"The mouth of 'hem all:" Ben Jonson, authorship, and the performing object.
Jonson had every reason to be familiar with puppet theatre, which was a pervasive presence in the streets and marketplaces of early modern England. Historical records confirm that puppeteers, or "motion men," accompanied the variously-named jongleurs, jugglers, tumblers, minstrels, "histriones," "mimi," "ioculatores," "pleyers," "beare or bull bayters," and all the other itinerant entertainers who performed regularly in provincial towns and rural villages.(4) Shakespeare's Autolycus, for example, is an out-of-work servant who now travels the countryside picking pockets and selling ballads, and who claims also to have been "an ape-bearer" and a puppeteer who "compass,d a motion of the Prodigal Son" (The Winter's Tale 4. 3. 95-97).(5) Jonson's Lord Frampul, the Host of The New Inne, reminisces about his younger days when he traveled with the
Pipers, Filers, Rushers, Puppet-masters,
Juglers, and Gipseys, all the sorts of Canters,
And Colonies of beggars, Tumblers, Ape-carriers.
[5. 5. 96-98]
These itinerant puppeteers also were active in London at the yearly fair in Smithfield, on Holborn Bridge and Fleet Street in the heart of the legal district, and at Paris Garden on Bankside, joining with a variety of other para-theatrical entertainers in what Peter Burke describes as "a nearly continuous performance."(6) The figural and theatrical meaning which the puppet evokes in early modern texts must thus derive in part from the obvious contrast between a drama of direct human representation and a theatre of objects--each of which, by the turn of the seventeenth century, were performing in similar urban venues with a complex relationship of mutual parody, allusion, and influence.
To trace some of the rich discursive and cultural contexts from which Jonson appropriated the puppet and on which his intricate figural uses of it depend, I will pursue three introductory lines of inquiry. First, by contrasting the conceptual foundations of authorship itself to the literal conditions of puppetry, I will suggest how the puppet came to figure within a nascent system of cultural distinction. Second, via corresponding observations about the relationship of poets and players on the human stage, I will further suggest how and why that relationship could evoke the metaphor of the performing object. Third and most broadly, I will enlist several brief references from early modern discourse to argue that certain threatening social types--the "painted" woman, the "masterless man," the effeminate social climber-were associated with the puppet as representational and social subordinates within a cultural system in which theatrical authorship also takes its, place. Finally, I will proceed to argue that Ben Jonson draws on all this to discover in the puppet a deeply problematic metaphor, one involved at once in his satirical vision of contemporary society and in his relentless efforts to affirm his own authorial mastery.
I. Popular Performance and the "Theological" Theatre
As many recent scholars confirm, dramatic texts in the early modern period were subject to histrionic improvisation, their literal authorship was often collaborative or anonymous, and their legal and financial ownership was still open to question. Around the turn of the seventeenth century, however, playwrights such as Jonson were anxiously trying to impose on these real conditions a model of theatrical authorship that has been called in our day "theological"--a hypothetical theatre in which the sovereign intentions of an author-creator are manifest by and in the text, the play, and the players.(7) In such a model, literal authorship and literary authority--an "inspiration" which is linguistically and philosophically derived from the primitive belief in a divine spiritus, or "breath"--descend from the poet downward to the players, who represent in articulate multiplicity the singularity of the authorial intention. This model of theatrical authorship resembles the conventional vision of social order and degree that Arthur Lovejoy called the Great Chain of Being, which in recent years has been revealed as an ingenious, widespread, but neither universal nor consistently efficacious combination of theology, natural science, philosophy, and crude political exigency.(8) The theological theatre, like the Great Chain itself, also reflected and resembled a political system in which "authority and power is filtered down to the base" from a "seat of power" at the top, and in which "a chain of reciprocal authority and obedience joined King to humblest labourer in a series of interlocking hierarchies."(9)
As I will be suggesting throughout this essay, the puppet--an inanimate figure invested from without by the histrionic illusion of life--could, as such, metaphorically evoke or embody this "theological" model of authorship. In Robert Greene's Groat's Worth of Wit (1592), the semi-autobiographical character Roberto encounters a player who boasts of his long and successful histrionic career:
I am as famous for Delphrigus, and the king of Fairies, as ever was any of my time. The
twelve labors of Hercules have I terribly thundred on the stage, . . . Nay more (quoth the
player) I can serve to make a prettie speech, for it was I that pende the Moral of mans wit,
. . . and for seven yeeres space was absolute interpreter of the puppets.,
This and many other similar references reveal that in Renaissance puppetry a kind of showman or "interpreter" provided the voices of and bantered comically with his cast of artificial players. The convention of the puppet interpreter--who serves quite literally, in the words of Jonson's Lantern Leatherhead, as "the mouth of |hem all," a singular voice manifesting itself in histrionic multiplicity--further suggests how the performing object could become an incongruous figure enlisted within the rhetorical construction of a "theological" model of theatrical authorship.
On the other hand, the puppet also epitomized the "low," popular modes of performance from which early modern theatre was struggling to distinguish itself, in part by this notion of authorial mastery. As early modern playwrights themselves sometimes would suggest, puppet theatre emerges from that realm of social practice and discursive formulation that Bakhtin and other modern writers have called the carnivalesque.(11) Puppets not only commonly performed at the market fairs of early modern England but also apparently carnivalized the subject matter of early modern literature and theatre. For example, the fully realized puppet show included by Jonson in Bartholomew Faire (1613), which I will discuss in more detail later, is a farcical version of Marlowe's "Hero and Leander," combined incongruously with the story of Damon and Pythias and then further debased by recasting these classical characters as watermen and whores of contemporary London. Similarly, in Henry Chettle and John Day's The Blind Beggar of Bednal Green (160-1601), the rogue Canby gets temporary work as a puppeteer, and the audience briefly sees him in action, introducing the onstage spectators to a ludicrous mixture of pseudo-history and contemporary farce:
You shall likewise see the famous City of Norwitch, and the stabbing of Julius Caesar in the
French Capitol by a sort of Dutch Mesapotamians.... You shall likewise see the amorous
conceits and Love Songs betwixt Captain Pod of Py-corner, and Mrs. Rump of Ram-Alley,
never described before.... Or if it please you shall see a stately combate betwixt
Tamberlayn the Great, and the Duke of Guyso the less, perform'd on the Olympick Hills in
France.(12) As such allusions suggest, puppets are typically carnivalesque, at once in their literal social conditions, in their presumed subordination to the human drama they parody, and because their conventional protruding noses, humped backs and wooden movements join to form an iconic image of what Bakhtin calls the "grotesque body."(13)
Thus, in early modem discourse, the crude and parodic texture of puppet theatre as a tangible social practice symmetrically corresponds to the representational "lowness" of the puppet-player in the theological theatre. In the hierarchy of such a theatre, the puppet would be to the player as the player to the author one step closer to formless materiality, and one step farther away from that postulated if irretrievable "truth" from which allegedly springs the multitudinous re-creations of theatrical representation. Plato himself, in his celebrated Allegory of the Cave, envisions a humanity which can see only the mere shadows of reality cast against the cave wall, and he specifically compares the situation there to that used by "the exhibitors of puppet shows."(14) In the early modern period, accordingly, Jonson and others tend to construe the puppet as a crude and parodic Other, a terminus of the hierarchy of aesthetic sophistication that derives from a master system of representation similarly conceived as a descent from primary to secondary. "A man cannot imagine that thing so foolish, or rude, but will find, and enjoy ... a Reader, or Spectator," Ben Jonson complains in Discoveries. "The Puppets are seene now in despight of the Players" (8: 582). Located figurally at the bottom of the hierarchy of representation and literally in the marginal social spheres of carnival, fairground, and marketplace, the puppet could be seen, at once, as ontologically, culturally, and socially "low."
II. Poets and Puppet-Masters
In the most famous single passage of Elizabethan theatre history, Robert Greene in 1592 dismissed the young Shakespeare as an "upstart Crow," a mere player who now "supposes he is as well able to bumbast out a blanke verse" as any university-trained poet. A few lines earlier, however, Greene also compares the new poets of the public stage collectively to "Puppits ... that speake from our mouths."(15) Whether Greene intends to charge Shakespeare with plagiarism of his own work or merely (as seems more likely) with the presumption of a player-turned-poet, the metaphor of the puppet suggests an alleged transgression against the propriety and sovereignty of authorship.(16) In other words, Greene suggests that the mere "antics," the interpretive slaves, have overturned the hierarchy of the theological theatre by presuming to the role of poet. That Greene himself was in fact a thoroughly commercial author of journalistic ephemera and collaborative popular plays who was, moreover, famous for the bohemian dissoluteness of his life, merely confirms that his implicit theatrical model is a construct upheld by rhetorical pretense rather than a summary of the institution's real conditions. Nearing his own death and, one assumes, genuinely bitter about this grammar school boy from the provinces now supplanting him on the commercial stage, Greene turns to the discursive terminology of an authorial ideal that had little connection to his actual social position.
