Staging the Henrician Court : KEY QUESTION - What is the status of The Merchant?

This page last changed on Jan 20, 2010 by Eleanor Rycroft.

The lineaments of attachment between the space and structure of the court and the role of The Merchant proved one of the most difficult elements of the play to fathom.  If the Church was losing power and influence during the first half of the sixteenth century, then the City and market was gaining it, and The Merchant seems to gesture towards the rise of the secular and socially mobile in Tudor society at this time.   How he 'fits in' to dominant structures of power is unclear though.  How would a member of the emergent mercantile class relate and react to the space of the Great Hall, for instance, and how does his lack of understanding of the correct protocol regarding tips at the end of the scene affect audience response to his character?  Any research concerning the cultural conception of merchants during the early Tudor period would be especially helpful in addressing these questions.

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