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That reverend vice : a study of the comic-demonic figure in English drama and fiction Levenson, Geraldine Bonnie 1976

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"THAT REVEREND VICE" A Study of the Comic-Demonic Figure in English Drama and F ic t ion by GERALDINE BONNIE LEVENSON B.A. , Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1968 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of English We accept th is thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September, 1976 (c) Geraldine Bonnie Levenson, 1976 In presenting th is thesis in par t ia l f u l f i l lmen t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library shal l make i t f ree ly avai lab le for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of th is thesis for scholar ly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his representat ives. I t i s understood that copying or publ icat ion of th is thesis for f i nanc ia l gain shal l not be allowed without my wr i t ten permission. Department of Engl ish The Univers i ty of B r i t i s h Columbia 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 ABSTRACT One of the most puzzl ing thematic patterns prevalent in the l i t e r -ature of almost every cul ture is the recurrent associat ion of the devi l and clown; both in myth and a r t , there i s a d iscern ib le re la t ionsh ip be-tween the s p i r i t of comedy and the dark, destruct ive forces of the demonic realm. I t is the purpose of the d isser ta t ion to examine the comic and demonic forces which are interfused in the l i t e r a r y representations of a number of clown-demons, to explain the nature of what may be termed "d ia -bo l i ca l humour," and to demonstrate why, in the words of Baudelaire, "the comic is one of the c learest tokens of the Satanic in man." This inves-t iga t ion is approached from the vantage point of a f igure widely popular in English medieval and Tudor drama, namely the jes t ing Vice of the moral i ty and in ter lude, in whom the elements of the comic and demonic converge. While the f i r s t hal f of the d isser ta t ion examines the re la t i on -ship between comedy and ev i l in l i gh t of the or ig ins and dramatic charac-t e r i s t i c s of the V ice , the second half attempts to demonstrate that th is f igure can serve as a kind of prototype for a number of s im i l a r l y morally ambiguous characters in both drama and f i c t i o n , characters whose double-visaged natures would otherwise appear somewhat inexp l icab le . The f i r s t three chapters are mainly h i s t o r i c a l , concentrating on the development of the comic-demonic f igure in ear ly Engl ish drama and establ ish ing a soc io log ica l foundation upon which further discussion of the re la t ionsh ip between ev i l and comedy can be based. The fol lowing chapters are largely ana ly t i ca l in nature, focusing upon f i ve problematical f igures in Engl ish i i i i i 1 i t e ra tu re - -Fa ls ta f f in Henry IV, Volpone in Jonson's play by that name, Becky Sharp in Vanity Fa i r , Fagin in Ol iver Twist and Quilp in The Old  Cur ios i ty Shop--and using the comic-demonic at t r ibutes of these f igures as a threshold through which to enter the dramatic or f i c t i o n a l worlds of Shakespeare, Jonson, Thackeray, and Dickens. In each of the works d i s -cussed, not only are the forces of comedy and ev i l i n t r i n s i c a l l y related to the major strands of imagery and thematic mot i fs , but also each wr i ter emphasizes a d i f fe rent aspect of the comic-demonic prototype whose com-posite features are i den t i f i ed in the f i r s t hal f of the d i sse r ta t i on . In Henry IV, F a l s t a f f ' s comic d iab le r ie considerably elucidates the intermediary posi t ion wi th in the s o c i o - p o l i t i c a l framework which Shakespeare i s de l ineat ing-- the amoral, median posi t ion between v i r tue and v i ce , order and d isorder , court and tavern. In Volpone, Jonson employs the magnifico as a kind of infernal p r ies t whose idolatrous wor-ship of his gold and l i cent ious indulgence of his baser passions take the form of a comic profanation of the sacred, resu l t ing in the temporary ascendency of a demonic, saturnal ian world. The discussion of Vanity  Fa i r examines a female representation of th is f igure . In th is novel , Becky Sharp emerges as a demonic comic-heroine whose womanhood defines the qua l i ty of both the comedy and the ev i l she perpetrates. And f i n a l l y , in 01iver Twist and The Old Cur ios i ty Shop, Fagin and Quilp f u l f i l l the t rad i t i ona l V i ce - ro l e , act ing as aged corrupters of youthful innocence. Both men function thematical ly as surrogate fa ther- f igures whose comic-demonic a t t r ibutes make them at the same time menacing and a t t rac t i ve to the ch i ldren with whom they each in te rac t . The conclusion looks at the centra l question of the moral ambi-guity of th is f i gu re , his or her simultaneous a t t rac t iveness and repre-h e n s i b i l i t y , from the wider perspective of the in te rac t ion between the comic and demonic domains. The study c loses with the asser t ion that the forces of comedy and ev i l funct ion in a complementary manner as both instruments of engagement and distancing dev ices, and that the comic-demonic f igure w i l l be represented in l i t e r a t u r e as long as there con-t inues to be a re la t ionsh ip between the s p i r i t of comedy and the dark, hidden impulses of mankind. TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter Page . INTRODUCTION 1 I. THE COMIC AND DEMONIC DOMAINS 4 I I . FORERUNNERS OF THE VICE—THE COMIC-DEMONIC CHARACTER IN THE ENGLISH RELIGIOUS DRAMA OF THE MEDIEVAL PERIOD 23 I I I . THE TWO FACES OF THE VICE 57 IV. A CONGENIAL SOIL FOR TRANSPLANTATION 107 V. A "GENTLEMAN OF THE SHADE"—FALSTAFF AS VICE IN HENRY J_V 120 VI. THE BLACK SATURNALIA—THE COMIC-DEMONIC REALM OF VOLPONE 146 VI I . "FLEXIBLE IN THE JOINTS AND LIVELY ON THE WIRE"—THE DEMONIC COMIC-HEROINE IN VANITY FAIR . . . 173 VI I I . THE CHILD AND THE CLOWN-DEMON—FATHERS AND CHILDREN IN OLIVER TWIST AND THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP 201 CONCLUSION: BETWEEN ENGAGEMENT AND DETACHMENT . . . . 245 LIST OF WORKS CONSULTED 252 v O "THAT REVEREND VICE" A Study of the Comic-Demonic Fig in Engl ish Drama and F ic t ion INTRODUCTION One of the most puzzl ing thematic patterns prevalent in the l i t e ra tu re of almost every cul ture i s the recurrent associat ion of the representations of the devi l and the clown; both in myth and a r t , there i s a d iscern ib le re la t ionsh ip between the s p i r i t of comedy and the dark, destruct ive forces of the demonic realm. For example, Joseph Campbell in The Hero With A Thousand Faces aff i rms that inherent in every myth, there i s a conception of the pre-existence of e v i l . "Universal too i s the casting of the antagonist, the representative of e v i l , in the role of the clown. Devi ls- -both the lusty thick-heads and the sharp c lever deceivers--are always clowns."^ S i m i l a r l y , Ernst Kr is in his sect ion on the comic in Psychoanalytic Explorations in Art makes the fol lowing comment: We are fami l i a r with the great company of comic f igures which are to be found in the ar t and l i t e ra tu re of a l l c i v i l i z e d peoples. We can often discover the i r genealogy and trace i t r ight back to the antique satyr p lay, or even fur ther . I t i s a fact that as a general ru le , we can perceive behind them another more s i n i s t e r shape once feared or dreaded. Satyrs who were at f i r s t goat demons, the pu lc ine l l a of South- I ta l ian comedy, descendant of the cock dancers, the comic dev i ls of the mystery p lays , even the lovable Mephisto in Goethe's Faust, are the best known examples of such ci-devant demons now t ravest ied as foo ls .2 It w i l l be the purpose of my d isser ta t ion to examine the comic and demonic forces which are interfused in the l i t e r a r y representations of a number of such clown-demons, to explain the nature of what may be termed "d iabo l i ca l humour," and to demonstrate why, in the words of Baudelaire, "the comic i s one of the c learest tokens of the Satanic in 3 man." I intend to approach th is question from the vantage point of a 1 2 f igure widely popular in English medieval and Tudor drama, namely the jes t ing Vice of the moral i ty and in ter lude, in whom the elements of the comic and demonic converge. Having examined the or ig ins and dramatic charac te r i s t i cs of th is f i gu re , I shal l then attempt to demonstrate that the Vice can serve as a prototype for a number of s im i l a r l y ambivalent characters in both drama and f i c t i o n , characters whose double-visaged natures would otherwise appear somewhat inexp l icab le . The emphasis of the f i r s t half of the d isser ta t ion w i l l , conse-quently, be mainly h i s t o r i c a l , concentrating on the development of the comic-demonic f igure in ear ly Engl ish drama and establ ish ing a soc io-log ica l foundation upon which fur ther discussion of the re la t ionship be-tween ev i l and comedy can be based. The second half w i l l be largely ana ly t i ca l in nature, focusing upon f i ve problematical figures—two dramatic and three f ic t ional - -whose comic-demonic features are i n t r i n s i -c a l l y re lated to the thematic patterns and imagery of each of the l i t e r -ary works in which they operate. 3 Notes for Introduction 1 The Hero With a Thousand Faces (Cleveland and New York: Meridian Books, 1956J7 p. 294. Psychoanalytic Explorations in Ar t (New York: Shocken Books, 1964), p. 213. 3 "On the Essence of Laughter, and, in General, on the Comic in the P l a s t i c Arts [1855]," in Comedy: Meaning and Form, ed. Robert W. Corrigan (San Francisco: Chandler Publ ishing Co . , 1965), p. 453. Chapter I THE COMIC AND DEMONIC DOMAINS The perplexing nature of the V ice 's incorporation of the two forces of comic and demonic, of the roles of both devi l and clown, i s well out l ined in a ser ies of questions posed by Wil l iam Wi l le ford during his discussion of the development of the fool character in his recent work, The Fool and His Scepter: [0]n the medieval stage . . . the Devil and the fool interacted with each other, and the Devil himself was often clownish, as were Herod, P i l a t e , and other "bad" characters. In a common form of th is in te r -p lay, the D e v i l , not a comic f i gu re , acted upon the f a r c i ca l f igure of the V ice , the t e r r i b l e knave and the s i l l y v ic t im developing in the course of time in the d i rec t ion of the fami l i a r knockabout fool pa i r . . . . Some features of these developments are not at a l l c l ea r ; among the questions that have been ra ised about them are these: What i s the o r ig in of the Vice as a fool character in England? Was the Vice always d i s t i n c t from the Devil? Did the stage fool simply grow out of the Devil or V ice , or was the Devil a fool much ea r l i e r? . . . And whatever the developments were in d e t a i l , why did they take p lace? 1 It i s toward the issues raised in the above questions that th is chapter w i l l be d i rec ted. A SURVEY OF THE LITERARY CRITICISM CONCERNED WITH THE ORIGINS OF THE VICE The origin* of the Vice as a dramatic character i s a matter of dispute among c r i t i c s and theatre h is tor ians who are divided according to the i r in terpretat ion of his funct ion on the medieval and Tudor stage. There are those who see him pr imar i ly al igned with the a l l ego r i ca l forces of e v i l , namely the Devil and the Seven Deadly S ins . Another group of 4 5 c r i t i c s , however, lays more stress upon the comic funct ion of the Vice and traces his evolut ion from the court j es te r and the fool of Engl ish fo lk drama. The dispute over the development of the Vice in ear ly Engl ish drama was i n i t i a t e d over three-quarters of a century ago by L. W. Cushman in the only f u l l - l eng th study of th is f igure published to date, The Devil  and the Vice in the English Dramatic L i terature before Shakespeare. According to Cushman, the Devil and the Vice are d i s t i n c t e n t i t i e s , re-lated only insofar as a l l agents of ev i l have the same metaphysical source; the Devil i s a theological being, the adversary of God, while the Vice i s an eth ica l person, "an a l l ego r i ca l representation of human weak-ness and v i ces , in short , the summation of the Deadly S i n s . " Cushman is inc l ined to underplay the comic der ivat ion of the V ice ' s ro le and sees him c lose ly al igned with the moral forces of e v i l , his pr inc ipa l function being the temptation of man. He recognizes that in the course of time, the Vice became separated from his a l l ego r i ca l r o l e , and "the term Vice 3 came to be simply a synonym for buffoon"; he regards th is f ac t , however, as evidence for the f i gu re ' s comic degeneration. Later c r i t i c s have tended to disagree with Cushman, and with each other as w e l l , in the i r discussion of the V ice 's o r i g i ns . Some, such as Robert Withington and A. P. Ross i te r , do not accept Cushman's d i s t i nc t i on between Devil and V ice , but rather f ind the ancestor of the Vice f igure in the d i a b o l i c a l l y jocu lar character of the Devil drawn in the medieval 4 mystery play. In Ross i te r ' s view: "Much has been argued about the Deadly Sins and the V ice ; but a f ter noting the comic and always undigni-f i ed dev i ls of the Mi rac le -p lays , the der ivat ion of the Vice as r iotous 6 clown and his usual supplantation of the other s i x - - o r a l l seven--needs 5 l i t t l e explanat ion." On the other hand, Bernard Spivack, in the chapter en t i t l ed "Emergence of the Vice" in Shakespeare and the Al legory of E v i l , supports Cushman in his ins is tence upon the separation of the roles of the Devil and the V i ce ; he f inds himself at odds, however, with other aspects of Cushman*s theory: The Vice i s not, as some scholars have supposed, the "summation of the Seven Deadly S i n s " ; but he spr ings, by a century-long process of doctr inal emphasis and dramatic s p e c i a l i z a t i o n , from the numerous v i ces , including the Deadly S ins , who came upon the moral i ty stage out of the d i f fuse homilet ic a l legory of medieval Ch r i s t i an i t y .6 Also disagreeing with Cushman, some scholars have emphasized the comic or ig ins of the V ice , whi le others, in sharp contrast to Spivack, have re-garded the re la t ionsh ip between the Vice and the fool of t rad i t i on as much stronger than that between the Vice and the themes and characters of medieval homilet ic l i t e r a t u r e . Tempe A l l i s o n f inds untenable Cushman's view that the Vice was o r i g i n a l l y a s i n i s t e r rather than a comic f i gu re : "As we now see i t . . . the Vice of the ear ly sixteenth century mora l i -t i es represents the fusion of a group of minor v i ces , and as fa r back as we are able to trace these characters we f ind them exhib i t ing d i s t i n c t l y comic elements."^ S i m i l a r l y , both Chambers and Ramsay bel ieve that the comic side of the V ice ' s character requires more a t ten t ion ; both dispute Cushman's re ject ion of the fool-element in the ro le of the V ice , but rather , have discovered a f f i n i t i e s between the comic ant ics of th is f igure and those of the medieval clown or j es te r . Supporting a s im i la r standpoint, R. J . Tiddy traces the o r ig in of the Vice through the Devil in the mystery play to the black-faced fools of the English fo lk play. 7 It is Tiddy's convict ion that "the Morris f o o l , the Doctor 's man, Beelzebub, the Fool of the Mummers' P lay , the clown of the Sword P lay , the devi ls of the Mora l i t ies and the Interludes are a l l by dint of the i r mischief or the i r black faces or the i r f oo l i ng , u l t imately one and the Q same.' More recent ly , F. H. Mares has taken Tiddy's argument one step fur ther , and has attempted to demonstrate that "the Vice comes into the drama from the popular f e s t i v a l , that he is already establ ished as a stage clown before he appears in the moral i ty at a l l , and that he does not do so unt i l the moral i ty i s in d e c l i n e . " ^ Not a l l the c r i t i c a l research has regarded the question of the V ice 's or ig ins as narrowly as my summary up to th is point would ind icate . Some theor is ts have recognized the double nature of the V ice ' s dramatic character, his tendency to combine elements of both comic and d i a b o l i c , to incorporate aspects of the roles of both demon and clown. In a recent unpublished Ph.D. d i sse r ta t i on , Larry Gray, a f ter discarding the devi l of the miracles as a source for the o r i g in of the V ice , f inds th is f i gu re ' s ancestry in both the theological " v i t i a e " of the medieval period (the a l l ego r i ca l representations of human weakness), and espec ia l l y , in the 11 timeless representations of "the archetypal f o o l . S i m i l a r l y , Boughner regards the chief funct ion of the Vice f i gu re , "to compound viciousness 12 with buffoonery," as an ind ica t ion of his mixed o r i g i n s . Spivack, too, in his in terpretat ion of moral i ty drama in terms of "the comedy of e v i l " ^ asserts that the V ice , " l i k e the moral i ty play i t s e l f of which he i s the essence, i s a composite of homilet ic 'sadness' and dramaturgic 'm i r th . 1 None of the c r i t i c s and theatre h is to r ians , however, has provided a 8 sa t is fac to ry explanation for the puzzl ing dual i ty manifest in both the or ig ins and functions of the V ice. Indeed, a f ter a l l the research in th is area has been analyzed, Wi l l e fo rd ' s f i na l and, to my mind, most s i g -n i f i can t question remains to be answered: Whatever the developments were in respect to the re la t ionsh ip between the V ice , the Dev i l , and the f o o l , "why did they take place?" The remainder of th is chapter w i l l attempt to provide an answer for th is question. THE COMIC ASPECTS OF THE DEMONIC REALM Bernard Spivack is undoubtedly correct when he remarks that " i t i s easier to observe than explain th is comic portrayal of ev i l everywhere 15 v i s i b l e in medieval ar t and l e t t e r s . I sha l l begin to account for th is associat ion of viciousness and buffoonery, embodied in both the f igure of the Vice and the l i t e ra tu re from which he emanates, by examin-ing two fundamental concerns: f i r s t , why, in medieval drama, are the forces of the demonic portrayed in essen t ia l l y comic terms, and, second, why does comedy present i t s e l f with manifest ly ev i l overtones? At f i r s t glance, these questions appear i d e n t i c a l , but, as we shal l d iscover, the re la t ionsh ip between the comic and the demonic i s at leas t twofold; and the answers to these d i s t i n c t , yet cor re la t i ve questions w i l l provide ins ights not only into the convergence of both forces during the medieval per iod, but also into the i r recurrent associat ion in l i t e ra tu re to the present time. During the medieval per iod, the d e v i l , the supernatural enemy of both God and man, became the leading comic character in the ar t and homilet ic l i t e ra tu re of the time. In add i t ion , another group of 9 characters, including the numerous vices in the d e v i l ' s re t inue, as well as Cain , Herod, P i l a t e , Noah's w i fe , and the tor turers of Ch r i s t , also developed in such a way as to provide a source of comic horse-play on the medieval stage. A l l of these characters shared with the devi l himself one common a t t r ibu te that was singled out as a target for laughter. Within th is context then, humour during the medieval period served the purposes of s a t i r e . This s a t i r i c aim was, of course, supported by homi-l e t i c teaching which demonstrated not only that ev i l was stupid and s tu-p id i t y was comic, but also that the powers of the demonic could ul t imately be overcome by v i r tue and obedience to the div ine w i l l . In other words, because ev i l was represented to be laughable, i t s essent ia l f o l l y , impo-tence, and vu lne rab i l i t y were exposed. In f ac t , the B i b l i c a l de f i n i t i on 1 g of the word f o o l , a term "appl ied to v ic ious or impious persons," i s in keeping with the medieval and renaissance persuasion that f o l l y was ana l -ogous to s i n . Besides the purpose of s a t i r e , a second funct ion of humour in re la t ion to the forces of the demonic was that of providing comic r e l i e f . The presence of humour during the course of a sermon or a l i t u r g i c a l drama ass is ted in sweetening the moral p i l l , and f u l f i l l e d both require-ments of what has been viewed since the time of Horace, as the dual function of l i t e ra tu re - -du !ce et u t i l e , to sweeten and make use fu l , to entertain and ins t ruc t . The average spectator could have l i t t l e in com-mon with the i dea l i zed , verbose and abst ract ly treated Ch r i s t , Mary, the various sa in t s , or the a l l ego r i ca l representations of v i r tue . He shared, however, with the d e v i l , his accompanying band of personi f ied v i ces , and 10 the various " lurdans" and " l o s e l l s " [ rascals and low characters] , the exuberance and v i t a l i t y of ordinary human weakness. The considerable comic entertainment provided by the demonic character in medieval drama is affirmed in Jonson's The Staple of News, as Gossip Tat t le reminisces about the old days: My husband Timothy Ta t t l e , God rest his pore sou l ! was.wont to say there was no play without a fool and a devi l i n ' t ; he was for the devi l s t i l l , God bless him! The devi l for his money, would he say, I would fa in see the devi l The power of comic r e l i e f , embodied in the numerous characters metaphori-c a l l y al igned with e v i l , resulted in the i r dramatic overshadowing of the forces of v i r tue on the ear ly English stage. Although the forces of good were ul t imately shown to be morally super ior , the characters asso-c iated with the demonic realm were, quite understandably, the most applauded by the theatre audiences of the times. The comic rendering of the demonic element in medieval a r t can also be viewed from a psychological perspective which casts a d i f fe rent l i gh t on the notion of comic r e l i e f . Not only did the in jec t ion of farce into medieval drama provide an element of l e v i t y for the spectator amidst a superabundance of homilet ic teaching, but a l so , in many respects, i t served as a defense against anxiety. By perceiving the menacing forces of hel l as r i d i cu lous , by laughingly degrading the d iabo l i ca l character so that he becomes a clown or a f o o l , the audience is able to distance i t s e l f from the threatening and oppressive aspects of the demonic realm, and thereby obtain r e l i e f from anxiety and fear . I t i s th is process of psychological distancing to which Spivack i m p l i c i t l y refers when he specu-lates that the comic portrayal of ev i l during the Middle Ages probably 11 "obeyed the same impulse evident today in the p o l i t i c a l cartoon--the deg-radation by car icature of a dangerous enemy, and an anodyne, therefore, 18 appl ied to fear and pa in . " Pursuing a s im i la r re la t ionsh ip between the fearsome and the ludicrous in his examination of the Grotesque in German L i te ra tu re , Lee Byron Jennings also suggests that a cer ta in " d i s -arming mechanism" i s at work whenever a fear-producing image evokes a comic response in the observer. Jennings goes so far as to question "whether, in the pr imi t ive condit ion of man, a l l expressions of the te r -r i b l e may not pass through th is disarming phase, whereby the s t a b i l i t y and wel l -being of the mind i s in some measure preserved and protected 19 against d isrupt ive fo rces . " Most of the c r i t i c s concerned with the comic rendering of the ev i l element in medieval drama have used one or more of these three basic explanations—that the ev i l characters are made ludicrous in order to f u l f i l l the purposes of s a t i r e , to provide comic r e l i e f , or to allow the audience a measure of psychological distancing from the malevolent forces of h e l l . In short , the l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m in the area has focused pr imar i ly on the demonic realm i t s e l f in an attempt to explain why the forces of ev i l have been depicted with expressly humorous overtones. We can, however, gain a further perspective in our considerat ion, i f we turn to a discussion of comic theory, for here we can f ind an i n t r i n s i c r e l a -t ionship between the nature of comedy and the demonic realm of the human psyche. 12 THE DEMONIC FORCES OF COMEDY Attempting to define the essence of laughter in 1855, Charles Baudelaire expressed his be l i e f that there was a v i t a l interconnection between the comic mode and the demonic impulse in human experience. For Baudelaire, "the comic i s a damnable element and one of d iabo l i c o r i g i n . " Associated with the ancient idea of a physical and moral Fa l l from Grace, "the comic i s one of the c learest tokens of the Satanic in man, one of 20 the numerous pips contained in the symbolic app le . " In teres t ing ly , V. A. Kolve in The Play Cal led Corpus C h r i s t i , i den t i f i es a s im i la r convic-t ion prevalent in medieval theology. Using the twelf th century wr i t ings of S t . Hildegard of Bingen as his source, Kolve states that during the Middle Ages " i t was possible to bel ieve that the facu l ty of laughter was one of the resu l t s ' o f the Fa l l of Man, and that in our o r ig ina l perfec-21 t ion we voiced our higher joys in less carnal ways." Few c r i t i c s have stated th is re la t ionsh ip between the comic and the demonic with the bold-ness of Baudelaire; however, i m p l i c i t in the theoret ical wr i t ings devoted to the nature of comedy, an explanation for th is interconnection may be found. According to a prevalent and convincing theory, comedy and humour release psychological tensions resu l t ing from the inh ib i t i ng process of maintaining the ins t i t u t i ons of c i v i l i z a t i o n . From i t s e a r l i e s t o r i g i n s , developing out of the Dionysiac revels and f e r t i l i t y r i t e s in Ancient 22 Greece, the comic genre has represented i t s e l f in the form of a holiday from everyday l i f e , a celebrat ion of the v i t a l i t y of the human ins t inc ts and the i r temporary triumph over the repressive forces of c i v i l i z a t i o n . 13 This theory i s well documented by Professor Cornford's study of the r i t ua l pattern of Aristophanic comedy in The Origins of A t t i c Comedy. Commenting on the major theme which i s recurrent in most of Aristophanes' p lays, Cornford wr i tes : "The reign of Zeus stood in the Greek mind for the ex is t ing moral and soc ia l order; i t s overthrow, which i s the theme of so many of the comedies, might be taken to symbolise . . . the breaking 23 up of a l l ordinary res t ra in t s . A number of l i t e r a r y c r i t i c s , including C. L. Barber, James Feibleman, Susanne Langer, Wylie Sypher, and Northrop Frye, have sup-ported the view that comedy i s a fes t i ve ar t form which momentarily pro-vides a pub l ic ly useful l i be ra t ion from the constraints of author i ty and 24 soc ia l i n s t i t u t i ons . I t i s in terest ing that Freud too, in psycho-ana ly t ica l terms, has affirmed the widely-held theory of l i t e r a r y c r i t i -cism that comedy involves a "breaking up of a l l ordinary r e s t r a i n t s . " 25 According to Freud, "humour has something l i be ra t ing about i t , " and comedy provides pleasure by permitt ing the temporary g r a t i f i c a t i o n of some hidden and forbidden wish, while the anxiety which normally causes the i nh ib i t i on of the wish i s reduced. More p rec ise ly , laughter occurs when the psychic energy b u i l t up in the unconscious i s able to overwhelm the inh ib i t i ng res t ra in ts of the superego which general ly exercises con-t ro l over the i nd i v idua l ' s pattern of behaviour. As when any res t ra in t i s suddenly l i f t e d , a reduction of tension takes place and, in th is case, the discharge of energy manifests i t s e l f in the form of cathar t ic laughter. With th is view of comedy as a vehic le of psychological l i b e r a t i o n , 14 i t i s not d i f f i c u l t to demonstrate i t s re la t ionsh ip to the forces of the demonic realm. The unconscious i s , of course, that region of the mind which i s the seat of the repressed "demonic" des i res , the dark, destruc-t i ve urges of the human psyche, which are permitted to be momentarily released through the emancipatory processes of comedy. We might further consider that there has been an obvious h i s to r i ca l re la t ionsh ip between the comic and the sacred, resu l t ing from the fact that , as one theore t i -cian suggests, "the comic cannot approach sacred things without appearing 27 blasphemous." This re la t ionsh ip i s indicated by the comic profanation of the sacred which takes place during the fes t i ve celebrat ions of almost a l l cu l tu res . Discern ib le in the Dionysian f e r t i l i t y r i t e s , the Roman Satu rna l ia , the Medieval Feast of Fools , the seasonal carn iva ls of con t i -nental Europe, and the various r i t u a l s of the North and South American Indian, the comic "burlesque of the sacred" appears to have an almost un i -28 versal occurrence. Common to a l l of these f es t i va l s i s the re laxat ion of the r i g i d structures of soc ie ty , an attack on conventional value and be l i e f , and the l i f t i n g of cer ta in taboos, during which time, acts border-ing on sacr i lege are permitted. During the Middle Ages, for example, a f es t i va l known as the Feast of Fools was celebrated, despite numerous ecc les ias t i ca l p roh ib i -t i ons , from the twelf th to sixteenth century in the cathedral churches of northwestern Europe. The feast usual ly began on 1 January, the Day of the Circumcis ion, and i t general ly took the form of a l i cent ious parody of church r i t ua l conducted by the minor c lergy: the sub-deacons, v i ca r s , chapla ins, and c le rks . "The ru l ing idea of the f eas t , " as Chambers 15 observes, " i s the inversion of status and the performance, inev i tab ly burlesque, by the i n f e r i o r clergy of functions properly belonging to 29 the i r be t te rs . " This inversion and the del iberate profanation of the sacred order i s evident in a f i f teenth-century document issued by the Dean of the Faculty at the Univers i ty of P a r i s , which in i t s condemnation, graphica l ly describes the customs of the feas t : Pr ies ts and c lerks may be seen wearing masks and monstrous visages at the hours of o f f i c e . They dance in the choir dressed as women, panderers or mins t re ls . They sing wanton songs. They eat black pud-dings at the horn of the a l t a r while the celebrant i s saying mass. They play at dice there. They sense with s t ink ing smoke from the soles of old shoes. They run and leap through the church, without a blush at the i r own shame. F ina l l y they dr ive about the town; and rouse the laughter of the i r fel lows and bystanders in infamous per-formances with indecent gestures and verses scurr i lous and unchaste. I t i s s i gn i f i can t that th is document interprets the sacr i leg ious l icence re f lec ted in the Feast of Fools , as an ind icat ion not only of the survival of the r i t es of paganism but also of the f a i l u r e to r e s i s t the "snares of d e v i l s . " 3 1 The Feast of Fools was far more widespread in France than in England, although the custom was celebrated in several Engl ish l o c a l i t i e s , pa r t i cu la r l y at L incoln and Beverley. O f f i c i a l censure was, apparently, more powerful on the northern side of the channel, and there are no English records of th is f es t i va l a f ter the end of the fourteenth century. Far more popular in England than the Feast of Fools was the Feast of the Boy Bishop or the Feast of Innocents. This feast also involved an inver-sion of s ta tus , for during i t s celebrat ion the boys of the cathedral choir took on the o f f i ces and author i ty of the senior c lergy. Although the Feast of the Boy Bishop involved a mockery of the div ine service and 16 often led to l i cent ious reve l ry , i t was not held to be so much of an abom-inat ion by ecc l es i as t i ca l reformers f o r , as Chambers surmises, "the cho i r -boys must have been more amenable to d i s c i p l i n e , even in moments of 32 f e s t i v i t y , than the adult c l e r k s . " This f e s t i v a l , however, shared with the Feast of Fools the general condemnation and prohib i t ions afforded a l l such ostensib ly subversive customs, and both feasts gradually died out by the time of the Reformation. Both the Feast of Fools and the Feast of the Boy Bishop are exam-ples of celebrat ions in which laws lose the i r rest ra in ing force and the s p i r i t of comic inversion reigns in a topsy-turvy world. These f es t i va l s were, of course, l imi ted in durat ion, and the sacred order which had been mockingly desecrated during the period of revelry was, u l t imate ly , reas-serted at the end of the ce lebrat ion. Yet the existence, however tem-porary, of an order of comic profanation in which even the most sacred customs and values of a society are held up to r i d i c u l e , provides us with an i l l u s t r a t i o n of the kind of i ns t i t u t i ona l i zed "pressure release" which i s endemic to the f e s t i v i t y of a l l cu l tu res . The fac t that humour i s often a v i t a l response to that which i s sacred is also i l l u s t r a t e d by what we may c a l l the laughing-in-church syndrome, in which a s im i la r kind of "pressure release" i s involved. I t has frequently been observed that people often experience the intense need to laugh in church, or in any s i tua t ion in which an atmosphere of solemnity i s demanded. As Carlo Weber comments in an a r t i c l e en t i t l ed "A God Who Laughs," "our need to laugh i s apparently greatest at the most sacred moments. For laughter i s an escape from smug, pretentious bondage. 17 Placed in bondage, we e i ther submit to i t or laugh at i t . . . . Laughter tends to correct abuses and release our aggressions against the binding 33 fo rce . " In much the same way, Wylie Sypher has suggested that "comic r i t es are necessar i ly impious, for comedy is sacr i lege as well as release . . . [M]an must per iod ica l l y befoul the holy and reduce himself to 34 f o l l y . " From th is perspective then, i t i s not surpr is ing that the medieval Church viewed the Feast of Fools as resu l t ing from the "snares of d e v i l s , " nor that the dramatic representations of e v i l , both the devi l and the V i ce , became the leading comic characters on the medieval and Tudor stage. Because the comical ly subversive ant ics of both f igures were a challenge to the author i ty of God and the ecc les ias t i ca l teachings of C h r i s t i a n i t y , the audience was ab le , through laughter, to discharge i t s pent-up tensions against the moral res t r i c t i ons and re l ig ious s t ruc-tures of the heavily-bound society in which they l i v e d . Furthermore, an inversion of status is evident here as w e l l , for the demonic realm sup-planted that of Heaven, during the infernal characters ' comic re ign. It i s also important to recognize that the comic revelry of the demonic characters was sho r t - l i ved , and the forces of v i r tue were u l t i -mately v ic tor ious at the end of the dramatic presentat ion. This process was supported not only by re l i g ious doctrine,which sought always to demonstrate that the road to v i r tue was morally superior to that of v i ce , but also by the socia l functions of comedy i t s e l f . Although comedy i s an agent of s o c i a l l y sanctioned re lease, i t i s , at the same time, a vehic le of soc ia l regulat ion. I t i s true that the unbridled expression of man's natural i ns t i nc ts may, from time to time, be necessary to 18 cu l tu ra l s u r v i v a l ; saturnal ian reve l ing , however, cannot ex is t as a per-manent s ta te . Shakespeare has Prince Hal acknowledge th is fact in Henry IV, Part 1: If a l l the year were playing hol idays, To sport would be as tedious as to work, But when they seldom come, they wish'd for come. ( I . i i .228-30) What Hal i s saying is that everyone looks forward to a holiday because i t provides a break from the work-a-day- world. I f , however, holidays were to become the general ru le rather than a br ie f respi te from i t , the re-su l t would be tedium. Furthermore, we can safe ly surmise that " i f a l l the year were playing ho l idays, " man would eventually develop a counter-revolut ionary movement against the order of fes t ive ce lebra t ion . At any ra te , i t i s the purpose of comedy to provide a momentary inter lude during the course of everyday l i f e , an in terrupt ion and suspension of the rules of da i l y l i v i n g . I t does so because holidays are necessary for the main-tenance of the structures of c i v i l i z a t i o n . Once the holiday is over, the members of society are temporarily purged of the i r anarchic and a n t i -soc ia l impulses, and are ready to embrace once more the values they have mockingly f louted. Moreover, comedy, in a sense, serves the in terests of s o c i a l , p o l i t i c a l , and re l ig ious authori ty as we l l . The fact that the comic attack on conventional value i s permitted and in some cases, 35 even encouraged, suggests that the author i t ies and soc ia l i ns t i t u t i ons are both powerful and to lerant enough to deal e f fec t i ve l y with the forces which threaten the preva i l ing order. We have seen that comedy often involves a l i be ra t ing profanation of the sacred, and we are now, perhaps, in a better posi t ion to appreciate 19 the element of demonic insinuat ion gleaming from wi th in the comic mask. We must a lso consider, however, that the comic s p i r i t i s , a f ter a l l , as 36 George Meredith recognized, "the ult imate c i v i l i z e r . " Moreover, a "hol iday" i s also a "holy day," and comedy not on ly* in Sypher's words, 37 "desecrates what i t seeks to sanc t i f y , " but a l so , at the same time, sanc t i f i es what i t seeks to desecrate'. With th is in mind, we shal l now turn to the desecrations and sanc t i f i ca t ions wrought by the comic-demonic f igure in his ea r l i es t appearances on the Engl ish stage. 