But if the players sometimes could be seen as puppet-like slaves of a sovereign poet, wholly mastered by authorial intention, they also could be seen, especially by opponents of the theatre, as "masterless men"--rogues and vagabonds standing outside the normative social hierarchy that resembles (but here also contradicts) the representational hierarchy.(17) On paper, poets from about the end of the sixteenth century also were beginning to demand a figural sovereignty over text and performance, insisting that the players "speak no more than is set down for them" (Hamlet 3. 2. 39), and complaining about the degradation of dramatic texts in performance. The maintenance of a proper representational hierarchy within the theatre also was commonly linked to the maintenance of social order and degree. In the words of the academic authors of Return from Parnassus II (performed at Cambridge, probably at Christmas 1601), professional players are merely "leaden spouts / That nought down vent but what they do receive." This representational ventriloquism, correspondingly, tends to overturn the hierarchy of property and power:
With mouthing words that better wits have framed,
They purchase lands, and now Esquires are made.(18) As in Greene's famous passage, players tend to be "upstarts" because the financial success of the histrionic enterprise allows them to subvert on a practical level their figural status as puppets of a sovereign author.
But however much be dramatic poets of early modern England attempted rhetorically to maintain their preeminent status within the theoretical domain of representation, in concrete practical terms the poets "were the servants of the players, in economic servitude to them"; "the authority represented by the text" was "that of the company, the owners, not that of the playwright, the author"; and on stage, plays were "represented by the speaking actor as |ours' We possession and, indeed, the product of the actors."(19) Here again, however, these practical conditions of ownership themselves were susceptible to rhetorical inversion for different reasons. Because plays and texts on some occasions could offend the great and powerful--because, that is, authorship was in one sense a form of authority and in another sense subject to it--both poets and players are sometimes at pains to renounce their respective ownership of the theatrical text. George Chapman, responding to accusations about the political content of his work, observed that "I see not myne owne Plaies; nor carrie the Actors Tongue in my mouthe."(20) The epilogue of a 1632 revival at court of Marlowe's The jew of Malta, asks the "dread Sovereign" to remember that
if aught here offend your ear or sight,
We only act, and speak, what others write.(21) Sometimes, in other words, it suited the poets to envision themselves as the puppet masters of a theological theatre; and sometimes it suited the players to envision themselves as merely passive vehicles of authorial intention.
III. "Motions" and Mobility
The hierarchical structure of the theological theatre both reflected and shaped an allegedly transparent series of cultural and social hierarchies. Accordingly, the puppet or performing object figures within a variety of interrelated philosophic, scientific, and theological discourses, which thus may be seen to illuminate not only one another but also theatrical authorship as playwrights such as Jonson conceived it. In the early modern period, for example, a "motion" could refer to "an inward prompting or impulse, an instigation or incitement from within"; to those physical gestures which manifest and express that inner impulse; and to a puppet show or any kind of moveable figure or automaton.(22) The word "puppet" itself could refer either to a doll or to a histrionic vehicle of performance, the latter distinguished from the former precisely by those external mechanical gestures or "motions" that manifest its (illusory) internal "motions." Early modern science conceived of human behavior, in not dissimilar terms, as essentially mechanistic: the internal activity of the "sensitive soul" (as distinct from the "vegetative" and "rational" souls) was believed to be the precedent and efficient cause of an animate being's external actions.(23) John Bulwer's Chironomia (1644), for example, describes and illustrates a system of sign language grounded in the conventional idea that "the hand ... by gesture makes the inward motions of the minde most evident."(24) Both rhetorical pronunciatio and theatrical "playing" were understood to involve an appropriate combination of gesture and speech, a correspondence between the motion and the (e)motion.(25) Jonson argues in Discoveries:
Doe wee not see, if the mind languish, the members are dull? Looke upon an effeminate
person: his very gate confesseth him. If a man be fiery, his motion is so: if angry, |tis troubl
[8: 592-93; my emphasis]
Here, Jonson uses the word to express the external manifestation of the internal personality; as he describes it, the latter constitutes the higher ontological reality, while the former is merely its guise, appearance, or index ("If a man be fiery, his motion is so"). The word "motion" constantly slips between the two sides of the physio-psychological opposition which it also predicates, linking biology and behavior, rhetoric and theatre, within a transparent system of correspondences.
Such a system inevitably also had a theological dimension: the same word that refers to the subject's own inner impulses could also refer to "a working of God in the soul." This sense of the word, similarly, links the invisible inner life with those external gestures that manifest it in the visible world. Sir Thomas Browne, in Religio Medici, is thus almost making a pun when he asserts that he loves "to use the civility of my knee, my hat, and hands, with all those outward and sensible motions, which may express or promote my invisible devotion."(26) So conceived, a human being is, once again, puppet-like: a passive, material body filled by the breath, spirit, or inspiration that descends from some transcendent sphere. Correspondingly, the literal puppet could serve as a paradigmatic metaphor for the theological descent of spirit into flesh. In John Marston's Antonio and Mellida (1599), the character Andrugio muses that
earthly dirt makes all things, makes the man,
Moulds me up honour and, like a cunning Dutchman
Paints me a puppet even with seeming breath
And gives a sot appearance of a soul.
[3. 1. 27-33](27)
Both the corporeal human being, the worldly appearances of "honor" and degree, and the "seeming breath" of the performing artifact, here are seen as products of a universal process which invests "earthly dirt" with literal in-spiration, the breath of life.
This metaphysics of universal embodiment typically merges, in early modern discourse, with the celebrated Aristotelian idea of human beings as the most imitative of animals: the notion that Man, as the so-called "ape of nature," imitates the works of the divine creator. On a mundane level, "apish" behavior was also associated either with the follies of romantic love or with the affectations of social life. Shakespeare's Rosalind refers to lovers as "proud, fantastical," and "apish" (As You Like It 3.2. 412). Mercury, in Jonson's Cynthia's Revels (1600), chastises those
Who with their apish customes and forc'd garbes,
Would bring the name of courtier in contempt.
Here again, this constellation of meaning reflects and is embodied in the practical conditions of popular performance. There is evidence throughout the early modern period for a tradition of performing monkeys, or "baboons," who were lumped together rhetorically with puppets, "motions," jugglers, and freak shows as crude, carnivalesque entertainments.(28) With both puppets and the performing apes that figurally and literally resemble them, the linked semantic senses of diminution or parodic imitation apply both as mere metaphor and as social description: baboons and puppets are allegedly instances of an imitation that diminishes, degrades or parodizes its object, and forms of "low," potentially corrupting entertainment.
Indeed the possibility that the intricately interrelated systems of theology, physiology and psychology might break down--that, in other words, one's external gestures, appearance, dress, and deportment might not manifest one's inner "motions"--was a pervasive social anxiety in early modern England.(29) Thus, in a rhetorical strategy that I will suggest is characteristic of Jonson, Renaissance discourse often strikes an implicit analogy between the performing object (puppet or "ape") and the specter of social mobility--the latter construed as a form of pernicious imitation, a kind of parody or debased representation of traditional values and roles. This figural process operates alike on the cultural axes of gender or of class. Phillip Stubbes, in The Anatomie of Abuses (1583), excoriates contemporary women for their use of makeup and elaborate attire, and at one point concludes that "when they have all these goodly robes uppon them, women seem to be . . . not naturall women, but artificiall Women, not Women of flesh & blod, but rather puppits, or mawmets of rags & clowtes compact together."(30) Stubbes's text, of course, also makes clear an implicit and explicit analogy between the behavior of contemporary women and the alleged social (and ontological) subversiveness of contemporary drama--both of which, in Stubbes's view, were conducive to a society in which one can no longer know "who is a gentleman, who is not" or distinguish "an honorable, or worshipfull Woman, from them of the meaner sorte."(31) Joseph Swetnam, in The Arraignment of Lewd, idle, froward, and unconstant women (1615), a text which began a recently much-discussed pamphlet debate about gender in late Jacobean England, similarly describes women as "painting themselves, and frizzing their hairs, and prying in their glass like Apes to prank up themselves in their gaudies, like Puppets."(32) The cultural meanings of the puppet--stretching from the primary, the corporeal, and the "natural" to the secondary, the mimetic, and the deceptive--resemble and correspond to the cultural image of Woman as, similarly, both natural and artificial, associated with the body in its binary opposition to the spirit and also with dress, cosmetics and social dissimulation.(33)
With similar connotations, the figure of the puppet also could be applied to a male in the corresponding sense of an artificial, effeminate pretender to high social rank. In the seventh satire of his Scourge of Villany (1598), Marston attacks a whole variety of duplicitous social types, referring to them collectively at the end of the poem as "puppets, painted Images."(34) In the same author's semi-allegorical Histriomastix (1599?), the lords Marvortius and Philarchus are seduced by "Pride" away from their former allegiance to "Plenty," and then discharge their manservants in favor of more elegant boy pages. The servants complain, and are chastized by their replacements:
Page: Be Patient fellow, seest thou not my Lord?
1. ser: What an I see him? puppet prating ape?
2. ser: We are no stocks, but we can feele disgrace.
3. ser: Nor tonglesse blocks, but since we feele, weele speake....
2. ser: For service, this is savage recompence.
Your fathers bought lands and maintained men? You sell your lands, and scarce keepe rascall boyes.(35)
The first servant's bitter epithet, applied primarily to the diminutive page, seems also applied, by the force of grammar and the theatrical context, to the lord himself. Marston seems to envision the whole social situation as one in which oppositions of relative size, power, and agency ironically contradict one another: lordly status manifests itself in the maintenance of mere boys who apishly mock the men they figuratively and literally displace. The subordination and servitude of the former servants, now made "masterless men," are associated with inanimacy via the same metaphor, even as these men explicitly refuse to be the puppet-like stocks and blocks which, except for this passing theatrical moment, the actual power relations here dramatized compel them to be.
