Thomas Middleton
and William Rowley

circa 1615-1617

Synopsis available, click here


A "ghost character." A servant of Russell. Russell calls for him but he does not appear.


Anne is the Physician's sister. She acts as a female ear to whom Jane can explain her pregnancy. When the Physician tries to blackmail Jane to extort sexual favors, he orders Anne to persuade Jane into compliance. But Anne encourages Jane to tell the truth rather than submit to her brother's demands. Anne tries to persuade her brother not to reveal Jane's pregnancy to Chough, but he ignores her.


A "ghost character." Trimtram bargains with him to buy bladders so that Chough can learn to swim.


Captain Ager is a young officer who is passionately committed to defending his honor. So too is his friend, the Colonel, and they fall into an argument that results in the Colonel calling Ager "son of a whore." Ager demands a duel to defend this slander. However, his real problems begin when he insists on following the 'dueling code' to the letter: he is afraid to fight defending a falsehood, for this would not be a 'fair quarrel.' So, in order to be certain that he is not a 'son of whore,' he asks his mother, Lady Ager, to confirm that he really is his father's son. Lady Ager angrily insists that he is, but then realizes that the best way to prevent him from dueling is to pretend that the slander is true, so she tells him that he is indeed a bastard. Ager is devastated, but he goes to the duel anyway. He is trapped in a dilemma: he cannot admit the truth because it would lose him honor, but neither can he fight defending a falsehood. So he utters a Christian speech on the folly of dueling. The Colonel, disgusted, calls Ager a coward, and Ager immediately leaps into battle, having been given an insult he knows he can honorably rebuke. He wounds the Colonel grievously. Ager returns to Lady Ager, who is relieved to see him alive, and explains that she was lying. Ager is delighted to hear this news—and he looks forward to dueling with the Colonel again, now to defend the original insult. But at this point, the Colonel's Sister enters to announce that the Colonel has ordered her to marry Ager so that Ager will inherit his estate. Ager is touched and decides to accept the Sister but to return the will. But the Colonel sends the will back to him with even more riches. Ager falls into the Colonel's arms, and the friends are reconciled.


A "ghost character." Ager's deceased father is important to the plot because Ager is concerned to know whether he is really his father's son.


Captain Albo is an Irish pimp who is harangued by his employees, Meg and Priss, for failing to defend them from brutish customers. At this point, Chough and Trimtram appear and decide to practice their 'roaring' techniques on Albo. Albo demands that they draw arms. Chough and Trimtram respond by farting at him, and Albo is thus overpowered. The whores are delighted, and Captain Albo vows to learn to roar so that he can defend them in the future.


The baby that Jane Russell gives birth to. A Dutch Nurse looks after it until Jane is reconciled with her father.


Chough is the play's clown character, a rich but stupid Cornish gentleman. He arrives in London, accompanied by his servant Trimtram, in order to marry Jane Russell. Jane's father is delighted at the prospect, but Jane is not because Chough is a vulgar boor obsessed with wrestling. He longs to be a 'roaring boy,' and visits the 'Roaring School' where he learns to do combat with outrageous insults rather than with swords. In order to try out their new skills, Chough and Trimtram pick a fight with a cowardly pimp, Captain Albo, and roar at him. When Albo demands that they draw arms, Chough and Trimtram respond by farting at him, and this overpowers him. The clowns sing a song with the whores and wish them good luck. Back at Russell's house, Chough encounters the Physician, who informs him that Jane has just given birth to a child. Chough is outraged and refuses to marry her for fear of catching the pox. Russell accedes, but begs Chough not to say anything about the child when he tries to match Fitzallen with Jane. Chough agrees, but when Fitzallen enters, he sings a warning instead of saying it. When Jane and Fitzallen plan to seal their marriage vow, Chough promises to dance and roar at their wedding.