20 Notes for Chapter I 1 The Fool and His Scepter: A Study in Clowns and Jesters and  the i r Audience (Evanston, 111.: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1969), p. 123. The Devil and the Vice in the English Dramatic L i terature be- fore Shakespeare (Ha l le , 1900), p. 63. Charles M. Gayley supports a s im i la r generic d i s t i nc t i on between the Devil and Vice in his introduc-t ion to Representative English Comedies (New York: Macmil lan, 1912-36), pp. l i - l i i : "The Vice is neither an eth ica l nor dramatic der ivat ive of the Dev i l ; nor i s he a pendant to that personage, as f o i l or i ron ica l decoy, or even antagonist. The Devil of the ear ly drama is a mythical character, a f a l l en archangel, the anthropomorphic Adversary. The V ice , on the other hand, i s a l l e g o r i c a l , - - t y p i c a l of the moral f r a i l t y of man-kind. Proceeding from the concept of the Deadly S ins , u l t imately focus-ing them, he dramatizes the ev i l that springs w i th in . " 3 Cushman, p. 68. 4 Robert Withington, "Braggart, Devil and V ice: a note on the development of the comic f igures in the ear ly Engl ish drama," Speculum, XI (1936), 124-29. 5 A. P. Ross i te r , English Drama: From Early Times to the E l i z a - bethans (London: Hutchinson & Co . , 1950), pp. 90-92, 158-59. Shakespeare and the Al legory of Ev i l (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1958), p. 135. This work w i l l be subsequently c i ted as The  Al1egory of E v i l . 7 "The Paternoster Play and the Origin of the V i c e , " PMLA, XXXIX (1924), 789-804. o E. K. Chambers, The Medieval Stage (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1903), I I , 203-4. R. L. Ramsay, e d . , Magnyfycence, E . E . T . S . , 1908, in t rod. pp. x c i v - c i v . 9 The Mummers' Play (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923), p. 113. ^ "The Origin of the Figure Cal led 'the V ice 1 in Tudor Drama," Huntington Library Quarter ly, XXII (1958-59), 11-29. ^ "The V ice : His Nature and Or ig ins , " D iss . Univ. of Notre Dame, 1971 (Universi ty Micro f i lms, Ann Arbor, M ich . , Order 71-27, 758). 12 Daniel C. Boughner, The Braggart in Renaissance Comedy: A Study in Comparative Drama from Aristophanes to Shakespeare (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1954), p. 147. 21 1 3 The Al legory of E v i l , pp. 121, 193. 1 4 I b i d . , pp. 148, 193 f f . Also see Ernst R. Curtius, "Jest and Earnest in Medieval L i te ra tu re , " European L i terature and the Lat in Middle  Ages, t r . Wi l la rd R. Trask (New York Pantheon Books, 1953]T~pp. 415-35. 1 5 The Al legory of E v i l , p. 121. 1 6 OED, s .v . " F o o l . " ^ Ben Jonson, eds. C. H. Hereford and Percy Simpson, VI (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1938), I . i .32-35. 1 8 The Al legory of E v i l , p. 121. 19 Lee Byron Jennings, The Ludicrous Demon: Aspects of the Gro- tesque in Post-Romantic German Prose (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of Ca l i f o rn ia Press, 1963), pp. 14-15. u "On the Essence of Laughter," p. 453. 21 (London: Edward Arnold L t d . , 1966), p. 127. 2 2 According to A r i s t o t l e , "Comedy or ig inated with the leaders of the P h a l l i c Songs" (Poet ics , 1449 a9). 2 3 Frances M. Cornford, The Or ig in of A t t i c Comedy, ed. Theodore Gaster (New York: Doubleday & Co . , 196lf", p. 76 24 C. L. Barber, Shakespeare's Fest ive Comedy (Cleveland and New York: The World Publ ishing Co . , 1963); James K. Feibleman, In Praise of  Comedy (New York: Russell & Russe l l , 1962); Susanne K. Langer, "The Great  Dramatic Forms: The Comic Rhythm," Feel ing and Form: A Theory of Ar t (New York: Charles Scr ibner 's Sons, 1953); Wylie Sypher, "The Meanings of Comedy," Comedy (Garden C i t y , N.Y.: Doubleday & Co . , 1956); Northrop Frye, Anatomy of C r i t i c i sm (Pr inceton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1957). 25 "Humour" (1927), The Complete Works of Sigmund Freud, t r . James Strachey, in co l laborat ion with Anna Freud, ass is ted by Alex Strachey and A l lan Tyson (London: The Hogarth Press, 1961), p. 162. Freud's concept of the " i d , " and Jung's archetype of "the Shadow," are both attempts to descr ibe, in essen t ia l l y demonic terms, the repressed, hidden impulses of the human unconscious. 27 Ernst K r i s , Psychoanalytic Explorations in A r t , p. 216. I t should be recognized that while th is statement i s true of Ch r i s t i an i t y , i t does not exact ly function th is way in other r e l i g i ons . For example, in Hinduism the sacred and the comic are often mingled together in a com-plementary manner. 22 28 Ju l ian H. Steward in "The Ceremonial Buffoon of the American Indian," Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, A r t s , and Le t te rs , XIV (Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan, 1931), 187-207, includes the "bur-lesque of the sacred" in his categor izat ion of the four comic themes of universal occurrence. This category re f lec ts those "themes of humor in which sacred and v i t a l l y important ceremonies and sometimes persons are r i d i cu led and burlesqued, o r , at t imes, themes of the nature of p rac t ica l jokes, which r io tous ly disregard those folkways and mores which are so essent ia l to the smooth funct ioning of society" (p. 180). Other anthro-pological studies in th is area inc lude: S i r J . G. Frazer , The Golden  Bough (London: Macmillan, 1923); Mircea E l iade , Patterns in Comparative  Rel ig ion (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1958), pp. 358-59, 398 f f . ; and Jacob Levine, "Regression in Pr imi t ive Clowning," in Motivation in  Humor, ed. Jacob Levine (New York: Atherton Press, 1969), pp. 167-78. Chambers i s the best authori ty for the sacr i leg ious mockery which took place during the medieval Feast of Fools and the Feast of the Innocents, commonly known in England as the feast of the Boy Bishop (The Medieval  Stage, I, 274-371; I I , 279-87). 29 3 The Medieval Stage, I, 325. 30 31 32 33 I b i d . , p. 295. Ib id . I b i d . , p. 349. In A Celebration of Laughter, ed. Werner M. Mendel (Los Angeles: Mara Books, 1970), p." 221. 3 4 "The Meanings of Comedy," p. 223. 35 The h i s to r i ca l re la t ionsh ip between the king and the court j es te r (whose ro le was to mock his master) i s a case in point . In the words of Middleton and Rowley in The Changeling: "There's nothing in a play to a clown, i f he / Have but the grace to h i t on ' t ; tha t ' s the thing indeed:, / The king shows w e l l , but he sets of f the k ing . " 36 The Egois t , ed. Lionel Stevenson (Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n Co . , Riverside e d . , 1958), p. 7. 3 7 "The Meanings of Comedy," p. 224. Chapter II FORERUNNERS OF THE VICE—THE COMIC-DEMONIC CHARACTER IN THE ENGLISH RELIGIOUS DRAMA OF THE MEDIEVAL PERIOD My aim in th is chapter i s to trace the development of the comic-demonic f igure in the Engl ish mystery and moral i ty play of the Middle Ages in order to demonstrate the re la t ion of th is ea r l y , i f crude char-acter to the various representations of the Vice as he appears in the l a te r moral i ty and Tudor in ter lude. Because the story of the o r i g in of Engl ish drama is both well-documented and well-known, and because an i n -depth analys is of the dramatic conventions of the medieval period does not f a l l wi th in the scope of th is d i sse r ta t i on , i t would be both redun-dant and unproductive to out l ine th is h i s to r i ca l development at great leng th . 1 A general summary i s , however, required in order to examine the in t rus ion of the comic element into the ear ly re l ig ious drama, for such an examination w i l l test the v a l i d i t y of the comic-demonic r e l a t i on -ship which I have postulated in the preceding chapter. Early Chr is t ian drama had i t s beginnings in the services of the Church; the r i t u a l i s t i c element of the Mass, pa r t i cu la r l y the symbolic receiving of the Host, lent i t s e l f rather well to dramatic presentat ion. Because the l i t u rgy was in La t i n , v isual representations were introduced as ear ly as the f i f t h century in order to increase the appeal.of publ ic worship to the unlettered masses. Other dramatic qua l i t i es to be found in the Church serv ice of ear ly Christendom included the emphasis of cer-ta in portions of the Scr iptures through dialogue chanting--short passages 23 24 in Lat in were chanted by a solo voice or a sect ion of the cho i r , and were answered by another sect ion or a l l the voices in unison. The l i f e of Chr is t became the main subject of the l i t u r g i c a l hymns or t ropes, which were in terpolat ions of dialogues employed to dramatize a spec i f i c part of the authorized Mass. Of the tropes, the best known i s the Quern Quaeri t is which became adjoined to the Easter se rv ice , and dealt with the v i s i t of the three Marys to the empty tomb of the resurrected Chr is t (Mark 16:1-7; Matthew 28:1-7). The Easter Quern Quaeri t is dates back to the end of the ninth century, and in th is trope, according to Chambers, 3 "the l i t u r g i c a l drama was born." Soon tropes dealing with the b i r th of Chr is t found the i r way into the Christmas serv ice , and gradual ly the l i t u r g i c a l presentations at Christmas and Easter were extended both forwards and backwards in time, un t i l a f a i r l y complete cycle of the B i b l i c a l story from the Fa l l to the Day of Judgment had developed. As the plays grew longer and the i r spec-tators increased in number, they began to separate themselves from the regular Church serv ice . By the th i r teenth century, they began to be per-formed in the church-yards outs ide, as well as in the churches themselves, and the use of the vernacular began to be preferred to that of the Lat in tongue. Moreover, scenes and characters which were of secondary impor-tance in the or ig ina l B i b l i c a l narrat ive were introduced, and as these came to be depended upon by the audiences to provide humorous r e l i e f from the solemnit ies of prayer and homilet ic teaching, the comic element in re l ig ious drama began to appear. As the popular element increased, the element of devotion began to wane, and as moral ed i f i ca t i on (u t i l e ) began 25 to be replaced by spectacle and entertainment (dulce) , the drama i t s e l f grew more and more profane. Once outside the Church, the large crowds and ecc les ias t i ca l disapproval combined to force the drama into the mar-ket place where i t was even more heavi ly influenced by the s p i r i t of comic profanat ion. The r i t u a l i s t i c element in the fo lk f es t i va l s which survived in England, as well as in the rest of Europe, as remnants of the Pre-Chr is t ian era , also contributed to the development of ear ly Engl ish drama. These v i l l age f e s t i v i t i e s were usual ly seasonal and provided not only a vehic le for the expression of the pagan celebrat ion of the spring or harvest per iod, but also an opportunity for the expression of the natural urge to mime. Moreover, i t should be recognized that the prevai l ing s p i r i t of f e s t i v i t y i s comic rather than t rag i c . "Comedy," declares Susanne Langer, " i s an ar t form that ar ises natura l ly whenever people are gathered to celebrate l i f e , in spring f e s t i v a l s , triumphs, b i r thdays, weddings or i n i t i a t i o n s . " 4 Consequently, j us t as the pr imi t ive and pagan 5 f e r t i l i t y r i t e s influenced the or ig ins of both Greek and Roman comedy, so these fo lk r i t u a l s , inherent in the v i l l age ce lebrat ions, contained the germ of the comic s p i r i t in England during the Middle Ages. The f i r s t volume of Chambers' Medieval Stage i s an exhaustive account both of the f e s t i v a l s and folk-drama of the period—the May game, the Sword Dance, the Mummers' P lay , the Feast of Fools, the Feast of the Boy Bishop—and of how these v i l l age ludi incurred the condemnation of the Church. In Chambers' view: . . . the t rad i t iona l be l ie fs and customs of the Medieval or modern peasant are in nine cases out of ten but the det r i tus of heathen 26 worship, enduring with but l i t t l e external change in the shadow of a hos t i le creed. This i s notably true of the v i l l age f es t i va l s and the i r l u d i . Their f u l l s ign i f i cance only appears when they are re-garded as fragments of forgotten c u l t s , the naive cu l t addressed by a pr imi t ive fo lk to the beneficent de i t i es of f i e l d and wood and r i v e r , or the shadowy populace of i t s own dreams.6 Chambers explains that the basic approach of the ear ly Chr is t ian mission-ar ies in Western Europe was not to completely destroy a l l vestiges of heathen be l i e f , but rather to bring about conversion wherever possible through the process of synthesis , or absorption of pagan pract ices into the creed of Chr i s t i an i t y i t s e l f . 7 And according to another scholar , i t was, u l t imate ly , the cleverness of the medieval clergy that "turned the Saturnal ia into Christmas and the pagan l icenses of May-day into the re-jo ic ings of Easter, converted the love of f i c t i o n , the impulse for play and disguises and mumming into a potent means wherewith to spread a know-o ledge of b ib le story and an acceptance of Chr is t ian doct r ine . " A s im i la r view i s taken by A. P. Rossi ter who also traces the or ig ins of medieval comedy to the survival of pagan r i t u a l , pa r t i cu la r l y that attached to the worship of the Greek f e r t i l i t y gods who were invoked g " in the f renzies of in tox ica t ion or of animal l u s t . " It i s in terest ing for the purposes of th is d isser ta t ion that Rossi ter maintains that " in the nominally Chr is t ian Europe of the Middle Ages, the pagan underlay of dance, r i t e and revel had some ef fect at least on the nature of the drama and the dramatic, because the older gods had been subsumed by the legions of Chr is t ian d e v i l s " 1 0 (emphasis mine). Rossi ter supports Chambers' assert ion that the v i l l age ludi not only bear witness "to the deep-lying dramatic i ns t i nc ts of the f o l k , " but also made "a contr ibut ion to medieval and Renaissance drama and dramatic spectacle . . . greater than has been 27 f u l l y recogn i zed . " ^ To Chambers' observation Rossi ter s i g n i f i c a n t l y adds, however, that th is contr ibut ion pa r t i cu la r l y emanates from the heathen survival "of a kind of devi l -worship: an odd mingle of magic, t r i c ks for luck, dancing and f oo l i ng , farce and blasphemy, from which 12 springs the strong element of the grotesque in a l l medieval a r t . " Rossi ter uses th is premise as the basis for his argument that a profound ambivalence determines the i n t r i n s i c qua l i t y of medieval drama, an ambi-valence der iv ing from the simultaneous presence of two r i t u a l s , two con-t rad ic tory value systems—one Chr is t ian and the other pagan, "one standing for reverence, awe, n o b i l i t y , pathos, sympathy; the other for mockery, blasphemy, baseness, meanness or s p i t e , Schadenfreude, and 13 de r i s i on . " For Ross i te r , i t i s the fac t that the "other s p i r i t " i s comic which i s of foremost s ign i f i cance , for th is s p i r i t of comic defa-mation i s , in his view, the most important contr ibut ion of the medieval legacy to Engl ish drama. In the preceding chapter, I attempted to explain why the forces of comedy became attached to characters who were essen t ia l l y ev i l in nature. We are now, perhaps, in a pos i t ion to review th is problem from a s l i g h t l y more enlightened perspect ive. I t i s now evident that although the values and p r i o r i t i e s of each group were widely d i f f e ren t , the comic portrayal of ev i l in the re l ig ious drama of the Middle Ages f u l f i l l e d paradoxical ly both the edi fy ing purpose of the clergy and the underlying inc l ina t ions of the fo l k . When the plays became separated from the ad-juncts of the Church se rv i ce , and moved out of the church into the 28 churchyard, and then into the market and the v i l l age green, both forces -- the c l e r i c a l endeavor to increase the at t ract iveness of the Chr is t ian creed, and the profanation of the sacred which i s almost un iversa l ly char-14 a c t e r i s t i c of a l l fo lk r i t ua l --combined to give the comic element in l i t u r g i c a l drama i t s most powerful impetus. Moreover, in the mystery-cycles, v i l l a i n s such as Luc i f e r , Ca in , Herod, P i l a t e , Judas, and the torturers of Chr is t were treated humorously because, from the point of view of the c lergy , these characters were e v i l , and thus the target fo r r i d i c u l e , s a t i r e , and der is ive laughter. From the point of view of the audience, these characters were mockingly blasphemous, a challenge to the author i ty of God, and thus provided, through a kind of l i be ra t ing laughter, a momentary release from the sober res t ra in ts of re l ig ious doctr ine. For these reasons, the comic-demonic f igure played an i nc i s i ve ro le in the development of ear ly English comedy, a ro le so substant ial as to lead one c r i t i c to comment: "It would be hardly too much to say that comedy in the c ra f t cycle was the work of 15 the Dev i l , whether in person or human d isgu ise . " Leaving the person of the Devil aside for the moment, we sha l l now examine some of his human representatives in the mystery plays of the medieval per iod. Of the many mystery cycles which once ex is ted , a few have sur-v ived, most notably the more or less complete cycles from Chester, York, Wakefield, and N-Towne (often ca l led Coventry). Although there are comic episodes present to some degree in a l l four cyc les , the Wakefield cycle (or Towneley p lays , from the name of the owners of the manuscripts) i s pa r t i cu la r l y r i ch in i t s manifestation of a kind of robust humour. 29 S t r i k ing s i m i l a r i t i e s among some of the Wakefield p lays, espec ia l ly in ve rs i f i ca t i on and comic s p i r i t , suggest that one person, a postulated Wakefield Master, wrote a number of them and revised several others. According to A. W. Po l l a rd , the Wakefield Master was "a wr i ter of genuine dramatic power, whose humour was unchecked by any respect for conven-1 c t i o n a l i t y . " Because th is is prec ise ly the kind of humour under scrut iny in th is d i sse r ta t i on , an examination of some of the plays at t r ibuted to the Wakefield Master should provide some f r u i t f u l ins igh ts . Mactacio Abel (The K i l l i n g of Abe l ) , the second play in the Wakefield cyc le , i s commonly associated with the work of the master. Cain i s , of course, the f i r s t v i l l a i n in the B ib le . As the perpetrator of the f i r s t murder, he i s t r a d i t i o n a l l y viewed as a c r im ina l , a despiser of God and man. In teres t ing ly , in Beowulf, Cain is i den t i f i ed as the ancestor of a l l ev i l s p i r i t s and monsters, and Grendel, that "feond on 17 he l le " (1. 10) is designated as one of his of fspr ing (1. 1267). In the Wakefield p lay, the murder i t s e l f i s r ea l l y only of inc idental s i g n i f i -cance in terms of the dramatic ac t ion . Instead we are given a rather humorous and r e a l i s t i c p icture of Cain , a sur ly and i l l - tempered husband-man out of humour with his brother, his ploughboy and his God. His re la t ionsh ip with his Garc io, or ploughboy, i s a source of much amusement. Cain berates his boy for his slowness and his insolence, while the l a t t e r continues to provoke his master by his sardonic remarks. Cain 's o f fe r to f igh t i s exuberantly accepted by his boy, but they are interrupted by Abel who reminds his brother that i t i s time to o f fe r a s a c r i f i c e to God. Cain sharply responds with an obscene remark which must have provoked 30 much raucous laughter among the members of the audience. Abel continues to prevai l upon him, and although Cain swears profusely, he f i n a l l y agrees to o f fer a port ion of his crop. He chooses, however, two of his worst sheaves of g ra in , continuing grossly to berate both his brother and God in the d e v i l ' s name. When God reproves him for his rebe l l ious s p i r i t and his insolence, Cain sa rcas t i ca l l y r e p l i e s : Whi, who was that hob-over-the wal l? We! who was that who piped so small? Com go we hens for perels a l l ; God i s out of hys w i t J ^ When Abe l 's s a c r i f i c e burns c l ea r , while his brother 's only smokes and sput ters, Cain 's anger provokes him to f r a t r i c i d e . A concluding note of humour i s provided a f te r the murder, when as Cain laments his outcast s ta te , his boy mocks him in asides to the audience. Cain 's obscene oaths, his assert ions that the Almighty has l os t his mind, and his l a te r suggestion that God look for Abel in hel l are a l l sa l ien t examples of demonic humour. By profanely diminishing the stature and might of the D i v i n i t y , and by reducing His a l l - see ing and al l-knowing power to insan i ty , Cain 's mocking blasphemies provide a vehic le of comic l i be ra t ion for the audience. This l i be ra t ion i s only momentary, however, and the play ends with Cain 's recognit ion of his eternal banishment from both God and his fellow-men. This i s in keeping with the homilet ic pur-19 pose of the mystery cycle p lays. Also in keeping with th is purpose i s the fact that humour i s directed de r i s i ve l y at Cain as w e l l . Through the sardonic comments of Garcio, Cain becomes the target of much of the audience's laughter, besides providing an element of comic r e l i e f in his r ev i l i ng of both God and his brother. 31 The most famous of the plays at t r ibuted to the Wakefield Master and perhaps, one of the greatest representatives of comedy in the Engl ish drama before the Renaissance i s the Secunda Pastorum or the Second Shep- herds ' Play. As in The K i l l i n g of Abe l , the central B i b l i c a l s tory , in th is case, the adoration of the shepherds at the Nat iv i t y of Ch r i s t , is completely overshadowed by a combination of secular real ism and robust farce. By far the greatest port ion of the play is devoted to the story of Mak, a notorious sheep-thief , who steals a sheep from the shepherds and puts i t in a c rad le , pretending i t i s his infant son to whom his wife Gyl l has jus t given b i r t h . Mak's deception i s ul t imately discovered by the shepherds when the " c h i l d " s t i cks his snout out from the swaddling c lo thes ; and in order to restore j u s t i c e , the shepherds t reat Mak very roughly by tossing him in a blanket. The f o l k - t a l e analogues to th is story have been pointed out by a 20 number of c r i t i c s , but by fa r the most s i gn i f i can t feature of th is drama i s the manner in which the Mak incident is s k i l l f u l l y interwoven with the t rad i t iona l scheme of the shepherds' p lay-- the adoration of the infant Chr is t by the shepherds. As the shepherds l i e down to rest a f ter the i r strenuous dealings with Mak, an angel appears, bidding them go to Bethlehem to behold the newly-born son of God. If the parody of the Nat iv i ty in the Mak story was not evident heretofore, i t becomes at th is point , unavoid-ab le , as the shepherds, for the second time that evening, journey from the moors to look upon a newborn c h i l d . The Mak s tory , taken by i t s e l f , is an example of r e a l i s t i c Engl ish comedy. The three shepherds are drawn with contemporary real ism and good-natured fun--they complain about the 32 weather, taxes, landlords, and the i r troubles with shrewish women and marriage. S i m i l a r l y , the humour of the sheep-steal ing incident i s in i t -se l f i r r e s i s t a b l y funny. When, however, the story of Mak, G y l l , the shep-herds and the " c h i l d " i s perceived as an almost blasphemous parody of the manger scene which i s described in the l as t few pages of the drama, the comedy takes on decidedly demonic overtones. The B i b l i c a l a l lus ions in the Mak story are manifold. The "lamb," of course, has long been the symbol of Ch r i s t , and when the shepherds v i s i t Mak's house, the th i rd shepherd refers to the " c h i l d " as "that l y t y l l day-starne" ( l i t t l e day 21 star) and of fers a g i f t , in keeping with the t rad i t iona l ro le of the shepherds at the Na t i v i t y . During her a l te rca t ion with the three shep-herds, Mak's wife prays t h a t . i f she has beguiled them, she w i l l eat the ch i l d "that lygys in th is c rad le , " a statement which may be taken as a rather profane a l l us ion to the sacred receiving of the Host during Communion. I f the humour contained in the t a c i t i den t i f i ca t i on of Mak and Gyl l with Joseph and Mary i s , in i t s e l f , charged with an element of b las-phemy, the demonic aspects of the comedy are even fur ther re i terated by a number of spec i f i c a l lus ions to the a f f i l i a t i o n between Mak and the d e v i l . When Mak knocks at the door of his house, his wife c a l l s out: "Then may we see here / the deu i l l in a bande / Syr G y l e . " , Another obv i -ous a l l us ion occurs when Mak states that i f his theft is discovered, he w i l l be forced to cry "Out Haroo!"-- the t rad i t iona l roar of the devi l on 22 the medieval stage. In an a r t i c l e en t i t l ed "Satan as Everyshepherd," Jef f rey Helterman suggests that "Mak i s Satanic in his claims of mastery, 33 in his ro le as magician, in the wolf imagery that surrounds him, and as 23 a deceiver ." Helterman further adds, however, that Mak's satanic embodi-ments are funny as. a resu l t of his inepti tude in carrying his scheme o f f . For Helterman i t i s Mak's f a i l u re which "reduces him and the devi l that 24 he represents from ev i l power to comic bungler." Although Helterman i s correct in th is asser t ion , he i s approaching the re la t ionsh ip between comedy and ev i l in The Second Shepherds' Play from only one point of view -- the one discussed in the f i r s t chapter under the heading of "The comic aspects of the demonic realm." In other words, Mak in his representation of the devi l i s made ludicrous in order to f u l f i l l the homilet ic purpose, namely the degradation of the demonic character through the forces of humour. We have also seen how th is comic degradation provides a cer ta in "disarming mechanism" for the audience, a psychological distancing from the threat of anxiety and fear . What Helterman is ignor ing, however, i s that jus t as humour serves to degrade the forces of the demonic realm, i t serves to undercut the realm of the sacred as w e l l . This comic profana-t ion of the sacred, which, as previously noted, takes place during the fes t i ve r i t es of almost a l l cul tures and had a par t i cu la r prominence in the fo lk eelebrations of Medieval Europe, is de f i n i t e l y at work in most of the plays at t r ibuted to the Wakefield master. Although the comic-demonic character loses in the end--Cain i s an outcast ; Mak i s roughly tossed in a blanket by the avenging shepherds--and the plays end on a t r ad i t i ona l l y devotional note, humorous sacr i lege i s , in f ac t , the predomi-nant s p i r i t in the greater port ion of each work. 34 Hardin Cra ig , in his study of medieval re l ig ious drama in England, reproaches those c r i t i c s who "are unwi l l ing that mystery plays should be what they are , namely re l ig ious plays and want them to be, as they were 25 not, fa rces , comedies, and romantic dramas." V. A. Kolve takes a sim-i l a r stance in his discussion of re l ig ious laughter in the medieval cyc les : "the drama texts themselves o f fe r our best proof that neither in deta i l nor in s p i r i t do the cycles display any tendency to mock, blaspheme, oc or make merry with the sacred characters of the s to ry . " According to Kolve, the comic act ion in the sheep-stealing incident of The Second Shep- herds ' Play has as i t s purpose "to pa ra l l e l the central act ion of the p lay, to honour and adumbrate that act ion by playing i t twice, in d i f fe rent 27 modes." Again, we must confront the c r i t i c a l p red i lec t ion to overstate the devotional purpose of the miracle cyc les - - to ident i fy the serious re l ig ious themes and to dismiss or ignore the ambivalence towards these themes re f lec ted in play a f ter p lay. Contrary to Kolve's view, there i s a d iscern ib le tendency in several of these dramatic works to mock, b las-pheme, and make merry with the sacred characters. As we have seen with the Wakefield plays discussed above, God i s , at one point , described as a "hob-over-the-wal l" who has l os t his mind, while Chr is t i s associated with an ignoble, bleat ing lamb--a marvelous parody of re l i g ious symbolism. Sure ly , i f the Mak story has as i t s purpose, as Kolve suggests, to honour and sanct i fy the central re l ig ious act ion of the p lay, i t also quite c lea r l y functions as an i r reverent burlesque and desecration of that very same ac t ion . I t i s also d i f f i c u l t to agree completely with Wil l iam G. McCollom 35 who holds that in the re l ig ious drama "Chr is t and Mary are i nv i o l a t e , 28 but the men and women surrounding them . . . are not." In the York, Chester, Wakefield, and N-Towne plays dealing with the b i r th of Ch r i s t , Mary's v i r g i n i t y i s comical ly ca l led into question time and time again as Joseph has serious misgivings about his w i fe ' s pregnancy, and suspicions about his own cuckolded s ta te . It i s true that i t i s Joseph who i s the comic character in a l l of these p lays , and that Mary i s general ly treated with both pathos and pious d ign i t y , but at the same time we must recog-nize that one of the reasons Joseph's doubts are so comic i s that they are directed toward the concept of the "immaculate conception"--a tenet of the Chr is t ian creed which even devout bel ievers have been known to question. In much the same way, the cycle plays dealing with C h r i s t ' s t r i a l and c ruc i f i x i on are f i l l e d with a kind of macabre and barbarous humour. In the York Cruc i f i x ion (Play No. XXXV) the four so ld iers take a f iend ish del ight in tor tur ing Chr is t as they na i l him to the Cross, which turns out to be s l i g h t l y too large for C h r i s t ' s arms to extend the d i s -tance between the augur-holes. The comedy i s grimly i r reverent as they st retch the body with a rope so that the limbs w i l l reach the holes, and then ra ise the cross and drop i t with a j o l t , g lee fu l l y i n f l i c t i n g further pain upon the c ruc i f i ed man. Juxtaposed to the demonic merriment of the tor turers i s the poignant human anguish of Chr is t - -an anguish which i s only heightened in dramatic in tens i ty by the savage comedy which has pre-ceded i t . Nevertheless, to a medieval audience accustomed to the sport and revelry which accompanied the event of a publ ic execution, the dra-matic presentation of C h r i s t ' s c r u c i f i x i o n could also af ford considerable 36 fun. A s im i la r double view is re f lec ted in the Wakefield Talent Play (Processus Talentorun), a t t r ibuted to the Master, in which the three to r -turers and P i l a t e dice for the coat of the dead Chr i s t . In both p lays , i t i s of course the v i l l a i n s who are in fe rna l l y comic, and Chr is t himself as a dramatic character i s never presented in a humorous ve in . The comic innuendo in many of the plays of the c ra f t - cyc les i s , however, s a c r i l e g -ious in s p i r i t , and although i t is shor t - l i ved and purged, u l t imate ly , by devout doctr ine at the end of the drama, the sacred characters them-selves do not escape t o t a l l y untainted. The comic v i l l a i n s of the mystery cyc les - -Ca in , Mak, Herod, P i l a t e , the tor turers of C h r i s t - - a l l provided with the i r rant ing, obscene oaths and i r reverent horseplay, a source of fun and amusement for the audiences of ear ly Engl ish drama. But we have yet to examine the con t r i -butions of the supreme representative of e v i l , the devi l himself , to the development of demonic humour on the medieval stage. According to Cushman, "the character of the dev i l in the Engl ish Mysteries i s almost en t i re l y ser ious. This pecu l ia r i t y is due, not only to the nature of the devi1-scenes, which are, in themselves t r a g i c a l , but also pre-eminently to the fact that the dev i l of the Engl ish stage is the crea-29 t i o n , not of the people, but of theology." Cushman concedes, however, that a f reer and more humorous treatment of th is character occurs in the representations of some of the under-devi ls ( i f not Satan or Luc i fer himself) and in the l a te r in terpolat ions and rev i s i on , pa r t i cu la r l y of 30 the Wakefield and N-Towne cyc les . While i t i s true that the devi l in 37 the mystery plays was a t r ad i t i ona l l y humourless character who was f r i g h -tening to the audiences, we should also recognize that he was, at the same time, even in the ea r l i es t plays decidedly laughable. Through his grotesque appearance, his obscen i t ies , and his constant roaring and be l -lowing, the devi l in the cycle dramas depict ing The Fa l l of Luc i f e r , The Fa l l of Man, and The Harrowing of Hel l inc i ted a kind of elementary humour. In the Chester and York versions of The Fa l l of Luc i fe r , the dev i ls are sel f -admir ing and f oo l i sh l y va in . The Wakefield Luc i fer i s even more absurdly foppish and pompously concei ted; he s i t s on God's throne, i n f la ted with his beauty and power, and bids that the world k iss his toe. In the M-Towne vers ion, Luc i f e r ' s rea l i za t i on of his impending doom is accompanied by a mild obscenity: Now to he l le the wey I take, In peyn evyr to be pyght. [ f ixed] For fere of a fyre a fa r t I crake; 21 In he l le donjoone myn dene i s dyth. [den i s ready] In a number of p lays, the d e v i l ' s entrance and ex i t i s marked by roars of "Out, Out," "Welaway," or "Harrow"--the l a t t e r being, as Cushman points out, a cry of old Norman o r ig in which expresses dismay, conster-32 nat ion, or pain. The roaring and bellowing of the d e v i l s , which appears quite monotonous to the modern reader, was undoubtedly a comic convention highly popular with the medieval spectators. Another conven-t ion which apparently furnished a s im i la r source of great audience appeal was the d e v i l ' s costume. His appearance was usual ly grotesque—black, ta t te red , and f r igh ten ing. He was general ly equipped with a hairy black s u i t , a black mask and a club or s t i ck which was employed in dr iv ing the 38 damned to Hell-Mouth. While the humour provoked by these conventions seems often inexpl icab le to the modern point of view, John B. Moore accounts for i t by observing that today there are numerous opportunit ies "to corroborate the fact that spectators trained to laugh upon app l i ca -t ion of a cer ta in stimulus w i l l continue to laugh u n c r i t i c a l l y whenever 33 i t i s appl ied. The old joke i s the best joke to them." Most of the devil-humour in the mystery plays i s , when i t does occur, c l ea r l y stereotyped and, for the most par t , unimaginatively im i ta -t i v e . It was not un t i l the devi l broke away from his t rad i t iona l theo-log ica l ro le that he became a humorously malevolent f igure whose pranks, w i t , and d iabo l ica l mischief ant ic ipated the demonic comedy of his suc-cessor, the V ice . Before we turn to these la te r developments, however, we should recognize that the kind of devil-humour discussed to th is point i s , in f ac t , concomitant with the ecc les ias t i ca l purpose of the degrada-t ion of ev i l through s a t i r i c laughter. The dev i ls were made comic in both the i r s i l l y vanity and the i r subsequent discomfiture in order to demonstrate that ev i l was f o l l y and, hence, lud icrous. The element of entertainment i s , of course, also present here—scenes of l ev i t y were permitted in order to entertain the audience and increase the a t t rac t i ve -ness of re l ig ious e d i f i c a t i o n . Moreover, in the conventional comic response e l i c i t e d by the monstrous appearance of the dev i ls and the i r ranting and raging, we can also perceive traces of the "disarming mechanism" previously discussed, in which laughter provides an anxiety-re l iev ing ef fect from the menace of fear . I t i s in terest ing that the comic response directed towards the devi ls in the ear ly mystery plays i s 39 in accord with Saint Augustine's view that the devi l was created by the Lord, not as a f r ightening monster but, rather , as a kind of f oo l i sh plaything s p e c i f i c a l l y designed for the amusement of his angels: Likewise, i t i s wr i t ten in the Book of Job, where i t speaks of the d e v i l : "This i s the beginning of the Lords c rea t ion , which he made for the sport of His angels," which seems to agree with the psalm, where i t i s wr i t ten : "Here i s the dragon which Thou hast made to be a laughingstock."34 A f reer and more ind iv idua l ized comic treatment i s d i sce rn ib le , when the devi l becomes a sel f -conscious humorist, a s a t i r i s t rather than a target for s a t i r e , a c lever comedian himself rather than a bungling laughingstock. The Wakefield Judit ium or Doomsday P lay , which deals with the f i na l judgment, contains such a character-- the devi l T u t i v i l l u s who, along with his companions, presents what i s , according to Cushman, except 3C fo r a few traces here and there "the only dev i l humour in the Myster ies. " v There is some c r i t i c a l dispute as to whether the Doomsday Play i s the work of one author, or whether cer ta in portions represent l a te r rev i s ions , but at any ra te , the comic-devi l-scenes are general ly a t t r ibuted to the pen of the Master. The comedy in these scenes i s directed s a t i r i c a l l y against the vices and f o l l i e s of contemporary l i f e . The two under-devils consult the i r r o l l s and reg i s te rs ; one of them has a "bag f u l l of brefes" which contains l i s t s of the sins of the time. The sa t i re i s pa r t i cu la r l y leveled at the "feminine gender" whose sins are assembled on more r o l l s than the second demon is capable of car ry ing. Af ter enumerating the various wrong-doings of the condemned, the two dev i ls conclude that i f the Last Judgment had been delayed i t would have been necessary to enlarge H e l l . The soc ia l c r i t i c i s m becomes jocu la r l y animated when T u t i v i l l u s 40 enters and introduces himself as the Chief Regis t rar , Tax-co l lec to r , and Master Lo l la rd of H e l l , who has been responsible for conducting more than ten thousand souls per hour into the nether regions. With graphic v igor , he describes the various s inners-- the ex to r t i on i s t s , usurers, "backb i ters , " gossips and scandalmongers, the adul terers , gamesters, " a l e - s i t t e r s , " and d ice rs . He dwells with par t i cu la r comic emphasis on the fau l ts of women - - t h e i r van i t ies and deceits—and s a t i r i c a l l y sketches the foppery of the male coxcombs who s t ru t in the i r f inery while the i r chi ldren go hungry. The carnal abuses of both sexes are sharply depicted—those of the lechers and wenches—and T u t i v i l l u s borders on humorous obscenity as he picturesquely describes N e l l ' s "smock" which is open behind ant ic ipa t ing the capr ic ious gusts of a westerly wind. The demons d isc lose that bus i -ness has been so heavy of la te that the porter of Hell has had to work overtime—"up ear ly and down la te " —in order to process the throngs of condemned sou ls . Af ter the Final Reckoning, however, the devi l humour lapses into i t s more conventional form of roaring and shouting at the end of the p lay, as T u t i v i l l u s and his demon-companions dr ive the damned souls to Hell with malevolent joy. V. A. Kolve comments that at a recent production of the Wakefield Doomsday P lay , the dr iv ing of the condemned into Hell was s t i l l exceedingly funny, even to a modern audience: "In part we enjoyed the way the dev i l s r o l l e d , shoved, pr icked and tossed the damned into Hell Mouth unceremoniously, as one might toss coal into a 37 furnace; but fa r more than that we enjoyed a comedy of v i c t o r y . " What i s manifest here i s , of course, yet another representation of the double-view, the v i t a l ambivalence i n t r i n s i c to demonic comedy. From a 41 Chr is t ian point of view, the damned and the dev i ls are foo l i sh buffoons who behave s tup id ly , thereby provoking in the audience a kind of s e l f -righteous laughter of de r i s ion . On the other hand, T u t i v i l l u s and his sub-demons are also s k i l l f u l comedians in the i r own r i gh t , and conse-quently the laughter they i nc i t e i s outwardly directed as w e l l . In other words,-the dragon which God has made to be a laughingstock, has become, paradox ica l ly , a r i va l laughingstock-maker. Another r e a l i s t i c and t o t a l l y unconventional example of d e v i l -humour occurs in a s i x t y - l i n e passage found in some of the manuscripts of the Chester Plays at the end of The Harrowing of H e l l . This passage i s obviously a la te in te rpo la t ion , and i t consists of a humorous inter lude between Satan, his two sub-demons and an ale-woman, who has remained in Hel l at the time of C h r i s t ' s del ivery of the souls . The dev i ls are de-l ighted that th is unredeemed woman has been l e f t behind, and they welcome her with zest fu l j u b i l a t i o n . One of them, in f ac t , decides that he w i l l marry her: Salthanas: Welckome, deare dar l ing - - to us, a l l three; Tho Jesus be gone with our meayne. Second Demon: Welckome, dere ladye, I shal l thee wedd! Third Demon: Welckome, dere da r l i ng , to endless ba l le . 