It is not thy beauty that I disdain,
But thine idle life that thou hast rehearsed.

Scene 7 - The Gentlewoman and The Laundress

The first woman to enter the play is The Gentlewoman, who desires access to Jupiter in order to sue for temperate weather which will maintain her fair beauty. The scene contains one of the most politically charged moments in the play - the so-called 'new moon speech' which appears to reference Henry VIII's Great Matter, but in excessively sexual terms. The Laundress enters while Merry Report is flirting with The Gentlewoman and worries that her own appeal for sunny weather to help her dry her clothes will not be heard because of Merry Report's attraction towards the other female. The two women argue about the relationship between femininity, labour and virtue in very interesting terms, until Merry Report eventually drives them both from the stage with his licentiousness.

Key Research Topic

Gender, Performance and the Court

The Merchant 034_mr_mer

The historical evidence for female performance at court is explored, alongside the representation of femininity and class difference in the Play of the Weather.

Historical Context

The Tunning of Elinor Rumming

elinor rumming

This poem by John Skelton provides useful insight into the representation of ageing women who run their own businesses during the early sixteenth century.

Guystarde and Sygysmonde on Idleness

women engaged in laundry

Whilst this is a conventional piece of Tudor chivalric poetry, Robert Copland’s preface to the translator is noticeable because it presents the poem as a moral tale rather then emphasising the courtly aspect.



View film stills from Scene 7

View photos of Sarah Sutcliffe as The Gentlewoman


View photos of Cara Kelly as The Laundress