seventeenth-century women playwrights;  in fact, it can be argued that in Wroth’s, Boothby’s and Behn’s drama the moments of death and rebirth symbolise a regeneration of gender roles in the play.

  20. In Love’s Victory the resurrection of Musella and Philisses appears to be paralleled by a reborn vision of love between men and women as such. For one thing, their return to life signifies an awareness in their society that woman’s lack of freedom in her partner choice is undesirable. This is further exemplified by the fact that at the end of the play Silvesta has the freedom to live a life of celibacy rather than getting married. Yet, Musella’s and Philisses’ ’rebirth’ is also accompanied by a regeneration of the idea of love. The view of love that is at first dominant in the world of the play is represented by Arcas, Musella’s mother and Rustic: a love based on material gain that is, moreover, selfish; for Rustic does not shed a tear upon the deceased Musella when he finds out that she loved Philisses best: “ Nay, if she loved another, farewell, she!/ I’m glad she by her death hath made me free” (V, v, 101-102). At the margins of the play’s society, however, there is already the suggestion of a pure and selfless love, as embodied by Silvesta, Musella and Philisses. Musella and Philisses would die to make the other happy, and Silvesta is willing to sacrifice her life in order to rescue Musella from a marriage with Rustic: “Or for her sake will die!“ (V, iii, 15-19). At the end of the play, this selfless vision of love appears to affect the men’s relationships to women in the play. Shortly before Musella and Philisses are resurrected, the Forrester, who deeply loves Silvesta but suffers from unrequited love, decides nevertheless to offer up his life, so that Silvesta’s may be spared: “let me for her obtain her ’pointed tomb“ (V, vii, 30).

  21. The ’rebirth’ that we find at the end of  Marcelia is not just the regeneration of the love between Marcelia and Lotharicus; and between King Sigismund and Calinda; nor is it just a recreation of gender roles, in that Marcelia is given free choice over her heart and body. In fact, as in Love’s Victory, the moment of resolution and reconciliation at the same time involves a revision of men’s ideas of love and the relationships between the sexes. At the beginning of the play the eminent Lord Valasco declares that men are inclined to promiscuity, for “most of our young gallants decline Marriage, and take Mistresses, by which they gain diseases in their youth, to make a Wife necessary got Nurse in their age” (II, i). Valasco’s remark applies to King Sigismund in any case, for he is unfaithful to his mistress Calinda who he promised to marry. However, the end of the play marks a change in the King’s attitude from a tendency to lasciviousness to a respectful chastity: the King now promises to remain constant to Calinda and will give her public restitution as well. Furthermore, the ending of the play signifies a resurrection of Marcella’s identity as a loyal, chaste woman. When Lotharicus tells Euryalus of Marcelia’s supposed breach of her vows, Lotharicus claims that Marcelia is now dead to him: “it is not the death she ows to Nature makes me sad; it is her death to me, and all the Vows she made me“ (IV, i). The dramatic conclusion, with Marcelia’s marriage to Lotharicus, marks a rebirth of Marcelia’s identity as Lotharicus’ wife.

  22. The ending of The Forc’d Marriage is remarkably similar to that of Marcelia in that the King plays a central role in contracting lovers, such as Galathea and Alcippus, Falatius and Issilia to one another: “Take Galathea, since her passion merits thee” (V, v). Nancy Klein Maguire argues that Restoration tragicomedies often represent the political context of restoration in their plays by staging a king who loses his power but regains it, for example (13). The power that the King has lost to the manipulative Melytus, is properly restored to him at the closure where he has again full control over his subjects. While political restoration characterises the comic resolution, so does a regeneration of gender norms. This becomes clear from Aminta’s response to her brother’s suggestion that she had better marry Alcander: “ – Here, take me, Alcander […] I find variety enough in you” (V, v). Rather than having herself given away by either her brother or the King, Aminta herself disposes of her hand in marriage. Thus the play ends on a vision of female agency and autonomy.

  23. Lady Mary Wroth, Frances Boothby and Aphra Behn may have taken up tragicomedy for different purposes: to express their own tragicomic visions of love in Wroth’s case; or to support the restoration of monarchy in Boothby’s and Behn’s cases. However, as their plays reveal their use of tragicomedy is inextricably connected to a revision of gender norms and roles. Wroth, Boothby and Behn use the transformation from tragedy to comedy as the means to criticise the powerless position of women in society. Furthermore, by granting a vital role to women in the transformation from the tragic to comic mode, the three playwrights suggest more active and powerful roles for women in society as well.

  24. Death and resurrection, two basic aspects of tragicomedy, are also linked up to gender in these women’s drama. The near death of female characters such as Wroth’s Musella and Behn’s Erminia point to the ways in which society tries to eliminate a woman’s free will and identity, figuratively suffocating women’s emotions, love and sexuality. The regeneration of Musella and Erminia implies a powerful femininity that cannot be overpowered by social constraints. At the same time, by portraying a regeneration in gender norms as parallel to the rebirth and reconciliation of the characters, Wroth, Boothby and Behn give the impression that gender norms are not ’a dead end’ either; they are subject to regeneration which may provide a more happy resolution to the often tragic lives of seventeenth-century women.


1 As Robert Markley also argues: “Behn’s political attacks on the Whigs in the 1680’s and the Commonwealthsmen of the 1650’s are efforts to demystify what we might call the masculinizing of desire- the creation of women as other and object- that is crucial to a sexual ideology that insist on the indivisibility of feminine chastity and feminine identity” (116).

2 Interestingly, several Restoration female dramatists offer indirect criticism of King Charles II’s licentiousness in their plays. As Alison Findlay also argues, in Elizabeth Polwhele’s The Faithfull Virgins (1670) Polwhele’s criticism of the Duke serves “to broadcast an indirect yet obvious condemnation” of the King Charles II’s “licentiousness” (136-37). In the manuscript it is stated that lines of the play were cut out by a censor: the play was performed “leaving out what was Cross'd by Henry Herbert MR” (f. 49).  The lines that were cut out all have to do with the Duke’s lechery. For instance, in Cleophon's warning to Isabella the references to the Duke' s wantonness are crossed out, because they were thought to be a comment on King Charles II's unfaithfulness to his queen, Catherine of Braganza: “ hee;/ should have been  woman or unconstancy/ he must have mistreses and often change” (I). Likewise, the lines in the final act referring to the Duke’s death as a just punishment for his lust were crossed out: “for it is fitt/ all that so sinn, should punisht be for itt” (V). Polwhele’s implicit criticism of the monarch in the play shows that she dared to engage with controversial issues

 3 Gary Waller reaches a similar conclusion, arguing: “Not only is venus rather than Cupid the dominant presiding deity, but more importantly, among the mortals the women’s actions are more dominant and forceful” (243).

 4 As Stephanie Hodgson-Wright likewise remarks:  “Silvesta wrests a mioment of ’ agency’  within codes of feminine conduct”(61).

 5 Her preface to The Dutch Lover (1673) reveals that Behn was often at the mercy of the theatre managers and directors, who changed her original play script without consulting her: “Know then this Play was hugely injur’d in the Acting, for ’twas done so imperfectly as never any was before, which did more harm to this than it could have done to any of another sort...My Dutch Lover spoke but little of what I intended for him, but supply’d it with a deal of idle stuff, which I was wholly unacquainted with till I had heard of first from him”(A1v).





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