3 ^ This comic episode i s c l ea r l y an extraneous addi t ion to the play i t s e l f , and presents one of the only occasions in the B r i t i s h mysteries in which the drama does not close on a t rad i t iona l re l ig ious note. Although J . C. 39 Adams f inds i t to be "not of any special mer i t , " i t does i l l u s t r a t e the fact that the devi l i s breaking away from his conventional theological 42 character, and developing in the d i rec t ion of broad comedy. Before we leave the question of demonic humour in the mystery p lays, b r ie f mention should be given to the character izat ion of the devi l in the Digby Conversion of St . Paul and Mary Magdalene. These p lays, which were probably not a part of a complete cycle but rather i so la ted dramatic presentations acted in small communities during the f i f teenth century, are t rans i t iona l in nature, providing an ostensib le juncture between the mysteries and the moral i ty play. The devi l scenes in the Digby plays are considerably enlarged, and violence and sensation are prominently employed for i n tens i f i ed theat r ica l e f fec t . The t rad i t iona l crying and roaring of the dev i ls i s even fur ther played up, and the special a t t rac t ion of the Digby plays includes the use of f i r e as part of the d e v i l ' s machinery. Almost every stage d i rec t ion in the Conversion of St . Paul c a l l s for f i r e , thunder, or both: "Here to enter a dyvel with 40 thunder and f y re " ; and s i m i l a r l y : "Here shal l entere another devyl l ca l l yd Mercury with a f ye r ing , commyng in hast, crying and rory ing" (p. 44). S i m i l a r l y , another sensational use of f i re-works occurs in Mary  Magdalene when Satan and his ass is tants punish the Bad Angel and the Seven Sins by set t ing the i r house on f i r e . The character of the devi l in the Digby group i s more l i ke that of T u t i v i l l u s or the demons at the end of the Chester Harrowing of Hel1, than of the t rad i t iona l devi l of the mysteries. Boastful and happily complacent (at least unt i l the respective conversions of Mary and Paul take p lace) , the Digby dev i ls play pranks, t e l l jokes, and indulge in a number of verbal puns and ob-scen i t i e s , an t i c i pa t i ng , in many respects, the la te r stage-character of 43 the V ice. I t i s in terest ing that Mary Magdalene, which resembles the moral i ty in i t s theme of temptation and f a l l , contains as characters the Seven Deadly Sins who are to appear, according to the stage d i rec t i on , "arrayed l i k e VII dy l f " (p. 76) and are la te r e x p l i c i t l y referred to as "the VII dy l l y s " (p. 81). We shal l return to th is point when we discuss the ancestry of the Vice—whether th is f igure i s a descendant of the devi l or the Deadly Sins—but for the present i t i s su f f i c i en t to observe that while the Digby play employs the character of the devi l in the ro le of tempter, Lewis Wager's moral i ty play The L i fe and Repentance of Mary  Magdalene of 1567 dispenses with the devi l a l together, and employs instead the Vice in much the same manner. Like Satan in the Digby Mary Magdalene, the devi l in the ear ly m o r a l i t i e s . i s not the sole representative of ev i l but rather , he i s joined by a number of personi f ied human weaknesses and v i ces , often i n -cluding among them the Seven Deadly S ins . The major purpose of the ev i l powers in moral i ty drama was the temptation of man, and in order to under-stand both th is thematic sh i f t of emphasis and the observable increase in the number of characters associated with the demonic realm, we must turn to the or ig ins of the moral i ty play i t s e l f . Just as the mysteries emanated from the Church service of the ear ly Middle Ages with the i r rudimentary dramatization of Scr ip tura l events, so the mora l i t ies found, in the la te r Medieval per iod, a s im i la r der ivat ion from the a l l ego r i ca l d idact ic ism which was employed to dramatize the pu lp i t sermon. G. R. Owst, in L i terature and Pu lp i t in Medieval England, has shown how medieval preaching made dramatic use of a l legory in the sermon 44 as i t sought to present a v i v i d and often thea t r i ca l i zed warning against 41 the ev i l powers which threatened man's sa lva t ion . The central subject matter of the moral i ty p lay-- the dramatic representation of the c o n f l i c t between the personi f ied v i r tues and vices for the possession of Mankind--was f i r s t dealt with in Chr is t ian l i t e ra tu re by the f i f th -century a l l e -gor ica l Psychomachia or Con f l i c t of the Soul by Prudentius in which the contention i s presented in a ser ies of Homeric combats between the good and bad powers of the human sou l . Although the Psychomachia was among the most frequently read works of the Medieval per iod, the a l l ego r i ca l bat t le between the v i r tues and the vices was not i t s e l f dramatized unt i l the la te fourteenth century. The f i r s t dramatization probably occurred in the now los t Paternoster p lays, which Bernard Spivack describes as fo l lows: The e a r l i e s t records of the performances of mora l i t ies in Europe are Eng l ish , and they refer to Paternoster plays in which apparently the separate clauses of the Lord's Prayer were related to the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Chr is t ian V i r tues , and dramatized in c y c l i -cal pageants that displayed these two sets of moral personi f icat ions in a l l ego r i ca l competition for the human sou l . The existence of such a play at York i s mentioned by Wycli f about 1376, and in i t , accord-ing to a la te r document (1389), " a l l manner of vices and sins were held up to scorn, and the v i r tues were held up to pra ise."42 Because these Paternoster plays have not surv ived, the e a r l i e s t extant examples of the moral i ty play are the fragmentary Pride of L i f e , and The  Cast le of Perseverance, both of which belong to the f i r s t quarter of the f i f teenth century. From then on, the moral i ty play i t s e l f and i t s var-ious dramatic offshoots and transformations enjoyed tremendous popular i ty on the Engl ish stage for almost a hundred and f i f t y years. The a l l ego r i ca l contention between the v i r tues and the vices in 45 the moral i ty provided, at f i r s t , only l imi ted opportunity for imaginative development. The plots were extremely stereotyped, and the personi f ied abstract ions of good and e v i l , schematical ly r i g i d in charac ter iza t ion . A cer ta in dimension of c rea t i v i t y was, however, afforded not only by the po ten t ia l i t y for narrat ives no longer confined to B i b l i c a l s to r ies and legends of the sa in t s , but also by the fact that the element of enter-tainment was ul t imately focused on the ev i l characters some of whom be-came r e a l i s t i c a l l y humanized as they resorted to a l l kinds of pranks, obscen i t ies , and s laps t ick brawling in the i r h igh-sp i r i ted attempts to ensnare and debauch the i r human v ic t im. While i t i s probably indebted equally to the sermon and the Psychomachia in i t s der i va t ion , the moral i ty play d i f f e rs essen t ia l l y from both in two s ign i f i can t a s p e c t s - - f i r s t l y , the bat t le of the vices and v i r tues does not take place within the human sou l , but rather centers upon the temptation, subsequent f a l l into s i n , and f i na l redemption of Mankind, who i s presented not as a person i f ica t ion but as a universal ized character type in his own r i gh t , and as such, i s representat ive of both human weakness and moral worth; and secondly, while the ev i l characters are given a decidedly serious homilet ic purpose, namely the temptation of man, at least some of them display tendencies which are markedly comic in nature. In the moral i ty playswri t ten before 1500, most notably the Macro p lays, The Castle of Perseverance, Wisdom, and Mankind, the devi l is a prominent f igure whose major purpose i s to bring about the damnation of mankind. Although there are scattered segments of comedy present in The Cast le of Perseverance and Wisdom, the devil-humour in both these plays 46 i s almost completely overshadowed by the serious homilet ic theme. In The  Cast le (c. 1425), the d e v i l , B e l i a l appears in an a l l ego r i ca l t r i l ogy with Mundus (the World) and Caro (the F lesh) . To th is t r i o of over lords, the Seven Deadly Sins owe the i r a l leg iance. The humour associated with these ev i l powers.is pretty well confined to the t rad i t iona l rant ing, boast ing, and foul language which we have seen in the myster ies; there i s however, a blend of horror and comedy when Be l ia l enters to lead the assault on the cast le (where the forces of v i r tue have housed Humanum Genus) with the conventional f i reworks burning in his hands, his ears, and his "arse" as we l l . Be l i a l does not at any time re f l ec t the dramatic charac te r is t i cs of the j ov ia l d e v i l . He i s , for the most par t , grim and malevolent, the dangerous enemy of mankind. I t i s in terest ing that the most prominent comic character in The Cast le i s Detractio or Backbi ter , who is neither a devi l nor one of the deadly s i n s , but rather the mes-senger of the World. Detract io seems to glean much pleasure in backbit ing for i t s own sake, and expresses his gleeful sa t i s fac t ion when even his own cohorts are thrashed and abused. When Be l i a l beats Pr ide , Envy, and Wrath because they have allowed Humanum Genus to escape, Detractio chuckles at the i r d i s t r ess : Ya' for God th is was well go, Thus to work with Backbit ing I work both wrack and woe 43 And make each man the other to dynge. He then addresses the audience d i r e c t l y , re fer r ing to them as fe l low-backbiters and urging them to learn from his example so there w i l l be dissension between brother and s i s t e r , and so that they w i l l spur one man to k i l l the next. Like the la te r V ice , Detract io i s essen t ia l l y the 47 amoral i n t r i gue r , del ight ing equally in the discomfiture of the agents of good and e v i l . We are also reminded of the Vice by Det rac t io 's i n t i -mate discourse with the audience i nv i t i ng the i r compl ic i ty in his moral (or rather amoral) stance. S i m i l a r l y , in his ro le of messenger he i s one of the prime propel lants of the act ion of the play in the same manner as the V ice , in the la te r mora l i ty , was responsible for conducting the dramatic in t r igue. In the second of the Macro mora l i t i es , Wisdom or Mi nd, Wi l l and  Understanding (c. 1460), there are very few d iscern ib le comic notes. Like B e l i a l , Luc i fer i s not a comic d e v i l . Although he wears the clothes of a ga l lant beneath his d e v i l ' s costume, there i s imp l i c i t in a l l his act ions an obvious hate for mankind and a powerful rage which i s expressed in loud boasts about his future triumphs over his human v ic t ims. A s ing le rather incongruous comic inc ident , however, accompanies his ex i t in the middle of the play. Having announced how, by c r a f t , he wins over many a soul from Heaven to H e l l , he goes roaring of f the stage, taking with him a "shrewd [naughty] boy," presumably from the audience. In Cushman's view, th i s incident "does not at a l l correspond with L u c i f e r ' s ro le in 44 th is play and i s ce r ta in l y to be regarded as an in te rpo la t ion . " If the comic element i s not very prevalent in the f i r s t two of the Macro p lays, the t h i r d , Mankind (c. 1475), ce r ta in l y overcompensates for what the e a r l i e r mora l i t ies lack in the way of demonic humour. Accord-ing to Douglas Boughner, Mankind "shows what happens to the moral f i b re of th is drama when, the inn having replaced the church as the theatre, 45 the audience f locked to hear a joke and not a sermon." This i s not to 48 say that the play i s devoid of serious homilet ic in tent . The conventional structure of the moral i ty i s , in f ac t , reta ined. Mankind, the protag-on i s t , i s tempted, f a l l s , repents, and i s f i n a l l y redeemed from the degenerate forces of ev i l by Mercy, a p r ies t who i s the only person i f i ca -t ion of v i r tue in th is p lay. But wi th in th is s t ruc ture, the dramatic act ion i s immoderately subversive of both moral i ty and re l i g ious venera-t ion as the vu lgar i ty and raucous humour of the demonic characters com-p le te ly undermine the moral and devotional framework upon which the play i s ostens ib ly b u i l t . As in the Digby plays and the two e a r l i e r Macro p lays, the devi l i s not the sole representat ive of the demonic realm, but T i t i v i l l u s in Mankind shares his ro le of temptation with four comic rogues—Mischief, Nought, Now-a-days and New-guise. These f igures are not the convention-a l i zed personi f icat ions of ev i l ( the i r names suggest p layful f r i v o l i t y rather than moral s i n ) ; they are , instead, r e a l i s t i c , medieval lower world types—Now-a-days i s a church-robber, New-guise i s a horse t h i e f , and Mischief i s an escaped convic t . The play opens with Mercy's appeal to the audience to persevere in good works and not to surrender to temp-ta t i on , so that on the Day of Judgment they may be counted with the "corn" which w i l l be saved, and not with the "chaff" which w i l l be burnt. Mischief breaks i n , and in a burlesque of Mercy's speech which has been f u l l of Lat in isms, puns on the metaphor of the corn and the chaf f , u l t i -mately demonstrating that the l a t t e r has as much use as the former. Mischief i s , of course, pure "chaf f , " and his main purpose at th is point i s the "chaf f ing" of Mercy. He is soon joined in th is attempt by his 49 three subordinates—Nought, New-guise and Now-a-days--who enter with the i r minstrels and t ry to persuade Mercy to dance. Mercy refuses to j o i n them in the i r revelry and disdains them in his lo f ty and pedantic manner: Mercy i s my name and my denomynacyon I conseyne (conceive) you have but a „g l y t e l l f a i r s (force) in my communycacyon. New-guise contemptuously r i d i cu les Mercy for his "Englysch La t in " (1. 123) and Nought ut ters a rather graphic obscenity and challenges Mercy to t rans late i t into ecc l es i as t i ca l terminology: Now open your sachel with Lat in wordis, And say me th is in c l e r i c a l manner. (11. 128-29) Af ter being barraged with more insu l t s and obscen i t ies , Mercy f i n a l l y suc-ceeds in convincing the four rascals to leave, and in a short so l i l oquy , warns the audience of the Final Judgment that awaits these wanton pranksters. The f i r s t portion of Mankind i s , in e f fec t , a concise statement of the dramatic c o n f l i c t of the ent i re play. Mercy's solemn preachings open and close the sec t ion , as they i n i t i a t e and conclude the larger drama. Although the forces of ev i l a re , u l t imate ly , driven off the stage, Mercy's v ic tory i s a dubious one for he has been made r id icu lous as the target of the rogues' j i b e s , p ro fan i t i es , and sarcas t ic remarks. His tedious sermonizing and his propensity for Latinisms has been i r reve r -ent ly mocked; and moreover, the contrast between his sententious speech and the crude v i t a l i t y and exuberant coarseness of the rogues' language only serves to d i rec t the sympathies of the audience away from, rather 50 than toward, the forces of v i r tue . The humour of Mischief , Nought, New-guise and Now-a-days i s c l ea r l y demonic in nature. I t i s grossly subver-sive and cer ta in ly functions so as to provide the audience with a l i be ra t ing bel ly- laugh directed against the s t r i c tu res of the ascet ic i d e a l . Furthermore, jus t as the rascals reappear a few pages la te r to continue the i r beleaguering of Mercy and his charge, Mankind, so at the end of the p lay , the audience is l e f t with the fee l ing that the v ic tory over the ev i l powers i s only temporary. Comic vice in Mankind i s i r r e -pressible. The pranks, noisy banter, blasphemous mockery and rough-and-tumble horseplay of the demonic f igures not only serve as a source of great theat r ica l de l igh t , but also contravene the homilet ic theme that v i r tue i s always preferable to v ice . Mercy is a s t a t i c f i gu re , colour-less and tediously verbose. While he i s able only to preach, the ev i l powers exuberantly s ing , dance, brawl, and conduct the i r merry in t r igues , thereby demonstrating that although the path of v i r tue may be superior in every-day l i f e , the course of v ice i s , at least from the theat r ica l point of view, undoubtedly the more a t t rac t i ve one. The movement of the second sect ion of the play i s very s im i l a r . Mankind, a farmer, who i s attempting, under the guidance of Mercy, to t i l l the so i l and lead a l i f e of good works, is tormented by the four pranksters who r i d i c u l e him as he t o i l s with his spade. Like that of Mercy, the speech of Mankind i s bombastically p ious, and as A. W. Po l la rd comments, " in the wonders of his 'Englysch La t i n 1 [he] leaves 47 Mercy altogether in the shade." Again, in d i rec t contrast , Nought, New-guise, and Now-a-days inv i te the audience to jo in them in a song 51 so f i l t h y that J . C. Adams has omitted i t from his ed i t ion of the p lay, 48 deeming i t "unpr intable." We might further observe that not only i s the song uncommonly obscene but .also i t concludes with a sacr i leg ious parody of the sacred words, "Holy, Holy, Holy." Mankind, no longer able to countenance the harassment and badgering, f i n a l l y beats the tormenters from the stage with his spade. Although he and the doctr ine of good works, which he i s , at th is point , espousing, are v i c to r i ous , New-guise 's comic clamour bemoaning the state of his battered " jewels" is the most memorable part of the sk i rmish. Once more the defeat of the demonic f igures i s only temporary, for T i t i v i l l u s , whom we are la te r to ld "sygnyfies the fend of he l le " (1. 879), soon enters and announces to the audiences his plans to bring about Mankind's f a l l from p ie ty . He i s extremely c lever in carry ing out his in t r igue as he buries a plank of wood in the ground making i t impos-s i b l e for Mankind to continue t i l l i n g the s o i l , s teals his spade, and interrupts him during his prayers by profanely suggesting that "nature compels" (1. 553) the young farmer to re l ieve himself. When Mankind leaves the stage to "go do that needis must be done" (1. 556), T i t i v i l l u s s teals his prayer beads and asks the audience's approval for the con-siderable s k i l l he has demonstrated. When Mankind returns, he re f lec ts his waning piety by deciding to go to sleep rather than continue with his prayers. T i t i v i l l u s then whispers into the ear.of the sleeping man that Mercy has stolen a horse and now "rydeth over the galous" (1. 591), and recommends that Mankind seek the forgiveness of Mishchief, Nought, Now-a-days, and New-guise. Having "brought Mankynde to myscheff 52 and to schame" (1. 599), T i t i v i11 us bids farewell to the audience and leaves the stage. Like his predecessor of the same name in the Wakefield Doomsday, Ti t i vi11 us is an authent ica l ly comic d e v i l . He indulges in the occa-sional obsceni ty, blasphemously blesses his four subordinates with his l e f t hand, cracks jokes [ for example, he sa r cas t i ca l l y informs the audi -ence that "the Devil is dead" (1. 586)], and contr ives several pranks in his attempts to bring about the downfall of Mankind. We are l e f t with the impression that the act ions of Ti t i v i l l u s , unl ike those of the other dev i ls and most of the a l l ego r i ca l representatives of ev i l in the ear ly mora l i t i es , are not prompted by his conventional ro le as the Archenemy of God and man. Rather, he del ights so hear t i l y in the cleverness of his in t r igues , i t appears that he i s in the business of temptation more out of the pure fun and sport of i t , than out of any f i rm moral a l legiance to the perpetration of e v i l . Having f u l f i l l e d his promise to the audience of providing them with "good sport" (1. 569), he departs from the stage, his f i na l comment being "I have don my game" (1. 598, emphasis mine). Spivack sees Ti t i vi11 us as "a f igure in t rans i t ion from devi l to 49 v i c e , " and we should note here that the leading demonic f igure of Mankind i s rea l l y the l as t example of the se l f -consc ious ly comic devi l in the moral i ty t r ad i t i on . Medwall's Nature (c. 1500) i s the f i r s t moral i ty that does not include the character of the d e v i l , and from th is time on, th is f igure appears very rare ly on the Engl ish stage. While a few of his subsequent appearances contain humorous elements, the d e v i l , when comic, becomes a stupid buffoon who functions more as the target for the jokes 53 of the V ice , than as a sel f -cognizant comedian or j ov ia l ins t iga tor of moral corrupt ion. At the close of the f i f teenth century, Engl ish drama moved out of the sphere of other-worldly Chr is t ian doctr ine, and into the realm of secular l i f e . Because the issues of heaven and hel l no longer were the primary eth ica l concerns of the new dramatists, the d e v i l , the t rad i t iona l theological Adversary, l os t his domain and could no longer function as a v iable theat r ica l personage. Accordingly, both the roaring Satans, Luc i f e r s , and B e l i a l s , and the w i l y , jocu lar T i t i v i l l u s e s , a l l of whom were immensely popular with the medieval audiences, u l t imately disappeared from the stage. The d iabo l i ca l humour they re f lec ted in both the mysteries and the ear ly mora l i t ies was, however, taken over by another fa r more human f igu re , a comic v i l l a i n who dominated the stage for the greater part of "the sixteenth century. This f igure was, of course, the V ice , and a discussion of his dramatic character, i t s der ivat ion and various manifestat ions, w i l l be the p r i -mary focus of the fol lowing chapter. 54 Notes for Chapter II There are several excel lent and well known c r i t i c a l works which deal with the or ig ins and theat r ica l conventions of medieval drama. The most important are: E. K. Chambers, The Medieval Stage, 2 v. (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1903); Hardin Cra ig , Engl ish Rel igious Drama of the  Middle Ages (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1955); Glynne Wickham, Early  Engl ish Stages 1300-1600, 2 v. (London: Routlege and K. Pau l , 1959, 1963); Karl Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church, 2 v. (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1933). 2 One of the few versions of the Quern Quaeri t is preserved from England i s that from the Regularis Concordia of St . Ethelwood, which was in use at Winchester Cathedral at the end of the tenth century. E the l -wood's inst ruct ions to the Benedictines for the presentation of the Sepulchre trope included the suggestion that i t be performed with both costumes and increased mimesis. Chambers, The Medieval Stage, I I , 14-21, 306-9; Young, pp. 249-52, 581-83; Cra ig , p. 33. 3 The Medieval Stage, I I , 10. 4 Feeling and Form, p. 33. 5 See James K. Feibleman, In Praise of Comedy, p. 34, for a d i s -cussion of the inf luence of Fescinine f e r t i l i t y r i t es on the development of Roman comedy. 6 The Medieval Stage, I, 94. 7 I b i d . , pp. 95-99 f f . 8 Fe l i x E. Schel ing, Engl ish Drama (Delh i : S. Chand & Co . , 1963), g The Engl ish Drama from Early Times to the El izabethans, p. 15. 1 0 I b i d . , p. 19. 1 1 The Medieval Stage, I, 90. 12 Ross i te r , pp. 38-39, emphasis mine. 13 I b i d . , p. 70. He is pa r t i cu la r l y convincing when he connects the ambivalences of Medieval drama to the juxtaposi t ion of re l ig ious adoration and blasphemous clowning d iscern ib le in the "Gothic" paintings of Bosch, Bruegel, and other a r t i s t s of the per iod. ^ 4 See Chapter I, pp. 15-17 above. p. 12. 55 1 5 Wil l iam G. McCollom, "From Dissonance to Harmony: The Evolu-t ion of Ear ly Engl ish Comedy," Theatre Annual, XXI (1964), 70. 1 6 " In t roduct ion," The Towneley P lays , E .E .T .S . (London, 1897), p. x x v i i i . 1 7 Cushman sees the i den t i f i ca t i on of Grendel with Cain as "an in terest ing instance of an ear ly contact of heathen and Chr is t ian demon-ology." The Devil and the Vice in the Engl ish Dramatic L i terature before  Shakespeare, p. 3. 1 8 Towneley P lays , ed. A. W. P o l l a r d , E .E .T .S . (London, 1897), I I , 14. 19 In Kolve's view, the p lay 's " lesson i s about murder, contem-porary as well as h i s t o r i c a l ; about unregenerate man in any age, cut of f from God; and in a smal ler , less important way but also wholly contempor-ary , about men who cheat the Church of i t s t i t h i n g . " The Play Cal led  Corpus C h r i s t i , p. 105. A. S. Cook, "Another Pa ra l l e l to the Mak Story , " Modern P h i l -ology, XIV (1916), 11-15; A. C. Baugh, "The Mak Story , " Modern Ph i lo logy, XV 0918 ) , 728-34; Robert C. Cosbey, "The Mak Story and Its Folk lore Analogues," Speculum, XX (1945), 310-17. 2 1 Towneley P lays , ed. P o l l a r d , I, 577. 2 2 L. W. Cushman, The Devil and the V ice , pp. 28-29. 23 Texas Studies in L i terature and Language, XI I , 525. 2 4 i M d . 25 Engl ish Rel ig ious Drama, p. 255. The Play Cal led Corpus Ch r i s t i (London: Edward Arnold L t d . , 1966), p. 137. 2 7 I b i d . , p. 173. 28 "From Dissonance to Harmony," p. 77. 29 Cushman, p. 16. 3 0 Ib id . 31 "The Fa l l of Luc i fe r " (N-Towne), in Chief Pre-Shakespearean  Dramas, ed. Joseph Q. Adams(Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n Co . , 1924), p. 87. 3 2 Cushman, p. 28. 56 0 0 The Comic and the_ R e a l i s t i c i n Engl ish Drama (New York: Russell & Russe l l , 1965]", pp. 14-15. 3 4 The Ci ty of God, Bk. XI.17. 35 Cushman, p. 34. 3 6 See Cushman, The Devil and the V ice ; P o l l a r d , " Int roduct ion," Towneley P lays ; G. R. Owst, L i terature and Pu lp i t in Medieval England, 2d ed. (Cambridge, 1933); Ross i te r , Engl ish Drama From Early Times; Mart ia l Rose, " In t roduct ion," The Wakefield Mystery Play (New York: W. W. Norton, 1969). 3 7 The Play Cal led Corpus C h r i s t i , p. 141. oo The Harrowing of Hel l in Chester P lays , ed. Thomas Wright (London, 1843-47), XVII, 329. 39 Chief Pre-Shakespearean Dramas, p. 190. 4 0 Digby Myster ies, ed. F. J . F u r n i v a l l , E .E .T .S . (London, 1896), 4 1 (Cambridge, 1933), pp. 56-109, 526-47. 4? H The Al legory of E v i l , p. 60. 43 The Castle of Perseverance, in The Macro P lays , eds. F. J . Furn iva l l and A. W. Po l l a rd , E .E .T .S . (London, 1904), 11. 1779-82. 44 Cushman, p. 47. 45 Braggart in Renaissance Comedy, p. 150. 4 6 Mankind, in The Macro P lays , IT. 122-23. 47 " Int roduct ion," The Macro P lays , p. x i v . Chief Pre-Shakespearean Dramas, n. 1, p. 311. 4 9 The Al legory of E v i l , p. 125. p. 43. Chapter III THE TWO FACES OF THE VICE Two plays from the ear ly years of the sixteenth century, Henry Medwall's Nature (c. 1500) and John R a s t e l l ' s The Nature bf the Four  Elements (c. 1518) represent the t rans i t iona l form of the moral i ty play in ear ly Tudor drama. This new humanistic mora l i ty , or moral in te r lude, as i t i s sometimes c a l l e d j re f l ec ts the secular s p i r i t of the Renaissance --God and the realm of Heaven are replaced by the person i f ica t ion of Nature; the v i r tues go by such new names as Reason and Studious Desire, and are opposed to the vices of the "new learn ing" such as Sensual Appe-t i t e and Ignorance. The mora l i t ies which fo l low Nature and The Four  Elements continue to graf t a var iety of secular themes upon the d i d a c t i -cism of the conventional temptation p lo t . Spivack summarizes the ef fect of the "secular revolut ion" on the development of the mora l i t ies in the sixteenth century: From the arena of Chr is t ian metaphysics the act ion moves . . . into the arena of the world, and f inds habitat ion even more local in England or London. The s ing le transcendental subject i s replaced by a world of par t iculars—by deta i led issues respecting the Reformation, youthful delinquency, education, p o l i t i c a l un i ty , soc ia l j u s t i c e , national prosper i ty , domestic happiness, and other topics equally spec ia l ized and secular . Simultaneously the ascet ic ideal withdraws before the advance of moral standards in and of th is world.2 Accompanying the secu lar iza t ion of the moral i ty was an increased emphasis on the element of entertainment, which resulted in the greater prevalence of the elements of humour and farce . This tendency is already operative in Mankind which, in Chambers' view, " i s a very degraded type 57 58 3 of moral i ty aiming at entertainment rather than e d i f i c a t i o n . " As we have seen, the forces of comedy s ince the e a r l i e s t beginnings of Engl ish drama served both the edi fy ing purpose of the clergy and the unregenerate inc l ina t ions of the f o l k . This dua l i ty of purpose was sustained with various transformations and sh i f t s of emphasis in the new mora l i t ies of the sixteenth century. The conclusion of the Prologue to The Four Elements i s , in f ac t , an af f i rmat ion of the pr inc ip les of u t i l e et dulce: . . . because some fo lk be l i t t l e disposed To sadness, but more to mirth and sport , This phi losophical work i s mixed With merry concerts, to give men comfort, And occasion.to cause them to resort To hear th is matter, whereto i f they take heed, Some learning to them thereof may proceed.4 Here Raste l l i s expressing his hope that a measure of comic r e l i e f w i l l induce his audience to pay at tent ion as well to the serious d idact ic con-cerns of the play. The didact ic ism of the "new learning" d i f fered pro-foundly from the other-worldly concerns of the Chr is t ian myths; neverthe-l e s s , the same purpose underlined the concession to comedy made by the playwrights of both groups. There i s also d iscern ib le in the drama of the Tudor period a growing propensity toward the presentation of comedy for i t s own sake, not merely as a "leavening agent" or a "sweetener" for the moral p i l l , but simply because i t was a dramatic form which re-f lec ted the popular tas te . Even R a s t e l l , in the explanatory note which accompanies the t i t l e of The Four Elements, suggests that th is new and "mery" inter lude can be considerably shortened by omitt ing much of the non-humorous mater ia l : " i f ye l i s t , ye may leave out much of / the sad [ser ious] matter." In much the same way the prologue of the la te r 59 mora l i ty , Like Wi l l to L ike , expresses Fu lwe l l ' s intent to pursue the favour of his audience through mir th : And because divers men of divers minds be Some do matters of mirth and pastime require: Other some are del ighted with matters of g rav i ty , To please a l l men is our author's ch ief desire Whereforth mirth with measure to sadness i s annexed: g Desir ing that none here at our matter w i l l be perplexed. In these l ines there i s no suggestion of the u t i l i z a t i o n of merriment to enhance the edi fy ing message of the work, but rather there i s only an expression of the author's concern that the disparate demands of the playgoers be s a t i s f i e d . The humorous portions of the sixteenth-century mora l i ty , as in the drama that had preceded i t , were large ly given over to the characters who were al igned with the side of e v i l . Nature i s the f i r s t moral i ty without a d e v i l , and with the disappearance of the Prince of Darkness from the Engl ish stage, the remaining personi f icat ions of ev i l (no longer representative so much of metaphysical ev i l as of human weakness and man's baser inc l ina t ions ) were increasingly r e l i ed upon to provide amusement. We should remember that the devi l was not the only comic f igure in ear ly Engl ish drama, and he shared his ro le of comic v i l l a i n y with a host of human characters including Ca in , Mak, Herod, and the tor turers of Chr i s t . Moreover, some of the sub-demons and minor ev i l personi f icat ions in the la te r in terpolat ions to the mysteries and in the ear ly moral i ty p lays, r e f l ec t a s p i r i t that i s decidedly comic in nature; these include such characters as Satan's subordinates in the appendage to the Chester Harrowing of Hel1; the two lesser demons in the Wakefield Doomsday; Detractio in The Cast le of Perseverance; and Misch ie f , 60 Nought, New-guise and Now-a-days in Mankind. The forces of comedy in the moral i ty t rad i t i on of the sixteenth century continued to be asso-c iated with the side of e v i l ; and while the comic element i n i t i a l l y appeared di f fused (although usual ly more prominent in one wicked char-acter than another), i t gradual ly became concentrated in one f igure who ul t imately. developed into the o f f i c i a l perpetrator of both fun and dam-nat ion, the stock f igure widely known as the V ice. At th is point we should d is t ingu ish the word "v i ce" in i t s lower case from i t s upper case designation of the V ice , himself. In the moral i ty t r a d i t i o n , " v i c e , " from the Lat in "v i t ium," was the term used to re fer in a general and c o l l e c t i v e sense to the a l l ego r i ca l person i f i ca -t ions of e v i l , including the Seven Deadly Sins and various other i n i q u i -t i e s . In The Cast le of Perseverance, one part of the act ion i s described in the fol lowing manner: "Thus vycys agens vertues fytyn fu l sne l le " (1. 