Staging the Henrician Court : The Gentleman

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

Cannot resolve external resource into attachment.'A goodly occupation, by Saint Anne!' (Merry Report)

In the portrayal of the Gentleman, the audience are treated to a range of discourses and behaviours associated with the Tudor nobility. The Gentleman sues for weather apt for his hunting - a recreational pastime with which Henry himself was closely associated - and yet Merry Report's response to the Gentleman's assertions of superiority as his "head" initiate a verbal and physical onslaught by the Vice aimed at demeaning his claims to high status. Merry Report's critique of the aristocracy relates to similar instances of lower-class radicalism in the drama, such as those found in Rastell's "Gentleness and Nobility". While the system of primogeniture from which the Gentleman derives his status is not questioned in the same way as it is in Rastell's interlude, the Gentleman's desire for weather conducive to pleasurable pursuits, rather than anything more directly needful for the commonwealth over which he presides, is interesting, given the majority of the other (lower class) characters' petitions for weather helpful to their occupations. The Gentleman's request puts recreation and leisure at the heart of the aristoratic life, and yet there is no sense of how his social position actually aids the increase of the common wealth that he evokes.

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