Thomas Middleton uses a similar figural strategy in his pamphlet Father Hubburds Tales: or The Ant and the Nightingale (1604). In this satiric beast fable, an "ant" tells the story of his multiple incarnations as various Jacobean social types. As a "ploughman," the ant recounts how he was expelled from land which had previously "belonged fair common for the comfort of the poor" upon the death of his old landlord and the "prodigal downfall" of the new. Called to London for a meeting in a lawyer's office, he sees "our young landlord, so metamorphosed into the shape of a French puppet that on the first we started, and thought one of the baboons had marched in in man's apparel."(36) Such passages show the traces of a habit of thought which links the puppet, the woman, the servant, and the effeminate social climber in an implicit hierarchy of representational and social subordination. Thus the practical conventions of puppet performance, along with its carnivalesque social status, are enlisted within what Peter Stallybrass and Allon White describe as that broad and ongoing process whereby a whole variety of cultural phenomena are "constructed within interrelating and dependent hierarchies of high and low."(37) Transplanted from the tiny box stages on Fleet Street and Holborne Bridge or the booths of Bartholomew Fair, the puppet is forced to bear the rhetorical burden not only of the theological theatre but also of the social hierarchy which the former resembles.
IV. "The Puppet-Teacher Speaks"
I now want to pursue some of the same issues and figural associations in the works of Ben Jonson, who reveals throughout his career a virtual obsession with the performing object: using puppets, "motions," apes, and the like as multivalent figures of theatrical and social subordination. There is even the thinnest of historical evidence to suggest that the youthful Jonson may have had some personal experience as a writer for or performer with puppets. About 1601, Thomas Dekker brought the so-called "War of the Theatres" to its culmination with his Satiromastix or The Untrussing of the Humorous Poet, which presents a thinly veiled caricature of Ben Jonson as the character Horace--his own self-chosen persona from The Poetaster of the previous year. At one point in the play, as Horace-Jonson attempts to defend himself against a relentless tide of mockery, one of his tormentors responds: "Hold, silence, the puppet-teacher speaks" (4. 3. 175), a cryptic reference that might suggest Jonson's involvement with literal puppet theatre.(38) Some recent critics also have speculated that Jonson (like his character, Lord Frampul, the Host of The New Inne) may at some point have tried "To turne Puppet-master / And travell with Yong Goose, the Motion-man" (1. 3. 61-62).(39) The biographical evidence is thin at best, but Jonson does demonstrate throughout his career a detailed knowledge of the conventions and conditions of puppetry, alluding to performing objects of all kinds in nearly every one of his major works: in his plays; his epigraphs; and his unfinished work of literary theory, Timber, or Discoveries.
Puppet theatre becomes for Jonson a paradigm of "low," popular culture in its subordination to a drama newly conceived of as "literary," and of histrionic performance itself in its subordination to the dramatic text. In Discoveries, Jonson not only contrasts puppet theatre to a human drama assumed to be both socially and aesthetically "higher," but also uses A as a corresponding metaphor for "Imposture," that "specious thing" that "is ever asham'd of the light":
A Puppet-play must be shadow'd, and seene in the darke: For draw the Curtaine, Et sordet
Here and elsewhere, Jonson's figural use of the performing object evokes the representational hierarchy of what Jonas Barish calls the "Christian-Platonic-Stoic tradition,"(41) a hierarchy in which "likenesse is alwayse on this side Truth" (Discoveries 8: 590). Jonson's underlying philosophic commitment to such a position produces, most obviously, an overt contempt for "shows" and spectacles, like those produced by Inigo Jones for Jonson's courtly masques, with their extravagant moveable scenery. But the same habit of thought seems also to produce in Jonson an even deeper, underlying ambivalence about the same theatrical process in which both his own artistic instincts and the social reality of Renaissance authorship constrained him to work. To survey Jonson's many references to puppets throughout his works, as I now intend to do, is to recognize that his profoundly hierarchical concepts of theatre and society never quite conceal the precariousness of his own position within a theatre that was "theological" only in theory, and a society that only inconsistently rewarded him in ways he deemed appropriate.
As early as Every Man Out of His Humour (1599), Jonson seizes on the puppet as a central metaphor in a play that also first announces his own literary ambition. Here, he associates the puppet at once with the characters, the players, and the audience--all three crucially subordinate to himself as Author, and all three inextricably entwined within the intricate metadramatic design of the play as a whole.(42) Sogliardo, one of the comic butts of the play, is described in the opening character sketches (which Jonson added to the text of the published quarto version) as "An essentiall Clowne, . . . [who] comes up every Terme to learne to take Tabacco, and see new Motions" (3: 425). In the play itself, Sogliardo verifies this description, at one point exclaiming:
They say, there's a new Motion of the city of Niniveh, with Jonas, and the whale, to be
seene at Fleetbridge.
[2. 3. 146-48](43)
Only a few lines earlier, however, Sogliardo himself had been compared to "one of these motions, in a great antique clock" (2. 1. 6). Later in the play as well, Sogliardo and Shift demonstrate one of the affectations of urban life they have learned in the course of the play, announcing their intention to affect classical names for one another:
Sogliardo: I, he is my Pylades, and I am his Orestes: how like you the conceit?
Carlo: O, it's an old stale enterlude device: No, I'le give you names my selfe, looke
you, he shall be your Judas, and you shall bee his Elder tree, to hang on.
Macilente: Nay, rather, let him be captaine Pod, and this his Motion; for he does nothing
but shew him. [4. 5. 56-63]
(Captain Pod was apparently a real London puppeteer active in the late sixteenth century whom Jonson and other writers mention frequently, and whose name evidently was familiar to the London theatrical audience.(44)) Throughout the play, in other words, Jonson suggests that his comic characters are at once devoted spectators of puppet theatre and themselves metaphoric puppets. He thus not only satirizes a particular kind of "low" theatrical spectatorship as a distinct form of social behavior but also, correspondingly, allows the performing object to convey its double association of cultural "lowness" and social subordination.
Sogliardo is also, of course, a paradigm of the Jonsonian "humour" character, created by reference to that concept of comic psychology which Asper-Jonson describes at length in the induction. After referring to the four bodily fluids, "choller, melancholy, flegme, and bloud," that were believed to be the causes of human personality and behavior, Asper suggests, by extension, that the word "humour"
may, by Metaphore, apply it selfe
Unto the generall disposition:
As when some one peculiar quality
Doth so possesse a man, that it doth draw
All his affects, his spirits, and his powers,
In their confluctions, all to runne one way.
There is something distinctly puppet-like about this Jonsonian "humour," which he here defines as a particular form of focused, single-minded, and unbalanced behavior, the consequence and index of a particular corporeal "quality" that "possesses" and wholly masters the "spirits" and "powers" of the individual. In other of his writings as well, Jonson uses the puppet as a satiric metaphor for "humourous" behavior thus conceived, and calls on some of the distinct cultural associations of the puppet in early modern discourse which I have described. In Epigraph 88, "On English Monsieur," for example, Jonson specifically invokes the conventional binarism of flesh and spirit, motion and (e)motion, that underlies his psychological theory of character:
Would you beleeve, when you this Mounsieur see,
That his whole body should speake french, not he?
is it some French statue? No: it doth move,
And stoop, and cringe. Oh, then it needs must prove
The new French tailor's motion, monthly made,
Daily to turn in Paul's and help the trade.
Here, in a spiral of interrelated meanings, Jonson envisions the Frenchified fop as a kind of mannequin or tailor's dummy, and thus as a figural "puppet" in two distinct senses: as a passive tool used by the tailor to "help the trade," and as an effeminate, doll-like figure which the tailor dresses and adorns. The same "motion" which proves the courtier's animacy, declaring him no mere "French statue," also declares his commodification and social subjugation. Similarly, in Epigraph 98, Jonson asks
See you yond' Motion? Not the old Fa-ding,
Nor Captayne Pod, nor yet the Eltham-thing;
But one more rare, and in the case so new:
His cloke with orient velvet quite lin'd through,
His rosie tyes and garters so ore-blowne,
By his each glorious parcell to be knowne!
Here again, Jonson seems to be using the image of the "motion" or puppet to evoke at once the metaphoric sense of a doll-like effeminacy, and a corresponding but different sense of empty, passive materiality.
At the end of the induction to Every Man Out of His Humour, similarly, Jonson-Asper turns his satiric gaze on the audience, envisioning a particular kind of affected and falsely judicious spectator who
Sits with his armes thus wreath'd, his hat pull'd here,
Cryes meaw, and nods, then shakes his empty head,
Will shew more several motions in his face,
Than the new London, Rome, or Nineveh.
The puppet-like "motions" of the spectatorial gaze betray its "empty" corporeality, the lack of those inner "motions" which the spectator's carefully-chosen gestures are intended to suggest. By contrast, the "attentive auditors" for whom Asper (and Jonson) hopes to write will use the play to "feed their understanding parts"; and for them, says Asper,
Ile prodigally spend my selfe,
And speake away my spirit into ayre.
