Staging the Henrician Court : The Ranger - a spokesperson for the court?

This page last changed on Dec 07, 2009 by Eleanor Rycroft.

Cannot resolve external resource into attachment.
'Small is our profit, and great is our blame'

The Ranger appears on the surface to be one of the more obvious characters in the play. Clearly he is simply at the end of the line which starts with the Gentleman and in these terms can be related directly to the Yeoman who follows the Knight and the Squire in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. It is interesting, however, that what the Ranger complains about is a specifically courtly issue. The Ranger is in poverty because he has to keep moving from place to place, each time he moves to a new place he gets charged exorbitant sums and the 'windfall' he recieves to supplement his fees simply does not cover these additional costs.

Many tymes and oft, where we be flyttynge,
We spende forty pens a pece at a syttynge.
Now for our vantage whyche chefely is wyndefale,
That is ryght nought; there blowyth no wynde at all,
Whyche is the thynge wherin we fynde most grefe,
And cause of my commynge to sew for relefe,

This speech can be read as a defence of the kind of 'official' income, or windfall, that professional courtiers and court servants relied upon. This was, however, precisely the kind of income that was most open to criticism by those hostile to the court. Heywood's Ranger articulates a defence of windfall which makes him a potential spokesman for Heywood and his fellow court servants and courtiers - and his plea to the Jupiter is therefore in some ways more pressing and urgent then that of some of the other suitors to the God.

< Back to forum index