The hot-blooded Colonel is a quarrelsome soldier. He and Captain Ager engage in verbal sparring and fall into an argument about the cruelty of Ager's Uncle Russell toward the Colonel's kinsman Fitzallen, which results in the Colonel calling Ager "son of a whore." Ager demands a duel to defend this slander. At the dueling field, the Colonel is disgusted when Ager utters a Christian speech on the folly of dueling. He calls Ager a coward and is bewildered when Ager immediately leaps into battle. Ager wounds the Colonel grievously. The Colonel's Surgeon claims that death is near. On hearing this, the Colonel's anger abates, and he becomes incredibly generous. He decides to leave everything in his will to his Sister, and then orders her to marry Ager so that Ager will inherit all his wealth. Ager is touched by this offer, and decides to accept the Sister but return the will. At this point, the Colonel recovers. He sends the will back to Ager with even more riches. Ager falls into the Colonel's arms, and the friends are reconciled.


The Colonel's Sister tends her injured brother. On his deathbed (as he thinks) the Colonel leaves her all his wealth in his will, but he orders her to marry Ager so that his friend will inherit everything. The Sister is reluctant, but the Colonel angrily demands her compliance, so she goes to Ager and submits to him. She remains silent throughout the play's conclusion.


An alternative name for Russell's servant Richard.


A Dutch Nurse with a comedy accent is paid to look after Jane's baby and keep it hidden.


The First Friend of Captain Ager quarrels with the First Friend of the Colonel over whether Ager is a better man than the Colonel is. Their argument inspires an abortive quarrel between Ager and the Colonel themselves. Ager's First and Second Friends support him at the dueling field. The First Friend believes wholeheartedly in the dueling code, and he is disgusted when Ager utters a Christian speech against dueling. He is bewildered when Ager promptly attacks the Colonel for calling him a coward, but he considers Ager redeemed. He accompanies Ager in the final scene.


The First Friend of the Colonel quarrels with the First Friend of Captain Ager over whether Ager is a better man than the Colonel is. Their argument inspires an abortive quarrel between Ager and the Colonel themselves. The Colonel's First and Second Friends support him at the dueling field, and they carry him off when he is wounded. The First Friend introduces Chough and Trimtram to the 'Roaring School,' and allows them to practice roaring at him. Along with the Second Friend, he attends the Colonel at his sickbed and supports him in the final scene.


Fitzallen is a poor gallant, a kinsman of the Colonel. He is secretly married (by a de praesenti contract) to Jane Russell, and she is pregnant by him. But Jane's father wants her to marry the rich fool Chough, so he arranges for Fitzallen to be arrested on trumped-up charges of debt. Fitzallen is released from prison when Chough refuses to marry Jane. Russell decides to marry Fitzallen to Jane, but Chough warns Fitzallen that Jane is a 'whore.' Fitzallen refuses her. Russell, in desperation, offers Fitzallen a large dowry to take Jane off his hands, which Fitzallen accepts before revealing that he was married to Jane all along and the baby is his.


A "ghost character." A servant of Russell. Russell calls for him, but he does not appear.


Jane's father expects her to marry a rich fool, Chough. But Jane is secretly married (by a de praesenti contract) to Fitzallen, and is pregnant by him. Her father has Fitzallen arrested for debt. Then, thinking Jane is ill, he hires a Physician to diagnose her. Jane confides in the Physician about her pregnancy, and he delivers the child, which is given to a Dutch Nurse to keep in hiding. But the Physician then threatens to ruin Jane's reputation unless she sleeps with him. Jane faces a dilemma, but the Physician's sister, Anne, encourages her to speak the truth rather than submit to the Physician. So Jane refuses to sleep with the Physician, and he therefore tells Chough about the baby. Chough refuses to marry Jane, and Jane admits to her father that she has had a child. Russell decides to marry Jane to Fitzallen, but Chough warns Fitzallen that Jane is a 'whore.' Russell, in desperation, offers Fitzallen a large dowry, which Fitzallen accepts before revealing that he was married to Jane all along and the baby is his.