Jonson rhapsodically describes here the dynamics of a hypothetical theatre in which authorial inspiration flows into the breath of the histrionic voice and, from there, inspires the auditor. ks Jonson describes it, however, the author who claims to expend himself selflessly in the histrionic process, melting into invention, speaking himself into air, in so doing also fills the puppet-like bodies of his auditors with the mastering spirit of his own authorial design. If the affected and false spectator is like a puppet in his apparent gestural manifestation of an illusory inner spirit, the true spectator is equally puppet-like in that passive readiness for "profit" and "understanding" which the Jonsonian vision of authorship demands.
Jonson's own position in this hypothetical process remains suspended between explicit self-abnegation and a theoretical ideal of authorial mastery, the latter obviously corresponding more closely to his practical aspirations. In the astonishing final lines of Every Man Out of His Humour, the character Macilente (played by Asper, the authorial figure of the induction) almost literally empties himself of the animating "spirit" that determines his character, even as he similarly dismisses the puppet-like objects of his satiric "envy" into the mere materiality of non-being:
Now is my soul at peace.
I am as emptie of all envie now
As they of merit to be envied at.
My humour (like a flame) no longer lasts
Than it hath stuffe to feed it, and their folly,
Being now rak't up in their repentant ashes,
Affords no ampler subject to my spleene.
It grieves me
To thinke they have a being....
... let them vanish, vapors.
[5. 11. 54-65; 3: 596 97]
The actual players, and the characters they represent, are equally puppet-like: the former as histrionic vehicles of authorial intention, the latter as mere containers for the humorous "vapors" exorcised through satiric ridicule.
Now, on the one hand, Jonson's basic rhetorical vision of an imperious and virtuous author, secure in the sovereignty of an inspiration that is both ontologically and morally "true," by the same logic would seem capable of confronting at once both the object and the audience of his own histrionic art. On the other hand, the practical conditions of theatre, even as they are metaphorically reinterpreted within this hierarchical system, tend to contaminate an authorial voice which must enter the descending spiral of representation in order to represent itself. For Jonson can set the complex multiple system of social and theatrical reform in motion only by splitting himself, making himself a kind of puppet (as he does, almost literally, in each of his "comical satires") within a histrionic sphere whose inevitable multiplicity dilutes the purity of a voice and presence that only in such splitting can ex-tend and ex-press itself. In a difficult passage from Cynthia's Revels, one more of Jonson's authorial personae--the scholar Crites--seems once again to unite the object and the audience of Jonson's satiric reform within an implicit spectrum of histrionic effect:
such is the perversenesse of our nature,
That if we once but fancie levitie,
(How antike and ridiculous so ere
It sute with us) yet will our muffled thought
Choose rather not to see it, then avoide it:
And if we can but banish our owne sense,
We act our mimicke trickes with that free license,
That lust, that pleasure, that securitie,
As if we practiz'd in a paste-boord case,
And no one saw the motion, but the motion.
[1. 5. 55-66]
The "mimicke trickes" of pernicious social behavior result from the contagion of histrionic "levitie," and themselves constitute a terminally solipsistic performance in which each individual becomes at once player and puppet, actor, author, and audience.(46) Jonson's extraordinary final image of a social being marked by a "natural" perverseness but also shaped by histrionic representation, who then becomes a kind of self-mastered and self-mastering puppet, would actually correspond to the impossible ideal of a theatre unmediated either by actors or audition: a theatre uncontaminated, in short, by itself.
Thus, not only the character, the player, and the audience, but indeed also the Author himself, are equally implicated in and contaminated by a system of representation within which they have taken crucially distinct and yet ultimately analogous places; and as such, they are each at moments susceptible to description by the problematic and ambivalent metaphor of the performing object. Jonson's vision of the histrionic process, as Richard Helgerson remarks, demands a recognition that "the Author is an actor, a role-player, whose various parts depend on and refer back to his moral authority."(47) By the same token, as Stallybrass and White phrase a familiar critical insight, "Jonson found in the huckster, the cony-catcher and the pick-pocket an image of his own precarious and importuning craft."(48) The first point conveys Jonson's chosen vision of authorship as something taking place within a quasi-Platonic theoretical structure where the alleged authorial access to the truths of inspiration and moral rectitude (like the philosopher king's access to the Forms and Ideas of true reality) justifies his literary authority: his creation and control of the multiple histrionic embodiments of his vision.(49) The second point, conversely, suggests Jonson's inescapable awareness of the sordid and practical social context of this vision: the author as mere "apish" imitator, himself implicated in the system of representation whose pernicious consequences he lays bare. Even more generally, as Don E. Wayne has argued, Jonson increasingly shows signs "that his own identity as poet and playwright--and therefore his personal transcendence of the still rigid social hierarchy in which he lived and wrote--depended on the same emerging structure of social relationships that he satirized in his plays."(50) I have been suggesting, by extension, that this personal dilemma is inextricably linked to Jonson's impassioned and impossible belief in the perfect transparency of the social and representational hierarchies, a belief which the figural meanings of the puppet must have seemed to confirm in ways his real social position could not.
V. Speaking by In-spiration
Jonson's figural and theatrical fascination with the performing object continues in the four comedies of his middle career, the plays on which his major reputation still depends. In Volpone (1606), at the climax of the subplot, when Peregrin humiliates Sir Politic Would-Be by tricking him into hiding inside a tortoise shell, his confederates, two English merchants, exult:
Merchant 1: 'Twere a rare motion, to be seene in Fleet-street!
Merchant 2: I, i'the terme.
Merchant 1: Or Smithfield, in the faire.
[5. 4. 77-79]
This moment is a kind of summation of Jonsonian humour comedy: the puppet-like comic gull mastered by his own internal compulsions no less than by the manipulating tricksters, constrained to exhibit and exhaust the full repertoire of his "humourous" behavior. The logic of this scene, in the context of Jonson's recurrent figural use of the performing object, seems to make this new instance of the metaphor virtually inevitable. Nevertheless, the metaphor of the puppet also evokes an unspoken link between the primary comic action of Jonson's own play and the popular entertainment whose parodic texture and subordinate social location (the street or fair) is the ground of the metaphor's appropriateness within the dramatic context. In the prologue to the same play, in lines frequently quoted by his critics and biographers, Jonson had trumpeted his artistic divorce from popular entertainment, promising that, in his play,
no egges are broken;
Nor quaking custards with fierce teeth affrighted
Wherewith your rout are so delighted.
Yet both the main and subordinate plots of the play center, as do all of Jonson's best-known comic plots, on the relentless manipulation of puppet-like gulls; and Jonson's casual metaphor above concedes a subtle analogy between this recurrent comic situation and the puppet performance it figurally resembles.
Three years later, in Epicoene (1609), at the first of two crucial turning points in the plot, when Morose realizes his new bride is not the silent woman he had believed her to be, she asks him:
Why, did you thinke you had married a statue? or a motion, onely? one of the French
puppets, with the eyes turn'd with a wire?
[3. 4. 36-38]
In the theatrical moment, the comic effect seems to stem from the sudden reversal of puppet-master and puppet, manipulator and manipulated: a triumphant re-assertion of animacy in the face of social paralysis, subjugation, and silence. In an irony eventually made obvious, however, Epicoene at that moment and throughout the play is still a puppet in both of the common figural senses I have observed: as the tool of Sir Dauphine in his manipulation of Morose, and as Sir Dauphine's "ingle," the veritable boy painted and made effeminate by his role in Dauphine's (and Jonson's) plot. Similarly, at the end of The Alchemist Lovewit returns home unexpectedly and, seeing
evidence of strange goings-on at his house, initially assumes that his butler Jeremy has been exhibiting "Babions, or Puppets . . . or the new Motion / Of the Knights courser, covering the Parsons mare" (5. 1. 14-24). Subtle, Face and Doll, whose relentless manipulation of a whole cast of humourous gulls constitutes the play for its literal audience, are both figural puppet-masters and literal denizens of the social underground where real puppeteers also belonged. They personify the implacable cruelty and relentlessly exercised power with which "humour" comedy overcomes its tendency toward psychological determinism and theatrical stasis; and they also personify an ultimate social powerlessness as characters that is figurally equivalent to their status, as performers, in the Jonsonian vision of theatre.
But it is, of course, in Bartholomew Faire that Jonson provides the supreme literary reflection of puppet performance in early modern drama. A fully realized puppet show serves as the culmination of a play which itself, as numerous critics have argued, seems to sum up all of Jonson's theatrical, moral and philosophic obsessions; a play in which Jonson attempts to transcend the pernicious social and literary effect of popular performance by embracing it with a self-conscious irony.(51) In the elaborately metadramatic induction to the play, the stage-keeper's nostalgic reminiscences about improvisational forms of Elizabethan popular performance are interrupted by a "Booke-holder" or prompter and a "Scrivener," who proceed to read a mock "contract" between Jonson and his audience. In both cases, these are figures of literary and legal authority, and at the same time representatives of the literally absent Author who through them attempts, almost literally, to govern the theatrical site from a distance.(52) The comic contract lays down the conditions for proper spectatorship and for Jonson's own compromise with performance as his audiences liked it. In it, the puppets who will eventually appear in the play are named as the key term in that compromise:
the Author . . . is loth to make Nature afraid in his Playes, like those that beget Tales,
Tempests, and such like Drolleries . . . yet if the Puppets will please any body, they shall be
entreated to come in.