70); and in a document describing the Pater Noster play at York, we are informed that " a l l manner of vices and sins were held up to s c o r n . " 7 Since the side of personi f ied ev i l was represented by characters gener-a l l y designated as " v i c e s , " i t seems both natural and expedient that the character who became dramatical ly the most important of the person i f i ca-t ions of ev i l would be designated as "the V i c e . " The f i r s t appearance of a dramatic character o f f i c i a l l y labe l led "the Vice" occurs in two plays by John Heywood--Pj_ay_ of the Weather and Play of Love--both of which were pr inted in 1533. In order to invest igate th is f i gu re ' s emer-gence, we w i l l f i r s t look at the elements of comedy re f lec ted by the vice characters in the Tudor mora l i t ies which immediately preceded Hey-wood's p lays. 61 Nature by Henry Medwall i s a moral i ty in the t rad i t iona l "ages of man" pat tern; i t presents the h is tory of Man from infancy to old age, his f a l l from innocence, his temptation into a l i f e of debauchery by the a l l ego r i ca l representatives of e v i l , and his ult imate repentance in old age. The vice ro le i s dispersed in the play among Sensual i ty , the chief agent on the side of e v i l , Mundus, Worldly Af fect ion and the Seven Deadly S ins . Pride i s the most important of th is l a t t e r group of v i ces , and i s , at one point , i den t i f i ed as "radix viciorum" which Sensual i ty humorously Q t ranslates as the "root of a l l v i r t ue . " There i s some disagreement among drama c r i t i c s concerning which of the ev i l characters i s the pr inc ipa l v i ce , Cushman designating the ro le to Sensual i ty , while Spivack and Boughner consider Pride to be the most l i k e l y contender. Cushman c a l l s Sensual i ty "the Vice" ( in the upper case) even though he i s not e x p l i c i t l y i den t i f i ed as such in the text of the p lay; Boughner does the same with P r i d e , ^ while Spivack more prudently includes Pr ide 's ro le in his discussion of ear ly examples of "the doctr ina l and dramatic super ior i ty of one vice over his f e l l o w s . " ^ The humour of the p lay, at any ra te , revolves pr imar i ly around the ev i l characters who engage in much bawdy language and verbal wit in the i r temptation of Man. Sensu-a l i t y d i rects a great deal of humorous sa t i re against the Church, in fo r -ming Man that his former whore, Margery, "hath entred into a re l ig ious place" (p. .92), meaning "a b ro the l , " and at a la te r point he informs Envy that Covetise "dwelt with a pr ies t . . . / For he loveth well / Men of the Church and they him a lso" (p. 119). Sensual i ty in many respects func-t ions in a manner s im i la r to that of the l a te r Vice--he i s bas ica l l y 62 amoral, as re f lec ted in the a l l ego r i ca l meaning of his name; he i s probably the most important character in the p lay; and in his roles as both tempter and fun-maker, he indulges in obscenity and great wi t . Pr ide , too, re f l ec ts aspects of the V i ce - ro l e . The most important of the Deadly S ins , he i s represented as a swaggering dandy, dressed osten-ta t ious ly in the la tes t fashions, his sword so heavy, that he requires the services of a page to carry i t . He pa r t i cu la r l y foreshadows the Vice in his re la t ionsh ip with the audience, informing them of his schemes to bring about the downfall of Man, and subtly impl icat ing them in his prof l igacy by feigning ignorance and asking the men in the crowd the way to the brothe l : Now must I go to the stewes, as fas t as I may To fetch th is gentleman; but s i r s ! I say, Can any man here t e l l me the way? For I came never here. Ye know the way, Parde! of o l d ; I pray t e l l me which way shal l I hold. (pp. 101-2) Replacing the m i l i t a r y bat t le between the vices and the v i r tues of the Psychomachia and ear ly moral i ty (most notably The Cast le) i s a structure of in t r igue in which the vices of the play attempt to corrupt man through deception and verbal cunning. Nature re f lec ts the device which is to be repeated over and over again in the la te r mora l i t i es , of having the vices disguise themselves by assuming "reputable" names in order to deceive Man and avoid detect ion. Pride becomes "Worship," Gluttony becomes "Good-Fellowship," and so fo r th . Although a pitched bat t le never takes p lace, a " f ray" i s planned, and Gluttony, pref igur ing Fa l s ta f f , enters "with a cheese and bo te l l " (p. 112), his only "harness" for the, impending combat. 63 According to A. P. Ross i te r , in the Tudor period "comic drama can be watched gett ing nearer and nearer to the seething London streets,"^ and in Nature, there i s much of the s p i r i t of the tavern and the "stews." Indeed, th is s p i r i t i s suggested r ight from the beginning of the p lay, where Nature bids Man make the journey of l i f e governed j o i n t l y by Reason and Sensual i ty . Although Reason i s deputized as Man's ch ief guide, the necessity for man's expression of his ins t inc tua l passions i s recognized and over t ly supported. A s im i la r s p i r i t informs R a s t e l l ' s The Four Elements in which the chief v ice i s Sensual Appet i te , who i s Humanity's tutor in the d i s s i -pations of tavern and town. Convincing Humanity to leave the droning geographical lessons of Studious Desire, Sensual Appetite takes him to a tavern. He c a l l s the Taverner, orders wine and dinner and engages the i r host in a bout of verbal wi t . He then decides that more company i s needed and proposes to introduce Humanity to some of the town wenches: Then we w i l l have l i t t l e N e l l , A proper wench she danceth w e l l , And Jane with the black l ace , We w i l l have bouncing Bess a l s o , And two or three proper wenches mo. Right f a i r and smoother of face. (p. 22) Like Margery in Nature, " l i t t l e N e l l , " "Jane," and "bouncing Bess" are never ac tua l ly presented on the stage; the i r names suggest, however, that the emphasis on secu lar iza t ion has influenced the character izat ion of the mora l i ty , moving away from the depict ion of a l l ego r i ca l abstract ions towards the creat ion of more humanized character types. Sensual Appet i te, l i k e Sensual i ty in Nature, i s representative of 64 the v ice-character as r iotous man, and ant ic ipates the la te r Vice in several aspects. His entrance i s rowdy and marked by a mild obscenity and a merry song. He i s both a tempter and a gay prankster, as well as a master of verbal w i t . Moreover, in his bragging descr ipt ion of the "shrewd fray" in which he has fought, there are read i ly d iscern ib le Fa ls ta f f i an antecedents. Swearing by "Gog's n a i l s " and "Gog's body," he boast fu l ly answers Ignorance's quest ion, "Hast thou any of them s l a i n ? " Yea, I have s l a i n them every man, Save them that ran away. (p. 37) As Ignorance continues to interrogate him, i t becomes apparent that a l l had run away with the exception of one man, whose leg Sensual Appetite cut o f f . He f i n a l l y admits that he would have cut o f f his head as w e l l , i f someone e lse had not previously accomplished that feat . It i s in terest ing that in keeping with the growing humanistic trend of the mora l i ty , Sensual Appetite i s a v ice not to sp i r i t ua l v i r t ue , but rather to the secular v i r tues of knowledge and moderation. The homilet ic message of the play i s given in the las t speech of Natura Naturata who advises Humanity against the over-indulgence of the senses: Though i t be for thee f u l l necessary For thy comfort sometime to sa t i s f y Thy sensual appet i te , Yet i t i s not convenient for thee To put therein thy f e l i c i t y And a l l thy whole de l igh t . (p. 45) An even more pointed emphasis on the necessity for temperance and moderation marks Skel ton 's Magnificence in which a prince i s tempted from the rule of Measure, the chief representative of v i r t ue , by a number of 65 a l l ego r i ca l personi f icat ions of cour t ly e v i l . The implied target i s Cardinal Wolsey and Skel ton's ve i led purpose i s presumably to warn the young King Henry VII against the extravagance and excess of Wolsey's po l i cy . What pa r t i cu la r l y concerns us here i s that the v i ce - ro le i s divided between four ev i l court iers—Counter fe i t Countenance, Crafty Conveyance, Cloaked Co l l us ion , and Court ly Abusion—and two fool f igures --Fancy and his brother F o l l y . The four rogues who comprise the former group of vices are pr imar i ly tempters and schemers. Although they par-t i c i pa te in some humorous interchanges and utter obscene oaths, they are, above a l l , dedicated to the i r a l l ego r i ca l ro les as ev i l i n t r i guers . The theme of deception i s pa r t i cu la r l y manifest in t h i s . p l a y , as almost a l l the vice characters disguise themselves and assume respectable pseudonyms. Cloaked Col lus ion pa r t i cu la r l y reveals the ambiguous and double-sided nature of the ev i l characters as he declares himself to the audience: "Two faces in a hood covert ly I bear," and "Double Dealing and I be a l l „13 one. This double-visaged aspect grew to be de f i n i t i ve of the V ice , and i t stems, at least in par t , from the dual funct ion of his role—that of fun-maker and ins t iga tor of corrupt ion. In Magnificence, both groups of characters al igned with the forces of e v i l , the four cour t iers and the two f o o l s , d isplay both aspects of the vice r o l e , but in the former group the in t r igue and dissembling is emphasized, while in the case of Fancy and F o l l y , the ro le of fun-making i s predominant. As R. L. Ramsay points out in the Introduction to his ed i t ion of the p lay, Fancy and Fo l l y are representative of the two types of professional court f oo l s . Fancy, a 66 man "so l y t e l l of stature" (1. 522), i s apparently a dwarf, and much i s made of his weak-brained and feeble-minded nature. He, according to Ramsay, i s the "natura l " f o o l , while F o l l y , l i k e Feste and Touchstone, 14 i s an " a r t i f i c i a l " f o o l , a professional court j es te r . In contrast to his "bra ins ick" brother, Fo l l y i s a shrewd and extremely wi t ty fe l low. He i s the sel f -conscious fun-maker who acknowledges that i t i s his job to reduce everyone around him to the f o l l y which he a l l e g o r i c a l l y repre-sents. Fo l l y i s bas ica l l y amoral; he makes even his ev i l cohorts the butts of his j e s t s . He c lever ly beguiles Crafty Conveyance, beating him in a wager and divest ing him of his coat. Fancy, too, i s the target for a number of F o l l y ' s pranks and mocking humour. In a comic exchange, Fo l l y s e l l s his brother his mangy pet dog, f l ag ran t l y cheating him in the bargain. When Crafty Conveyance acclaims Fo l l y as a fool "that hast no peer" (1. 1196), the l a t t e r explains in much the same manner as Lear 's f o o l , that he i s not a fool at a l l , but rather he makes fools of a l l men, regardless of soc ia l s ta ture: Nay, i t i s I that fo les can make; For he be cayser or he be kynge To fellowshyp with Foly I can hym brynge. (11. 1214-16) In Skel ton 's depict ion of the two f oo l s , both elements of comedy and ev i l are intertwined. As Ramsay observes: [The] "V ices" Fancy and F o l l y , as we have seen are ca re fu l l y drawn f oo l s ; but they also f i t into the a l l ego r i ca l scheme of the p lay, and i t i s important not to neglect th is side of the i r por t ra i tu re . Fancy, or capr ic ious sel f - indulgence i s the cardinal s in of the p lay; when Magnificence y ie lds to t h a t , a l l his subsequent degradation fol lows as a natural resu l t . I ts l as t stage i s the embracing of Fo l l y .15 Despite his scatter-brained d ispos i t ion of the "na tu ra l , " Fancy i s , in 67 fac t , the prime schemer in the play. He i s the f i r s t to gain admission into the favour of the pr ince, and i t i s he who ushers in the four ev i l sycophants who fur ther tempt Magnif icence, and bring him to his ru in . On the other hand, while Fo l l y shares in his brother 's in t r igue and temp-ta t i on , he i s , above a l l , a comic character whose prime job i s to i nc i t e laughter. In the la te r mora l i ty , the demands of both compression and dramatic unity required the two roles--malevolent in t r iguer and fun-maker—to be fused in one character , namely the V ice : Skel ton 's play i s , however, s i gn i f i can t in i t s presentation of the various po ten t i a l i t i es for the Vice ro le . This spectrum of character izat ion ranges from the emphasis on conspiracy and deception re f lec ted by the four ev i l c o u r t i e r s j to the median ro le held by Fancy as both the prime mover of the in t r igue and the dim-witted "natura l " or buffoon, and f i n a l l y to the jes t i ng ant ics of Fo l l y who, in his amorality and shrewd w i t , approaches the ro le of the pure fool and i s responsible for most of the comedy of the play. The remaining mora l i t ies before 1533 can be quick ly discussed. In Mundus et Infans (The World and the C h i l d ) , the v ice ro le is sustained almost en t i re l y by F o l l y , who despite his name is more of a tempter than a fool f igure . His entrance i s raucous—ful1 of noisy bluster and inde-cent language. He succeeds in tempting Manhood away from Conscience by of fer ing to be his servant, and then leads him to London "to learn r e v e l , " by indulging his baser passions in d in ing , dr ink ing, and whoring at the taverns and stews. The der ivat ion of the ch ie f v ice from a composite of the Seven Deadly Sins is at one point in th is play over t ly asserted. Conscience inst ructs Manhood that he abstain from F o l l y , and when Manhood 68 asks, "what thing c a l l e s t thou f o l l y , " Conscience rep l i es : S i r , i t i s Pr ide , Wrath and Envy, S lo th , Covetous, and Gluttony, Lechery the seventh i s , These seven sins I c a l l f o l l y . (p. 182) Like Sensual i ty and Sensual Appet i te, Fo l l y i s representative of the r iotous vice character who tempts man to give free reign to his senses and natural i nc l i na t i ons . I t i s also worth noting that as a resu l t of the new s p i r i t of secu la r i za t i on , with i t s emphasis on the material world, the tavern and the stews have replaced Hell as the seat of the demonic realm. Furthermore, as in the three plays previously discussed, the v ice - ro le i s d i rected toward the corruption of youth, a motif which i s to be repeated in almost a l l of the dramas and novels which w i l l be discussed in the second hal f of th is d i sse r ta t ion . The Interlude of Youth, as the t i t l e impl ies , is a moral i ty also concerned with the moral delinquency of the younger generation. The v ice-ro le i s shared by R io t , P r ide , and Lechery. R io t , a th ie f who has re-cent ly escaped from Newgate ( l i ke Mischief in Mankind), plays the conven-t ional v i ce - ro le of the d issolute or " r io tous" man, as his name would suggest. His entrance i s marked by both b luster and comic nonsense. In answer to Youth's query "What brought thee hi ther today," Riot r e p l i e s , 18 "That did my legs , I t e l l thee." The tavern scene, by now a stereo-typed comic s i t ua t i on , is again central to th is p lay, and Riot leads Youth there to have a good time dr ink ing , wenching and carousing. A s im i la r atmosphere of revelry and debauchery pervades Hicks- corner, which l i k e Mankind appears to have been designed to demonstrate 69 the dramatic popular i ty of unregenerate v i ce . The virtuous characters P ie ty , F reew i l l , and Contemplation are bland f igures , rather uninterest-ing in the i r p iety and e d i f i c a t i o n , and are completely overshadowed by the rowdiness and bawdy humour of the three sensual r o i s t e re r s , F r e e w i l l , Imagination and Hickscorner. This play i s extremely unusual in the mor-a l i t y t rad i t i on because the temptation motif i s t o t a l l y lack ing , and the character representing Mankind i s e i ther absent or already so corrupt as to be morally ind is t inguishable from the vice characters. Hickscorner i s the most l i k e l y candidate for the chief v i ce - ro le of the play. He i s a s a i l o r and a seasoned t r a v e l l e r , and he amuses the other vices with his account of his recent voyages replete with the conventional ta les of debauchery at the taverns and brothels. Like Mischief and R io t , he too _ has spent time at Newgate, and i t i s becoming evident that the pr ison, as well as the tavern and the bro the l , is emerging as another image of the underworld, the secular ized version of the demonic realm. The central comic act ion in the play involves a rowdy dagger f igh t among the v i ces , and the bai t ing of P i t y , a scene in which the three ro is te rers abandon the i r quar re l l ing and jo in forces to mock and deride P i t y , and set him in the stocks. The l a t t e r s i tua t ion i s present as well in Youth where Riot and Pride bind Chari ty in chains when he attempts to prevent them from leading Youth to the tavern, and to a lesser extent in Mankind where Mercy i s monstrously r i d i cu led by the four rogues. This pattern is com-mensurate with the schematic structure of the moral i ty dating back to the Psychomachia, and presenting the combat between the vices and virtues^ The motif of m i l i t a r y confrontation in the ear ly moral i ty (as best 70 exemplif ied by the pitched bat t le in The Castle) has, however, been gradually replaced by verbal bat t les of der is ion between the vices and the v i r tues , bat t les of i n t r igue , scenes of bai t ing and stock ing, and the rowdy quarrels and brawling horseplay among the vices themselves. I t must be remembered, however, that each a l l ego r i ca l representative of e v i l , in his o r ig ina l homilet ic conception, was a m i l i t a r y so ld ie r on the s ide of the forces of H e l l . Although the dagger of lathe became, u l t imate ly , the only remaining symbol of the v i ce ' s demonic armament, th is f igure con-tinues to be an enemy to the res t ra in ts of a l l moral i dea l s , and therein l i e s a great deal of his comic power. As we approach 1533, the date of Heywood's two plays in which the theat r ica l label "the Vice" occurs for the f i r s t t ime, the moral i ty play has not as yet consolidated i t s various a l l ego r i ca l representatives of 19 ev i l into a s ing le v i ce - ro l e . From our examination of some of the plays of the ear ly Tudor per iod, however, i t i s apparent that the drama is on the verge of elevat ing one of the vices into a posi t ion of dramatic prominence. Spivack, in his chapter en t i t l ed "The Emergence of the V i c e , " discusses what he c a l l s the "fu'hrer p r inz ip" among the v i ces , which is d iscern ib le in the mora l i t ies of the f i r s t hal f of the sixteenth century: The crux of the development we are discussing ex is ts in the fact that one of the vices i s almost always dist inguished from the others as the i r immoral superior and dramatic leader. He i s captain of the forces of ev i l and they are his pr ivates. When they contest his su-premacy or show him insu f f i c i en t deference, he puts them down with threats and blows, producing the inveterate quarrel of the vices along with i t s homilet ic purpose, the exposit ion of who is top dog in the hierarchy of ev i l . 20 Within th is context then, i t i s not surpr is ing that as the ro le of th is "immoral superior" increased in dramatic prominence, the roles of the 71 other a l l ego r i ca l representatives diminished accordingly, nor that the theat r ica l designation "the V i c e , " d is t inguish ing the leader on the side of ev i l from his subordinates, began to appear in the cast l i s t s , the stage d i rect ions and even in the t i t l e s of the l a te r mora l i t i es . What is somewhat puzz l ing , however, i s the fact that th is t hea t r i -cal label makes i t s f i r s t appearance in Heywood's Plays of Weather and Love, both of which are not mora l i t ies at a l l but rather d idact ic soc ia l comedies depict ing c lass-types as opposed to abstract personi f icat ions of the categories of good and e v i l . This fact has contributed to much of the c r i t i c a l dispute over the or ig ins of the V ice , a number of scholars employing Heywood's "unvicious" Vices as a basis for the argument that the Vice i n i t i a l l y developed outside the moral i ty t rad i t i on from the fool or popular stage clown, and that he was large ly imported into the 21 la te r moral i ty in order to provide i t s comedy. On the other hand, Spivack, commenting on the overzealousness of some c r i t i c s in emphasizing the comic side of the V ice- ro le while neglect ing the serious and some-times t rag ic aspects of the ev i l he attempts to i n f l i c t , of fers an a l t e r -nate explanat ion: In any moral play the indispensable roles of the v i ces , and of the V ice , were t rad i t i ona l and taken for granted, and they revealed them-selves at once by the i r names in the l i s t of p layers. In the mor-a l i t y of Youth, for example, there could be no question as to who the vices were in a cast that contained Youth, Char i ty , Humi l i ty , R io t , Pr ide , and Lechery. And in the moral i ty p lot i t s e l f . . . one of the important homilet ic aims i s exact ly to demonstrate who, among several cognates of e v i l , i s the V ice - in -ch ie f by v i r tue of his p r i -macy as radix malorum, so that his designation as "the Vice" in the cast or stage d i rec t ion i s ac tua l ly a piece of supererogation. These homilet ic condi t ions, however, did not hold for Heywood's two p lays, or for the other secular plays that l ikewise borrowed the V ice ; and i t was prec ise ly because they did not hold that he was ih special need of his generic t i t l e . In such plays he was not a t rad i t i ona l f igure 72 but a t hea t r i ca l l y a t t rac t i ve importation. Nor did his homilet ic eminence appear in them from his associat ion with other v i ces , be-cause he was borrowed without the company of his a l l ego r i ca l cohorts, and exploi ted thea t r i ca l l y for his dramatic verve, not homi le t ica l l y for his immoral primacy or metaphorical s ign i f i cance . In such plays therefore, he received the t i t l e that made his dramatic function patent. I f i t was of some use to have the Vice in a play to which he was not nat ive , i t was also useful to indicate his presence.22 Before us we have tv/o contradictory views, one that the Vice was i n i t i a l l y a buffoon who was imported into the moral i ty from the ro le of the fo lk fool or stage clown, and the other, that he was i n i t i a l l y a serious a l l e -gor ica l person i f ica t ion morally al igned with the forces of e v i l , who was imported into the secular drama from the moral i ty . I shal l attempt to reconci le these opposing views in more deta i l at a la te r point in the next chapter when we examine more c lose ly the question of the V ice ' s o r i g i ns , but for now i t i s su f f i c i en t to recognize that the vice characters in the plays we have discussed heretofore have p r a c t i c a l l y , without exception, manifested charac te r is t i cs and actions which are comic as well as ev i l in nature. We have seen them sing and dance, j es t and brawl, indulge in nonsense, obscenity, verbal w i t , and r iotous buffoonery. In other words, comedy has never been extraneous to the dramatic representation of v i ce . We have also seen in Skel ton's Magnificence a spectrum of po ten t i a l i t i es for the v i ce - ro l e . What Heywood has done in his two plays is to concen-t rate on the comic extreme of th is spectrum without, however, t o t a l l y foregoing the demonic, as a c loser examination of the two works in ques-t ion wil1 revea l . The dramatic act ion in both The Play of Love and The Play of  Weather takes the form of debate. In Love four characters argue end-l ess l y about which of them suffers the most pain and enjoys the most 73 pleasure in the i r experiences of love. Neither Lover Nor Loved i s the Vice of the p lay, and he constant ly interrupts the arguments of the other debaters with coarse jes ts and verbal horseplay. As his name would sug-gest, he i s an amoral character outside the realm of love i t s e l f , and, indeed, a non-part ic ipant in human re la t ionsh ips . As he admits during a long monologue to the audience, he i s , at the same time, t o t a l l y egocentr ic, car ing for no one but himself . A c lever schemer and a prac t ica l joker , he del ights in playing a somewhat cruel t r i c k on his opponent in the debate, Lover Loved. Leaving to get a book, the Vice returns short ly thereaf ter , the fol lowing stage-di rect ion marking his re-entrance on the stage: Here the Vice cometh in running suddenly about the place among the audience with a high copper tank on his head f u l l of squibs f i r ed c ry ing , water! water! f i r e ! f i r e ! f i r e ! water! water! f i r e ! t i l l the f i r e in the squibs be spent.23 He announces that he has seen the house of his opponent's beloved burn down and that she has died in the blaze. Lover Loved is g r i e f - s t r i c k e n , and when he states that he i s going to die with his beloved, the Vice triumphantly reveals that i t has a l l been a t r i c k he has contr ived in order to win the debate. He has proven that his pos i t i on , outside the realm of love, i s more conducive to pleasure and joy than that of an indiv idual whose love i s requi ted, for the l a t t e r i s always potent ia l l y suscept ible to the agony of los ing the object of his adorat ion. Although Neither Lover Nor Loved i s essen t ia l l y a comic f igure on whom rests the respons ib i l i t y of amusing the audience, his associat ion with the realm of ev i l i s a lso imp l i c i t throughout the play. The tempta-t ion motif is admittedly lack ing ; nevertheless, the Vice i s the most 74 convincing of the four characters in his argument, and despite the fact that the outcome of the debate i s judged to be a t i e , the audience i s most sympathetic to the V ice 's point of view. He reveals himself to be t o t a l l y egocentr ic, and in th is sense, we might add, c lose ly related to the a l l ego r i ca l abstract ion of Pride which i s , according to Chaucer's 24 Parson, "the chief and spryng of a l l other s innes, the general roote." Moreover, he implicates the audience by en l i s t i ng them as his partners and making them his secret conf idants: And synce my parte now doth thus well appear, Be ye my partners now a l l of good cheer; But s i lence every man upon a pa in , For master woodcock i s now come again. As we have seen, the use of f i r e and f i re-works was conventional ly part of the theat r ica l equipment of the d e v i l , and in Castle and the Digby Mary Magdalene, the devi l i s responsible for set t ing a house ablaze. Armed with a huge tank of squibs or f i r e - c racke rs , the Vice in The Play of Love also shares with the representatives of the demonic realm the at t r ibutes of deceit and in t r i gue , making the other characters of the play his dupes, a l be i t in a humorous and essen t ia l l y harmless manner. The Play of the Weather has a s im i la r debate structure in which a number of characters present various arguments, th is time about the i r preferred kinds of weather. Merry Report, the Vice of the p lay, is a more f u l l y developed character than Neither Lover Nor Loved, and he i s responsible for conducting the dramatic ac t ion . Having gotten himself appointed as Jup i t e r ' s c r i e r , he l i s tens to the weather-preferences of the various su i t o r s , and presents the i r pet i t ions to the God. Like the Vice in Love, Merry Report i s outside the realm of the debate—he claims 75 impar t i a l i t y , s ta t ing he is ind i f fe rent to a l l weather: For a l l wethers I am so indyf ferent , Without affeccyon, standynge so upryghte, Son-lyght, mone-lyght, s te r - l ygh t , twylyght, torch- lyght , Temperate or dystemperate, what-ever y t be, I promise your lordshype, a l l i s one to me.25 This indi f ference i s a s ign i f i can t feature of the V ice - f i gu re ' s character make-up, and i s associated with the qua l i ty of for tu i tous amorality he represents. Even in those f igures morally al igned with the forces of e v i l , the aspect of indi f ference i s operant as the V ice ' s cohorts in v i l l a i n y are as often his dupes as the virtuous and morally upstanding. Merry Report i s s im i l a r l y on intimate terms with the theatre audience. He enters, in fac t , from the audience, volunteering to be Jup i t e r ' s c r i e r . His for tu i tous qua l i ty i s re f lected as well in his a t t i -tude to the theatre-goers. Despite the sense of camaraderie he assumes with them, he cracks jokes at the i r expense, showers them with humorous verbal abuse, c a l l i n g them " c a i t i f f s " and "drunken whoresons" (p. 401), and demands that they curtsy before him in deference to his author i ty . Merry Report's comic irreverence i s also extended to the p e t i -t ioners . The f i r s t to present his su i t i s a gentleman hunter, whom the Vice greets with the fol lowing mocking ins inuat ion: On my f a i t h , your maship has a merry l i f e But who maketh a l l these homes, your se l f or your wi fe . (p. 400) When the gentleman chides him and states that he i s , in f ac t , Merry Report 's "head," the Vice indulges in a b i t of obscene verbal sport: By god, since ye came h i ther I can set my head and t a i l together This head sha l l save money, by Saint Mary 76 From henceforth I w i l l no 'pothecary' For at a l l t imes, when such things sha l l mister , My new head w i l l give mine old t a i l a g l i s t e r [purge] And, a f ter a l l t h i s , then shal l my head wait Upon my t a i l , and there sha l l stand at rece ip t . (p. 403) Merry Report 's comic obscen i t ies , word p lay, and nonsense are a l l part of the V ice ' s s tock- in - t rade. Another charac te r i s t i c device, re f lec ted by various l a te r Vices as w e l l , i s the "who-am-I" game which Merry Report plays in response to Jup i t e r ' s request that he ident i fy himself: Jup i te r : Why! what arte thou that approachest so nigh? Merry Report: Forsooth, and please your lo rdsh ip , i t i s I Jup i te r : A l l that we know very w e l l , But what I? Merry Report: What, I some say I am I per se I But, what manner I so ever be I I assure your good lo rdsh ip , I am I. (p. 399) This game is related to the ambiguity of the Vice as re f lec ted in the various motifs surrounding his nomenclature: his i n a b i l i t y to remember his name; his refusal to iden t i f y himself ; his change of name in play a f ter play. A l l of these devices have to do with the Vice f i gu re ' s de-s i r e to evade recogni t ion. To know the name of an indiv idual i s , as 26 Jung has ind ica ted, to define and control that person, and the inef fable Protean qua l i ty of the comic-demonic f igure circumvents any attempt to apprehend him. Another charac te r i s t i c manifested by a number of Vices i s the a l legat ion of being a great t r ave l l e r . Several of the Vice f igures , i n -cluding Merry Report, present long narrat ives describing the places they have v i s i t ed and the experiences they have had during the i r t rave ls . 77 While Mares f inds th is fac t puzzl ing and can discover for i t no obvious 27 dramatic explanat ion, a clue to i t s meaning can be found in Merry Report 's speech out l in ing his expedit ions. Af ter presenting an extensive l i s t of the places to which he has been, he concludes: The devi l himself without more le isure Could not have gone hal f th is much, I am sure. (p. 401) According to medieval b e l i e f , the devi l was ubiquitous, ever-present throughout the wor ld, ready at any moment to lure mankind to damnation. Within th is context then, the V ice ' s claim to being a great t r ave l l e r can be viewed as a remnant of his demonic her i tage, and a symbol of the pervasiveness of the comic v i l l a i n y which he perpetrates. Both of Heywood's Vices are essen t ia l l y comic f igures who in the i r buffoonery resemble more the fool of t r a d i t i o n , than the a l l ego r i ca l representatives of ev i l of the moral i ty drama. Nevertheless, as we have seen, Neither Lover Nor Loved and Merry Report i m p l i c i t l y demonstrate a f f i l i a t i o n s with the demonic realm, and, in th is sense, the label "V ice" appl ied to these characters i s not, contrary to c r i t i c a l op in ion, en t i re l y 28 a "misnomer." Af ter Heywood, there are some twenty plays containing characters s p e c i f i c a l l y designated as V ices , a l l of whom par t ic ipa te to 29 a greater or lesser extent., in both the comic and demonic realms. Rather than t reat each play i nd i v i dua l l y , we w i l l focus on the general lineaments of the Vice f i gu re , employing spec i f i c i l l u s t r a t i o n s from the plays themselves in an attempt to develop a dramatic overview of th is enigmatic fe l low. 78 In the la te Tudor period and f i r s t two decades of E l i zabe th 's re ign , the Vice was a character of such great popular i ty on the Engl ish stage that his name f igures in the t i t l e s of several plays emanating from 30 th is period in dramatic h is tory . He was a great favour i te with the audience, and general ly the most important character in the plays in which he appeared. Most of the plays in the l a te r moral i ty t r a d i t i o n - -31 both the conventional mora l i t ies and the "hybrid plays" --were wr i t ten to be played by a small company of f i ve or s ix p layers , and a great deal of doubling of parts was, therefore, required. Because the V ice ' s ro le was so i n t r i n s i c to the act ion of the drama, and because his was almost cons is tent ly the longest par t , the actor playing the Vice usual ly had no time for doubling. In f ac t , part of his ro le was to entertain the audience with various comic improvisat ions, while other members of the cast were changing costumes. The Tide Tarr ie th No Man, for example, con-tains the fo l lowing s tage-d i rec t ion : "And [the Vice] f ighteth to prolong the time while Wantonness maketh her ready" (Schell and Shuchter, p. 346). As the most important character, the Vice i s responsible for pro-pe l l i ng the dramatic act ion and conducting the main c o n f l i c t . He occu-pies the stage almost constant ly , presenting other characters to the audience, explaining his ident i ty and the nature of his in t r igue , f u l f i l -l i ng the c l a s s i c a l functions of both messenger and chorus by commenting on the act ion and report ing what has gone on behind the scenes. Although he i s c lose ly al igned with the forces of e v i l , the Vice i s pre-eminently a comic f igure whose basic function i s to i nc i t e 79 laughter. As a comic character he i s given to obscenity and grossness, singing and dancing, brawling and buffoonery, sa t i re and mockery, non-sense and verbal w i t . The nonsense of the Vice usual ly takes the form of meaningless mumbo-jumbo, a mixture of Engl ish and foreign phrases or a stream of i l l o g i c a l , incongruous and contradictory utterances. In The L i f e and Repentance of Mary Magdalene, I n f i de l i t y sings the fo l low-ing nonsensical parody of church songs: With heigh down down and downe a down a , Salvator mundi Domine, Kyr ie leyson, I te , Missa es t , with pipe up a l l i l u y a , 3 2 Sed l ibera nos a malo and l e t us be at one. Courage, the Vice in The Tide Tarr ie th No Man, weaves an adventure story out of a h i la r ious sequence of absurd non sequi turs: But in f ine these three began to agree And kni t themselves up in one t r i n i t y . And a f te r , they loved l i k e brother and brother, For every love they did k i l l one another. And then they were bur ied, I do well remember In Stawtons straw-hat, 7 mile from December, Where they had not l a i n the space of a day But four of those three were thence fun away. The Constable came, with a back on his b i l l , And because they were gone he did them k i l l . I, Courage, so c l e f t the i r cushions asunder To see how they bled i t made me to wonder. I myself was smitten twice to the ground I was very sore hurt, but I had not a wound. (Schell and Shuchter, p. 320) The sa t i re of the Vice i s directed at a var ie ty of targets i n -cluding the Church, new fashions in dress, money-lenders, the legal pro-fess ion , marriage and the defects of women. The Vice i s pa r t i cu la r l y p r o l i f i c in the number of i r reverent remarks he leve ls at both the Church and marriage; and the reason for th is comic irreverence is essen t ia l l y twofold, re f l ec t i ng the double-nature of his character. In the f i r s t 80 p lace, because marriage i s a sacrament of the Chr is t ian r e l i g i o n , and the Church is C h r i s t i a n i t y ' s prime dwel l ing-p lace, the Vice as an inhabi -tant of the demonic realm is i n t r i n s i c a l l y at variance with both. Secondly, both the Church and marriage are soc ia l i n s t i t u t i o n s , and i t i s the purpose of comedy to provide a momentary l i be ra t ion from the oppressions of the preva i l ing soc ia l order. Feibleman's observations on the re la t ionsh ip between ins t i t u t i ons and the function of comedy are also relevant here: It i s a notorious h i s to r i ca l observation that customs and i n s t i t u -t ions never enjoy more than a comparatively b r ie f l i f e : and yet while they are the accepted fashion they come to be regarded as brute given, as i r reduc ib le f ac t s , which may be depended upon with perfect secur i ty . . . I t i s the task of comedy to make th is p l a i n . Thus comedy r i d i cu les new customs, new i n s t i t u t i o n s , for being insuf-f i c i e n t l y i nc l us i ve ; but even more e f fec t i ve l y i t makes fun of old ones which have out l ived the i r usefulness and have come to stand in the way of further progress.33 In much the same way, the der is ive comedy of the Vice points out the absurd weaknesses and r id icu lous constraints of the i ns t i t u t i ons of mar-riage and r e l i g i o n , and c a l l s into question the "brute givens" upon which these ins t i t u t i ons operate. Moreover, j us t as comedy general ly involves a "breaking up of a l l r e s t r a i n t s , " so the humour of the Vice also provides a momentary release of the baser i n s t i n c t s , namely those of sex and aggression, which are normally held in check during the course of c i v i l i z e d existence. The sublimated release of the sexual i ns t i nc t i s re f lec ted in the numerous obscen i t ies , lasc iv ious remarks, and coarse earthy humour displayed by every V ice , while the aggressive overtones in his comedy are manifested not only in his impudent mockery and bai t ing of the representatives of 81 v i r tue , but also in the quarre ls , brawls, and rough-and-tumble f ight ing which take place between the Vices and various other characters in the 34 drama. Anthony Ludovici in The Secret of Laughter claims that the response of laughter is an expression of "superior adaptat ion"; i t i s a re f lex act ion der iv ing from the need to show one's teeth, to demonstrate the effect iveness of one's weapons against that which threatens his sur-35 v i v a l . The V ice 's laughter-- the triumphant "Ha, ha, ha, " which per-vades the la te r moral i t ies—and his comic combats are indeed an expression of his avowed "super ior adaptat ion," fo r p rac t i ca l l y a l l his actions are geared towards demonstrating his super ior i ty not only over the forces of v i r tue but over his own fol lowers as w e l l . The most common stage d i rect ions of the l a te r mora l i t ies are, in f ac t , those which re f l ec t the V ice 's comic pugnacity--"Here the Vice f i gh te th " ; "He draweth his dagger OC and f ighte th" --and those which re f l ec t his boisterous laughter as he bares his teeth in exultant de l igh t - - "Enter Inc l inat ion laughing"; "Here 37 entereth Nichol Newfangle the Vice laughing." One of the most sensa-t ional entrances of the Vice takes place in Preston's Cambises, in. which Ambidexter's f i r s t appearance on the stage combines both elements. The Vice enters as the braggart so l d i e r , his appearance a burlesque of the m i l i t a r y overtones of the o ld Psychomachia. Dressed in armour consis t ing of a "capcase" (hat-box) for a helmet, a pot l i d , a large spoon and a rake, Ambidexter boast fu l ly proclaims: Stand away, stand away for the passion of God; Harnessed I am, prepared to the f i e l d : I would have been content at home to have bed, But I am sent forth with my spear and my sh ie ld . I am appointed to f igh t against a s n a i l , I f I overcome him, then a bu t te r f l y takes his par t , 82 His weapon must be a blue speckled hen; But you w i l l see me overthrow him with a f a r t , So without conquest he sha l l go home again. If I overcome him, I must f igh t with a f l y , And a black pudding the f l y ' s weapon must be At f i r s t blow on the ground he sha l l l i e , I w i l l be sure to thrust him through the mouth to the knee. To conquest these fel lows the man I w i l l p lay, Ha, ha, ha, now ye w i l l make me to smi le, To see, i f I can a l l men to begui le. (Dodsley, IV:176-77) By fa r the most pervasive symbol of the V ice 's comic aggression i s his wooden sword or dagger. This came to be the de f i n i t i ve prop of the V ice , and was s t i l l commonly associated with the role a f ter the Vice as a conventional theat r ica l character had disappeared from the stage. In Twelfth Night, Feste refers to the "old Vice . . . with his dagger of la the" ( IV . i i . 