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Thomas Dekker

and the Traditions of English Drama


Larry S. Champion

Through an examination of drama spanning the Elizabethan-Jacobean-Caroline period, Thomas Dekker and the Traditions of English Drama provides new insights into the evolution of the genre and of Thomas Dekker's contribution to this development. His insistent determination to experiment is best reflected in the steady advance in form in his early romantic comedies, in his interweaving of divergent comic modes in The Roaring Girl, in his use of a wide variety of medieval dramatic techniques in setting the legend of Dorothea to stage in The Virgin Martyr, and in his examination of profound moral and social ambiguities in The Witch of Edmonton. Equally important is his ability to interact creatively with his fellow playwrights, to respond to the influence of Jonson, Marston, and Chapman in Northward Ho, to Shakespeare's Measure For Measure in 2 The Honest Whore.... The overwhelming conclusion is that Dekker deserves a considerably higher place than most critics have been willing to acknowledge.
Contents: Surveys the seventeen works that comprise Thomas Dekker's dramatic canon – the early years (romantic comedy, satire), the middle years (citizen comedy, history, epic drama), the final years (tragedy, tragicomedy) – Emphasis on experimentation and creative interaction.