This passage, with its obvious allusions to Shakespeare's late romances, conveys a self-conscious and perhaps slightly disingenuous heartiness that contrasts markedly with previous Jonsonian rejections of popular culture and does not quite conceal the underlying tone of contempt. Jonson also seems deliberately to obscure the crucial distinction he is so at pains to make: the word "drollery" could refer to a short, farcical play such as those performed by live actors at the booths of Bartholomew Faire, but also to a puppet show.(53) Thus Shakespeare's "Tales" and "Tempests" are dismissed as puppet-like trivialities, even as Jonson himself readmits literal puppet performance into the charmed circle of his own text, making a subtly hierarchical linguistic distinction within what was in fact a virtually undifferentiated spectrum of carnivalesque entertainment.
In traditional thematic terms, however, the play which follows this induction often has seemed among Jonson's clearest and most single-minded. Jonson neither taunts the audience with the gap between their moral and theatrical sympathies (as in the shockingly punitive ending of Volpone), nor manipulates the "epistemic" status of his plot by withholding crucial information from the audience (as in Epicoene).(54) Instead, as critics generally concur, Jonson uses the play's carnivalesque setting as an obvious parable of moral imperfection and forgiveness, exposing, humiliating, but finally reconciling the play's three embodiments of moral, religious and political authority: Humphrey Wasp, tutor and governor; Zeal-of-the-Land Busy, Puritan railer against the "idolatries" of the fair; and Justice Over-Do, magistrate of the fair's special court of Pie Powder and aspiring reformer of its alleged 'enormities." Even as he overturns various examples of false authority in his comic plot, however, Jonson pointedly defers, in another of his characteristic framing devices, to the veritable authority of the off-stage world. "Your majesty is welcome to a fair," Jonson begins a prologue written for the play's performance at court; and in a concluding epilogue, Jonson declares correspondingly that:
Your Majesty has seen the play, and you
Can best allow it from your ear and view.
You know the scope of writers, and what store
Of leave is given them, if they take not more,
And turn it into license: you can tell
If we have us'd that leave you gave us well:
This is your power to judge, great sir.
The temporary social inversions enacted within the play are obviously circumscribed by a larger authority reaffirmed in its absolute inviolability both within and without the theatre.(55)
I want to suggest, by extension, that the actual puppet show repeats, on the axis of the hierarchy of representation, something like the same strategy--an overturning and eventual reaffirmation of authorship and authority. Within the play, the puppet show is literally authored by John Littlewit, another humour character whose behavior is held out to us as a ludicrous parody of authorial propriety in both senses of the word:
Sharkwell: What, doe you not know the Author, fellow Filcher? you must take no money
of him; he must come in gratis: Mr. Littlewit is a voluntary; he is the Author. John: Peace, speake not too lowd, I would not have any notice taken, th at I am the Author, till wee see how it passes. [5. 3. 20-24]
Correspondingly, the showman or "interpreter" of the puppets, Lantern Leatherhead, has sometimes been read as one more of Jonson's many satiric images of Inigo Jones, whose extravagant designs for the Jacobean court masques are thus conflated with the lowest common denominator of performative spectacle.(56) Leatherhead (whose onomastic name itself collapses the representational distance between puppet and puppeteer(57)) at one point reminisces about his histrionic career in a passage which seems deliberately to echo the induction:
O, the Motions, that I, Lanthorne Leatherhead have given light to, i' my time, since my
Master Pod dyed! Jerusalem was a stately thing; and so was Ninive, and the citty of
Norwich, and Sodom and Gomorrah; with the rising o' the prentises; and pulling downe
the bawdy houses there, upon Shrove-Tuesday; but the Gunpowder-plot, there was a get-penny!
I have presented that to an eighteene, or twenty pence audience, nine times in an
[5. 1. 6-14]
Leatherhead's frankly commercial attitude to his "art" is at once a parody of and essentially indistinguishable from Jonson's opening agreement that each member of the audience may "judge his six pen o'rth, his twelve pen'orth, so to his eighteene pence, 2. shillings, halfe a crowne, to the value of his place" (Induction 87-89). That theatrical taste might be susceptible to such financial quantification is, in one sense, the ground of Jonson's ambivalence about the practical theatre; but, in another sense, such implicit correspondence between social class and literary judgment would, if true, confirm the transparency of the social and representational hierarchies. Here again, Jonson seems to satirize his own craft as little better than mere puppetry, even as this satiric point itself depends on a hierarchical system distinguishing between player and puppet, between high and low modes of performance.
If the puppet show is thus in part a diminutive parody of authorship, so it is also, as critics frequently have observed, a kind of concentrated, miniature version of the play as a whole.(58) The puppet Dionysius, for example, appears "in a Scriveners furr'd gowne" (5. 4. 362), as though to echo the scrivener who appears in the opening induction. The other puppets "quarrel and fall together by the eares" (5. 4. 335) in a manner which explicitly echoes the "game of vapours" played by Quarlous, Wasp and others in a previous scene, in which "every man oppose[s] the last man that spoke whether it concerned him or no" (4. 4. 27). The puppets Damon and Pythias, competing ludicrously for the puppet Hero, echo Quarlous and Win-Wife competing for the love of Grace Wellborn.(59) The unmistakable parallels between the puppet play and the real play are both thematic and metadramatic. On the one hand, here again Jonson suggests that the various social types dramatized in his play are all humorous "puppets," enslaved to their own compulsions and hence vulnerable to the bawds, con-men and cutpurses of the faire.(60) On the other hand, puppets already have been foregrounded as a paradigmatic instance of "low," carnivalesque entertainment; and even as Jonson indulges both his onstage and offstage audience with them, he pointedly suggests that their enjoyment is itself one more example of "humourous" social behavior.
Accordingly, Bartholomew Cokes (whom Barish appropriately calls "the archetypal puppet among men"(61)), shows his typical "humourous" enjoyment of the puppets and even an apparent inability to distinguish between them and human actors, not only aesthetically but also in absolute mimetic terms:
Cokes: What, doe they live in baskets? Leatherhead: They doe lye in a basket, Sir, they are o' the small Players. Cokes: These be Players Minors, indeed. Doe you call these Players? Leatherhead: They are Actors, Sir, and as good as any, none disprais'd, fo r dumb showes: indeed, I am the mouth of 'hem all! [5.3. 71-791
At one point, Jonson's marginal stage direction suggests that Cokes "handles" the puppets in what is presumably a sexually suggestive way (5. 4. 7-9). During the puppet show itself, Cokes frequently interrupts, as though to suggest his naive confusion of performance and reality, his inability to read the semiotic "codes" of puppet theatre:
Puppet Pythias: Downe with him, Damon. Puppet Damon: Pinke his guts, Pythias. Leatherhead: What, so malicious? Will ye murder me, Masters both, i' mine own house? Cokes: How is't friend, ha' they hurt thee? Leatherhead: O no! Between you and I Sir, we doe but make show. Cokes: Well, we have seen't, and thou hast felt it, whatsoever th ou sayest. [5. 3. 261-86]
In portraying Cokes's naivete as spectator, however, Jonson also is demonstrating how multiple layers of improvisational performance finally are subsumed within the fixed boundaries of a master theatrical text. The puppets, attacks on Leatherhead, which apparently interrupt the narrative of the puppet play, are themselves interrupted by Cokes; but the latter then provokes an apparently spontaneous reply from Leatherhead which nevertheless completes Cokes's previous line so as to suggest the doggerel meter and rhyme of the puppet show "text":
How is't friend, ha' they hurt thee? O no!
Between you and I Sir, we doe but make show. Cokes becomes, so to speak, a participant in a hypothetical, mediate level of performance just in-between the puppet play and Jonson's play. His theatrical naivete either collapses the hierarchy of representation by confusing secondary and primary (as when he seems to assume that puppet bodies are anatomically correct) or implicitly confirms that hierarchy by insisting on the pure material reality of the puppet (as when he asserts that a blow on the head is always real, however it is "interpreted").(62) Throughout this scene, in other words, Jonson seems to suggest that puppets are a diminutive and secondary version of "real" performance; but are also, precisely as such, a paradigmatic instance of a representational process here re-construed as a progressive descent of meaning and "truth" into a histrionic multiplicity of play within play.
Just so, Jonson himself reinscribes this ephemeral and improvisational mode of popular performance within the coherent unity of his own play--and even seems to uphold puppetry as an incongruous affirmation of histrionic (and social) freedom. When the puritan Zeal-of-the-Land Busy interrupts the puppet show and proceeds to dispute with the puppet Dionysius (fabled tyrant of ancient Syracuse reborn as a Jacobean scrivener and schoolmaster), his defeat seems to affirm the performative impulse as an imperfect but morally superior alternative to Puritan hypocrisy: "I know no fitter match, than a Puppet to commit with an Hypocrite!" (5. 5. 50). But this apparent "victory" of performance embodies another terminal confusion of truth and image, text and performance. An actor plays a puppet master (Lantern Leatherhead), who speaks the voice of a puppet, who represents a historical figure degraded to the level of the mundane, and who then "breaks" this character to speak as "himself" in defending theatre and confuting Busy. But whose voice wins the debate? That of Dionysius the puppet and character? That of the hypothetical puppet-player somehow "outside" his role? That of Lantern Leatherhead? That of Ben Jonson? This puppet-player seems enjoined quite specifically to speak more than has been set down for him; and the authorial voice here speaks at once of and against itself, in a scene that seems to affirm not only performance in both its "high" and "low" manifestations but even that histrionic improvisation that Jonson so carefully silences in the induction. All this, however, is itself merely an illusion: the whole scene of improvised debate within puppet show within play also constitutes (and is constituted by) the text of Bartholomew Faire.