134-36) , while Ta t le , in Jonson's The Staple of News, denies the presence of a Vice in the play he has seen because the conventional prop is missing: Mi r th : . . . How l i k e you the Vice i ' the Play? Expectation: Which i s he? Mir th : Three or foure: old Covetousnesse, the sordid Penyboy, the Money-bawd, who i s a flesh-bawd too, they say. Tat le : But here is never a Fiend to carry him away. Besides, he has never a wooden dagger! I'Id not give a rush for a V ice , that has not a wooden dagger to snap at everybody he meetes.38 It is s i gn i f i can t that the V ice ' s dagger is "wooden," and hence not l e t h a l , for one of the most important features of the aggression displayed in comedy i s the presence of violence without i t s consequences. It i s t a c i t l y understood that the aggression i s released only in j es t and i s , thus, disguised under the cloak of laughter. This p r inc ip le was implied 83 by A r i s t o t l e who describes the comic mask as being " lud ic rous , without 39 any suggestion of pa in . " Er ic Bentley, in a s im i la r ve in , has observed that violence almost always underl ies fa rce ; the members of the audience are permitted to watch the i r v io len t , aggressive fantasies enacted be-fore them on the stage without suf fer ing any g u i l t , because the vict ims are spared any serious harm: Prongs of a rake in the backside are received as p inpr icks . Bu l le ts seem to pass r ight through people, sledge-hammer blows to produce only momentary i r r i t a t i o n . . . . A l l of which s i g n i f i e s that , in fa rce , as in drama, one i s permitted the outrage but spared the con-sequence. 40 In play a f ter p lay, the Vice batters his cronies and his comic dupes with his "woodknife" (Like Wi l l to L i ke , p. 350), and a very common s i tua t ion i s l i k e the one occurring in Pickeryng's Horestes in which Courage inc i tes a brawl between two country bumpkins, and then beats both of them with his dagger whi le v they are engaged in f igh t ing each other. Another ident i fy ing feature of the Vice associated with his comedy i s his apt verbal w i t . He i s pa r t i cu la r l y fond of word p lay, and the dramas abound in punning, malapropisms, double-entendres, and a charac-t e r i s t i c kind of verbal d is to r t ion in which the Vice a l te rs the statements of e i ther himself of another character, playing on the sound for humorous e f fec t . The basic structure of th is comic device involves the V ice 's revelat ion of his true character and motivation only to re t ract i t by pretending he has said something e lse . For example, in Respubl ica, Avarice (a l ias Po l icy) assures Respublica that he w i l l restore her to wealth: Avar ice: We l l , I w i l l take some pain, but th is to you be known, I w i l l do i t not for your.sake, but for mine own. 84 Respublica: How say ye that , Pol icy? Avar ice: This to you be known, I w i l l do a l l for your sake, and not for mine own. (Schell and Shuchter, p. 255) Another of many examples of th is comic device occurs in The T r ia l of Treasure where Inc l inat ion mocks Lust by undercutting the Tat ter 's praise of his mist ress: Lust: My lady i s amorous, and f u l l of favour. Inc l ina t ion : I may say to you she hath an i l l - f avoured savour. Lust: What sayest thou? Inc l ina t ion : I say she's loving and of gentle behaviour. (Dodsley, 111:292) The V ice 's propensity for word play is recol lected at one point in The Two Gentlemen of Verona in an exchange between the two servants: Speed: How now, Signior Launce? What news with your master-ship? Launce: With my master's sh ip. Why, i t i s at sea. Speed: Wel l , your old v ice s t i l l—mis take the word. ( I I I . i .279-81) We should observe here that although Launce is adept at the "mistake-the-word" game, he does not qua l i f y for the ro le of V ice , for the l a t t e r ' s use of double meanings in his verbal play general ly car r ies more s i n i s t e r overtones, re f lec t ing as i t does, his a f f i l i a t i o n with the demonic realm. In Appius and V i r g i n i a , when Judge Appius requests the V i ce ' s aid in his attempt to deflower V i r g i n i a , Haphazard r e p l i e s , "At hand (quoth the pick-purse) here ready am I" (Dodsley, IV:129). And in A l l For Money, S i n ' s associat ion with the forces of ev i l i s revealed when Money asks him about his family 1ineage—"From what stock are you proceeded." S i n , punning 85 on the meaning of "stocks" as an instruments of punishment, answers, "The las t stocks I was in was even at Bambury" (Schell and Shuchter, p. 451). In i t s equivocal qua l i t y , the word play of the Vice i s , in e f fec t , representative of the dup l i c i t y of e v i l . Shakespeare acknowledges th is re la t ionship in another p lay, Richard I I I , during a dialogue between Richard and the young Pr ince , which i s a conscious imi tat ion of the pat-tern of verbal d is to r t ion i n t r i n s i c to the V i ce - ro l e . Gloucester: (aside) So wise, so young they say do never l i v e long. Pr ince: What say you, uncle? Gloucester: I say, without character, fame l i ves long. (aside) Thus l i k e the formal V ice , In iqu i ty , I moralize two meanings in one word. (III .79-83) The double-sided qua l i t y of the Vice is not only confined to his comedy; i t i s , as w e l l , a symbol of th is f i gu re ' s demonic her i tage, for deceit and dissembling are his ch ief instruments in carrying out his malevolent purpose. As a representative of e v i l , the V ice , l i k e the double-tongued Serpent in the Garden, i s both a tempter and a schemer, seducing his v ic t im toward corruption and moral damnation, and employing various devious stratagems in order to achieve th is goal . Deceit is the most common method of operation in the in t r igue of the V ice , and a great many of these f igures employ both disguise and change of name in order to make themselves more a t t rac t i ve to the i r prey. "Two faces in a hood, covert ly I bear," states Cloaked Col lus ion in Skel ton 's Magnificence in an e x p l i c i t assert ion of the double-visaged nature of the V ice ; and in almost every play the Vice and his cohorts adopt virtuous sounding 86 pseudonymns to mask the qua l i ty of ev i l a l l e g o r i c a l l y s i gn i f i ed in the i r true names. In Respubl ica, Avarice disguises and re-chr is tens both him-s e l f and his fe l l ow-v ices : Avarice adopts the name P o l i c y , and turns his gown inside-out in order to hide his money bags; Adulation becomes Honesty, Oppression becomes Reformation, and Insolence is given the name of Monsieur Author i ty. The Vice then explains the need for dissembling to his fo l lowers. But changing your i l l name fewer shal l reprove you, As I mine own s e l f , where my name is known Am r ight sore assa i led to be overthrown. But doing as I w i l l now counter fe i t my name, I speed a l l my purpose and yet escape blame. (Schel l and Shuchter, p. 250) And in The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom, Idleness, disguised as a p r i es t , proudly congratulates himself on his s k i l l in the ar t of d iss imulat ion. Detected I cannot well be: I am of that condit ion That can turn into a l l colours l i k e the chameleon.41 Another manifestation of the V ice 's dissembling is the manner in which he feigns sorrow and tears . Covetousness in Wager's Enough is As Good as a Feast puts on a dramatic d isplay of howling and weeping in order to convince Worldly Man of his s i nce r i t y . The Vice in Cambises whose name, Ambidexter, is an exposit ion of the qua l i ty of double-deal ing, or the playing with both hands which he represents, c r ies and then laughs over the f r a t r i c i d e he has inc i ted by ly ing to the King: "Ha, ha, weep! nay laugh, with both hands to play" (Schell and Shuchter, p. 218). And at a l a te r po int , he mourns the death of the Queen, undercutting the authent ic i ty of his g r i e f , however, with a comic obscenity: " 0 , my heart, my heart, 0 my bum w i l l break" (p. 243). 87 Although almost a l l the Vices are both tempters and mischievous schemers, in some of the f igures one of these roles predominates. Those who are pr imar i ly tempters are c lose ly al igned with the forces of e v i l - -sometimes the i r actions are prec ip i ta ted by an agreement with the devi l to bring about the damnation of mankind, and sometimes they merely grow out of the i r being a l l ego r i ca l representatives of e v i l , and as such, d iametr ica l ly opposed to salvat ion or moral good. Among th is group of Vices are In iqui ty in King Darius, I n f i de l i t y in Mary Magdalene, Avarice in Respubl ica, Covetousness in Enough is As Good As a Feast, and Sin in A l l For Money, a l l of whose names are ind ica t ive of the eth ica l ev i l they personify. In another group of characters, however, the temptation function i s underplayed or even absent al together. These f igures combine a homi le t i ca l l y ev i l purpose with a dramatic character that i s pr imar i ly amoral in nature; these are the fun- loving pranksters and mischief-makers whose actions are a rb i t ra ry , and who are not r ea l l y committed to e i ther good or e v i l , but are ins t iga tors of adversi ty for the "game" or the "spor t . " Again the nomenclature of the most amoral of these char-ac ters , l i k e that of some of the e a r l i e r Vice-incumbents we have examined (namely Neither Lover nor Loved, Sensual Appetite and Sensual i ty) re-f l e c t s the i r uncommitted, a rb i t r a ry , and essen t ia l l y ins t inc tua l behav-i ou r : Haphazard in Appius and V i r g i n i a , Natural Inc l inat ion in The T r ia l  of Treasure, Desire in Tom Tyler and his Wife, and Courage (meaning "b l ind w i l l " or "appet i te") in The Tide Tarr ie th No Man. Almost a l l of the V ice - f i gu res , whether they are essen t ia l l y tempters, schemers, or a combination of both, function to some extent 88 outside of the moral law. Indeed, the amorality or indi f ference of the Vice i s one of the most in terest ing and pervasive aspects of his character make-up. The indi f ference is dramatical ly manifested in the V ice ' s habi t -ual a t t i tude of unconcern, even at the prospect of his own death. Avarice stops in his f l i g h t from the re t r ibu t i ve forces of v i r tue in order to sing a song; I l l -Repor t in Virtuous and Godly Susannah jes ts at the point of his own execution. Insensi t ive to the threat of his own doom, he is equally impassive in face of the suf fer ing of others. Cove-tous, who cr ied and moaned e a r l i e r in Enough i s As Good As A Feast, re-veals his true nature when he f a i l s to demonstrate any sympathy as Worldly Man l i e s in anguish in the moments preceding his own death. Rather, he re f lec ts his cal lous merriment with vulgar j e s t s , obscenely punning on the Phys ic ian 's name—Master Physician becomes "Master F lesh-b ish i ten" (p. 411)--and suggesting that the l a t t e r look in the pat ient 's rear-end and examine his urine in order to determine the nature of the malady. S i m i l a r l y , Natural Inc l inat ion in The T r ia l of Treasure mocks Lust 's c r ies of pain prompted by the a r r i va l of God's V i s i t a t i o n : Lust: Gog's wounds! these pangs increase ever more. Inc l ina t ion : And my l i t t l e f inger is s p i t e f u l l y sore; You w i l l not bel ieve how my heel doth ache. (Dodsley, IV:294) Although the Vice f igure i s al igned with the side of e v i l , he i s , nonetheless, ind i f fe rent to the moral categories of good and e v i l . A complete egoist by nature, he is out for himself alone, and del ights in the misfortunes of others whether they are fr iends of foes. F la t t en 'e , the chief of the vices in Lindsay's Three Estates, betrays his two 89 fe l low-conspirators in order to save his own neck from hanging; and Avar ice , in much the same way, seeks to escape Just ice by exposing the wrongdoings of his fo l lowers. Ambidexter provokes a " f ray" between two neighbours, Hob and Lob, and then reveals his lack of concern over the welfare of e i ther of them: "I f they had k i l l ' d one another, I had not cared a pease" (Dodsley, IV:224). Perhaps the most amoral of a l l the Vices i s Nichol Newfangle in Ulpian Fu lwe l l ' s Like Wi l l to L ike. A l -though as Luc i f e r ' s godson, he is i n t r i n s i c a l l y a f f i l i a t e d with the forces of e v i l , he mocks and abuses the devi l himself , c a l l i n g him "bott le-nosed knave" (Dodsley, 111:311) and refusing to kneel down in deference to him. Two of N icho l ' s vict ims are his old acquaintances-pickpockets named Cuthbert Cutpurse and Pierce Pickpurse. He sings and cavorts with them, warns the audience to guard the i r purses against them, and la te r hal ters them and leads them to the hangman, appropriat ing one of the i r coats as payment for his part in capturing them. The disasso-ciated s e n s i b i l i t y of the Vice f igu re , his freedom from any bonds of human fee l ing or e th ica l a l leg iance, is c r y s t a l l i z e d in the words of Subtle S h i f t , the Vice of S i r Clyomon and S i r Clamydes: Wel l , seeing I have played the craf ty knave with the one [man], I ' l l play i t with the other. 42 Subt i l Sh i f t for advantage w i l l deceive his own brother. Another aspect of the amorality of the Vice i s re f lec ted in the seemingly a rb i t ra ry , unmotivated or "haphazard" qua l i ty of his act ions. Characters l i k e Jack Juggler in the play of the same name, or P o l i t i c Persuasion in Pat ient and Meek G r i s i l l are, to a l l appearances, unmoti-vated in the i r in t r igue and mischief-making. Neither is an a l l ego r i ca l 90 representative of ev i l in the s t r i c t moral i ty sense, but each del ights in making innocent people the vict ims of his sport. As a resu l t of th is lack of motivat ion, some of the Vices are not ev i l masquerading under the guise of v i r t ue , but are agents of e i ther good or ev i l f o r tu i t ous l y , subject to the laws of b l ind chance or accident rather than to the laws of any moral code. Haphazard, as his name suggests, i s not motivated by his a f f i l i a t i o n to any eth ica l stance, but acts "haphazardly" in a random and purely venturous manner. His i s the philosophy of taking chances. He asserts his reckless "come-what-may" at t i tude in his attempt to con-vince Judge Appius to go ahead in his plans to ravish V i r g i n i a : Do so my l o r d , be you not a f r a i d , And so you may happen to hazard the maid It i s but in hazard and may come by hap, Win her or lose her, t ry you the trap. (Dodsley, IV:132) At his entry, Haphazard attempts to define himself to the audience, to answer the question "What am I?" He explains that he is ubiquitous, a part of a l l men and a l l creatures, and that he prompts a l l things e i ther to fortune or to adversi ty in an essen t ia l l y a rb i t ra ry manner: Most of a l l these my nature doth enjoy, Sometime I advance them, sometime I destroy. (p. 118) In much the same way, in The Tide Tarr ie th No Man, Courage, whose name does not mean bravery so much as the now obsolete meaning of the word, "b l ind energy" or " s p i r i t , " reveals his v i t a l essence to the audience: Now may you see how Courage can work, And how he can encourage both to good and bad. Thus you may see Courage contagious, And eke contrar ious--both in me do rest . 91 For I, of k ind, am always various And change as to my mind seemeth best. (Schell and Shuchter, p. 331) Courage's ro le exp la ins, perhaps, how the Vice can be both amoral and ego-t i s t i c a l at the same time. His amorality i s defined by the for tu i tous qua l i ty of h is act ions. He i s completely se l f -cen tered , but his se l f -seeking more often fol lows the b l ind dictates of natural law rather than the prescr ipts of any moral code. Moreover, in Courage's address we can perceive not only the charac te r i s t i c amorality of the Vice f i gu re , but also the Protean qua l i ty of his nature. Not only is he ind i f fe rent to the moral categories of good and ev i l - - he serves both randomly—but also he i s essen t ia l l y indef inable, for he changes shape whenever an attempt is made to grasp him, to encompass him, to bring him under some kind of con t ro l . Furthermore, in l i gh t of the Protean element of the V ice , some of his other charac te r is t i cs take on an added dimension. His dissembling, his chameleon-like change of both name and appearance, his frequent f a i l u re to remember or reluctance to admit who he i s , are a l l , in f ac t , designed to evade recogni t ion, categor izat ion, or res t ra in t . Another predominant aspect of the Vice ro le i s the holiday s p i r i t which underl ies th is f i gu re ' s comic progression during the course of the dramatic ac t ion . Courage, l i k e Natural Inc l inat ion in The T r ia l of Treasure, i s representative of the Vice as sensual man, who not only sup-43 ports a philosophy of "make hay whi le the sun sh ines , " but who also advocates an unbridled release of the senses. Discern ib le in the actions of these two characters i s both "the breaking up of a l l r es t r a i n t s , " which is the foundation of the comic s p i r i t , and the expression of the elan  v i t a l , the l i f e - f o r c e which i s , according to Susanne Langer, integral to 92 44 the fes t ive ar t of comedy. Also integral to the forms of comedy i s the process of invers ion , as Henri Bergson observed in Laughter: Picture to yoursel f cer ta in characters in a cer ta in s i t ua t i on : i f you reverse the s i tua t ion and invert the ro l es , you obtain a comic scene . . . There i s no necessi ty , however for both ident ica l scenes to be played before us. We may be shown only one provided the other i s rea l l y in our minds. Thus, we laugh at the prisoner at the bar l ec -tur ing to the magistrate; at a ch i l d presuming to teach i t s parents; in a word, at everything that comes under the heading of "topsy-turvydom. "45 Freud, too, in Wit and Its Relat ionship to the Unconscious, has i m p l i c i t l y affirmed Bergson's concept of inversion as playing a fundamental ro le in the apprehension of the comic. According to Freud, the comic response is generated when the repressed forces of the unconscious are momentarily able to break through the inh ib i t i ng controls of the super-ego--a s i t ua -t ion in which inversion does, in f ac t , take place: the p r im i t i ve , i r r a -t i o n a l , and amoral forces of the personal i ty overwhelm the forces of reason and moral i ty ; in a metaphorical sense, the ch i l d temporarily domi-nates his parents; the prisoner rules his keeper; that which was held in subjection below subversively gains the upper hand. The p r inc ip le of inversion i s also manifested in such fes t i ve celebrat ions as the Dionysian reve ls , the Roman Satu rna l ia , and the medieval Feast of Fools , in a l l of which laws are overturned, l i cent ious revelry becomes the order of the day, and a mock-king reigns in an upside-down world. This s p i r i t of "topsyturvydom" character izes the comic-demonic machinations of the Vice throughout almost every play. In his breeding of dissension (between vice and v i r tue , man and v i r tue , man and man, v ice and v i c e ) , chaos replaces order; in his temptation of man away from eth ica l ideals and other worldly concerns towards the unhindered 93 expression of his natural i n c l i n a t i o n s , l icence usurps author i ty ; and in his dramatic overshadowing of the representatives of v i r tue on the stage, the forces of the i ns t i nc t triumph over those of r a t i ona l i t y and moral law. We have already seen how, as a resu l t of the secu lar iza t ion of ev i l in the l a te r mora l i ty , the tavern, the bro the l , and Newgate prison have gradually replaced Hell as the image of the underworld; and the demonic realm, of which the Vice as sensual man i s representat ive, i s now given over to the essen t ia l l y lawless material forms of the l i f e of the i ns t i nc t s . During the b r ie f space of the V ice ' s topsyturvy domination of the stage, he functions as a kind of Lord of Misru le , a King of the Underworld, who permits the audience to g ra t i f y i t s hidden des i res , to release i t s impulses, to enjoy a l i be ra t ing attack against t rad i t iona l law and value. Bent ley's descr ipt ion of the audience-appeal occasioned by farce also holds true for that engendered by the V ice : Shielded by de l ic ious darkness and seated in warm secur i t y , we enjoy the p r i v i l ege of being t o t a l l y passive while on stage our most treasured unmentionable wishes are f u l f i l l e d before our eyes by the most v io len t l y active.human beings that ever sprang from the human imaginat ion, 4 * Comedy, l i k e tragedy, provides an essen t ia l l y cathar t ic experience for the audience. The comic cathars is i s both a purgation of the darker passions and a source of release and relaxat ion—a holiday from the con-s t ra in ts of routine existence. This release i s necessary so that we may be able to return to the rules and regulat ions of c i v i l i z e d l i f e rejuve-nated, and, therefore, more capable of complying with them. Ernst Kr is has further elucidated the psychological aspects of the A r i s to te l i an con-cept of ca thars is : 94 The progress of psychoanalyt ical knowledge has opened the way for a better understanding of the cathar t ic e f fec t ; we are no longer s a t i s -f ied with the notion that repressed emotions lose the i r hold over , our mental l i f e when an out le t for them has been found. We bel ieve rather that what A r i s t o t l e described as the purging enables the ego to re -es tab l ish the control which i s threatened by dammed-up i ns t i nc - tual demands.47 The function of re -es tab l ish ing control i s decidedly c r i t i c a l here, for a permanent expression of unbridled ins t inc tua l energy cannot take place within the context of c i v i l i z e d existence. This i s why the reign of the V ice , l i k e that of the mock-king or Lord of Mis ru le , is by necessity of l imi ted durat ion. In order to serve the soc ia l purposes of comedy, in order to re -es tab l ish the control of authori ty and the status quo, the Vice general ly loses in the end--he i s e i ther hanged, imprisoned or banished to h e l l . The end of the Vice is s t r i k i n g l y s im i la r to that of the scape-goat king in the seasonal fo lk f e s t i v i t i e s of both ancient and modern times. Frazer has observed in The Golden Bough that the carn iva ls of modern Europe share with the Roman Saturnal ia "a burlesque f igure personi-fy ing the fes t ive season, which a f ter a short career of glory and d i s s i -48 pation is pub l ic ly shot, burnt, or otherwise destroyed." Frazer further explains that the scapegoat general ly functions as the means by which ev i l and s in are expelled from the community—on the head of the scapegoat are heaped a l l the misfortunes and transgressions of the soc ie ty , and through his dest ruct ion, the forces of ev i l are banished, and the members receive absolution from both g u i l t and fear . It i s in terest ing that Frazer has also observed that th is r i t ua l expulsion of ev i l i s commonly "preceded or followed by a period of general l i cence , during 95 which the ordinary res t ra in ts of society are thrown as ide, and a l l 49 offences, short of the gravest, are allowed to pass unpunished." In the l i gh t of Frazer 's anthropological research, we might argue that the end of the Vice serves the audience's need for expiat ion from s in and absolut ion from g u i l t emanating from the period of l i cent ious revelry in which they have v icar ious ly par t i c ipa ted. The end of the V ice , of course, also served the homilet ic pur-pose of the moral i ty t r a d i t i o n , which was to demonstrate the ult imate super ior i ty of the path of v i r tue to that of s in and corrupt ion. In King  Darius, In iqui ty i s driven from the stage by f i r e and banished to h e l l ; Courage in The Tide Tarr ie th i s carr ied of f to prison by Correct ion; 111-Report in Virtuous and Godly Susannah is pub l ic ly hanged on stage; and at the end of Respubl ica, Nemesis sentences Avarice to be squeezed l i k e a sponge un t i l he i s divested of a l l that he has s to len , and then to be turned over to the author i t ies to await further punishment. We have, however, previously noted that one of the dramatic charac ter is t i cs of the Vice f igure i s his avowed unconcern at the prospect of his own death. In the Vice dramas, we have what are probably the ea r l i es t examples of gallows humour in Engl ish l i t e ra tu re . I l l -Repor t cracks jokes at the moment p r io r to his hanging; Courage, under s im i la r circum-stances, facet ious ly asks the members of the audience i f there i s not anyone who would l i k e to change places with him. Is there no man here that has a curst wife? I f he w i l l , in my stead he shal l lose his l i f e . (Schell and Shuchter, p. 364) Moreover, the indi f ference of the Vice toward his own destruct ion to a 96 cer ta in extent undermines the seriousness of his death-warrant, and serves to enhance the impl icat ion of his ubiqui ty--an impl icat ion we have encountered before in his claims to being a great t r a v e l l e r , in his assert ions that he i s a part of a l l things in the universe, and in the Protean qual i ty of his nature. "Nichol Newfangle was and i s and ever sha l l be!" declares the Vice in Like Wi l l to L ike , and Idleness, having escaped the punit ive forces of j us t i ce at the end of Wit and Wisdom, voices his ineradicable inf luence over mankind. Detected I cannot well be; I am of that condit ion That I can turn into a l l colours l i k e the chameleon: Although some do refuse me, some leaden-heeled lubber w i l l not re f ra in me; 5 Q And when men hath done with me women w i l l re ta in me! The play which perhaps best i l l u s t r a t e s the re la t ionship between the end of the Vice and the ubiquity of the l i f e - f o r c e which he repre-sents i s the anonymous The T r i a l of Treasure. Natural I nc l i na t i on , the V ice , during his f i r s t speech t e s t i f i e s to his great t ravels and his experiences since the beginning of time. He remembers back to Noah's sh ip , the cuckholding of Vulcan, and the Garden of Eden: "I can remember, I am so o l d , / Since Paradise gates were watched by night" (Dodsley, 111:267). He advises the audience that he i s contained in a l l men--"It is I that do guide the bent of your bow, / And ruleth your actions also day by day"--and that they are not eas i l y r i d of him: "I w i l l not away with the cast ing of stones" (p. 268). According to the homilet ic doctr ine of the moral i ty p lay, man's ins t inc tua l passions, i f allowed to operate uncontro l lably, would inev i tab ly lead him to s in and damnation. Like Sensual i ty in Medwall's Nature, who, u l t imate ly , i s forced to bow under 97 the authori ty of Reason, Natural Inc l inat ion i s phys ica l ly br id led by Just on two separate occasions during the course of the drama. The a l l e -gor ica l meaning here i s obvious, but i s asserted nonetheless: "Thus should every man, that w i l l be ca l led Just / Br id le and subdue his beastly i nc l i na t i on " (p. 279). Natural Inc l inat ion refuses to be sub-jec ted , however, and asserts his unyielding rebe l l ious s p i r i t : And l e t not Just think but I w i l l rebe l , Althouth he b r id le me ten times a l l w e l l ; Even so, though that I be br id led awhile, The co l t w i l l at length the courser begui le. (p. 280) Natural Inc l inat ion i s imaged as a horse throughout the play. He has some kind of a t a i l (perhaps an a l l us ion to the dress of the fool ) and in his k i ck ing , whinnying and coursing, a great deal of l i t e r a l comic "horseplay" i s generated. The Vice i s eventual ly freed by Lust l a te r in the p lay, only to be br id led by Just at the conclusion. Natural Inc l ina-t i on ' s l as t words as he i s led of f to prison are a re - i t e ra t i on of his i r rep ress ib le and reca lc i t ran t v i t a l i t y : Was there ever poor co l t thus handled before? F i e , upon i t , my legs be unreasonably sore; Wel l , yet I w i l l r ebe l , yea, and rebel again, And though a thousand times you shouldest me res t ra i n . (p. 299) Natural Inc l inat ion i s an excel lent example of the comic-demonic f igure whose progression i s , in f ac t , an image of the movement of comedy which we have been d iscuss ing. Like the forces of comedy which break through the res t ra in ts of custom and author i ty for a short period of revelry before the res t ra in ts are re-imposed, Natural Inc l inat ion i s given free re ign , and allowed to run his course before he is b r id led . It is 98 impossible to subjugate him t o t a l l y , however, for he breaks out again, i s given free reign for another short space, and then is br id led once more. The f i na l aspect of the character make-up of the Vice to be d i s -cussed is one that we have touched upon at several points without t o t a l l y confronting—his ambiguity. In his Protean shapes, his Janus- l ike v isage, his coinc id ing amorality and egotism, his combination of the forces of both comedy and e v i l , and his simultaneous at t ract iveness and reprehensi-b i l i t y , the Vice poses something of an enigma. Like Ambidexter in Cambises who "with both hands f i ne l y can play" (Dodsley, IV:177), the Vice defies categor iza t ion, for we never know exact ly what side he is on. The ambiguity of the Vice i s pa r t i cu la r l y manifested in his re la t ionship with the audience. He i s , paradox ica l ly , a dramatic character who stands outside the act ion of the p lay; he has a fundamental ro le in the major c o n f l i c t , yet he i s , at the same time, a detached commentator upon the events unfolding on the stage. He i s on intimate terms with the theatre-goers—he jokes with them, reveals to them his true ident i ty and devious in tent , warns them against pickpockets, mockingly insu l ts them, and, most s i g n i f i c a n t l y , makes them his conf idants, thereby impl icat ing them in the ev i l he represents. Avarice in Respublica addresses the audience as fo l lows: But now what my name is and what is my purpose, Taking you a l l for f r iends I fear not to d i sc lose , My very true unchr ist ian name is Avar ice, Which I may not have openly known in no wise, For who i s so foo l i sh that the ev i l he hath wrought For his own behoof he would to l i gh t should be brought, 99 Or who had not rather his i l l doings to hide Than to have the same bruited on every side? (Schell and Shuchter, pp. 239-40) The insinuat ion in Avar ice 's speech i s quite c lea r . The Vice does not reveal his true ident i ty to those who are to be his v ic t ims. The audi-ence i s , therefore, presumed to be already corrupt, his "unchr is t ian" confederates in e v i l . Just as the Vice ul t imately convinces his subordi-51 nates of his super io r i t y , he presents himself to the audience as the i r leader in v i l l a i n y , and they become, by imp l ica t ion , his fo l lowers. "Be ruled by me," advises Nichol Newfangle at several points in Like Wi l l to  L i ke ; and Sin in A l l For Money inv i tes the compl ic i ty of the audience by declar ing that a l l of them are his servants for they a l l share in the corruption that love of money inev i tab ly breeds. Because he i s the i r sel f -appointed leader, Sin demands his due respect from the crowd: "Off with your caps s i r s ! It becomes you to stand bare" (Schell and Shuchter, p. 435). The f i na l d ispos i t ion of the Vice pa r t i cu la r l y re f lec ts the double-sided at t i tude of the audience towards th is ambiguous f igu re . Rossi ter captures th is essent ia l ambivalence when he remarks: "At the end of the p lay, when the moral r i t ua l wants him hanged or otherwise pun-52 ished, the comic wants him to get away with i t . " As members of the audience, we partake simultaneously in both r i t u a l s . We want the Vice to escape punishment for we have enjoyed the comic release of the darker, demonic impulses he has permitted us, but, on the other hand, in order to escape g u i l t for par t i c ipa t ing in what Rossi ter c a l l s a " s t i r r i n g debauch of w i sh - fu l f i l lmen t , " a "crowded hour in the glor ious l i f e in the 100 53 company of the Dev i l ' s d i s c i p l e s , " we require that the Vice be f i t -t i ng ly chastised for leading us into the temptation of the comic-demonic realm. The audience becomes, in th is way, both the henchmen and the dupes of the Vice. We are , u l t imate ly , both his fe l low-conspirators and the targets of his in t r igue. He c lever l y ingrat ia tes himself into our sympathies and wins us over to his point of view. In order to absolve ourselves of the ev i l which he has s k i l f u l l y forced us to acknowledge as a v i t a l part of our human temperament, we must, i nev i tab ly , distance ourselves from him, banish him, or attempt to destroy him. He i s ubiquitous, however, and although he may be br id led l i k e Natural I nc l i n -a t i on , he can never be t o t a l l y subdued. It i s a further ind icat ion of our ambivalence toward him that we, in f ac t , do not want him to be completely suppressed. He i s an i n -t r i n s i c a l l y a t t rac t i ve f i gu re , despite his moral rep rehens ib i l i t y , and he too, i s triumphantly aware of his potent magnetism. Haphazard i s astute ly correct when he proclaims: "Ay, by the gods, my master, I to ld you p la in / Who companies with me w i l l desire me again" (Appius and  V i rg in ia [Dodsley, IV:136]). Indeed, the at t ract iveness and i r repres-s i b i l i t y of the Vice i s s i gn i f i ed by his tremendous vogue on the Engl ish stage and his surv ival as a dramatic character for several decades af ter the passing of the moral i ty t rad i t i on that had spawned him. His i no rd i -nate inf luence on the imagination of playwrights and theatre-goers a l i ke is even further affirmed by the fact that , although the Vice died out as a conventional dramatic character around the beginning of the Elizabethan per iod, his heritage i s re f lec ted in the numerous amoral 101 schemers, clown-demons, and d i abo l i ca l l y humorous characters whose ambiguous demonic foolery has pervaded the history of Engl ish l i t e ra tu re to the present time. 102 Notes for Chapter III The terms " in te r lude , " "moral i ty" and "moral in ter lude" are frequently used with much confusion and ambiguity in discussions of Pre-Shakespearean drama. Quite of ten, a c r i t i c a l d i s t i nc t i on i s made between the mora l i ty - -a play with a homilet ic purpose represented in a l l ego r i ca l terms—and the inter lude—a play which attempts to free i t s e l f from a l l e -gor ical didactism and approaches more c lose ly the area of farce (see Ross i te r , p. 102). On the other hand, Chambers has demonstrated that the term " in ter lude" was without d i s t i nc t i on "equal ly appl icable to every kind of drama known to the Middle Ages" (The Medieval Stage, 11:182). Spivack's excel lent analysis of the development of the moral i ty in Shake- speare and The Al legory of Ev i l usual ly avoids employing the term " in te r -lude" as a c r i t i c a l t o o l , but rather includes wi th in i t s discussion of the moral i ty t rad i t i on a group of l a te r plays beginning about the middle of the sixteenth century which are given the name of "hybrid mora l i t i es , " or "hybrid p lays . " These p lays, t rans i t iona l in nature, are mora l i t ies in that they s t i l l re ta in an ostensib le d idac t ic purpose, but they pre-sent s ide-by-s ide with the t rad i t iona l personi f ied abstract ions characters out of h is to ry , romance, or legend, resu l t ing in a mixed or "hybr id" dramatic metaphor. 