Situating political and Biblical authority in Massinger and Field’s The Fatal Dowry

Streete, A. (2012) Situating political and Biblical authority in Massinger and Field’s The Fatal Dowry. In: Streete, A. (ed.) Early Modern Drama and the Bible: Contexts and Readings, 1570-1625. Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke, pp. 195-222. ISBN 9780230358669 (doi:10.1057/9780230358669.0017)

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The Fatal Dowry, a collaborative tragedy written by Philip Massinger and Nathan Field, has been almost completely ignored by critics of early modern drama. One reason for this is that we do not know what led Massinger and Field to collaborate on this play, nor do we possess any existing evidence as to when it was written or first performed (see Massinger, 1976, xxx–xxxi). The Oxford editors of Massinger’s complete works note that dating is contingent upon reading contemporary allusions in and to the play but also admit that these are debatable. As they write: ‘not too much weight can be put on these allusions. While a date of 1617–19 might be a reasonable inference, it is impossible to be definite within the limits 1615–1620’ (Massinger, 1976, 3). The upper limit of 1620 is unquestionable given Field’s death that year. What is not known is how close to 1620 we can place the writing and production of The Fatal Dowry. Because this is not a well-known play, a brief outline of the plot is necessary in order to contextualise what follows. Charalois, the son of the late Marshall, wishes to release the body of his dead father for burial and is supported by his friend, the soldier Romont. But the body is held in abeyance by his father’s creditors and so Charalois agrees to go to jail with Romont, thus enabling a proper burial to take place.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Streete, Professor Adrian
Authors: Streete, A.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PR English literature
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Publisher:Palgrave Macmillan
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