When she invents her story about Captain Ager's conception, Lady Ager makes up a long-dead kinswoman who betrayed her.


Lady Ager is Russell's sister. She loves her son, but she is angry when he abruptly asks if he is really her husband's son, or if she is not rather a 'whore' (i.e. an adulteress). When, however, she realizes that he is planning to duel the Colonel for calling him 'son of a whore,' she decides to prevent the fight by pretending that she was indeed an adulteress. Ager is devastated. When Lady Ager later learns that her son has fought the Colonel on another matter, Lady Ager thinks it is safe to tell him the truth, so she admits that she was lying. She is then shocked when Ager decides to duel the Colonel on this matter as soon as he recovers; Lady Ager realizes that she cannot win either way. She is present in the final scene when the Colonel and Ager are reconciled, but says nothing.


A 'ghost character.' A creditor of Fitzallen, perhaps a fictional invention of Russell.


A 'ghost character.' A creditor of Fitzallen, perhaps a fictional invention of Russell.


A 'ghost character.' A creditor of Fitzallen, perhaps a fictional invention of Russell.


Meg is a bawd who, along with Priss, is angry with her pimp, Captain Albo, for failing to defend her from boorish customers. When Chough and Trimtram humiliate Albo by roaring and then farting at him, Meg is delighted and sings a song to celebrate.


Only mentioned by Captain Albo, the pimp, who compares himself to 'the great O'Toole,' referring to Arthur Severus O'Toole, a flamboyantly eccentric Irish captain who lived in London. It is possible that Albo was written as a caricature of O'Toole.


The Physician is hired by Russell to investigate the health of Jane before her wedding. Jane confides in him (via his sister, Anne) that she is pregnant, and the Physician delivers the child. But then he tries to blackmail Jane into sleeping with him in return for his silence. He orders Anne to convince Jane that she must submit to him, but Anne encourages Jane to speak the truth about herself rather than submit. So Jane refuses him, and the Physician tells Jane's intended husband, Chough, that she has had a child. This turns out well in the end because Jane hates Chough, and the Physician's actions result in Jane marrying her true love (and secret husband) Fitzallen. The Physician ends the play a shamed man.


Priss is a whore who, along with Meg, is angry with her pimp, Captain Albo, for failing to defend her from boorish customers. When Chough and Trimtram humiliate Albo by roaring and farting at him, Priss is delighted.


Also known as 'Dick.' A servant to whom Russell whispers, ordering him to release Fitzallen from prison.


The 'roaring school' is full of roarers practicing their trade.


Russell is a conventional avaricious merchant. He is the brother of Lady Ager and uncle of Captain Ager. He will not let his daughter Jane marry the poor gallant, Fitzallen, and plans to marry her instead to the rich fool, Chough. Russell is a pragmatist and cannot understand the dueling obsession of Ager and the Colonel. He confiscates their swords when they quarrel in his house, and this renders them powerless to prevent him from having Fitzallen arrested for debt. Later, Chough learns that Jane has had a baby and rejects her. Jane admits to her father that she has a child. Russell is touched that he is now a grandfather, but is desperate to get marry off his 'tainted' daughter, so he decides to marry her to Fitzallen. His plan is complicated when Chough warns Fitzallen that Jane is a 'whore.' Russell, in desperation, offers Fitzallen a large dowry, which Fitzallen accepts before revealing that he was married to Jane all along and the baby is his. Russell, realizing that he has been thoroughly gulled, invites everyone home for a feast.


The disguise adopted by the two sergeants hired by Russell to arrest Fitzallen.


The Second Friend of Captain Ager is one of Ager's supporters during the duel, and echoes the opinions of the First Friend.


A non-speaking role. Along with the First Friend, he supports the Colonel on the dueling field, at the Colonel's supposed deathbed, and in the final scene.


Two Sergeants are hired by Russell to arrest Fitzallen on trumped-up charges of debt. They disguise themselves as saltpeter-men in order to catch Fitzallen by surprise.