2 The Al legory of E v i l , pp. 226-27. 3 ' Engl ish L i tera ture at the Close of the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1946), p. 62. 4 The Nature of the Four Elements, in Six Anonymous P lays , ed. John S. Farmer, 1st s e r . , Early Engl ish Dramatists Ser. (London, 1905), p. 7. 5 The Al legory of E v i l , p. 113. In A Select Co l lec t ion of Old Engl ish P lays , ed. Robert Dodsley, 4th ed. (rev. by W. C. Haz l i t t ) (London, 1874-76T7HI , 308. This c o l -lec t ion w i l l be subsequently referred to as "Dodsley." 7 Karl Young, "Records of the York Play of the Pater Noster," Speculum, VII (1932), 540-46. g Nature, in Lost Tudor P lays , ed. John S. Farmer, Early Engl ish Dramatists Ser. (London, 1907), p. 70. 9 Cushman, p. 61. At one point , however, Cushman concedes that "Pr ide plays quite independently a good V ice - ro le " (p. 61). ^ 0 The Braggart in Renaissance Comedy, p. 153. 1 1 The Al legory of E v i l , pp. 144, 143. 103 1 2 Ross i te r , p. 102. 13 14 Magnyfycence, ed. R. L. Ramsay, E .E .T .S . (London, 1908), 11. 710, 698. " In t roduct ion," Magnyfycence, pp. c - c i . 15 I b i d . , p. c v i . There i s some d i f f e ren t ia t i on in th is group of characters as w e l l . Court ly Abusion i s representative of the braggart dandy who tempts Magnificence through his cour t ly manners, his f l a t t e r y and his extrava-gance of dress; Cloaked Col lus ion i s the master of dissemblance, treachery and double-deal ing. Crafty Conveyance and Counterfei t Countenance are, however, large ly undi f ferent ia ted. 1 7 The World and the C h i l d , in Engl ish Moral i ty Plays and Moral  Inter ludes, eds. Edgar T. Schel l and J . D. Shuchter (New York: Hol t , Rinehart, and Winston, 1969), p. 190. This co l l ec t i on w i l l be subse-quently referred to as "Schel l and Shuchter." 1 8 The Interlude of Youth, Schel l and Shuchter, p. 149. 19 In The World and the C h i l d , Fo l l y i s the only v i ce , but th is moral i ty i s highly unusual in i t s being so compressed as to be performed by only two actors. 2 0 The Al legory of E v i l , p. 141. 2 1 E. K. Chambers, The Medieval Stage, I I , 204; F. H. Mares, "The Origin of the Figure Cal led the 'V i ce ' in Tudor Drama," p. 11. 2 2 The Al legory of E v i l , pp. 149-50. 23 The Play of Love, in The Dramatic Writings of John Heywood, ed. John S. Farmer, Early Engl ish Dramatists Ser. (Gui ld ford, Eng., 1966), p. 180. 24 The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, ed. F. N. Robinson (Boston, 19337, p. 285. 25 The Play of the Weather, in Chief Pre-Shakespearean Dramas, ed. Joseph Q. Adams, p. 400. 26 Carl G. Jung, Aion: Research into the Phenomenology of the  S e l f , t r . R. F. C. H u l l , Bol l ingen S e r . , XX (New York: Pantheon Books, 1959), 32. 27 "The Origin of the Figure Cal led 'The V i c e , ' p. 15. 104 28 R. H. Goldsmith, Wise Fools in Shakespeare (L iverpool : L ive r -pool Univ. Press, 1958), p. 21. 29 The fol lowing chart of plays (p. 105) containing named Vices i s taken with a few modif icat ions from F. H. Mares, "The Origin of the Figure Cal led 'The V i c e , ' p. 12. 30 For example, Common Conditions and Jack Juggler, the t i t l e of each being the name of the respective Vice in each p lay; and Pickerynge's A New Enter!ude of V ice , Contayning the Historye of Horestes, in which there i s the suggestion that the Vice i s the most important aspect of the p lay, and that the story of Orestes is circumscribed by the V i ce - ro l e , rather than the other way around. 31 See footnote 1 above. 32 Lewis Wager, The L i f e and Repentance of Mary Magdalene, ed. Frederic Ives Carpenter (Chicago, 1902), p. 7. 33 James K. Feibleman, In Praise of Comedy, p. 178. 34 That the release of sublimated aggression does, in f ac t , under-l i e the comic response i s suggested by an examination of the terminology used to describe joking and humour: "to break a j e s t " ; "to crack a joke" ; "that destroys (s lays , k i l l s ) me"; "I was t i ck led to death"; "I nearly died laughing"; "I laughed so hard I thought I'd d i e . " 3 5 (London: Constable & Co . , 1932), p. 17. 36 The Tide Tarr ie th No Man, Schel l and Shuchter, p. 364; Enough Is as Good as a Feast, Schel l and Shuchter, p. 382. 37 The T r ia l of Treasure, Dodsley, I I I : 278; Ulpian Fu lwe l l , Like Wi l l to L ike , Dodsley, I I I : 309. 38 In Ben Jonson, eds. C. H. Herford and Percy and Evelyn Simpson, VI , 323. 3 9 Poet ics , 1449 a9. 40 "Farce, " in Comedy: Meaning and Form, ed. Robert W. Corrigan (San Francisco: Chandler Publ ishing Co . , 1965), p. 281. 4 ^ In Five Anonymous P lays , 4th s e r . , ed. John S. Farmer, Early English Dramatists Ser. (London, 1908), p. 295. 714-15. 4 2 Ed. W. W. Greg, Malone Society Reprints (London, 1913), 11 43 The t i t l e of the play in which Courage i s the chief character PLAYS CONTAINING NAMED VICES T i t l e Author Date Type Name of Vice Play of Love J . Heywood 1533 Debate Neither Lover Nor Loved Play of the Weather J . Heywood 1533 Debate Merry Report The Three Laws John Bale 1538-47 Moral i ty Ambit ion, Avar ice , e tc . Three Estates D. Lindsay 1540-54 Moral i ty D i s s a i t , Fa lse t , F l a t t e r i e Respublica Anon. 1553 Moral i ty Avarice Jack Juggler Anon. 1553-58 Plaut ine Jack Juggler King Darius Anon. 1565 Scr ipture In iqui ty Enough i s as Good as a Feast W. Wager 1565-70 Moral i ty Covetousness Pat ient G r i s s i l J . P h i l l i p 1565 Romance P o l i t i c Persuasion Mary Magdalene L. Wager 1566 Scr ipture I n f i d e l i t y Horestes J . P[ickerynge] 1567 C lass ica l Courage or Revenge The T r ia l of Treasure Anon. 1567 Moral i ty Inc l ina t ion Appius and V i rg in ia R.B. 1567 C lass ica l Haphazard Like Wi l l to Like U. Fulwell 1568 Moral i ty Nichol Newfangle Cambises T. Preston 1569 C lass ica l Ambidexter Clyomon and Clamydes Anon. c. 1570 Romance Subtle Sh i f t Common Conditions Anon. 1576 Romance Common Conditions The Tide Tarr ie th No Man G. Wapull 1576 Moral i ty Courage Tom Tyler and His Wife Anon. c. 1578 Farce Desire A l l for Money T. Lupton 1577-78 Moral i ty Sin Susanna T. Garter 1578 Scr ipture 111 Report Wit and Wisdom F. Merbury (?) 1579 Moral i ty Idleness (Secular) 106 re f lec ts th is philosophy—The Tide Tarr ie th No Man. It i s s i g n i f i c a n t , however, that th is proverb i s to be interpreted in a double-sense from the point of view of e i ther v i r tue or v ice . With respect to the former, the impl icat ion is that because time waits for no one, man must prepare himself for the Day of Judgment, while with respect to the l a t t e r , there is the suggestion that man must take advantage of what l i t t l e time he has, to l i v e l i f e to the fu l l es t—tha t the holiday one can experience on earth is of l imi ted durat ion. 44 "The Great Dramatic Forms: The Comic Rhythm," Feeling and  Form, pp. 326-50. Describing a s im i la r aspect of the V i ce - ro l e , Cushman observes: "The Vice appears as the embodiment of wor ld l iness and sensu-a l i t y , he i s free from al1 res t ra in ts of r e l i g i on and from al1 bonds of  moral i dea ls . He i s concerned only for one th ing, that humanity sha l l give free reign to his i n c l i n a t i o n s , not however that a soul may be by th is means ruined, but that man may be led to enjoy an existence of freedom and pleasure, the v ic ious ideal of happiness being in every sense the reverse of the s p i r i t u a l " (p. 91, emphasis mine). 45 / In Comedy, ed..Wyl ie Sypher (New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1956), p. 121. 4 6 "Farce , " p. 285. 47 Psychoanalytic Explorations in A r t , p. 45, emphasis mine. 4 8 The Golden Bough, abridged ed. (London: Macmillan, 1963), p. 768. 49 50 51 52 53 I b i d . , p. 754. Five Anonymous P lays , 4th s e r . , ed. John S. Farmer, p. 295. The Al legory of E v i l , p. 141. Ross i te r , p. 91. I b i d . , p. 127. Chapter IV A CONGENIAL SOIL FOR TRANSPLANTATION Before we leave the Vice of convention and turn to an examination of some of his l a te r descendants, i t i s necessary to provide a short statement concerning his o r i g ins . This was, in f ac t , the s tar t ing point of the f i r s t chapter of th is d issertat ion—an attempt to discover an answer to Wi l l e fo rd ' s question concerning the re la t ionship between the V ice , the d e v i l , and the fool as dramatic characters. Af ter examining the development of the comic-demonic f igure from his ear l y , crude begin-nings in the mystery cycles to his fu l l -b lown rea l i za t ion in the character of the V ice , we are able to perceive traces of the inf luence of a l l of the fo l lowing: the d e v i l , the f o o l , the e a r l i e r a l l ego r i ca l v i ces , as well as two character types of Plaut ine comedy—the craf ty servant and the braggart so ld ie r . Contrary to the c r i t i c a l pred i lec t ion for choosing one, or less f requent ly, two, of these four inf luences and discounting the res t , i t i s impossible to ident i fy only a s ing le source for the d e r i -vation of the Vice—his or ig ins are unquestionably mixed. Because he com-bines both the forces of the comic and the demonic, he i s , in a sense, a composite of a l l the infernal v i l l a i n s and merry-making buffoons, t r i c k -s te rs , and clowns who have preceded him. The inf luence of the a l l ego r i ca l representatives of ev i l loosely referred to as "v ices" i s probably the most obvious to d iscern , because i t is the most immediate. We have seen the process of d i f f e ren t ia t i on at work wi thin the development of the moral i ty t r a d i t i o n , the evolut ion of 107 108 one f igure as the dramatic superior over the other characters morally al igned with the forces of e v i l . This process of d i f fe ren t ia t i on is ap-parent in the prologue and c a s t - l i s t of Respubl ica, the f i r s t play wi th in the moral i ty t rad i t i on to use the theat r i ca l label "the V i c e . " In the prologue, the characters Insolence, F la t te ry , Oppression, and Avarice are referred to as "these v i c e s , " while in the c a s t r l i s t , Avarice i s d i s -t inguished from the others by receiv ing beside his name the designat ion, "the Vice of the p lay . " The inf luence of the devi l and the fool on the V ice 's der ivat ion is not as d i r e c t ; however, elements suggesting both of these as the fore-runners of the Vice are manifested at several points wi thin the plays themselves. The d e v i l , in some of his representations in ear ly Engl ish drama, was a broadly comic character, whose infernal humour in many re-spects i s quite s im i la r to that of the Vice. Noise, b lus ter , and sensa-t ion character ize the entrance and ex i t of both f i gu res , and the fireworks which were t r ad i t i ona l l y part of the d e v i l ' s stage equipment are employed by perhaps the ea r l i es t f igure to be labe l led the " V i c e , " in Heywood's Play of Love. The d e v i l ' s t rad i t iona l ubiquity and his d u p l i c i t y , as ref lected in his use of disguise and deception, are also qua l i t i es shared by the V ice. S i m i l a r l y , both are given over to frequent profan i t ies and obscene j e s t s . Moreover, several of the Vices themselves acknowledge that they are the d i rec t descendants of the d e v i l . I n f i d e l i t y in Mary  Magdalene reveals that he i s the son of Satan, Nichol Newfangle i s i den t i -f ied as both Luc i f e r ' s apprentice and godson, and Covetous suggests his a f f i l i a t i o n with the Archenemy as fo l lows: " 'Covetous, ' sayeth the wise 109 man, ' i s the root of a l l e v i l : 1 / Therefore Covetous i s the ch ie fest that cometh from the d e v i l " (Enough Is As Good As A Feast, Schel l and Shuchter, p. 382). Prompted by the forces of secu la r i za t ion , the evolu-t ion of the more human Vice from the supernatural devi l would, therefore, appear to be a natural progression. An ind icat ion of th is evolutionary process can be discovered by comparing the dramatis personae of the Digby version of the Mary Magdalene story with the la te r play by Lewis Wager. In the cycle p lay, i t i s the Devil who, along with the World and the F lesh, commissions the seven deadly s i n s , s i g n i f i c a n t l y referred to as the "seven d e v i l s , " to bring about Mary's downfal l , while in Wager's p lay, the devi l i s t o t a l l y absent. Although I n f i de l i t y refers to Satan as his fa ther , the ro le of temptation i s conducted completely by the V ice , aided by the three lesser vices who are his confederates in e v i l . T i t i v i l l u s in Mankind probably provides the most sa l ien t example of the dramatic re la t ionsh ip between these two characters. Although Spivack denies a cont inui ty in dramatic development from the e a r l i e r f igure to the l a te r one, he nevertheless describes T i t i v i l l u s as "a f igure in t ran-s i t i o n from devi l to v i ce . " ^ Despite the fact that T i t i v i l l u s i s ex-p l i c i t l y i den t i f i ed as "the f iend of h e l l , " his c lever in t r igue and deceptions, his obscen i t ies , his p rac t ica l jokes, and j ov ia l s p i r i t are a l l elements of the l a t e r , more humanized Vice ro le . Also l i k e the V ice , T i t i v i l l u s is on intimate terms with the audience: he reveals his plans to them, promises them much "spor t , " and inv i tes the i r respect for the great s k i l l he has demonstrated in bringing about the downfall of Mankind. The comedy of the Vice inev i tab ly inv i tes his comparison to no another f igu re , none other than the archetypal comedian himself , namely the fool of t r ad i t i on . In his babbling nonsense, his pred i lec t ion for wi t ty verbal p lay, his horseplay and numerous pranks and j e s t s , the Vice i s , in f ac t , an embodiment of the clown, the j e s t e r , the buffoon, and the t r i c k s t e r — a l l forms of the fool in his various manifestat ions. There are, for example, numerous references to the V ice 's t a i l or fox-t a i l , which i s part of the conventional garb of the fool who often wears 2 f o x - t a i l s , donkey's ears, coxcombs, c a l f - s k i n s , or other animal r e l i c s . A number of Vices reveal themselves with the "natura l " aspects of f o l l y , and demonstrate what Wi l le ford c a l l s the "psychic aberrat ion" of the f o o l . Like the "bra ins ick" Fancy, one of the ear ly clown-vices in Skel ton 's Magnificence, Avarice has a swarm of bees buzzing in his head, and In iqu i ty , the fox - ta i l ed Vice in King Darius announces: "I am mad 4 now to the sole of my foot . " The theatre commentaries of the la te f i f teenth century suggest 5 that the two roles of Vice and fool were commonly i d e n t i f i e d , and the most famous professional j es te r of the Elizabethan per iod, Richard Tar le ton, was often referred to as the Vice.* ' Some l i t e r a r y c r i t i c s have argued that there i s yet a pr io r re la t ionship between the fool and the devi l which precedes that between the fool and the V ice , that the fool of the fo lk games gave r i se to the devi l of the mystery-play who then developed into the V i c e , 7 while others bel ieve a l te rna t i ve l y . tha t ' t he Q evolution took the formula of: devi l became Vice became clown. The exact d i rec t ion of the re la t ionsh ip between the fool and the Vice can probably never be determined, but in the face of much con f l i c t i ng opinion I l l i t i s expedient to note that the fool in his multiform representations pr io r to the emergence of the Vice inev i tab ly influenced the V i ce ' s comedy, while the comic aspects of the V ice- ro le undoubtedly influenced the development of the stage clowns who followed him. A further fac to r , which has not been mentioned but probably, to some extent, influenced the development of the V ice , l i e s in the con t r i -bution made by Roman comedy to the evolut ion of Tudor.and Elizabethan drama. In -some of the plays the ro le of the Vice resembles that of the miles g lo r iosus , the braggart s o l d i e r - - f o r example, that of Sensual i ty in The Four Elements, In iqui ty in King Dar ius, Ambidexter in Respubl ica--whi le in other p lays, most notably The Play of the Weather, Jack Juggler , Q and Ralph Roister Dois ter , the V ice- f igure functions to a large extent, l i k e the c ra f ty servant of Plaut ine drama. We should recognize that neither of these roles i s t o t a l l y extraneous to the character of the Vice—the a l l ego r i ca l v ices were frequently represented as so ld iers on the side of ev i l as a resu l t of the i r der ivat ion from the m i l i t a r y Psychomachia; the demonic character has always been loud and boastful about his plans and deeds; and a number of V ice- f igures have insinuated themselves into the good graces of the i r human v ict im by of fer ing to be his servant. Robert Withington, wr i t ing about the inf luence of Lat in comedy on the ancestry of the V ice , argues convincingly that "a f igure from foreign drama cannot be natural ized away from home unless there i s a congenial so i l in which the transplanted element can root i t s e l f . 1 ^ Such a congenial s o i l for the natura l iza t ion of the wi t ty servant and miles glor iosus existed in the evolving character of the Vice. 112 To extend Withington's metaphor one step fur ther , we can gener-a l i z e that the ground had, s i m i l a r l y , been prepared for the propagation of the V ice- f igure himself in a l l the representatives of the comic and demonic realms who came before him or whose development coincided with that of his own. Indeed, a great deal of the V ice - f i gu re ' s perplexing ambiguity stems from his heterogeneous der iva t ion . To over-emphasize the comic aspects of his character by arguing that the Vice i s pre-eminently a descendant of the f o o l , or to accentuate the serious homi-l e t i c nature of his or ig ins by i ns i s t i ng that he is a summation of the Deadly Sins or the a l l ego r i ca l v i t i a e of the moral i ty t rad i t i on i s to deny the essent ia l dua l i ty which has defined his character throughout a l l i t s manifestat ions. Just as the forces of both comedy and ev i l de-f ine the fundamental aspects of the Vice r o l e , so neither force can be ul t imately d issociated from the factors which contr ibuted-to the or ig ins of th is f igu re . The d e v i l , the f o o l , the a l l ego r i ca l v i ces , the f igures from Roman comedy, the characters in the Engl ish fo lk p lay, as well as such infernal humorists as Mak, Cain , Herod, P i l a t e , and the tor turers of Ch r i s t , a l l contributed to the procreation and further cu l t i va t i on of . the V ice , in much the same way as the V ice , in turn, prepared the so i l for the numerous amoral t r i c k s t e r s , jes t ing v i l l a i n s , and d iabo l i ca l fun makers who succeeded him. We shal l now turn to an examination of f i ve of these la te r representatives of the comic-demonic f igure whose comic ebu l l ience, dev i l i sh in t r igue , and moral ambivalence would, perhaps, ap-pear somewhat unfathomable, i f we had not previously encountered the Vice. 113 In Jonson's play The Devil Is An Ass, Satan reminisces about the past, the old days "when Every Great Man had his Vice stand by him, / In his long coat, shaking his wooden dagger . "^ These times have long since passed, however, and Satan fee ls that the modern world i s in need of Vices "stranger and newer" (1. 101) in order to f u l f i l l the demonic purpose. Because the Vice of t rad i t i on i s no longer v iab le , Satan explains that We must therefore aim At extraordinary subtle ones now, When we do send to keep us up in c red i t : Not old I n iqu i t i es . (11. 114-17) The remainder of th is d isser ta t ion w i l l examine a number of the "st ranger," "newer" and "extraordinary subt le" representatives of the old Vice as they appear transplanted in a few selected works of Engl ish drama and f i c -t i o n . I intend to focus upon f i ve problematical f igures—Fals ta f f in Henry IV, Volpone in Jonson's play by that name, Becky Sharp in Vanity  F a i r , Fagin in 01iver Twist, and Quilp in The Old Cur ios i ty Shop. A l l f i ve of these f igures combine features which are both humorous and d i a -bo l i c in nature; and in each character, the a t t r ibute of comic-demonic ambiguity is heightened to such an extreme that i t informs an over -a l l ambivalent response to the l i t e r a r y work in which he or she operates. This d isser ta t ion set out to discover the re la t ionsh ip between the comic and demonic realms by invest igat ing the workings of a number of l i t e r a r y characters in whom the qua l i t i es of both devi l and clown are intertwined. The study of th is pattern might have been i n i t i a t e d from the vantage point of myth, pr imi t ive r i t u a l , the l i t e ra tu re of other 114 cultures., or even pa in t ing , because as K r i s , Campbell, Rossi ter and others have shown, i t i s possible in a l l of these to i so la te f igures who conform to the character-type in quest ion. The vantage point of the moral i ty Vice was, however, the one chosen because in t rac ing th is f i gu re ' s o r ig in from the l i t u r g i c a l element in ear ly Engl ish l i t e r a t u r e , i t was possible to provide a h i s to r i ca l and soc io log ica l foundation upon which further thematic explorat ion of th is topic could be structured. As we have seen, the associat ion of the forces of comedy and ev i l in medieval drama served not only the ex terna l , regulatory demands of the t rad i t iona l order (the doctr inal authori ty of the Church), but also the i n te rna l , subversive demands of those bound by that order (the heathen temper of the f o l k ) . And i t i s , of course, th is re la t ionsh ip between external author i ty and internal subversion which underl ies the central problem of the moral ambiguity of the comic-demonic f igure and the ambi-valence of the emotional response he p rec ip i ta tes . Up to th is point then, I have been mainly concerned with the development of the comic-demonic f igure from his rudimentary beginnings in ear ly drama to his emergence as the most popular personage on the Tudor stage. My basic purpose i s , however, not to trace the development of a dramatic character from his e a r l i e s t beginnings to the present t ime, but rather to explore the factors which underl ie the l i t e r a r y represen-ta t ion of the converging forces of comedy and e v i l . In order both to expand and f a c i l i t a t e th is exp lora t ion, the method of inquiry in the second ha l f of th is study w i l l s h i f t in focus away from a h i s to r i ca l exam-inat ion of the d i rec t inf luence of the moral i ty Vice on la te r l i t e r a r y 115 characters, towards a discussion of the recurrent psychological patterns which define the essent ia l ambiguity of the comic-demonic f igure . The fol lowing chapters w i l l , consequently, be much more ana ly t ica l in nature, attempting to demonstrate how the comic-demonic features of each character under scrut iny are i n t r i n s i c a l l y re lated to the thematic patterns and imagery of the larger l i t e r a r y work. The characters I have chosen to discuss were selected pr imar i ly for two reasons. In the f i r s t p lace, each one presents something of an enigma. In an attempt to make whatever ins ights as far-reaching as pos-s i b l e in imp l ica t ion , I decided to concentrate upon f igures whose comic-demonic nature places them among the most prominently problematical in the body of Engl ish l i t e r a t u r e . Just as the f i e l d of l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m has had d i f f i c u l t y in ident i fy ing the or ig ins of the V ice , in determining whether th is f igure i s bas ica l l y a descendant of the devi l or the f o o l , so i t has encountered s im i la r problems in determining whether each of these f i v e . l a t e r characters i s essen t ia l l y comic or ev i l in nature. Fa l s ta f f , Volpone, Becky, Fagin and Quilp a l l experience the character-i s t i c f i na l d ispos i t ion of the Vice-- they are u l t imately e i ther banished, imprisoned, k i l l e d o f f , or considerably reduced in circumstance--and in every case, commentators have ar t i cu la ted an uneasy, ambivalent response towards the fate of these f igures . Secondly, the comic-demonic at t r ibutes of each of the f i ve characters can be viewed as a threshold through which to enter the dramatic or f i c t i o n a l worlds of two major playwrights and two major novelists—Shakespeare, Jonson, Dickens and Thackeray. Moreover, in each of the works I shal l be d iscuss ing, not only 116 are the forces of comedy and ev i l s i g n i f i c a n t l y related to the major strands of imagery and thematic mot i fs , but also each author emphasizes a d i f fe rent aspect of the prototypical comic-demonic f igure whose com-posi te features we have observed in our discussion of the dramatic char-a c t e r i s t i c s of the V ice. In Henry IV, F a l s t a f f ' s comic-demonic nature considerably elucidates the intermediary posi t ion wi thin the soc io-p o l i t i c a l framework which Shakespeare i s del ineat ing-- the amoral posi t ion between v i r tue and v i ce , order and d isorder , court and tavern. In Volpone, Jonson dramatizes the ambiguous underworld of the comic-demonic realm, and employs the magnifico of Venice as a kind of infernal p r ies t whose idolatrous worship of his gold and .1icentious indulgence of his baser passions takes the form of a comic profanation of sacred value, resu l t ing in the temporary ascendancy of a demonic, saturnal ian world. The discussion of Vanity Fa i r examines Thackeray's representation of a female infernal humorist. In th is novel , Becky Sharp emerges as a kind of demonic comic-heroine whose womanhood i n t r i n s i c a l l y defines the qua l i ty of both the ev i l and the comedy she perpetrates. And f i n a l l y , in Dickens' explorat ion of the ambivalent feel ings contained within the parent-chi ld conf igurat ion, Fagin and Quilp f u l f i l l the t rad i t iona l Vice ro l e , act ing as aged corruptors of youthful innocence. Both men function thematical ly as surrogate father f igures whose comic-demonic qua l i t i es make them at the same time menacing and a t t rac t i ve to the chi ldren with whom they in te rac t . There are of course, numerous other f igures in Engl ish l i t e ra tu re who might have been included in th is study. Merrygreek in Ralph Roister 117 Doister , Puck in A Midsummer Night 's Dream, Subtle and Face in The  Alchemist, Horner in The Country Wife, Richard Lovelace in C l a r i s s a , Macheath in The Beggar's Opera, S i r Willoughby Patterne in The Egois t , Chr isty in The Playboy of the Western World and Buck Mul1igan in Ulysses are examples of other dramatic and f i c t i o n a l characters who combine to a greater or lesser extent, features which are both humorous and d iabo l ic in .nature. Furthermore, i t i s not d i f f i c u l t to conceive of placing these characters wi th in a h i s to r i ca l framework, using the antecedent Vice of the moral i ty t rad i t i on as the basis for observing the evolut ion and transformation of the comic-demonic f igure in conjunction with the soc io-p o l i t i c a l and l i t e r a r y developments of l a te r centur ies. My basic premise in th is d isser ta t ion has been, however, that the re la t ionsh ip between the s p i r i t of comedy and the dark, destruct ive forces of the demonic realm i s a recurrent pattern in human experience, a pattern which i s mani-fested almost un ive rsa l l y , regardless of the factors of t ime, geographical l oca t i on , or the form of a r t i s t i c or cu l tu ra l representat ion. Without quest ion, in each of the works which are to be invest igated in the f o l -lowing chapters, the s o c i o - p o l i t i c a l , economic, cu l tu ra l and a r t i s t i c cl imate of the times has prepared a congenial s o i l fo r the transplantat ion of the comic-demonic f igu re . Rather than dwell at length on the h is to r -i ca l developments which have contributed to the preparation of th is s o i l , I have chosen to focus upon the element of congenial i ty i t s e l f . Because the comic-demonic f igure i s essen t ia l l y more an archetype than a dramatic convention, I have found i t more f r u i t f u l to consider extensively the ways in which a few of the most dynamic of these archetypal f igures 118 function within the personalized a r t i s t i c v is ion of four major Engl ish wr i te rs . In th is way then, the l as t ha l f of th is d isser ta t ion w i l l pre-sent an ana ly t ica l treatment of what are , to my mind, f i ve of the most "congenial" representatives of the comic-demonic f i g u r e , employing the Vice not so much as an analogue as an avatar--an ear l y , pervasive, and s ingu lar ly formalized embodiment of the confluent forces of the comic and demonic domains. 119 Notes for Chapter IV 1 The Al legory of E v i l , p. 125. 2 See Enid Welsford, The Foo l : His Social and L i terary History (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1956), p. 123, and Wil l iam Wi l l e fo rd , The Fool and His Scepter: A Study in Clowns and Jesters and Their Audience (Evanston, 111.: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1969), p. 18. 3 The Fool and His Scepter, p. 23. 4 In Anonymous P lays , 3d s e r . , ed. John S. Farmer, Ear ly Engl ish Drama Ser. (London, 1906), p. 44. 5 For example, P h i l l i p Stubbes writes in The Anatomy of Abuses (1583): "For who w i l l c a l l him a wise man that playeth the part of a fool and a v i c e . " Part I, ed. F. J . Furn iva l l (London, 1877-79), p. 146. ^ The fol lowing l i ne occurs in Ly l y ' s play A Whip For An Ape (1589): "Now Tar le ton 's dead, the Consort lacks a v i c e . " The Complete  Works of John Ly ly , ed. R. Bond (Oxford, 1902), I I I , 417. 7 R. J . Tiddy, The Mummers' Play (Oxford, 1923); Robert Withington, "The Ancestry of the V i c e , " Speculum, VII (1932), 525-29. 8 See Roskoff, The History of the D e v i l , I, 386, c i ted in Cushman, p. 71. g In Ralph Roister Dois ter , Merrygreek, although not s p e c i f i c a l l y designated as a V ice , de f i n i t e l y f u l f i l l s a number of the elements of the V i ce - ro le . ^ 0 "The Corpus Ch r i s t i Plays as Drama," Studies in Ph i lo logy, XXVII (1930), 578. ^ C. H. Herford and Percy and Evelyn Simpson, eds . , Ben Jonson, VI (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1938), I . i i . 84 -85 . From now on th is ed i t ion w i l l be referred to as Herford and Simpson, and a l l subsequent c i ta t ions from the works of Jonson refer to th is ed i t i on . Chapter V "A GENTLEMAN OF THE SHADE"—FALSTAFF AS VICE IN HENRY IV That Shakespeare employed several patterns from the moral i ty t rad i t i on in the structur ing of Henry IV has been acknowledged by a num-ber of c r i t i c s . ^ According to popular chronic le and legend, Prince Hal was a d issolute youth, a madcap Pr ince, who, a f ter a period of wi ld ex-p lo i t s and r iotous l i v i n g , suddenly underwent a kind of moral reformation pr ior to his accession to the throne. In both parts of Henry IV, Shake-speare examines Ha l 's l icent iousness and reform within the moral i ty frame-work. The Prince i s presented as a Mankind f igure ( in some respects s im i la r to Skel ton 's Prince Magnificence) who i s corrupted by the forces of e v i l , y ie lds to the excesses and revelry of the tavern and the bro the l , and ul t imately repents, abandoning his ev i l companions and a l ign ing him-se l f at the end with the side of v i r tue . In Shakespeare's History P lays , E. W. T i l l y a r d argues for the unity of the two plays par t ly on the basis of the s i m i l a r i t y in the moral i ty structures of both par ts . In Part 1, the Prince "has to choose Mora l i t y - fash ion , between Sloth or Vanity, to which he i s drawn by his bad companions, and Ch iva l ry , to which he i s drawn by his father and his brothers," while in Part 2, "he has to choose Mora l i t y - fash ion , between disorder or misru le , to which he is drawn by his bad companions, and Order or Jus t ice (the supreme kingly v i r tue) to which he is drawn by his father and by his fa ther 's deputy the Lord Chief J u s t i c e . " Although he appears only in the second par t , the Lord Chief Jus t i ce i s the pr inc ipa l representative of v i r tue in Henry IV, and S i r 120 121 John Fa l s t a f f , appearing in and dominating both par ts , i s , without ques-t i o n , the ch ie f representative of v i ce . The metaphor of the moral i ty i s pervasive throughout both plays espec ia l l y in reference to Fa l s ta f f . He i s e x p l i c i t l y i den t i f i ed as 3 "that reverend V i c e , " "that grey i n iqu i t y " "that vanity in years , " and i s imaged as beating Hal out of his kingdom with "a dagger of l a th " (1 , I I . i v .134 ) , presumably dr iv ing him to h e l l . F a l s t a f f s ro le as a tempter i s asserted as the Lord Chief Jus t ice accuses him of being the Pr ince 's " i l l angel" (2, I . i i i . 1 8 6 ) - - l i k e the Malus Angelus of The Cast le and the Digby Mary Magdalene--and Hal c a l l s him a "v i l l a inous abominable misleader of youth" (1, I I . i v .456 ) , and "the tutor and feeder of my r i o t s " (2, V.v .66) . He i s also associated with the Prince of the demonic realm, himself ; he i s "that o ld white-bearded Satan," "a dev i l . . . in the l ikeness of an old fat man" (1, I I . i v .457,441) . Moreover, as a dramatic character, Fa ls ta f f resembles, in many respects, a number of the Vice f igures we have encountered in the previous chapter. We have already remarked upon the Falstaff . ian analogues d iscern ib le in the char-acter of Gluttony in Medwall's Nature, who arms himself for bat t le with a cheese and bo t t le , and in the swaggering bravado of Sensual Appetite who proves the extent of h is m i l i t a r y prowess by " k i l l i n g " an already deceased man. Other cowardly braggarts preceding Fa ls ta f f include In iqui ty in King Darius, who boast fu l ly l i e s of his bravery in confront-ing Charity and then la te r attempts to f l ee to his mother for protect ion, and Ambidexter in Cambises, who also va in ly boasts and then runs for fear . F a l s t a f f ' s f i r s t appearance in 2 Henry IV "with his Page bearing 122 his sword and buckler" and his speech about his t a i l o r and the twenty-two yards of sat in for his new coat, r eca l l s the flamboyant entry of Pride in Nature, another swaggering dandy whose sword i s so heavy that he requires the services of his boy to carry i t . As the sensual man given over to the unbridled release of the baser passions, Fa ls ta f f resembles S lo th , Gluttony, and Lechery of the deadly s i n s , as well as such characters as Sensual i ty , Sensual Appet i te, Courage, and Natural Inc l ina t ion . In his a b i l i t y to double-deal, to change posi t ions in the midst of any s i t ua t i on , he is evocative again of Ambidexter who plays with both hands and also of Subtle Sh i f t in Clyomon and Clamydes. Furthermore, Fa ls ta f f is an inhabitant of the demonic realm, the secular ized underworld of the tavern, the bro the l , and the gal lows. 4 Like such f igures as Misch ie f , R io t , and Hikscorner, he i s a t h i e f , a highwayman, a taker of purses; and jokes about hanging and incarcerat ion abound throughout both plays so that the ominous r e a l i t y of Newgate, Tyburn, and the Fleet i s never very far away from F a l s t a f f ' s person. S i m i l a r l y , in his ro le as "the v i l l a inous abominable misleader of youth," he f u l f i l l s a function of several of the Vice f igures previously examined—namely, the tutor ing of the young moral delinquent in the d i s -s ipat ions of tavern and stews. In F a l s t a f f ' s f i r s t dramatic appearance, we are given a sa l ien t image of the r iotous world in which he dwel ls . To his scene-opening question of "what time of day i s i t , " the Prince rep l i es : What a dev i l hast thou to do with the time of day? Unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons, and clocks the tongues of bawds, and d ia l s the signs of leaping houses, and the blessed sun himself-a 123 f a i r hot wench in flame-coloured t a f f e ta , I see no reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand the time of day. . (1, I . i i . 