6. The Roaring Girl On and Off Stage

  1. Helen Wilcox

Published Online: 30 NOV 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118327647.ch6

1611: Authority, Gender and the Word in Early Modern England

1611: Authority, Gender and the Word in Early Modern England

How to Cite

Wilcox, H. (ed) (2014) The Roaring Girl On and Off Stage, in 1611: Authority, Gender and the Word in Early Modern England, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118327647.ch6

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 NOV 2013
  2. Published Print: 2 JAN 2014

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405193917

Online ISBN: 9781118327647

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Keywords:

  • brave captain;
  • female;
  • male;
  • Mary Frith;
  • Moll Cutpurse;
  • spirit;
  • The Roaring Girl;
  • widow;
  • wife;
  • wit

Summary

Mary Frith, the real-life inspiration for the main character of The Roaring Girl, Moll Cutpurse, was the most notorious of the women in early modern London who chose to wear men's clothing and take to the streets. Moll is a riddle by her very nature, being real and fictional at once, as well as a paradoxically honest cutpurse and a ‘brave captain, male and female’. In this play Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker present a positive image of a woman of ‘wit and spirit’. Middleton's use of the device of the widow as a vital comic element in No Wit, No Help Like a Woman's is matched Nathan Field's play Amends for Ladies that includes three female characters labelled simply ‘Maid’, ‘Wife’ and ‘Widow’, where the Widow claims that her situation is the best of the three.