One of Russell's servants is ordered to announce the arrival of the saltpeter-men, although he nearly ruins the scheme by missing his cue. He may be the same Servant who arrives at the Roaring School to ask Chough to return to Russell's house.


The Surgeon who attends to the Colonel's wound speaks only in absurd medical jargon, and takes a long time to explain that the Colonel is going to die. However, he turns out to be wrong, and later informs Ager that the Colonel has recovered.


Trimtram is Chough's faithful servant. He does not contribute anything to the plot, but engages in comic banter with Chough, and accompanies him everywhere, hence his name (which comes from the saying, 'Trim, tram, like master, like man').


The Usher of the Roaring School teaches Chough and Trimtram the art of roaring.


Vapour provides the tobacco in the Roaring School.


I.i Russell, Lady Ager's brother and Jane's father, has a plan to marry his daughter off to a wealthy Cornish man named Chough. His problem is to get rid of a young man who has been courting Jane, one Fitzallen--a kinsman to the Colonel.

The Colonel has just returned from his campaign to England. With him is his good friend and comrade Captain Ager, Lady Ager's son. Lady Ager is anxious to keep her son from going on anymore campaigns. A friend of the Colonel's and a friend of Ager's fall into an argument over the respective qualities of their friends and, being "sudden and quick in quarrel" as soldiers are, they draw their swords on this little provocation and fall to fighting in front of Russell's house. Russell seeks to stop them when the Colonel and Ager come in and part their friends. When the reason for the quarrel is told, Ager says that the comparison of him and the Colonel is a "little wrong." The Colonel takes offence at the captain's suggestion that they may be compared and he and the captain quarrel. Russell commands them not to fight on his property. Ager, Russell's nephew, stops on grounds of loyalty to kinship. The Colonel, remembering that his kinsman Fitzallen has a hope of marrying Russell's daughter and not wishing to spoil his chances, stops upon that ground. Fitzallen comes in with Jane. Russell pretends to prefer Fitzallen as a son-in-law. In order to insure peace (Russell's dissembling reason for disarming the soldiers before his trick is played), Russell takes up the soldiers' weapons and has them removed.

Just as the Colonel and the captain (new in amity) begin to entreat Russell to give Jane to Fitzallen, two sergeants enter and, bribed by Russell, arrest Fitzallen on a trumped-up charge of debt to Masters Leech, Swallow, and Bonesuck in the amount of one thousand pounds. The Colonel calls for his weapons to defend his kinsman from arrest, but Russell refuses to be an accessory to such an unlawful act. Fitzallen begs Russell, a rich man, to bail him, but Russell says that he feels deceived to learn that Fitzallen, who had represented himself as solvent, is being arrested for debt, and therefore refuses to bail him. Fitzallen swears that he has no such debts. The Colonel guesses that Russell has betrayed Fitzallen and curses him. Ager takes up for his uncle and the enraged Colonel calls Ager a "son of a whore"--the standard formula for obtaining a challenge. Both Ager, as the lady's son, and Russell, as the lady's brother, take exception to the Colonel's insult. Ager challenges the Colonel. They call for their weapons. Russell refuses to allow the quarrel to come to a fight in his house. The two men, enraged, stalk off.

Russell orders Fitzallen to be taken away by the sergeants and leaves. Jane bribes the sergeants to wait a moment. She uses the time to talk with the arrested Fitzallen. They swear undying devotion to one another and Fitzallen is taken off to prison.

Russell comes back to tell Jane that she is better off now without Fitzallen and that he has arranged for her to be betrothed to a propertied man from Cornwall, one Master Chough. He counts himself pleased with his plans and he and his daughter go into the house.