6 -12) Shakespeare's r i ch idiom as ref lected in the words of the Prince conveys a marvelous picture of the landscape of F a l s t a f f ' s demonic universe. In i t s embodiment of the t imeless realm of the ins t inc ts and the eternal presence of sensual g r a t i f i c a t i o n , the world of the fa t knight i s not circumscribed by minutes on the clock or days on the calendar, but rather by the repet i t i ve experiences of eating and dr ink ing , and forn icat ing at the brothels ("leaping houses") with "hot wenches" wearing the t r a d i -t ional ta f fe ta pet t icoat of the p ros t i tu te . Like a l l Vice f igu res , Fa ls ta f f i s both a tempter and a schemer. In his ro le as tempter, he encourages the Prince to give reign to his predisposi t ion for " r i o t , " a word which the king employs four times when speaking of his son's d i ss ipa t ions . Fa l s t a f f , who describes himself as l i v i n g "out of a l l order, out of a l l compass" (1, I I I . i i i . 1 8 - 1 9 ) , i s , in f ac t , an incarnation of the s p i r i t of disorder or misru le , and he attempts to make the Prince his pawn in the dissemination of th is s p i r i t throughout the kingdom. He advises the Prince to rob the k ing 's exchequer "with unwashed hands" (1, I I I . i i i . 1 8 3 ) , and attempts to convince him to el iminate the gallows from the realm: Fa ls ta f f : . . . But I pr i thee sweet wag, shal l there be gallows standing in England when thou ar t king? and resolut ion thus fubbed as i t i s with the rusty curb of old father Ant ic the law? Do not thou when thou ar t king hang a th ie f . Pr ince: No, thou sha l t . Fa l s ta f f : Shal l I? 0 rare! By the Lord, I ' l l be a brave judge! 124 Pr ince: Thou judgest fa lse already, I mean thou sha l t have the hanging of th ieves, and so become a rare hangman. Fa ls ta f f : We l l , Ha l , w e l l ; and in some sort i t jumps with my humour, as well as wait ing in court , I can t e l l you. Pr ince: For obtaining of su i t s? Fa ls ta f f : Yea, for obtaining of s u i t s , whereof the hang-man hath no lean wardrobe. (1, I . i i .56-71) The above interchange re f lec ts a number of Vice-moti fs interfused in the character of Fa ls ta f f . Besides the pattern of temptation, the concept of inversion is quite conspicuous in F a l s t a f f ' s v i s i o n , as the th ie f is to become a judge, and the po ten t ia l l y convicted felon to become the hang-man. S i m i l a r l y , the qua l i ty of resolut ion commonly associated with the forces of j us t i ce and order here becomes descr ip t ive of the temperament of the law-breaker, while the law i t s e l f becomes "father An t i c , " the old buffoon, which i s , of course, an inversion of the ro le that Fa ls ta f f him-se l f plays wi th in the context of the drama. We also are presented with an example of the double-sided .nature of the V ice ' s verbal w i t , in the puns on the words "court" and " s u i t s . " Hal interprets F a l s t a f f ' s remark to mean that he would jus t as soon be a judge or a hangman as a su i to r in the k ing 's court wait ing fo r royal favour. Fa l s ta f f , however, picks up the al ternate meanings of the two words to suggest that he would l i k e to wait in the courts of law for the c u l p r i t s ' " su i t s " or coats, which were t r ad i t i ona l l y given to the hangman af ter the execution. Like a l l V ices , Fa ls ta f f i s always looking out for his own material advantage, and the ro le of the hangman (which has also been associated with a number of V ice- f igures) appeals to him as a resu l t of both the physical benefi t 125 and the element of topsyturvydom which th is posi t ion would afford him. In his ro le of tempter and as an embodiment of the forces of d isorder , Fa ls ta f f i s d iametr ica l ly opposed to the f igure of the Lord Chief J u s t i c e , his chief antagonist in the struggle for the moral a l l e -giance of the Prince in the second part of Henry IV. He openly def ies the Chief J u s t i c e , ignoring the Tat ter 's summons to appear for question-ing in respect to the GadshiTl robbery, and uses his posi t ion as an o f f i ce r in the service to escape chastisement. The i n i t i a l encounter between these two is ind ica t ive of F a l s t a f f ' s a t t i tude towards the law--he both mocks i t and evades i t , pretending that i t does not ex i s t . Like Fo l l y in Magnificence, he feigns deafness, making bel ieve that he cannot hear the o f f i c i a l voice of reprimand, and changes the topic of conversa-t ion whenever i t i s directed at his misdeeds. He also bai ts the Chief Jus t i ce with "more than impudent sauciness" (2, I I I . i i . 1 2 3 ) , accusing him of being old and in f i rm, and turning his serious pronouncements to bantering j e s t , another pattern we have previously seen in the mocking at t i tude of the Vice towards the personi f ied representative of v i r tue : Chief Jus t i ce : Wel l , the t ruth i s , S i r John, you l i v e in great infamy. Fa l s ta f f : He that buckles him in my bel t cannot l i v e in l e s s . Chief Jus t i ce : Your means are very slender and your waste is great. Fa l s ta f f : I would i t were otherwise; I would my means were greater, and my waist slenderer. (2, I . i i .155-62) Towards the end of Part 2, Shakespeare e x p l i c i t l y asserts F a l s t a f f ' s enmity towards the Chief J u s t i c e , and hence underlines further the 126 moral i ty structure of the p lays, as S i r John triumphantly proclaims upon his preparation to leave Gloucestershire to greet the newly-crowned king: "Let us take any man's horses, the laws of England are at my commandment. Blessed are they that have been my f r i ends ; and woe to my lord ch ie f -j us t i ce " (2, V.v.142-45). Besides being a tempter f i gu re , Fa ls ta f f i s also an inordinate schemer. He i s a f lagrant prevar icator whose "incomprehensible l i e s " (1, I . i i . i 8 0 ) are pervasive throughout both p lays. The Chief Jus t ice at one point remarks upon F a l s t a f f ' s "manner of wrenching the true cause the fa lse way" (2, I I . i i . 120 -21 ) , and the fa t rogue's "monstrous devices" (1, I I . iv .309) include hacking his sword and smearing the blood from a s e l f - i n f l i c t e d nosebleed over his garments in order to a t tes t to his valour during the Gadshi l l robbery; stabbing the body of the already deceased Hotspur and taking c red i t for k i l l i n g him; c lever l y manoeuvring his way out of paying his tavern debts to Mistress Quickly; duping Jus t ice Shallow out of a thousand pounds; and "misusing the King's press damnably" (1, IV . i i . 12 ) by accepting bribes from conscripted men who wish to avoid being sent to ba t t l e . F a l s t a f f ' s comedy also owes much to his der ivat ion from the moral i ty Vice. In the passages from the plays c i ted above, several ex-amples of the double-edged qual i ty of the V ice ' s verbal wit are readi ly apparent; and indeed, the pun and double entendre are i n t r i n s i c compon-ents of F a l s t a f f ' s humour. Moreover, the sublimated release of i ns t i nc -tual aggressive and sexual energy i s also manifest in the comic response which he generates. The tavern episodes, pa r t i cu la r l y in Part 2, are 127 laden with obscene sexual innuendos—references to the pox, "naked weapons," and r id ing the "mare" abound; and the comic bat t les with Fang and Snare and with Captain P i s to l reca l l the rough and tumble brawls of the Vice and the low characters in almost every moral i ty . During the scu f f le that takes place when Fang and Snare attempt to arrest Fa ls ta f f for f a i l i n g to pay his tavern debts to Mistress Quickly, the aggressive overtones are c lea r l y evident in the fa t knight 's mock-heroic c r i e s : "Away va r le ts ! Draw, Bardolph: cut me of f the v i l l a i n ' s head: throw the queen [Mrs. Q.] in the channel" (2, I I . i i . 5 0 - 5 2 ) . L ike the V i ce ' s dagger of la the, F a l s t a f f ' s weapons are, however, essen t ia l l y non- le tha l ; he car r ies a bot t le of sack in his p is to l case at Shrewsbury, and the only person he stabs with his sword in bat t le i s already dead. The f i n a l d ispos i t ion of Fa l s ta f f at the end of Part 2- -h is banishment from the new king's presence—is also in accordance with the moral i ty structure of Henry IV. T rad i t i ona l l y the Vice f lour ished un t i l the conclusion of the drama, whereupon he was hanged, banished, or served with some other measure of punishment by the triumphant forces of v i r tue . F a l s t a f f ' s banishment also i s in keeping with the soc ia l pur-poses of comedy: the reassert ion of the t rad i t iona l system of values which, during the course of the drama, has been mockingly f louted. We shal l l a te r examine more c lose ly F a l s t a f f ' s l i be ra t ing attack on conven-t iona l value and the comic cathars is of repressed ins t inc tua l desire he provides, but at th is point we should note that S i r John manifests here both the charac te r i s t i c unconcern at his own dest ruct ion, and the typ ica l ubiquity of the Vice which transcends a l l attempts to constrain him. 128 Undismayed at his sentence, Fa ls ta f f i s more concerned with the thousand pounds he has taken from Shallow, and he advises the l a t t e r that his banishment has been a pretence devised by Hal in order to gain publ ic approval, and that he w i l l be pr iva te ly sent for that night to be f i t -t i ng ly rewarded. Moreover, in the Epilogue, Shakespeare undercuts the gravi ty of F a l s t a f f ' s punishment by promising the audience that they w i l l see more of " fa t meat" in the sequel to Henry IV. Both F a l s t a f f ' s indi f ference towards death and his i r r e p r e s s i -b i l i t y have, in f ac t , been implied at various points throughout both plays. When the she r i f f knocks at the door to invest igate the Gadshi l l robbery, Fa ls ta f f expresses his lack of alarm with a typ ica l verbal j e s t : " . . . l e t him enter. I f I become not a car t as well as another man, a plague upon my bringing up! I hope I shal l as soon be strangled with a hal ter as another" (1 , I I . i v .490-92) . Punning on the words "bringing up" which have a double meaning of "the summons before a court of law," and "soc ia l breeding or upbringing," Fa ls ta f f implies that his upbringing has been such that i t would be appropriate for him to take his place on the car t bearing the condemned to the gal lows. He noncha-lan t l y adds that he might as well d ie by hanging as by any other means, and then proceeds to f a l l asleep behind the arras while the sher i f f and his men search the house. His lack of concern i s extended toward the death of others as we l l . Without any thought for the i r safety , he leads his army of "ragamuffins" into the th ick of bat t le where a l l are slaugh-tered. Although some c r i t i c s view th is fac t as an ind icat ion of his lack of cowardice, i t i s more l i k e l y that Fa l s ta f f , always looking out 129 for his own material advantage, is more interested in co l l ec t i ng his men's dead pay, which was general ly given to the captain of so ld iers s l a i n in 5 combat. When Hal comments on the p i t i f u l s ight of the band of vagabonds, F a l s t a f f ' s re tor t reveals the almost inhuman indi f ference of the Vice towards the morta l i ty of his fo l lowers: "Tut, tu t , good enough to toss , food for powder, food for powder, t h e y ' l l f i l l a p i t as well as bet ter ; tush, man, mortal men, mortal men" (1, IV . i i . 65 -67 ) . The ubiquity of the Vice in his embodiment of the unbridled energy of the ins t inc ts i s also re f lec ted by Fa ls ta f f on several occasions. When Bardolph informs Poins and the Prince that his master i s " in bodi ly hea l th , " poins declares: "Marry, the immortal part needs a physic ian; but that moves not him: though that be s i ck , i t dies not" (2, I I . i i . 111 -13 ) . And i t i s of course th is immortal and demonic part of him that also "dies not" on the b a t t l e - f i e l d at Shrewsbury. Preva i l ing over such evanescent values as honour and courage, F a l s t a f f ' s l i f e i ns t i nc t i s so powerful that he paradoxical ly counter fe i ts death so that he may l i v e . Feigning death in order to escape being s l a i n by Douglas, he la te r r i ses in phoenix- l ike fashion only to assert himself as "the true and perfect image of l i f e indeed" (1, V . iv .118) . Moreover, the sheer pervasiveness of the l i f e - f o r c e of which he i s representative i s dramatical ly asserted when at one point he i den t i f i es himself as " S i r John with a l l Europe" (2, I I . i i . 1 4 6 ) , and even more i n c l u s i v e l y , when he warns Hal against sev-ering the i r re la t ionsh ip : "banish plump Jack, and banish a l l the world" (1, I I . i v .474) . When Hal rep l ies "I do, I w i l l " (1. 475), he is fore-shadowing the inev i tab le doom which awaits Fa ls ta f f at the end of Part 2. 130 It i s also inev i tab le , however, that in banishing "plump Jack, " the Prince w i l l deprive himself of the v i t a l i t y of the l i f e - f o r c e which the "world" of the fat knight represents. Up to th is point we have been examining the moral i ty structure of Henry IV and F a l s t a f f ' s embodiment of the ro le of Vice within that st ructure. To view the two plays simply as examples in the la te r moral i ty t rad i t i on i s , however, to l im i t immeasurably the scope of Shakespeare's complex moral v i s i o n . Using the pattern of the moral i ty as the foundation for the dramatic ac t i on , Shakespeare thematical ly probes the meaning of th is conventional structure in both p lays. Although the sides of contention are c lea r l y drawn—order versus d i s -order, v i r tue versus vice—there i s a serious questioning of the v a l i d i t y of th is kind of categorical d i v i s i o n , an imp l i c i t suggestion that neither side is pre-eminently the morally superior one, that both sides are necessary for the development of a complete exper ient ia l awareness, and that each side contains both deleter ious weakness and nurturing strength. Shakespeare suggests that , rather than a c lea r l y demarcated d i v i s ion of the cosmic forces into the moral categories of good and e v i l , a profound ambiguity underl ies a l l experience, and nowhere i s t h i s suggestion more d iscern ib le than in his treatment of Fa l s t a f f , a character in whom the V i c e - l i k e qua l i t y of ambiguity i s , perhaps, developed to i t s f u l l e s t po ten t ia l . The foregoing chapters have discussed how a profanation of the sacred cha rac te r i s t i ca l l y underl ies the comedy of the V ice , how his blasphemous mockery undercuts the sacred values of the t rad i t i ona l order, 131 resu l t ing in the "breaking up of a l l res t ra in ts " which i s generic to the comic response. F a l s t a f f ' s comedy contains th is very kind of l i be ra t ing irreverence directed against such sacred values as t ru th , v i r tue , valour, honour, law, k ingship, and death. Bradley, in his analysis of Fa ls ta f f as "the enemy of anything ser ious, and espec ia l l y everything respectable and moral ," presents an excel lent summary of the various ways in which th is infernal humorist promotes the comic profanation of sacred values in Henry IV: He w i l l make truth appear absurd by solemn statements, which he utters with perfect gravi ty and which he expects nobody to be l ieve; and honour, by demonstrating that i t cannot s i t a l e g , and that neither the l i v i n g nor the dead can possess i t ; and law, by evading a l l the attacks of i t s highest representative and almost forc ing him to laugh at his own defeat; and pat r io t ism, by f i l l i n g his pockets with the bribes offered by competent so ld iers who want to escape service while he takes in the i r stead the hal t and maimed and gaol -b i rds ; and duty, by showing how he labours in his vocation—of th iev ing ; and courage, a l i ke by his mocking at his own capture of C o l v i l l e and gravely claiming to have k i l l e d Hotspur; and war, by of fer ing the Prince his bot t le of sack when he i s asked for a sword; and r e l i g i o n , by amusing himself with remorse at odd times when he has nothing else to do; and the fear of death, by maintaining per-fec t l y untouched, in the face of imminent p e r i l , and even while he fee ls the fear of death, the very same power of d isso lv ing i t in pers i f lage that he shows when he s i t s at ease in his inn . ° There i s , however, another factor underlying F a l s t a f f ' s demonic mockery of the sacred mores of the t rad i t iona l order besides "the break-ing up of a l l r e s t r a i n t s . " Shakespeare employs the fa t knight 's comic desecrations as a means of exposing the weakness and corruptions of the preva i l ing soc ia l i n s t i t u t i ons . Like the Vice who holds a curious in te r -mediating posi t ion between the audience and the dramatic ac t ion , Fa ls ta f f i s somewhat detached from the incidents presented on stage, and serves as commentator on the p o l i t i c a l overtones of the h i s to r i ca l events which 132 are the focus of the two plays. When Fa ls ta f f defends thievery as being his vocat ion, an honest way to make his l i v i n g , not only i s he d iabo l -i c a l l y parodying the div ine scr ip ture ("Let every man abide in the same vocation wherein he was ca l l ed " [I Cor inth ians, V I I ] ) , but he i s also i nd i r ec t l y providing a sharp c r i t i c i s m against the ingrained thievery of the world of the court . While F a l s t a f f ' s vocation i s purse-taking, that of the court may be defined as throne-snatching; the King has stolen the crown from Richard I I , and now the rebels led by the Percies are prepar-ing to take the throne once more. In his l as t speech to Prince Ha l , the king admits that his acqu is i t ion of the crown has not been an honest one, and i t has subsequently resul ted in a further rebe l l ion by another group of power-seekers: God knows, my son, By what bypaths and ind i rec t crook'd ways I met th is crown; and I myself know well How troublesome i t sat upon my head. I t seem'd in me But as an honour snatch'd with boisterous hand, And I had many l i v i n g to upbraid My gain of i t by the i r ass is tances; Which da i l y grew to quarrel and to bloodshed. Wounding supposed peace. (2, IV.v.184-96) S i m i l a r l y , F a l s t a f f ' s avowed lack of concern over the slaughter of his men--"food for powder; t h e y ' l l f i l l a p i t as well as be t t e r " - - i s not only an example of the indi f ference of the V ice ; i t i s , as w e l l , a scath-ing comment on the i n s e n s i b i l i t y of the ru l ing c lass towards the vast expenditure of human l i f e which takes place in bat t les prompted by petty and often unscrupulous causes or the personal desire for power. In much the same way F a l s t a f f ' s devious nature, his pred i lec t ion for t e l l i n g 133 "incomprehensible l i e s " (1, I . i i .180) is mirrored in Prince John's equiv-ocating promise to the rebels that he w i l l redress the i r gr ievances, only to lead them to the i r execution a f ter they have discharged the i r armies in good f a i t h . And his feigning of death on the ba t t l e f i e l d i s also re f lec ted in the s im i l a r l y underhanded m i l i t a r y t ac t i c of having several men disguise themselves as the king in.order to deceive the enemy. Furthermore, F a l s t a f f ' s re ject ion of the c h i v a l r i c ideal of honour serves as a commentary on the dubious qua l i ty of the honour mani-fested even by those nobles who are acclaimed to possess i t . Where i s the honour in a man l i k e the king who steals the crown from another, or in a man l i k e Prince John who, through fa lse promises, convinces the enemy to agree to a truce? And f i n a l l y , the qua l i ty of Hotspur's honour i s l ikewise assai led as Shakespeare reveals him to be a man who, while professing his i d e a l i s t i c be l i e f in the justness of the rebe ls ' cause, cold-bloodedly plots to d iv ide the kingdom into three equal par ts , a man who goes so far as to suggest a l te r ing the course of the River Trent in order to ensure that his sect ion w i l l have as much land as the others. Like the comedy of the V ice , that of Fa ls ta f f i s characterized by the fes t i ve s p i r i t of "topsyturvydom." Shakespeare has care fu l l y s t ruc-tured both plays so that the comic sequences, in s ty le and s t ructure, represent an inversion of the serious sections of the p lo t : the l i f e of the court is replaced by the l i f e of the tavern; verse y ie lds to prose; gravi ty of language i s superseded by obscenity and verbal w i t ; v ice sup-plants v i r t ue ; disorder overwhelms order; author i ty gives way to l i cence ; and idleness d ispels the s p i r i t of enterpr ise. Although he i s the chief 134 protagonist of the comic sect ions , Fa l s t a f f , paradoxica l ly , holds a median posi t ion between both p lo ts : he i s both a knight and a frequenter of taverns. In a remarkable example of the kind of verbal wit typ ica l of the V ice , he describes himself as a "squire of the n ight 's body" (1, I . i i . 2 4 ) , punning on both "night" and "body" so that the various com-binations become "squire of the knight 's body," "the n ight 's bawdy," and "the knight 's bawdy." The t r i p l e ambiguity of F a l s t a f f ' s word-play may in f ac t , be taken as a graphic c r y s t a l l i z a t i o n of Shakespeare's three-dimensional moral v i s i o n . The f i r s t meaning i s representative of the side of vir tue—the protector or bodyguard of n o b i l i t y ; the second i s an image of the r iotous l i v i n g of the underworld realm; and the th i rd i s a composite of the previous two, and i s the one which most c lose ly approxi-mates the hybrid qua l i t y of F a l s t a f f ' s ambiguous moral stance. Through the upside-down impulse of his comedy, Fa ls ta f f transports the world of the court to the tavern at Eastcheap when he conducts the money of the "King 's exchequer" to the "King 's tavern," and when he parodies the sovereign ro le in the great Tavern Scene in Part 1; and conversely, he transports the s p i r i t of the tavern to the a f f a i r s of the court when he car r ies a bot t le of sack in his p i s to l case at Shrewsbury, and when he indulges in s a t i r i c comment and j es t both on the b a t t l e - f i e l d and at the Council of War at which, s i g n i f i c a n t l y , both he and the king are present. When Fa ls ta f f takes a cushion for his crown, a dagger for his scepter, and ascends his j o in t - s too l throne at the Boar's Head Tavern with Prince Hal kneeling at his fee t , he does, in f ac t , l i t e r a l l y become 135 a mock k ing, a lord of misrule presiding over a topsyturvy realm. During <his sovereignty of disorder marked by the comic v io la t i on of cu l tu ra l value and the undermining of both parental and p o l i t i c a l author i ty , laws lose the i r rest ra in ing powers and l icence becomes the inverted order of the day. Replacing the serious concerns of bat t le and c i v i l government are the indulgences of the sensual appet i tes-- the eat ing, dr ink ing, and love-making which are charac te r i s t i c of holiday ce lebrat ion. Although Fa ls ta f f i s never seen ac tua l ly eat ing--as a matter of fact the tavern b i l l in his pocket indicates that the amount of food he consumes i s excessively outbalanced by "an in to lerab le deal of sack" (1, I I . i v .535 ) - -he i s constantly associated with a kind of epicurean gastronomy, through references to his huge be l ly and his "gormandizing" glut tony, and through the p ro l i f e ra t i on of food imagery which surrounds him. I t i s s ign i f i can t that through th is imagery, Fa ls ta f f i s presented not only as a glutton but also as a feas t . He is i den t i f i ed as " fa t meat" (2, Epi logue), "sweet beef" (1 , I I I . i i i . 1 7 6 ) , " r i b s " (1 , I I . i v .109 ) , "chops" (1, I . i i . 1 3 2 ) , a "roasted Manningtree ox with the pudding in his be l l y " (1, I I . i v .446-47) ; and when Poins refers to him as "Martlemas," or the feast of St . Mar t in , and when Doll Tearsheet endearingly c a l l s him "thou whoreson l i t t l e t idy Bartholomew boar p ig" (2, I I . i v .250) - - the famous sucking-pig served at the Bartholomew fa i r - - t he associat ion of Fa ls ta f f with both the carnival and the feast i s e x p l i c i t l y a f f i rmed . 7 F a l s t a f f ' s associat ion with the s p i r i t of f e s t i v i t y i s also dra-mat ica l ly underlined in Prince Ha l 's so l i loquy at the end of the f i r s t Tavern Scene in Part 1. Referring to the "unyok'd humour of [the] 136 id leness" ( I . i i . 191 ) of his tavern companions (an image of the unbridled release of the ins t i nc ts de f i n i t i ve of both the comedy of the Vice and the fes t i ve order of celebrat ion) the Prince suggests that his da l l iance with the " loose behaviour" (1. 203) of the underworld realm has provided him with a holiday from the everyday world: I f a l l the year were playing hol idays, To sport would be as tedious as to work; But when they seldom come, they wish 'd- for come. (11. 199-201) Also contained in the Pr ince 's so l i l oquy , however, is the suggestion that the holiday i s only of l imi ted durat ion. He reveals that he intends at some future date to reform, to d issoc ia te himself from the idleness of merry-making, to "redeem time" (1. 212) when he returns to the serious concerns of the work-a-day world. Within th is context then, F a l s t a f f ' s banishment ; i s inev i tab le . Not only w i l l he be, in s t r i c t l y expedient terms, an unsuitable companion for the Prince once he ascends the throne, but also as a symbol of the carn iva l and the feas t , his reign bf misrule must terminate once the holiday i s over. The r i t u a l i s t i c pattern of comic f e s t i v i t y i s , however, only one dimension of the qua l i ty of topsyturvydom which Fa ls ta f f re f l ec ts in his embodiment of the ro le of V ice . As previously observed, F a l s t a f f ' s comic profanation of sacred value not only provides a momentary l i b e r a -t ion from the constraints of the preva i l ing s o c i o - p o l i t i c a l order, but i t serves as a kind of moral commentary upon the hypocrisy and lack of p r i n -c i p l e inherent in that order as w e l l . Indeed, his power of inversion i s such that he stands the world on i t s head, reveal ing the so-ca l led realm of v i r tue to be as demonic as the chief representative of v i ce . 137 Although th is pattern i s present throughout both p lays, i t i s pa r t i cu la r l y evident in Part 2 where, as has been frequently suggested, Fa ls ta f f i s a less a t t rac t i ve and cer ta in ly more v ic ious character than in Part 1. Increasingly obsessed with his schemes--his taking of br ibes, his f leec ing of Shallow and Mistress Quick ly , his evasion of the law of the Lord Chief Just ice—and surrounded by images of his lechery and i n -f i rm i t ies , . , both of body and s p i r i t , Fa ls ta f f becomes a microcosmic symbol of the disease and corruption not only of demonic realm but also of the macrocosmic world. At the beginning of Act I I I , the King describes the in f i rm state of England, beset by c i v i l s t r i f e : Then you perceive the body of our kingdom How foul i t i s ; what rank diseases grow And with what danger, near the heart of i t . (2, I I I . i .38-40) Moreover, the King himself , no less than his kingdom, i s a f f l i c t e d with disease, an i l l n e s s which i s to take his l i f e near the end of the play. In th is sense then, the banishment of Fa l s ta f f , "that swollen parcel of dropsies" (1, I I . iv .444) i s a r i t ua l expulsion of disease from the realm; i t i s the inev i tab le decree of the new King in his attempt to restore his a i l i n g land to heal th. Following a s im i la r l i ne of argument, c r i t i c s such as J . I. M. Stewart and C. L. Barber have associated F a l s t a f f ' s banishment with his embodiment of the ro le of scapegoat. According to Stewart, he "symbolizes a l l the accumulated s in of the re ign , a l l the o consequent s t e r i l i t y of the land , " and, therefore, must be sac r i f i ced to bring about the regeneration of the kingdom. S i m i l a r l y , Barber, in his i den t i f i ca t i on of Fa ls ta f f with the s p i r i t of Carn i va l , examines his re ject ion in l i gh t of "the carrying off of bad luck by the scapegoat of 138 g saturnal ian r i t u a l . " This r i t u a l i s t i c pat tern, to which both wr i ters re fe r , was examined in the preceding chapter in a discussion of the s im i -l a r i t i e s between the end of the Vice f igure and Frazer 's descr ipt ion of the expulsion of the scapegoat, the person i f ica t ion of the fes t ive season, upon whose head were heaped a l l the sins and misfortunes of the community, and whose destruct ion often followed a period of l i cent ious revelry dur-ing which laws los t the i r t rad i t iona l prohibi tory powers. In many respects, the re ject ion of Fa ls ta f f at the end of Part 2 does f u l f i l l th is r i t u a l i s t i c pattern. He functions as both a symbol of disease and a person i f ica t ion of e v i l , and his banishment serves not only to r i d the land of i t s pervasive i n f i rm i t y , but also to provide the new king with a kind of expiat ion of gu i l t and absolut ion from s in der iv ing from his l i cent ious par t i c ipa t ion in F a l s t a f f ' s demonic world. A s im i la r expiat ion and absolut ion i s provided for the members of the audience who have l i k e -wise par t i c ipa ted , a lbe i t v i ca r i ous l y , in the v io la t i on of cu l tura l value during F a l s t a f f ' s holiday re ign. It i s , however, an unfortunate overs impl i f i ca t ion to assert that by banishing Fa l s t a f f , Hal removes disease and bad luck from his kingdom, for these are but one part of the double-sided nature of the comic-demonic f igure . Throughout both plays Fa ls ta f f i s imaged not only as an agent of e v i l , d isease, and d isorder , but conversely as an instrument of f e r t i l i t y and beneficence as w e l l . Ha l ' s descr ipt ion of the fa t rogue's f l i g h t during the Gadshi l l robbery, although mockingly de r i s i ve , i s , at the same time, an acknowledgement of the nurturing sustenance with which "plump Jack" is endowed: 139 Fa ls ta f f sweats to death, And lards the lean earth as he walks a long. (1, I I . i i . i 0 3 - 4 ) To lard i s to baste with f a t , and in his formal t r ibu te to sack, Fa ls ta f f claims a s im i l a r l y nurturing ef fect on that which i s also lean and barren, namely the Prince himself: Hereof comes i t that Prince Harry is va l i an t ; for the cold blood he did natura l ly inher i t of his fa ther , he hath l i k e lean, s t e r i l e and bare land,manured, husbanded, and t i l l e d with excel lent endeavor of dr inking good and good store of f e r t i l e she r r i s , that he i s become very hot and va l i an t . (2, IV . i i i .127-233) Fa l s ta f f , "the huge bombard of sack" (1, I I . iv .445) has indeed cu l t iva ted Prince Hal . In his induction into the generative v i t a l i t y of the demonic realm, the Prince has been "manured, husbanded and t i l l e d with excel lent endeavor" in order that he may emerge in f u l l blossom as a k ing. I t i s also relevant to observe that the manure which Fa ls ta f f employs in his t o i l i s another double-sided image of the V ice ' s simultaneous a t t rac t i ve -ness and repulsiveness, his comic f e r t i l i t y and his infernal putrefact ion. In deciding to have Hal re ject Fa ls ta f f at the end of Part 2, Shakespeare has apparently made a concession to the side of order and moderation as opposed to that of chaos and excess. Despite th is conces-sion to order, however, and the re-establishment of t rad i t iona l authori ty conventional to the patterns of comedy, the play closes on a note of dramatic ambiguity as we are l e f t to wonder at the dubious qua l i ty of that order, at the lack of humanity in a king who has expelled the v i t a l p r inc ip le from his realm. C. L. Barber also questions the dramatic v a l i d i t y of Shakespeare's decision to re ject Fa ls ta f f and, thereby, to l e g i t i m i z e the prevai l ing soc ia l and p o l i t i c a l power of the play. In 140 Barber's est imat ion, F a l s t a f f ' s ruthless opportunism and impersonal p o l i t i c a l manoeuvre as manifested in his philosophy, "if. the young dace be a ba i t fo r the o ld p ike, I see no reason in the law of nature but I may snap at him" (2, I I I . i i . 356 -59 ) , i s deeply ingrained in the ent i re society of the play. To free the society of th is a t t i tude merely by gett ing r i d of Fa ls ta f f and sanct i fy ing the emerging order of the new king and his pr inc ipa l adv isor , the Lord Chief J u s t i c e , is to deny the pervasiveness of the opportunism which Fa ls ta f f represents. As a resu l t , Barber argues that the f i na l scenes of the play par t ly f a i l , and he implies that Shakespeare might have done better to " l e t the play end with th is a t t i tude dominant, a harsh recognit ion that l i f e i s a nasty business where the big f ishes eat the l i t t l e f i shes , with the s ing le redeeming consideration that p o l i t i c a l order is better than a n a r c h y . " ^ I f we accept, however, the assert ion that the play ends on a note of moral ambiguity, then i t i s , in f a c t , possible to adopt such an interpre-ta t i on . By banishing from his presence his former close companion, Hal i s decidedly manifesting the impersonality of p o l i t i c a l manoeuvre, and, in th is sense, F a l s t a f f ' s f i na l re ject ion only proves that S i r John i s but a small f i s h a f te r a l l . In Henry IV, Shakespeare has tackled the essent ia l ambiguity of the comic-demonic f igure . Represented as both a vehic le of e v i l , disorder and disease, and a l ternate ly as an agent of f e r t i l i t y and beneficence, F a l s t a f f ' s double nature derives from his dual heritage—he is a character in whom the forces of ev i l and comedy are inex t r icab ly intertwined. Ross i te r ' s observation concerning the presence of two r i t ua l s underlying 141 the audience-response to the f i na l d ispos i t ion of the moral i ty Vice is extremely appropriate in accounting for the ambivalence evoked by F a l s t a f f ' s banishment: "At the end of the play when moral r i t ua l wants him hanged or otherwise punished, the comic wants him to get away with i t . " 1 1 Although Shakespeare ostensib ly makes a concession to moral r i t u a l , a fur ther , i f ind i rec t concession i s , however, made to the comic as w e l l , when in the Epilogue he promises to "continue the s tory , with S i r John in i t , " i f the audience i s not already "too much cloyed with fa t meat." Like Ambidexter the V ice , Shakespeare too is apparently play-ing with both hands. It i s because the character of Fa ls ta f f i s , in several respects, 12 a study in comic-demonic ambiguity that so much c r i t i c a l dispute has ar isen over the v a l i d i t y of his banishment and over such moral questions as whether or not he is a coward, a l i a r , and so fo r th . As a resu l t of the unresolved ambiguity of the p lays, we can now appreciate that F a l -s t a f f ' s f i na l punishment is both f i t t i n g l y sa t i s fy ing and uncomfortably d isappoint ing; s im i l a r l y he is both a coward and a brave man, a l i a r and a t e l l e r of t ru ths. And yet he is none of these as w e l l . Like the Vice f igure who, although a l l e g o r i c a l l y al igned with the side of e v i l , was often an amoral character whose actions were haphazardly motivated, Fa ls ta f f both encompasses and transcends the moral categories of good and e v i l , coward and brave man, l i a r and t e l l e r of t ru ths. Although he i s o l d , he constantly refers to himself as being young; although he i s pern ic ious, he i s generative as w e l l ; although he i s dynamically v i r i l e , he i s , nevertheless, depicted with feminine imagery, at one point 142 refer r ing to his huge be l ly as his "womb" (2, I V . i i i . 2 5 ) , and at another ident i fy ing himself with "a sow that hath overwhelmed a l l her l i t t e r but one" (2, I . i i . 