Staging the Henrician Court : The Millers

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

'Since in all our speaking we never be heard' (The Water-Miller)

In the dialogue between the Water-Miller and Wind-Miller, Heywood transposes the rhetoric of a humanist education to the Henrician Court. Their oratorical ability in the sequence belies the lowly cultural status they represent; just one level above women and boys in the descending hierarchy of the play. However, their dramaturgical construction should not obscure the detailed social context given to the Millers. As with the Ranger and Laundress, they depend upon specific states of weather for their livelihoods, and are anxious that their lowliness might preclude their suits being heard, with the Water-Miller fretting that, "We water myllers be nothynge in regarde" (l. 445), and the Wind-Miller entering with the concern, "Is all the wether gone or I come?" (l. 506). The Millers' sequence also exposes elements of agrarian life in early Tudor England, and an image of the troubled economic conditions at the bottom of the social scale is made more vivid by the learned humanist context against which it is juxtaposed: "And well is it knowen to the most foole here/ How rayne hath pryced corne within this seven yere" (ll. 634-5). Compared to the abstract hypotheticals forming the majority of their dialogue, such glimpses into contemporary Tudor life resound.

Cannot resolve external resource into attachment.
Cannot resolve external resource into attachment.

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