“Fair is foul and foul is fair”: Vice-Comedy’s Development and Theatrical Effects

  • J. A. B. Somerset


As recently as fifteen years ago the morality play after 1500 was regarded condescendingly, its history was seen as one of degeneration (J. M. Manly’s “evolution” in reverse), and it attracted little serious attention from producers or critics. That this has changed is largely due to some of the members of this conference. While we do not today claim that the morality play is great art, we do see its history as one of change, experiment and commitment. This is especially true of the period from 1480 to 1540, during which great developments occurred due to such pressures as, theatrically, the rise of touring professional actors, and extradramatically, the Renaissance of learning and the Reformation. We also view these plays as plays for the theatre — the first truly commercial theatre in England.


Sixteenth Century Moral Evil Moral Ambiguity Vice Character Morality Play 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1975

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  • J. A. B. Somerset

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