II.i Ager is still fuming about the "son of a whore" insult. He is bound to fight for his mother's honor, but he has heard that men who die in an unjust quarrel never go to heaven. He seeks then to test his mother's virtue before defending it. He tells her that a fellow like the Colonel has bespurtled her honor and the Colonel is gone to the field of honor over the insult. He asks Lady Ager if the quarrel is righteous. She is angered that her son would have to ask and says that, of course, she is chaste--that she has not violated her chastity either before marriage or for the seven years she has been a widow and that she was never untrue to her husband's bed. Ager says that is all he needs to know and that he will fight the Colonel for her honor. Once Lady Ager learns that it was the Colonel who did the insulting and that Ager, not the Colonel, is venturing his life to defend her honor, she immediately changes her story. She says that, yes, she had been betrayed by a sinful kinswoman of hers who she was given in trust to be watched. Ager, fearing his quarrel is not fair since the insult has turned out to be true, refuses to fight the Colonel for fear of dying in the unjust cause.

Ager's friends are dismayed at his lack of resolution and fear he may be a coward. They try to convince him to fight the Colonel but he will not. He does not tell them why for shame of his mother's wickedness.

II.ii finds Jane with a physician. She has not been well but will not tell the physician what is wrong with her. She promises to tell a woman close to the physician and the physician brings his sister Anne in to counsel Jane. Jane tells Anne she is with child and that she and Fitzallen were married de praesenti, and only "the barren ceremony wants." Anne swears she will be secret and that the physician, her brother, will be the only other to know her condition and that he, for professional reasons, will also be secret.

Russell brings in Chough--a Cornish wrestler--and his servant Trimtram. Chough offers to wrestle with Jane but the physician advises against it. Chough likes her well. Trimtram is something of a "little lord echo" to Chough (cf. the old saying "Trim-tram, like master, like man"). The physician tells Russell that Jane has agreed to tell him what is wrong with her, but that he must take her to his house to find out. Russell agrees. Chough and Trimtram go off to the roaring-school to learn to roar like London gallants.

III.i begins on the field of honor. Ager and his friends meet the Colonel and his friends. Instead of fighting, Ager delivers an encomium to the Colonel. The Colonel is put off by the praise, but still wants to fight. Ager calls on their long-standing friendship and refuses to fight. The Colonel shrugs off the fight, declaring that Ager must be a coward, and begins to leave. The "coward" gives Ager a new cause--a just one--with which to challenge the Colonel anew in a fair quarrel. Ager's friends are amazed that "coward" can move Ager to what "son of a whore" could not. The Colonel and Ager fight and the Colonel falls. Ager sees this as proof of his righteousness in the quarrel. Ager leaves the field crowing his victory. The fallen Colonel also sees that he has been unduly harsh to Ager and that he is justly paid. He determines to be the victor still by forgiving Ager and getting Ager to forgive him before he dies.

III.ii finds Jane, the physician, and Anne giving the newborn child into the safe-keeping of a Dutch (that is, German) nurse. In order to preserve the secret, the physician says that it is his child and gives the nurse money. Jane says that she is the godmother and gives the nurse money. Anne says that she has reason to wish for the child's welfare and also gives the nurse money. The nurse leaves as does Anne. When Jane asks how she can repay the physician's kindness he says she can go to bed with him. She rebukes him and refuses, calling him a white devil. The physician bids her to think upon how he can ruin her reputation and then leaves her. Anne comes in, bid by her brother to sway Jane, but instead she sides with Jane and tells her to keep to her convictions and not sleep with her brother.

III.iii is in Lady Ager's house. When she asks where Ager is the servants say he has gone to the field of honor. She is certain that Ager will be defeated and determines to tell her son the truth about her virtue so that he will not die believing a falsehood about his mother.

IV.i opens in the roaring school. The Colonel's friend is the master of the school and he and the Usher of the school teach Chough and Trimtram how to roar. It mainly consists of hurling imprecations at one another in high-flown style, using flowery Latinate words and the names of monsters picked from Homer and Virgil until the time comes to fight, then making peace before the fight begins by buying up wine and tobacco for all concerned. An extremely humorous scene. Chough informs his tutor that he is to marry soon (Jane) and needs to learn how to roar so that he may be the head of his household.