Finally, of course, the puppet wins the disputation by answering Busy's familiar Puritan charge that "the Male, among you, putteth on the apparell of the Female, and the Female of the Male" by simply taking up his garment to reveal only the mere wood and cloth of the puppet's body or, perhaps, the smooth flesh of the puppeteer's forearm.(63) The puppets, concludes Dionysius triumphantly, "have neyther Male nor Female amongst us" (5. 5. 99-106). I have previously suggested how, in Renaissance discourse, puppets frequently evoke figural associations of femininity or effeminacy, which are linked to the theological or ontological "lowness" of the inanimate and correspondingly inscribed in a master cultural system of social subordination. Such associations provide a problematic context for this scene's more obvious affirmation of theatrical illusion. The puppet body, in its undifferentiated materiality, is somehow both "below" and "above" the multiplicity of gender on an imagined hierarchy of objective being: a formlessness which precedes anatomy, or an ontological unity which transcends sex. Nevertheless, within the histrionic sphere, that body becomes a sort of tabula rasa on which the complex cultural patterns of sexuality and gender are endlessly (re)written and read:
Puppet Leander: A pox of your maners, kisse my hole here, and smell.
Leatherhead: Kisse your hole, and smell? there's manners indeed. [5. 4. 134-35]
Puppet Pythias: You whore-masterly Slave, you.
Puppet Damon: Whore-master i'thy face, Thou hast lien with her thy selfe, I'll prove't i'this place . [5. 4. 235-38]
Dionysius's concluding assertion of an anatomical failure which is also a victory obviously gives the lie to the scatological discourse of his fellow puppets. As Jonson's modern editors point out, however, the puppet also echoes St. Paul's theological affirmation that, in the sphere of ultimate reality, "There is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).(64) Thus, in this celebrated theatrical moment, the absence of flesh speaks for the Flesh, the absence of freedom speaks for theatrical license, and pure material artifice becomes the final testimony of the spirit. An ultimately secondary and attenuated signifier, a multi-leveled sign of a sign of a sign (puppet as character; puppet as mere matter), merges with divine unity, the assumed source and origin of all signification. On the one hand, formlessness, on the other, Form itself. "Nay, I'le prove," claims Dionysius, in a last thrust at the defeated Busy, "that I speak by inspiration, as well as he" (5. 5. 111). His pun conflates the practical conditions of puppet performance (the inanimate object filled with histrionic "motion" in both senses) with the behavior and discourse of the Puritan, just as the character of Busy itself already conflates the Jonsonian concept of a self-mastering "humour" with the Puritan discourse of divine inspiration (the Elect individual as a conduit for the "motions of the spirit").(65) Dionysius, pun sparks a kind of short-circuit in the hierarchy of representation that momentarily threatens its structure. The theatrical sign strains toward each pole of that hierarchy, signifying at once that transcendent spiritual Word whose assumed presence sets in motion the descending chain of representation, and the "seeming breath" of the performing artifact. Still, even this moment of strange theatrical vertigo finally reinvokes the Jonsonian system of representation with an implacable logic: for the puppet is also quite literally in-spired by the voice of Lantern Leatherhead (and of Ben Jonson), "the mouth of |hem all" (5. 3. 79); and Dionysius' triumphant "self"-assertion contradicts itself by and in the conditions of its utterance.
Thus the puppet show of Bartholomew Faire becomes Jonson's most fully realized vision of the theological theatre, a theatre here demonstrated as powerful enough to subsume even the most degraded and degrading form of performance within a master text whose unity subsumes the signs it (reluctantly) sets in motion. Just as the King frames the whole play, secure in his entwined literary and political authority, so the Author pervades the mere performance from his position of inviolable externality: a sovereign voice whose presence transcends (and also requires) its own absence, a voice that reaffirms its own mastery in the apparent act of relinquishing it. That Jonson's own text is also now the most complete historical source of information on early modern puppets, and hence virtually the only site from which their parodic, carnivalesque voice still speaks, might thus be considered a larger cultural version of Jonson's authorial strategy--which makes the literal puppet, as it were, a puppet of itself.
VI. Walking Shadows
Nearly twenty years later, Jonson would conclude what was probably his last complete work, A Tale of a Tub (1633?), with one more example of a puppet show within the play.(66) His characters, having resolved the comedy of errors in which they have been engaged, sit down in the final scene to watch a "motion" staged by the "architect" In-and-In Medley, another obvious satiric image of Inigo Jones. Medley's "motion" involves some kind of crude clockwork automata, whose precise workings remain obscure to modern commentators. As Jonson and Medley describe the device, a candle is placed into a "Tub" that is then "capt with paper" so that "the very vapour of the Candle" would "Drive all the motions of our matter about / As we present them" (5. 7. 30-36). The "motions" themselves were either flat, cutout figures that the heat of the candle moved around the circular rim of the upright tub, or shadow-figures moving across the "fine oild paper" stretched across top.(67) Whereas the puppet show of Bartholomew Faire roughly parallels the larger plot, here the five "motions" precisely reenact the five acts of the preceding play. For the Carolingian theatre-goer, as for the modern scholar, the motion of A Tale of a Tub also inevitably echoes the puppet show of Bartholomew Faire, reaching back to the masterpiece of Jonson's prime even as the whole play, with its country bumpkins and rural comedy, seems to echo an Elizabethan theatrical mode of some half a century earlier. In a whole variety of ways, Jonson seems deliberately to invoke a kind of abyssal chain of play within play, a chain that simultaneously descends into a fictional world that here reviews itself, and ascends into the widening circle of early modern theatre history, within which Ben Jonson's authorial career approaches its own completion. These primitive puppets, however, must also be assumed to have evoked no trace of representational rebellion, no combative attacks on their manipulator or parodic satire of the audience and characters they depict. They enact a miniature version of the master play with its life transmuted into literal two-dimensionality or ghost-like shadows, a mere vestige of histrionic illusion.
Thus, these last of Jonson's puppets once again illuminate the thoroughly problematic nature of his approach to authorship and representation. If Jonson once had asserted an absolute sovereignty of authorial control by setting in motion puppets who appear to subvert that control, here he does something like the reverse: he concedes a kind of independent life to his characters by diminishing them into vestigial icons of themselves. In the fictional world, Squire Tub achieves in his motion precisely that control of events which the play's comic plot denies him; but, like the literal Author, he does so in a medium whose mimetic inadequacy degrades its objects so as to idealize them. Nevertheless, the conditions of Jonson's own performance re-reversed precisely the situation he had tried to enact, in which an author reaffirms his singular voice by affirming his community with his audience. For A Tale of a Tub failed dreadfully on the Carolingian stage, with spectators to whom its curious puppet show must have seemed a bewildering intervention of some alien semiotic code rather than a gracious concession to their taste for popular entertainment. Here at the end of Jonson's long career, the imagined power relations of a theological theatre dissolve, as they often must, into the actual conditions of a commercial stage, in which the drama's laws the drama's patrons give, and in which authorial mastery is always and merely a representation of itself.
