The socio-politics of London comedy from Jonson to Steele

Robert D. Hume

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Robert D. Hume asks how reliably we can interpret the ideology of the wide variety of early seventeenth-century plays that have been assigned by critics to the genre "city comedy," often based on assumptions about realistic depiction of London and the responses of original audiences. Questioning the standard "cut-off points" of 1616 and 1642, Hume proceeds to analyze the tone and content of a large number of plays across a period of more than a century. He argues that the plays represent at least seven distinct satiric modes: amusing antics (for example, Middleton's A Mad World My Masters); ambiguous critique (Etherege's The Man of Mode); angry satire (Otway's Friendship in Fashion); glum satire (Congreve's The Way of the World); personation (Crowne's City Politiques); exemplary satire (Steele's The Conscious Lovers); and ideological advocacy (Howard and Buckingham's The Country Gentleman).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-217
Number of pages31
JournalHuntington Library Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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