IV.ii discovers the Colonel in bed with grievous wounds to the throat and stomach. The surgeon, using almost incomprehensible jargon, gives the impression that the wounds are not as bad as they appear, but may prove fatal. The Colonel calls for his will to be read to him. He has given everything to his sister provided she marries Ager. She is at first loath to marry the man who has killed her brother, but her brother insists that she swear to carry out his will. He explains that by giving Ager his most valuable possession, his sister, he is making amends for the grievous injury he has done to Ager. It is his way of buying his way into heaven. The sister understands and swears to carry out the will.

IV.iii brings Ager home to Lady Ager. She is surprised to see her son home and victorious. She explains that she lied to him about her virtue in order to keep him off the dueling field, and that she is, indeed, spotless. This new information breeds in Ager a new fire. He feels he must now fight the Colonel again in defense of his mother's honor. He prays to the "sacred ministers of preservation" to spare the Colonel's life that they may fight again. He admonishes his mother on her honor not to try to dissuade him from this duel. Lady Ager is distraught that her virtue should be the cause of so much of her grief.

The Colonel's sister enters. Ager believes she has come to upbraid him for the injury to her brother and he determines to hear her out. She kneels to him and says that she is sworn to seek to marry him by her brother's will. She explains it is her duty to do so for her brother to depart a Christian. The Colonel's nobility moves Ager. He accepts the terms of the will, takes the sister, and forgives the Colonel. He says that the Colonel has won the contest indeed.

IV.iv introduces an Irish captain/bawd (modeled upon the historical person of Arthur Severus O'Toole who was at this time residing in London), and Meg, a bawd, and Priss, a whore. They make reference to the popularity of a play, which by their description must be A Fair Quarrel. They meet Chough and Trimtram, who try out their roaring on the panders. Much bawdy by-play in engaged in and the bawds like the roarers well.

V.i opens with the physician still pursuing Jane to be his bed-mate. She is still resolutely refusing. The physician swears he will undo her marriage to the wealthy Chough. Jane, secretly desiring just such an occurrence, eggs him on to try it. Trimtram enters wearing rosemary (worn at weddings as well as funerals "for remembrance"). The physician tells him to call forth his master. When Chough comes out the physician tells him about Jane's baby. Chough has Trimtram consult an almanac and learns that "there's a hole in her coat." He swears he will not marry her. Chough confronts Russell with his new intelligence. Russell wants proof. He calls out Jane, who comes with Anne. The physician goes to bring the child.

Russell asks Jane whether, just between them, it is true that she has a child. She says yes. Russell is pleased to be a grandfather, but chooses to dissemble in hopes of still catching Chough for a son-in-law. Russell calls to a servant and sends him off on a secret errand.

The physician enters with the nurse and child. Russell asks the nurse whose child it is and the nurse responds that the physician said it was his. Everyone believes that the physician has undone Jane. Chough refuses her. Russell asks that, though he will not marry her, he agree not to discredit her by giving out her sin. Chough agrees not to disclose what he knows about the child. Trimtram is also sworn to secrecy, like master, like man. The servant enters with Fitzallen. Russell tells Fitzallen that his imprisonment was but a trick to sharpen his appetite for marriage and that he may now marry Jane. Chough has an attack of conscious and sings a song "Behold a baby of this maid's begetting."

Fitzallen takes offence that Russell would wrong him so. Russell admits his daughter's guilt and offers to pay Fitzallen one thousand pieces to erase the sin. Fitzallen agrees and receives five hundred pieces in earnest. He then reveals that the child is his and that Russell has selected the perfect father for his daughter's baby. Jane tells Russell about the de praesenti wedding. Russell calls them "a couple of cunning ones" and asks for the money back from Fitzallen since there is no more bargain. Fitzallen says he will keep the money to pay his fees of imprisonment.