(1) Roland Barthes, in his well-known essay, "The Death of the Author," suggests that a sovereign, individualized Author emerges historically in the early modern period. Image, Music, Text (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1974), 142-48. Michel Foucault builds on Barthes's foundational insight i his equally celebrated essay "What is an Author," The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon, 1984), 101-20. Recent scholars whose work has shaped my understanding of Renaissance authorship include Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (Chicag University of Chicago Press, 1980); Richard Helgerson, Self-Crowned Laureates: Spenser, Jonson, Milt and the Literary System (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983); and Michael Bristol, Carni Theater: Plebian Culture and the Structure of Authority in Renaissance England (New York: Methuen, 1 (2) David Riggs, Ben Jonson: A Life (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), 352. (3) Among the many works that address the popular roots of early modern drama, see Bristol, Carnival and Theater; Robert Weimann, Shakespeare and the Popular Tradition in the Theater: Studies in the So Dimension of Dramatic Form and Function, ed. Robert Schwarz (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978); and Annabel M. Patterson, Shakespeare and the Popular Voice (Cambridge: Basil Blackwel 1989). (4) George Speaight's The History of the English Puppet Theatre, 2d ed. (London: Robert Hale, 1990) standard reference book on the subject, and I am indebted to it throughout; on the varieties of popu entertainment in medieval and Renaissance Europe, see 53. See also Peter Burke, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe (New York: New York University Press, 1978), 94, 96-98, and 111, for other references to itinerant puppeteers. The recent Records of Early English Drama series also records a thriving tradition of puppetry in the sixteenth century; see, among other examples, the volumes on Herefordshire and Worcestershire, ed. David N. Klausner (1990), 524; Devon, ed. John M. Watson (1986 280; Cumberland, Westmorland, Gloucester, ed. Audrey Douglas and Peter Greenfield (1986), 308; Conventry, ed. R. W. Ingram (1981), 353; and Cambridge, ed. Alan H. Nelson, 2 vols. (1989), 1:710 (a volumes Toronto: university of Toronto Press). (5) All quotations from Shakespeare are from The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans (soston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974); all quotations from Jonson are from Ben Jonson, ed. C. H. Hereford and Percy Simpson, 11 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1925-63), henceforth identified in my text, where possible by act, scene, and line number, otherwise by volume and page. When citing the Hereford and Simpson edition, I have silently modernized "i", "j", "u", "v" and scribal contractions and regularized speech prefixes. (6) Peter Burke, "Popular Culture in Seventeenth-century London," Popular Culture in Seventeenth-cen England, ed. Barry Reay (New York: St. Martin's, 1985), 36-39; see also Speaight, 56-60. (7) Barthes describes the classical idea of authorship as a belief in the text as "a line of words r a single |theological' meaning (the ,message, of the Author-God)" ("Death," 146). For a detailed analysis and critique of the "theological" theater, see Jacques Derrida, "The Theater of Cruelty and Closure of Representation," Writing and Difference (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), 235 (8) See Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966). Among the recent literary studies advancing the now-familiar idea that early modern ideologies of order and degree were not necessarily hegemonic, see Stephen Greenblatt, "Invisible Bullets," Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Ren England, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), 21-65; Jonathan Dollimore, Radical Traged Religion, Ideology and Power in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries (Chicago: University Chicago Press, 1984); Franco Moretti, "|A Huge Eclipse,: Tragic Form and the Deconsecration of Sovereignty," Genre 15.1-2 (1982): 7-40; and David Scott Kasten, "Proud Majesty Made a Subject: Shakespeare and the Spectacle of Rule," Shakespeare Quarterly (1986): 459-75. (9) Hannah Arendt, "What is Authority," Between Past and Future: Six Exercises in Political Thought (New York: Viking, 1961), 83; David Underdown, Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Cultu England 1603-1660 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 9. (10) Robert Greene, The Life and Complete Works in Prose and Verse of Robert Greene, ed. Alexander s Grosart, 12 vols. (New York: Russell & Russell, 1964), 12:131-32. (11) See Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, trans. Helen Iswolsky. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984). For discussions of the "carnivalesque" following and commenting on sakhtin's analysis, see Bristol, Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, The Politics and Poetics of Tran (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986), and Dominick LaCapra, "Bakhtin, Marxism, and the Carnivalesque," Rethinking Intellectual History: Texts, Contexts, Language (Ithaca: Cornell Universi Press, 1983), 291-324. (12) John Day [and Henry Chettle], The Blind-Beggar of Bednal-Green (London: 1659), g2r. (13) On the grotesque body, see Bakhtin, esp. 25-27. For illustrations of early English puppets, see Speaight, History of the English Puppet Theatre; Michael Byrom, Punch and Judy: Its Origin and Evolu (1972; repr. Norwich: DaSilva Puppet Books, 1988); Robert Leach, The Punch and July Show: History, Tradition and Meaning (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985); and Rene Simmen, The World of Puppets (New York: Crowell, 1972). (14) Plato, Republic 511b. The Collected Dialogues of Plato, Bollingen Series LXXI, ed. Edith Hamilt Huntington Cairns (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961). (15) Greene, 12:144. (16) On the significance of the passage from Greene's Groatsworth of Wit to Shakespeare's biography, J. Dover Wilson, "Malone and the Upstart Crow," Shakespeare Survey 4 (1951): 56-68, Samuel Schoenbaum, William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life, 2d ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 149-58; Charles W. Crupi, Robert Greene (Boston: Twayne, 11986), 25 n.7; and D. Allen Carroll, "Greene's "Upstart Crow" Passage: A Survey of Commentary," Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama 28 (1985): 111-27. (17) On vagrancy and vagabondage, see A. L. Beier, Masterless Men: The Vagrancy Problem in England 11560-1640 (London: Methuen, 1985); John Pound, Poverty and Vagrancy in Tudor England, 2d ed. (London: Longman, 1986); and William C. Carroll, "Language, Politics and Poverty in Shakespearian Drama," Shakespeare Survey 44 (1992): 17-24. (18) The Returne from Parnassus or The Scourge of Simony (London: 1606), G2v (4.4); G3v (5.11). (19) Andrew Gurr, The Shakespearean Stage 1574-1642, 3d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 19; Stephen Orgel, "What is a Text," Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama 26 (1981): 4 Joseph Lowenstein, "The Script in the Marketplace," Representing the English Renaissance, ed. Stephe Greenblatt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), 266. (20) George Chapman, as qtd. in The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Drama, ed. A. R. Braunmuller and Michael Hattaway (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 57. (21) Marlowe, The Jew of Malta, ed. Richard W. Van Fossen (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1964), 113. (22) Oxford English Dictionary, "motion," 9, 3, 13. Speaight, 55-56, discusses the various theatrica meanings of the word "motion" in the early modern period. E. K. Chambers in The Elizabethan Stage (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 11923), 2:158 n; and W. J. Lawrence, "Elizabethan Motions," Times Literary Supplement, 29 January 1920, both observe that the Renaissance word "motion" referred not only to conventional puppets but also to shadow-plays. (23) See Lawrence Babb, The Elizabethan Malady: A Study of Melancholia in English Literature (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1951), 4. (24) John Bulwer, Chironomia, as qtd. in A. G. H. Bachrach, in "The Great Chain of Acting," Neophilologus 33 (1949): 168-69; my emphasis. (25) On early modern acting styles, see Bachrach, Alfred Harbage, "Elizabethan Actors," PMLA 54 (1939): 685-708; B. L. Joseph, Elizabethan Acting, 2d ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1964); a William B. Worthen, The Idea of the Actor: Drama and the Ethics of Performance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984). (26) Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, Part I, Section 3. The Works of Sir Thomas Browne, ed. Geoff Keynes, 6 vols. (1928-31; repr. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), 1:12-13. (27) John Marston, Antonio and Mellida, ed. W. Reavley Gair (Manchester: Manchester University Press 1991). The precise reason Marston should refer to the puppet-maker as Dutch is not entirely clear. Evidentally the Dutch were known as makers of figurines; compare, for example, Foxe's story about the "martyrdom of Prest's Wife" who, "entering into St. Peter's church, beheld there a cunning Dutchman, how he made new noses to certain fine images that were disfigured in king Edward's time: |What a mad man art thou" said she, |To make them new noses, which within a few days shall all lose their heads!, The Dutchman accused her, and laid it hard to her charge" (The Acts and Monuments, ed. Stephen Reed Cattley, 8 vols. [London: 1837 41], 8:500). The Dutch were also known for the manufacture of parodic drawings or pictures known as "drolleries," a word also sometimes applied to puppet shows (see OED "drollery" 2a and 2b). Dekker, in The Bellman of London (1608), describes a room full of beggars and vagabonds that "shewed . . . Iike a dutch peece of Drollery" (The Non-Drama Works of Thomas Dekker, ed. Alexander B. Grosart [1885; repr. New York: Russell & Russell, 1962], 3:
In passages cited elsewhere in this essay, Middleton and Jonson both refer, by contrast, to "French" puppets. If anything, however, the historical evidence points to the performance in early modern England of Italian puppeteers, who may have come by way of France and hence induced a confusion about their nationality (see Speaight, 35-39; 55-56). Beyond these historical questions about the li transmission of puppet theater, one observes more generally how puppets are frequently conceptualize as an alien form of performance, something that comes vaguely from "somewhere else." (28) One of the few surviving handbills from the London Beargarden, a neighbor of the Globe Theatre on Bankside, mentions among its attractions "plasant sport with the horse and ape" (as qtd. in Gurr, 11). For more on performing monkeys in early modern England see Chambers, 4:11; and Archie Mervin Tyson's introduction to his edition of Every Woman in Her Humour (New York: Garland, 1980), 16. (29) Many scholars observe how attempts to overcome social and sexual difference were demonized in early modern England. Two recent studies that usefully suggest the interconnection of class and gender distinctions are Mary Beth Rose, The Expense of Spirit: Love and Sexuality in Renaissance Dra (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988); and Frank Whigham, "Sexual and Social Mobility in The Duchess of Malfi," PMLA 100 (March 1985):167-68. (30) Phillip Stubbes, The Anatomie of Abuses (London: 1583), F6r. The word "mawmet" or "mammet" enters the English language from Old French as a corruption of the name Mahomet (Mohammad). Originally meaning "idol," by the late sixteenth century, this word had taken on the meaning "puppet." In the anonymous comedy Every Woman in Her Humour (1607), for example, the naive Getica claims to have seen "the Babones . . . the Cittie of new Ninivie, and Julius Caesar acted by the Mammets" (V. i. 6 9). (31) Stubbes, Anatomie, C2v, F7r. On Stubbes's and early modern attacks on the theatre, see Jonas Barish, The Antitheatrical Prejudice (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), esp. 155-67. (32) Joseph Swetname, The Arraignment of Lewd, idle, froward, and unconstant women, as qtd. in Half Humankind: Contexts and Texts of the Controversy about Women in England 1540 1640, ed. Katharine Usher Henderson and Barbara F. McManus (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985), 205. Strictly speaking, the operative meaning of the word "puppet" in Swetnam and Stubbes may be "doll" as opposed to "performing object"; but the satirical points also depend on a metaphoric analogy between the mere "painted" doll and the woman; cf. the modern slang expression "living doll." On the Jacobean pamphlet controversy initiated by Swetnam, see the introduction to Half Humankind, 16-20; and Linda Woodbridge, Woman and the English Renaissance: Literature and the Nature of Womankind: 1540 1620 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986), 81-103. (33) On the medieval roots of the binary conception of Woman, see Caroline Walker Bynum, "|. . . And Woman His Humanity': Female Imagery in the Religious Writing of the Late Middle Ages," Gender and Religion: On the Complexity of Symbols, ed. Caroline Walker Bynum, Stevan Harrell, and Paula Richman (Boston: Beacon, 1986). On cosmetics in the drama and society of early modern England see Annette Drew-Bear, "Face-Painting in Renaissance Tragedy," Renaissance Drama 12 (1981): 71-93; Laurie A. Finke, "Painting Women: Images of Femininity in Jacobean Tragedy," Theatre Journal 36 (1984): 357-70 and Frances E. Dolan, "Taking the Pencil Out of God's Hand: Art, Nature, and the Face-painting Debate in Early Modern England," PMLA 108 (1993): 224-39. (34) John Marston, The Scourge of Villany, Elizabethan and Jacobean Quartos, ed. C.B. Harrison (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1966), 75. (35) John Marston, The Plays of John Marston, ed. H. Harvey Wood (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1939), 273. (36) Thomas Middleton, The Works of Thomas Middleton, ed. A. H. Bullen, 8 vols. (London: 1885), 8:65 (37) Stallybrass and White, 3-4. (38) Thomas Dekker, The Dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker, ed. Fredson Bowers (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1953). William Gifford, Jonson's nineteenth-century editor, suggested that Jonson merely incorporated into Bartholomew Faire an actual puppet show that he had himself written years earlier. See also Frances Teague, The Curious History of Bartholomew Faire (London: Associated University Presses, 1985), 19-20. (39) See Riggs, 306; Teague, 24; and C. G. Thayer, Ben Jonson: Studies in the Plays (Norman: Univers of Oklahoma Press, 1963), 230. (40) Thomas Elyot's Dictionary (London, 1538), defines the word "gesticulator" as "he that playeth w puppetts." Jonson in The Poetaster, uses the same word to refer to a particular kind of exaggerated theatrical performance, attacking his fellow satiric playwrights, Marston and Dekker, by questioning whether there is "any man so vile, / To act the crimes, these Whippers reprehend / Or what their servile apes gesticulate" ("To the Reader" 54-56; 4:319). (41) Barish,143; 135. (42) On Jonsonian metadrama in this play and elsewhere, see Robert N. Watson, Ben Jonson's Parodic Strategy: Literary Imperialism in the Comedies (Cambridge: Harvard University Press,1987), esp.47-79 (43) Texts of the period frequently mention puppet shows named for cities. Hereford and Simpson, ed. Ben Jonson, speculate that these were puppet versions of plays from the regular stage: "Niniveh" bei based on Lodge and Greene's A Looking Glasse, for London and England (which recounts in part the sto of Jonas and the whale), "Rome" being based on Julius Caesar, and so forth (9:420). Speaight, on the other hand, suggests that the city shows may have been exhibits "painted in aerial perspective like Visscher's familiar view of London," with some kind of moveable figures (History of the English Pupp Theatre, 57). (44) Captain Pod is mentioned in Bartholomew Faire (5. 1. 8) as the master of Lantern Leatherhead, a also in Jonson's Epigraphs 97 and 129. He is also mentioned as a character in the puppet show descri in The Blind Beggar of Bednal Green (G2; cited earlier). Dekker and Wilkins, in Jests to make you Me (1607), refer to "Bankes his horse," (a famous "talking" animal act), "the Baboones," and "captain P [sic] with his motion" (The Non-dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker, 2:317). (45) A "fading" is an Irish jig, the "Eltham thing" was a kind of clockwork automata claimed to be a perpetual motion machine that was exhibited to great acclaim in the early seventeenth century. The latter is also alluded to in Epicoene (5. 3. 63). See Hereford and Simpson's ed. notes to the latter Jonson, 10:43-44), for several other continental and English references to the device. (46) In this passage Jonson is, I believe, deliberately echoing Plato, who argues at the culmination attack on theater in the Republic that an enjoyment of the representation of laughable objects will eventually lead to a kind of pernicious self-representation (606c). (47) Helgerson, 138. (48) Helgerson, 138; Stallybrass and White, 77. On the latter point, Alexander Leggatt similarly arg in terms coincidentally relevant to my argument, that "Volpone and Mosca, Subtle and Face . . . are simultaneously puppets and puppet-masters; and there is a natural analogy between their activities and Jonson's business as a dramatist" (Ben Jonson: His Vision and His Art [London: Methuen, 1981], 3 (49) For Plato, argues R. S. Peters, "the scrutiny of such objects [i.e. the Forms] gave the philoso kings a right to make decisions and issue commands" ["Authority," Political Philosophy, ed. Anthony Quinton [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967], 88). Arendt agrees that the eternal ideas "become t unwavering, |absolute' standards for political and moral behavior and judgment" ("What is Authority, 110). On the almost magical authority given to the Platonic philosopher-king by his access to the Forms, see also E.R. Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational (Berkeley: University of California Press, 210-11. (50) Don E. Wayne, "Drama and Society in the Age of Jonson: An Alternative View," Renaissance Drama 13 (1982): 107; and cf. Riggs, 59-60. (51) Bartholomew Faire, asserts Richard Dutton, is "designed to stand as the keystone of his writing that point" (Ben Jonson: To the First Folio [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983], 157). It ultimate version," writes Alvin Kernan, "of the play Jonson wrote again and again" ("The Plays and the Playwrights," The Revels History of Drama in English, vol. 3, ed. Lois Potter [London: Methuen, 1975], 463). On Jonson's delicate compromise between popular and elite forms of performance in this play, see also John Gordon Sweeney, Jonson and the Psychology of Public Theater (Princeton: Princeto University Press, 1985), 160; and Jonathan Haynes, "Festivity and the Dramatic Economy of Jonson's Bartholomew Faire," ELH 51 (1984): 645-68. (52) Cf. Derrida, 235. (53) See OED, "drollery" 2; and cf. Shakespeare's Sebastian, who compares one of Prospero's apparitions to "A living drollery" (Tempest 3. 2. 21). On the theatrical "droll" during the commonwe and later, see Hyder E. Rollins, "A Contribution to the History of the English Commonwealth Drama," Studies in Philology 18 (July 1921), 302; and Sybil Rosenfeld, The Theatre of the London Fai the 18th Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960), 2-3, 135-49. (54) I take the term "epistemic" in this sense (the relative level of knowledge of the true state of in a dramatic plot) from Thomas G. Pavel, The Poetics of Plot: The Case of English Renaissance Drama (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985); see, for example, 48-49, 60, 68 and passim. (55) Cf. Wayne, 118. (56) See Hereford and Simpson, ed., 2:146-48, for a summary of the evidence for this identification. (57) On Johnson's frequent use of "onomastic" or denotative names, see Anne Barton, Ben Jonson, Dramatist (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 170-93; and the same author's The Names of Comedy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990). (58) See, for example, G. R. Hibbard, Introd. to Bartholmew Fair (London: Ernst Benn, l977), xxvii; Leggatt, 18; and Watson, 142. (59) At the turning point of Grace Wellborn's story, she asks the two men to 'consent to a motion of mine" (4. 3. 41; my emphasis), agreeing to give herself at random to either one depending on the outcome of an unusual game of chance. Although this is obviously "motion" used in its primary sense as an idea projected outward into practical action, the possible pun recalls how Grace is herself a of figural "puppet" of complex social forces within an intricate hierarchy of displaced authority: s a minor "ward" of the King, 'bought' from him by Justice Over-do (3. 5. 274), who now intends to marry her to the foolish Bartholomew Cokes for his own financial benefit. Hibbard, agrees that 'the law has made a puppet" of Grace (Introd. xxviii). (60) The thematic idea of character-as-puppet has been observed by numerous critics. See, for exampl Barish, Ben Jonson and the Language of Comedy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960), 237; Hibbard, xxx; and Watson, 155. (61) Barish, 238. (62) For an attempt to analyze this scene in semiotic terms, see Jiri Veltrusky, "Puppetry and Actin Semiotica 47.1-4 (1983): 72-73, 106. (63) The latter possibility was first suggested to me by my colleague Lawrence Breiner. (64) On this allusion see also Debora K Shuger, "Hypocrites and Puppets in Bartholomew Faire," Moder Philology 82 (1984): 70-73. (65) Busy, we are told earlier in the play, "Sayes a grace as long as his breath lasts him" (1. 2. 6 claims to be "mov'd in spirit, to bee here, this day, in this Faire" to rail against its "Images" an (1. 2. 87-97); and, just before his ludicrous disputation with the puppet, he asks once again for th "spirit" to "fill me, fill me, that is, make me full" (5. 5. 45). (66) Hereford and Simpson, ed., Ben Jonson, consider this Jonson's earliest surviving play, claiming he merely revised and added to it slightly at the time it was entered into the Stationer's Register 1633. Anne Barton's contrary conclusion that the play "makes sense only when read--in its entirety-a a Caroline work" has now, however, been generally accepted. I have also been influenced by Barton's view of this play as an instance of "Caroline nostalgia." See Ben Jonson, Dramatist, 321-23 cf. Riggs, 334-36. (67) See Speaight, 66.
Scott Cutler Shershow, Assistant Professor of English at Boston University, is the author of Laugh Matters: The Paradox of Comedy and of articles on Renaissance and Restoration drama. This essay is part of a larger project tracing the cultural appropriation of puppet theatrefrom the Renaissance present.
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|Author:||Shershow, Scott Cutler|
|Date:||May 1, 1994|
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