The Colonel, recovered, enters. Ager feels unworthy to be seen in the same place with so noble a man. He sends the will back, saying he has been paid nobly enough with the love of the Colonel's sister. The Colonel is glad to get the will back. He modifies it to include the Fitzdale manor he has recently acquired and sends it back to Ager. He says it is best for Ager and his sister to have it because his mistress is and ever will be war, which is always best able to maintain her servant. The magnanimity of the Colonel causes Ager to swoon. He falls into the Colonel's arms. The two men are truly friends again. The Colonel has the final line; "Fair be that quarrel makes such happy friends!"


The characters in FQ are better drawn than those of Middleton's two most recent attempts before FQ, NW/HLW and MD. There is more depth to them and better shades of grey.

Russell, rather than being the overbearing father who insists upon his daughter marrying his choice (cf. the father from MD who locks Aurelia up in the fort when she refuses to marry the Governor), he really seems interested in getting her set up with a wealthy husband for her sake as well as his own. He is not tyrannical when Jane tells him she has, indeed, had a baby, but seems pleased to be a grandfather. He tries to buy Jane's virtue when he could just as easily abjured her. He accepts the gulling by Fitzallen, which costs him one thousand pieces, with a good-graced shrug.

Ager, though "sudden and quick in quarrel," seems a true-hearted fellow who wants to do the right thing by his mother, by himself, and ultimately by the Colonel and the Colonel's sister.

The Colonel, though brusque and foul-mouthed at the beginning, has the greatness of spirit to be moved by Ager's plea for friendship on the dueling field and repents his vile treatment of Ager after he falls. Far from being vengeful, he seeks forgiveness from the man who he has every reason to believe has killed him.

The Colonel's sister, though not having a large part, also has the greatness of spirit of her brother. She balks at marrying Ager, but when she sees it as a way to her brother's salvation she accepts the terms of the Colonel's will. It is fortuitous that she actually falls in love with Ager.

Fitzallen, like Jane, demonstrates the fidelity of love-the course of which never does run smooth.

Chough and Trimtram, though great bores and foolish men, are nevertheless likeable. There is mischief but no real harm in them. And each demonstrates a certain moral fiber--Chough when he breaks his oath in order to save a stranger (Fitzallen) from a dishonorable marriage, and Trimtram when he advises Chough of his oath and tries to pursued his master to keep his word.

Lady Ager forswears herself only to keep her son from coming to harm. She is, in truth, a virtuous widow. Her lie, therefore, can be counted to her credit. Jane, though she appears to be a whore, we learn she has married the father of her child and all is right--her secrecy to her father is not, therefore, reprehensible.

Anne is truly good. Though her brother, the physician, sends her to do his evil bidding, she refuses even though he is her benefactor.

Even Captain Albo and the whores, Meg and Priss, are likeable people to whom it is difficult to attach moral judgments.

Only the lecherous physician, who acts altruistically only for his own lustful ends and who breaks his vow of secrecy in retaliation for being refused, can be termed wholly despicable.

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Notes of Interest:

This play may have been originally performed at the Hope Theatre. A reference to bear baiting in II.ii.212 might indicate the Hope, which was used for such shows.

The characters are cunningly integrated between the plot and subplot:

Plays to be compared:

Middleton & Rowley's The Changeling (for the scene wherein a "benefactor" wants sexual repayment of services rendered--Jane/physician & Beatrice-Joanna/DeFlores);

Middleton's Michaelmas Term and Jonson, Marston, and Chapman's Eastward Hoe! (for the trick by which loan guarantors are held responsible for the debt incurred--see FQ I.i.316-17);

Middleton's More Dissemblers Besides Women (for the widow of seven years keeping a vow of chastity);

Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, Chapman's Gentleman Usher, and Shakespeare's Measure for Measure (for other treatments of the de praesenti marriage in which Jane and Fitzallen engage in FQ);

Shakespeare's Hamlet (for the son confronting his mother's lack of chastity--Hamlet/Gertrude & Captain Ager/Lady Ager).

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