13 -14 ) ; and although he dies in ba t t l e , he resusci tates himself in order to l i v e once more. This l a t t e r pattern i s , in f ac t , d iscern ib le at several points wi thin both plays as Fa ls ta f f manages to elude every attempt made to apprehend him. When he i s duped by Poins and the Prince at G a d s h i l l , he evades the s i tua t ion by explaining that he was aware of the i r i den t i t i es a l l along and invented his "incomprehensible l i e s " to amuse them; when he i s reprimanded by the Lord Chief Jus t i ce , and when he i s arrested by Fang and Snare, his evasive t a c t i c i s to de-mand the r ights and respect owing an o f f i ce r in the serv ice ; and when he i s assai led by Douglas on the b a t t l e f i e l d , he evades death by assuming i t s mask; and f i n a l l y when he i s banished from the King's presence and car r ied of f to prison at the end of Part 2, he i s rescued and revived in the Epilogue. An enemy to boundaries and const ra in ts , F a l s t a f f ' s ambiguity, l i k e that of the V ice , def ies a l l e f for ts not only to b r id le him but also 13 to categorize him. Constantly naming and renaming himself , and being named and renamed by others in the p lay, Fa ls ta f f re f lec ts a Protean qual i ty such that he can never be t o t a l l y grasped. He can change shape in the twinkl ing of an eye, reveal ing yet another posture of his mu l t i -dimensional character. There i s , however, a name that he appl ies to him-se l f during his f i r s t appearance on stage which, perhaps, more than any other, captures the quintessence of his moral ambiguity. Referr ing to himself as one of the "gentlemen of the shade" (1, I . i i . 2 6 ) , he re f lec ts 143 a coalescence of a l l three leve ls of the moral i ty pattern which Shake-speare del ineates in Henry IV--the realms of v i r tue and vice as well as the th i rd morally ambiguous world which l i e s between them. The topsy-turvydom of F a l s t a f f ' s verbal w i t , in the f i r s t p lace, resul ts in an inversion of the t rad i t iona l t i t l e used to describe members of the Royal Household, the Gentlemen of the Chamber who were the personal advisors of the king. By subst i tu t ing the word "shade," Fa ls ta f f reveals the place of his or igins—he is an inhabitant of the world of darkness, the nether regions of the demonic realm, "shade" being a synonym for Hades i t s e l f . Moreover, in th is epithet we are again able to perceive F a l s t a f f ' s ro le as the intermediary between two an t i the t i ca l worlds. He i s both a "gentleman," a member of the world of order and n o b i l i t y , and the chief representative of the underworld of disorder and v ice . Straddl ing two worlds, Fa ls ta f f paradoxical ly contains and transcends both of them. Defying moral ca tegor iza t ion, he i s , u l t i -mately, a composite of good and e v i l , l i gh t and darkness, an inhabitant of the world of "shade"—the ambiguous in-between realm of the comic-demonic f igure . 144 Notes for Chapter V See Bernard Spivack, "Fa l s ta f f and the Psychomachia," Shake- speare Quarter ly, VII (1957), 449-59; J . Dover Wilson, The Fortunes of  Fa ls ta f f (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1944), pp. 15-35; A. R. Humphries, " In t roduct ion," 1 Henry IV, Arden ed. (London: Methuen and Co . , 1960), pp. x l i - x l i i ; E. M. W. T i l l y a r d , Shakespeare's History Plays (London: Macmillan, 1946), pp. 264-66; and John W. Sh i r l ey , "Fa l s ta f f as Elizabethan Glut ton," Ph i lo log ica l Quarter ly, XVII (1936), 271-87. 2 Shakespeare's History P lays , p. 265. 3 1 Henry IV, 11. iv.446-48. Subsequent references are to the Arden edi t ion of Henry IV, Part 1, ed. A. R. Humphries (London: Methuen and Co . , 1960) and to the Penguin ed i t ion of Henry IV, Part 2, ed. A l lan Chester (Balt imore, 1957). 4 Dover Wilson in The Fortunes of Fa ls ta f f has given a thorough account of the s i m i l a r i t i e s between Fa ls ta f f and R io t , the Vice in Youth. 5 See J . W. Draper, " S i r John F a l s t a f f , " Review of English  Studies, VII (1932), 414-24, for a discussion of the Elizabethan custom for Captains to draw the "dead pay" of the i r so ld iers los t in ba t t l e . A. C. Bradley, Oxford Lectures on Poetry (London: Macmillan, 1909), pp. 262-63. 7 Dover Wilson includes a comprehensive sect ion en t i t l ed "Sweet Beef" in The Fortunes of Fa l s ta f f , which deals with the meat imagery associated with the fa t knight; and J . I. M. Stewart uses some of Dover Wilson's observations as a basis for his argument that Fa ls ta f f is repre-sentat ive of the animal s a c r i f i c e required to bring about the future f e r t i l i t y of the land. "The B i r th and Death of F a l s t a f f , " in Character  and Motive in Shakespeare (London: Longmans, Green, 1949). 8 "The B i r th and Death of F a l s t a f f , " p. 138. Q "Rule and Misrule in Henry IV," in Shakespeare's Fest ive Comedy, p. 206. 1 0 Barber, p. 217. ^^ Engl ish Drama from Early Times to the El izabethans, p. 91. 12 Both Wil l iam Empson in "Fa l s ta f f and Mr. Dover Wi lson," Kenyon  Review, XV (1953), 213-62, and A. P. Rossi ter in "Ambivalence: The Dia-l e c t i c of H i s t o r i e s , " in Angel with Horns, ed. Graham Storey (London: Longman Group, 1961), pp. 40-64, provide some excel lent insights concern-ing the nature of Shakespeare's dramatic ambiguity. 145 Barber mentions th is aspect of F a l s t a f f ' s character in pas-sing but does not expand upon i t ("Rule and Misrule in Henry IV," p. 197). Chapter VI THE BLACK SATURNALIA—THE COMIC-DEMONIC REALM OF VOLPONE Although Jonson was heavi ly inf luenced by c l a s s i c a l models in his development as a dramatist, at the same time he was, l i k e Shakespeare, also indebted to the native element in Engl ish drama, pa r t i cu la r l y the a l l ego r i ca l moral i ty t rad i t i on of the Tudor and ear ly Elizabethan periods. A number of scholars have indicated the associat ion between-the homilet ic moral i ty t rad i t i on and Jonson's d idac t ic comedies. Charles Gayley, for example, has commented upon the inf luence of the moral i ty play on Jonson's "humour" comedies; 1 Harry Levin has pointed out the moral i ty conventions in Jonson's casts and p lo t s , in the redende Namen of his characters, in the beast fable of Volpone, or the gaping Hell-mouth of The Devil i s an Ass; Madelein Doran, while acknowledging the re la t ionship between the mature comedies and c l ass i ca l and I ta l i an models, has stated that " in the i r moral-psychological combination of motives, they seem . . . to have 3 closer a f f i n i t y with the moral i ty play t r a d i t i o n " ; and Alan C. Dessen in Jonson's Moral Comedy, a work devoted to the i den t i f i ca t i on of the elements of the native moral i ty play in Jonson's drama, has concluded that "the three great comedies [Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew  Fair] represent the culmination of the English moral i ty t r a d i t i o n . " 4 One scholar has even traced the inf luence of the moral i ty Vice himself on the characters of Volpone and Mosca. Rainer Pineas has suggested that Volpone f u l f i l l s the role of the Vice because he openly gloats over his schemes to corrupt his v ic t ims, because he employs the instruments of 146 147 disguise and deception, and because he i s "motivated by his love of ev i l 5 for i t s own sake rather than for any secondary cause." Following Spivack's observations on the emergence of one vice as the dramatic superior over the lesser forces of e v i l , Pineas f inds Mosca to be the chief Vice of the p lay, because the parasi te manipulates the act ion and most of the in t r igue , because of his use of disguise and the dissimulat ion of laughter and weep-ing , and because of his moral iz ing against e v i l . While Pineas 1 observations about Volpone's and Mosca's embodiment of the V ice- ro le are suggestive, the dramatic meaning of these observa-t ions i s la rge ly undeveloped. Through a more expansive examination of the V i c e - l i k e qua l i t i es of these two f igures as they function within the thematic context of the play i t s e l f , i t i s , however, possible to demon-strate that not only i s the prototypical Vice present in Volpone,.but.the ent i re play i s , in fac t , a dramatization of the ambiguous underworld of the comic-demonic realm. In the Prologue, Jonson refers to Volpone as "quick comedy ref ined" and promises to rub the cheeks of the theatre-goers unt i l they are "red with laughter." Although the abrasive qua l i ty of the humour is here i m p l i c i t l y acknowledged, neither "comedy" nor " laughter" are terms which, alone, are s t r i c t l y appropriate in capturing the pecul iar qua l i ty of th is play. The world picture Jonson presents i s one of darkness, cor-rupt ion, and profound e v i l , unmitigated by an af f i rmat ive sense of order and decency. C r i t i c s have voiced the i r discomfiture at the p lay; they have protested against the malevolence and savage humour re f lec ted in such s i tuat ions as a fa ther 's unwarranted cruel ty toward his son, a 148 husband's abhorrent p ros t i tu t ion of his w i fe , and the loathsome rape-attempt that subsequently takes place against her. On the other hand, however, they have also protested against the sever i ty of the punishment which Volpone receives at the end of the p lay, one commentator suggesting that his f a l l leaves the audience "more disturbed at his unhappy lo t than exhi larated at the return of some modicum of j us t i ce to Venice." This ambivalence d iscern ib le in the c r i t i c a l react ion to Volpone i s one which we have previously observed in our discussion of the response generated by the comic-demonic f i gu re , whose double-visaged nature makes him a character simultaneously a l l u r i ng and repugnant to the audience. Overtones of the demonic realm are cer ta in ly pervasive throughout Volpone, both in the imp l i c i t associat ion of the magnifico of Venice and his parasi te with the ro le of V ice , and in the i r e x p l i c i t i den t i f i ca t i on with the forces of d iabo l i ca l e v i l . In an a r t i c l e en t i t l ed "The Satanic Nature of Volpone," Charles A. Hal le t has demonstrated the re la t ionsh ip between Volpone and the beast fable t r a d i t i o n , in which the fox i s a symbol of the d e v i l : The modus operandi of a l l these fox-dev i ls i s the same. F i r s t the fox plays upon the f l esh l y desires of man: whatever an i nd i v idua l ' s par t i cu la r weakness—pride, avar ice , lust—the fox w i l l use i t to undo him. Having trapped his prey he then proceeds to devour him. Both to manipulate and to punish sinners—therein l i e s the t r a d i -t ional ro le of the f ox - l i ke d e v i l . So also operates Jonson's fox. As a tempter and la te r as tor -mentor of those who succumb to his temptations, Volpone is manifest-ing the two at t r ibutes essent ia l to the fox of the fable t r a d i t i o n . 7 Mosca, whose name is Lat in for " f l y " is also i den t i f i ed with the forces of infernal e v i l . In Jonson's t ime, the l ikeness of the f l y was commonly employed to depict the fami l i a r s p i r i t or demon associated with witches 149 o or wizards, and Volpone's references to his parasi te as "my wi t ty mis-ch ief " (V . i i i . 102 ) and "my f ine d e v i l " ( V . i i i . 4 6 ) , a lso suggest that Mosca symbol ical ly functions as the s p i r i t of ev i l which informs Volpone's f o x - l i k e , demonic stratagems. Like the Vice of the moral i ty convention, Volpone and Mosca are further associated with the realm of ev i l by v i r tue of the i r roles as tempters and schemers. They consciously prey upon the avar ic ious and voluptuous desires of the i r v ic t ims, tempting Corbaccio to d i s inhe r i t his son, Corvino to prost i tu te his w i fe , and Voltore to debase the pr inc ip les of j us t i ce to which his profession is sworn. Volpone's pr inc ipa l i ns t ru -ment of temptation i s his gold and the ma te r i a l i s t i c pleasures which unlimited wealth can af ford the possessor. The "sensual ba i ts " ( I I I . v i i . 210) with which Volpone, in the remarkable seduction scene, attempts to ent ice Ce l ia - - the exot ic d e l i c a c i e s , the heady erot ic ism of the imagery, the promise of Protean powers—are, in f ac t , the same lures he holds out to the three capatores, the birds of prey who hover around the death bed, wait ing for the magnifico to d i e , each one bel iev ing himself to be the hei r to a boundless fortune. During the f i r s t scene of the p lay, Volpone in typ ica l Vice-fashion confides his stratagems for temptation: Women and men of every sex and age, . . . bring me presents, send me p la te , co in , jewels, With hope that when I die (which they expect Each greedy minute) i t sha l l then return Tenfold upon them; wh i ls t some, covetous Above the res t , seek to engross me, whole, And counter-work the one unto the other, Contend in g i f t s , as they would seem in love. A l l which I su f fe r , playing with the i r hopes, 150 And am content to coin 'em unto p r o f i t , And look upon the i r kindness, and take more, And look on that ; s t i l l bearing them in hand, Lett ing the cherry knock against the i r l i p s , And draw i t by the i r mouths, and back again. ( I . i .77-90) Imaged in terms of a cherry dangled in f ront of the l i p s of his v i c t im , the sensual bai t of Volpone's gold embodies the potent ial g ra t i f i ca t i on of man's voluptuous des i res- -a c r y s t a l l i z a t i o n of the v i s u a l , t a c t i l e , gustatory and sexual s e n s i b i l i t i e s . Spivack's comments on the function of the Vice to bring about the moral and sp i r i t ua l f a l l of his v ic t im so as to reveal the fundamental e f fect of the ev i l he person i f ies , are appl icable to Mosca and Volpone in the i r roles as tempters: "The heart of his ro le is an act of seduct ion, and the charac te r i s t i c stratagem whereby the Vice achieves his purpose i s a v i v id stage metaphor for the s l y insinuat ion of ev i l into the human breast " . (p . 152). Furthermore, l i k e the moral i ty V ice , Volpone and Mosca not only del ight in the suc-cessful temptation of the i r v ic t ims, but also at the same time of fer some homilet ic commentary on the nature of the f a l l en state to which they have led the i r prey. "What a rare punishment / Is avarice to i t s e l f " ( I . i v .143-44) , declares Volpone a f ter Corbaccio has been persuaded to a l t e r his w i l l making the magnifico his he i r , while Mosca goes so far as to moralize upon the nature of the ev i l embodied by his master himself . When, a f ter the rape attempt, Volpone voices his fears of apprehension and re t r ibut ion by the o f f i ce rs of the law, Mosca rep l ies with a maxim which might have come r ight out of a pu lp i t sermon: "Gu i l t y men / Suspect what they deserve s t i l l " ( I I I . v i i . 20 -21 ) . In order to carry out the i r plans for the temptation and 151 subsequent torment of the i r v ic t ims, Volpone and Mosca devise several schemes. Both are masters in the use of disguise and d iss imula t ion ; they are both s k i l l f u l a r t i f i ce rs - -Vo lpone , once a professional actor who appeared in a masque in honour of the future Henry III of France, takes great pride in his a b i l i t y to appear in "changed shapes" ( I I I . v i i . 2 2 1 ) , while Mosca boasts of his capacity to "change a v isor swi f ter than a thought" ( I I I . i . 29 ) . Under Mosca's theat r ica l d i r ec t i on , Volpone plays a s ick and dying man in order to lure the three capatores, a mountebank in order to catch a glimpse of C e l i a , and a commendatore, a sergeant of the cour t , in order to badger and torment his gu l l s fur ther . Not only Volpone's coach and tutor in the ar t of deception, Mosca himself has wide-ranging act ing a b i l i t y . In order to ingrat ia te himself with Bonario, he uses a technique charac te r i s t i c of the V ice , the d iss imula-t ion of tears , an a r t i f i c e which ul t imately convinces the d is inher i ted son that the parasi te i s a virtuous man, a f r iend who is a l t r u i s t i c a l l y concerned with the wel l -being of others. S i m i l a r l y , Mosca plays the ro le of a humble and obsequious servant to per fec t ion, not only to the g u l l s , but to the magnifico himself , f l a t t e r i ng and manipulating for the pur-poses of his own craf ty opportunism. As we have seen, the a b i l i t y to d iss imulate, to appear in a guise other than one's natural form is i n t r i n s i c to the realm of e v i l . Related to th is propensity to assume other shapes i s Volpone's and Mosca's Satanic desire to transcend the l im i t s of the i r ordained state and become God- l ike. In a perceptive reading of the p lay, A lv in Kernan emphasizes the importance of the theme of act ing to the overal l dramatic meaning, 152 suggesting that for both Volpone and Mosca "act ing opens up . . . a brave new world of the imagination where man can contend with the Gods them-g se l ves . " Both master and servant revel in the i r Protean natures--Volpone promises Ce l ia the insurmountable pleasures.of enacting in "changed shapes" the many "fables of the Gods" ( I I I .v i i .221,225) and pro-claims his a b i l i t y to contend " in varying f igures" ( I I I . v i i . 152) with the god Proteus himself , while Mosca congratulates himself on his super-human ubiqui ty , his power to "be here / and there, and here, and yonder a l l at once" ( I I I . i . 26 -27) . The central image of the p lay, go ld , also i den t i f i es both Volpone and Mosca with the demonic realm, money being, as the moral axiom would have i t , "the root of a l l e v i l . " Moreover, th is image also associates them with such moral i ty f igures as Avar ice , the Vice with the money-bags in Respubl ica, and S i n , the Vice who i s the grandson of the a l l ego r i ca l person i f ica t ion of Money in A l l For Money. I t i s s i g n i f i c a n t , however, that Volpone's fundamental concern is neither the possession of gold for i t s own sake nor i t s use in bringing about the moral damnation of mankind, but rather the power i t provides him as an instrument in making dupes out of others. He makes th is point very ear ly in the play: Yet , I glory More in the cunning purchase of my wealth Than in the glad possession. ( I . i .30-32) Combined with Volpone's cunning i s a del ight in the sport that emanates from his par t i c ipa t ion in demonic in t r igue . Although he i s metaphorically al igned with the forces of e v i l , he i s , l i k e the prototypical V ice , an essen t ia l l y amoral character, who i s attached to his e th ica l stance more 153 out of the s e l f i s h love of the pleasure i t affords than out of any f i rm ideological commitment. Never sa t i s f i ed with the success of one s t ra ta -gem, he i s constantly seeking more s t imula t ion, in quest of "any device now of rare ingenious knavery / That would possess [him] with a v io lent laughter" (V . i .14-15) . Contained in the juxtaposi t ion of the terms "knavery" and " laughter" is an overt statement of Volpone's comic-demonic nature, his double-sided ro le as fun-maker as well as devious ins t iga to r of e v i l . The kind of comedy which Volpone generates in his ro le as fun-maker is general ly a hos t i l e one in which the humour car r ies with i t overtones of latent aggression. Volpone's comedy of aggression i s in accordance both with the Hobbesian view that laughter resu l ts from the "sudden glory" experienced by the ind iv idual through a momentary perception of his own s u p e r i o r i t y , 1 0 and with the hypothesis of l a te r theoret ic ians such as Anthony Ludovici that laughter i s an expression of "super ior adaptation" —a re f lex act ion der iv ing from the pr imi t ive need to bare one's teeth in demonstration of the effect iveness of one's weapons. 1 1 Much of the comedy of the play does, in f ac t , emanate from Volpone and Mosca's aggres-s ive v ic t im iza t ion of the i r dupes in order to prove the i r own "superior adaptat ion." Volpone is not content merely to outwit Corvino, Corbaccio, and Vol tore in order to make laughingstocks of them. Having succeeded in extract ing a s izeable g i f t from each of them, he then prepares further to torment them. Revealing that Mosca has been made his he i r , he assumes a new d isgu ise , that of a clownish sergeant of the court , and openly taunts them each in turn. The aggressiveness of the humour i s 154 also revealed in the language of the play. Volpone g lee fu l l y advises Mosca to "play the a r t i f i c e r now, torture 'em rare ly" (V . i i .112) and "torment 'em more" ( V . i i i . 1 0 6 ) , while he voices his own desire to "vex 'em s t i l l at every turn" ( V . i i i . 1 1 2 ) . Mosca, using a conventional form of word play charac te r i s t i c of the moral i ty V ice , also manifests the underlying aggressive qua l i ty of the p lay 's comedy. Taking advantage of Corbaccio's growing deafness, Mosca insu l ts him shamelessly: Corbaccio: I may have my youth restored to me, why not? Mosca (as ide) : Your worship i s a precious ass - -Corbaccio: What sayest thou? Mosca: I do desire your worship to make haste, s i r . ( I . iv .129-31) Volpone, playing the ro le of a comatose man on his deathbed, can barely contain himself during Mosca's verbal abuse of Corbaccio, and when the l a t t e r leaves, the magnifico responds with the laughter of exul tat ion also cha rac te r i s t i c of the V ice : 0, I sha l l burst! Let out my s ides , l e t out my s ides. ( I . iv .133) Furthermore, l i k e the Vice of convention, Volpone and Mosca not only demon-st rate the i r superior adaptation by humorously attempting to set the i r dupes at cross-purposes--to "counter-work the one unto the other" ( I . i .83 ) --but they are also involved in a bat t le of wits with each other, a bat t le somewhat evocative of Spivack's descr ipt ion of the comic contention which t r ad i t i ona l l y takes place among the moral i ty vices in order to estab l ish 12 "who is top dog in the hierarchy of e v i l . " Playing r ight into Volpone s scheme to torment his g u l l s , Mosca attempts to dupe his master out of his 155 fortune by refusing to admit to the court that the magnifico i s s t i l l a l i v e , and Volpone, rather than al lowing himself to be outwitted by his servant, decides to condemn himself in order to expose the paras i te . ' The comedy of aggression inherent in Volpone i s almost always directed at the undercutting of the human image; and by ul t imately making both Volpone and Mosca the butts of each other 's strategems, Jonson i s , in f ac t , permitt ing both himself and the audience to express the i r own superior adaptation through the laughter directed at the protagonists ' f i na l discomfi ture. I t i s in terest ing that the v io la t i on of the human image also underl ies Jonson's own theory of comedy--the comedy of "humours." In Jonson's drama, the comic characters are general ly moti-vated by a s ingle "humour" or spec i f i c psychological t r a i t , s im i la r to Pope's concept of the " ru l ing passion" or Sterne's Shandean "hobby horse"; and i t is th is s ing le t r a i t which dominates and propels each character 's behaviour throughout the play. The theory of humours i s defined by Jonson in the Induction to Every Man Out of His Humour: . . . when some one pecul iar qua l i ty Doth so possess a man, that i t doth draw A l l his a f f ec t s , his s p i r i t s , and his powers, In the i r conf lux ion, a l l to run one way, This may be t ru ly said to be a humour. In Volpone, the actions of the three gu l ls are completely determined by the i r b l ind avar ice , Mosca's behaviour. is always prompted by his craf ty opportuni t ies, and that of Volpone i s motivated by his love of both sensu-a l i t y and in t r igue. Informing the comedy of humours i s Jonson's use of the metaphor of the beast fab le . Each character is r i g i d l y conceived in terms of an animal--a fox, a f l y , a raven, a crow, a vu l tu re - - in order to 156 demonstrate thematical ly that a l l o f them are s ing ly ruled by the i r bes t ia l natures; that they have a l l , in f o l l y , subst i tuted the material pleasures of sensual g r a t i f i c a t i o n for the sp i r i t ua l aspirat ions of man. The v io la t i on of the human image is also fundamental to Henri Bergson's assert ion that laughter i s provoked through the perception of "something 13 mechanical encrusted on the l i v i n g . " In other words, when ind iv iduals lose the f l e x i b i l i t y and e l a s t i c i t y which are de f i n i t i ve of being human, and function r i g i d l y and automatical ly l i k e machines, the comic response is e l i c i t e d , and we laugh to see the ideal human image thus undercut. When man i s portrayed in terms of a machine o r , as in the world of Jonson's p lay, in terms of a beast, i t i s also an ind icat ion that the comic p r inc ip le of inversion i s probably at work. The human and the mechanical, as well as the human and the b e s t i a l , are general ly viewed as antipodal in nature, and when one i s construed in the place of the other, a kind of topsyturvydom resu l t s . The s p i r i t of comic inversion i s , in f ac t , central to the pervading atmosphere of Volpone. From the opening scenes a reversal of t rad i t iona l value i s estab l ished, and th is reversal is sustained throughout the ent i re play. We have seen how the force of inversion integral to the ro le of the comic-demonic f igure i s general ly conveyed by a profanation of the sacred, an overturning of the re l ig ious and moral precepts upon which the t rad i t iona l order i s founded. A profanation of sacred values is i n i -t ia ted in the f i r s t scene of the play in which Volpone i s at his morning prayers, his hymn of devotion, a parody of Chr is t ian worship from i t s very f i r s t words: 157 Good morning to the day, and next my gold: Open the shr ine, that I may see my sa in t . Hail the world 's sou l , and mine ( I . i . 1 -3 ) The inversion of t rad i t iona l value here is shockingly blasphemous, as the audience is abruptly introduced to the upside-down world of Volpone in which the worship of go ld , a base metal, has replaced the worship of God. The perversion of re l ig ious imagery mu l t ip l ies throughout the opening speech. Not only i s gold Volpone's "sa in t " and "sh r ine , " i t i s also his " sou l " and his " r e l i c " which he kisses with fe rv id adorat ion. Volpone's displacement of the sp i r i t ua l with the material world i s expanded meta-phor ica l ly unt i l i t resu l ts in a to ta l inversion of the natural order. The "splendour" of his gold has "darkened" the sun, the natural source of l i gh t and generation; and jus t as day has been ecl ipsed by night , so the realm of heaven has been ob l i te ra ted by the sensual urges of the realm of h e l l : Dear sa in t Riches, the dumb god that g i v ' s t a l l men tongues That cans ' t do nought, and yet makes men do a l l th ings; The pr ice of sou ls ; even h e l l , with thee to boot, Is made worth heaven! ( I . i .21-25) In Volpone's idolatrous worship of his gold, the s p i r i t of topsyturvydom i s re leased, a s p i r i t which i s to inform the rest of the drama. The play i t s e l f i s , in f ac t , a study in the reversal of values which takes place when hel l becomes heaven, when the high is perverted to the low, when men become beasts, and when the comic profanation of the sacred resul ts in the temporary ascendancy of the demonic underworld. Most of the act ion of the drama takes place in the underworld 158 set t ing of Volpone's chamber, the fox-hole which i s described by Bonario as "the den of v i l l a i n y " ( I I I . v i i . 273 ) . As a resu l t of the force of inver-s ion , the infernal chamber becomes " th is blessed room" ( I . i . 1 3 ) , and Volpone's go ld , a shrine or a l t a r to which various supplicants are drawn to worship. It i s an ind icat ion of the outrageous perversion of moral and sp i r i t ua l value, that Corvino uses the re l ig ious metaphor of Chr is -t i a n i t y in order to ra t iona l i ze his motivation for pros t i tu t ing his wi fe . He explains that i t would be "a pious work, mere char i ty " ( I I I . v i i . 6 5 ) , to o f fer Ce l ia to Volpone's bed. The underworld realm is also conducive to the d is in tegrat ion of human re la t ionsh ip . In Volpone's den not only are the t i es of marital f i d e l i t y between husband and wife severed, but also the bonds between parent and ch i l d are ru th less ly broken. Volpone reveals his enmity to the natural forms of human connection in his open-ing speech when he states that the joy he derives from his gold far transcends " a l l s t y le of joy in ch i l d ren , parents, f r iends" ( I . i . 1 7 ) . He la te r re-asserts his pos i t i on , one of emotional freedom, happily cut of f from the res t r i c t i ons of human bondage: What should I do But cocker up my genius and l i v e free To a l l the del ights my fortune c a l l s me to? I have no w i fe , no parent, c h i l d , a l l y To give my substance to . ( I . i .70-74) Volpone's desire to " l i v e free to a l l . . . de l i gh ts , " unencum-bered by the obl igat ions of human involvement or by any e th ica l or sp i r -i tua l d i c ta tes , corresponds to Cushman's descr ipt ion of the V ice , who "as the embodiment of wor ld l iness and sensual i ty . . . i s free from a l l bonds 14 of moral i d e a l s . " The attempt to achieve the freedom from a l l 159 res t ra in t i s , of course, charac te r i s t i c of both the comic and demonic realms, the demonic constantly seeking to overthrow the prohib i t ions of d iv ine law, the comic constantly seeking a release of the psychological tensions emanating from the inh ib i to ry processes of maintaining the values and ins t i t u t i ons of the soc ia l order. Moreover, we are also fami l i a r with the fact that the "breaking up of a l l res t ra in ts " which i s the keynote of comedy, often manifests i t s e l f dramatical ly in a satur-nal ian mode, a topsyturvy holiday from everyday l i f e . In the underworld realm of Volpone's chamber, the r i t es of a grotesque Saturnal ia are con-ducted in which the darker passions of the human psyche are momentarily permitted to triumph over the repressive forces of c i v i l i z e d l i f e , and in which we, as members of the audience, are permitted v icar ious ly to par t i c ipa te . The pattern of l i cent ious revelry i s one of the motifs employed by Jonson in his construct ion of the various symbolic leve ls of Volpone. It i s s i gn i f i can t that the real name of Scoto of Mantua, the famous mounte-bank whose guise Volpone at one point assumes, was D ion is io , as Percy 15 Simpson has pointed out. As a resu l t of th is a l l u s i o n , somewhat obscure to modern audiences but probably fami l i a r enough to theatre-goers of Jonson's t ime, an associat ion is made between Volpone and Dionysius, the Greek god of wine and f e r t i l i t y , whose fol lowers celebrated with pro-cessions of f renzied l icence and drunken debauchery the P h a l l i c r i t ua l s which gave r i se to the or ig ins of comedy in Ancient Greece. Throughout Volpone, images of the feas t - -o f eat ing, d r ink ing , and entertainment--abound. Af ter each of the gu l l s has presented his g i f t to the magnifico 160 and departed, Volpone inst ructs Mosca: Prepare Me music, dances, banquets, a l l de l igh ts ; The Turk i s not more sensual in his pleasures Than w i l l Volpone. (I .v.86-89) He also informs the parasi te that he wishes to postpone meeting Lady Would-be un t i l he i s "high with mirth and wine" (I .v.99) and speaks of the pleasure he derives from tormenting his v ic t im in terms of "a rare meal of laughter" (V . i . 86 ) . In the seduction speech of the Third Act , Volpone attempts to ent ice Ce l ia with a sumptuously exot ic banquet com-posed of rare de l i cac i es : The head of parrots , tongues of n ight ingales, The brains of peacocks, and of estr iches Shal l be our food, and could we get the phoenix Though nature los t her k ind, she were our d i sh . ( I I I . v i i .202-5) The perversion of re l ig ious value by material voluptuousness which marks the opening scene of the play i s here re- inforced through the language employed by Volpone to describe his "sensual b a i t s . " Rel igious imagery is used to depict the ecstacy of sensual g r a t i f i c a t i o n . The "true heaven of love is to be ' t a s t e d ' " (1. 140), and the i r drink i s to be "prepared gold and amber" (1. 217), a parody of the Divine Sacrament in which go ld , Volpone's "dumb god," i s i t s e l f to be consumed. In Jonson's saturnal ian v i s i o n , sensual i ty is carr ied to i t s most debased extreme. Volpone's i nv i ta t i on to Ce l ia to share his "dr ink" of gold--as well as to "d isso lve and drink" (1. 193) a rope of pearls and to "eat . . . at a meal" (1. 201) a b r i l l i a n t carbuncle and a diamond that "would have bought L o l l i a Paul ina" (1. 195)--carr ies with i t , in 161 psychoanalytic terms, overtones of coproph i l ia . That there i s a symbolic associat ion between excrement and money, go ld , or gems has been f re -quently suggested by Freud and la te r psychoanalytic wr i te rs , and the fact that Bbnario subsequently refers to Volpone's gold as " th is dross" ( I I I . v i i .271) supports the making of such an assoc-iation-with the underlying * metaphor of the play. Moreover, th is metaphor insinuates that not only i s gold something to be ingested, but also people themselves are to be c a n n i b a l i s t i c a l l y devoured. The cann iba l i s t i c a l lus ions of the play are at one point made quite e x p l i c i t when Volpone admits that he achieves more sensual pleasure in beholding the g i f t s of his v ic t im than in grow-ing " f a t , by eating once a month a man" ( I . v i . 92 ) . The animal imagery of the beast fable which underl ies the plot of Volpone, also functions thematical ly as an ind icat ion of the carnivorousness of the central char-ac ters . The crow, the raven, and the vulture are a l l birds of prey; they f lock around Volpone's chamber "to peck for car r ion" ( V . i . 6 6 ) , to feed upon the fox who purposeful ly presents himself as a dying old man "turning carcass" ( I . i i . 9 0 ) . In turn the fox feeds on his gulls--"Who would / Have los t th is feast?" (V . i i i . 107 -8 ) c r i es Volpone a f ter witnes-s ing , from behind a screen, Mosca's consummate s k i l l in tormenting Vol tore, Corbaccio, and Corvino. And f i n a l l y , Mosca, the " f l e s h - f l y " ( V . i x . l ) , who i s by profession a "pa ras i te , " uses his devious opportunism to feed upon everyone with whom he comes in contact. Volpone's saturnal ia of ins t inc tua l g r a t i f i c a t i o n i s manifested not only through images of eating and dr inking but also by the most fo r -bidden forms of sexual l i cence . In the seduction scene, Volpone attempts to 162 entrance Ce l ia with a splendid poetic v is ion of sensual i ty , one in which the images of food, dr ink , and erot ic ism p ro l i f e ra te one upon the other and are in ter fused. The scene is (or at least should be), however, one that i s profoundly comic in nature, and much of the comedy derives from the juxtaposi t ion of the sensuously romantic language with the gross r e a l i t y of Volpone's aim. Volpone i s a lecherous old man who wishes to ravish the body of an innocent young g i r l . That Ce l ia i s somebody e l s e ' s wife only adds f i r e to Volpone's des i re , as his imagined pleasure is i n tens i -f ied by the fact that he and Mosca have hoodwinked Corvino into playing the ro le of procurer. Besides being comic, the scene contains demonic overtones as w e l l - - C e l i a , whose name means the Heavenly one, i s represen-ta t i ve of the person i f ica t ion of v i r tue whom Volpone, in his ro le as agent of d iabo l i ca l e v i l , wishes to corrupt. There i s , furthermore, imp l i c i t in the sexual re la t ionsh ip between an old man and a young g i r l an imp l i c i t vehic le for the potent ial v io la t ion of the taboo of inces t , which may, in th is context, be viewed as one of the most threatening and, hence, demonic of the hidden human impulses released in the saturnal ian s p i r i t of comedy contained wi th in the play. Promiscuity, espec ia l l y that of an exot ic nature, character izes Volpone's sexual urge in a l l i t s manifestat ions. Free from the res t ra in ts of the mari tal re la t ionsh ip , Volpone has fathered a number of ch i ldren whom, we learn , are a l l bastards Some dozen, or more that he begat on beggars, Gypsies, and Jews, and black-moors when he was drunk. (I .v.43-45) 163 One of his bastards, Androgyne is a hermaphroditic f o o l , a concrete symbol of the confusion in sexual boundaries which resu l ts from Volpone's comic-demonic perversion of sexual moral i ty . This confusion in sexual r o l es , the representation in the play of "women and men of every sex" ( I . i . 7 7 ) , i s even extended towards the re la t ionsh ip between master and paras i te . Volpone i s constantly embracing and k iss ing Mosca, and addres-sing him in terms of loving endearment. The homosexual nature of the i r attachment i s al luded to almost b la tant ly when Volpone emerges from be-hind the screen af ter watching Mosca's performance, and rapturously exclaims: My wi t ty mischief , Let me embrace thee. 0 that I could not Transform thee to a Venus. (V . i i i . 102 -4 ) Jonas A. Bar ish , in his b r i l l i a n t analysis of the sub-plot of S i r P o l i t i c and Lady Would-be, and i t s re la t ion to the main plot of the p lay, f inds images of sexual ambiguity in both sect ions: The confusion of sexes symbolized in Androgyno, in the indiscr iminate journeyings of the soul of Pythagorus, in Volpone's masquerade as Antinous, in Lady Would-be's e r ro r , as well as in the reversed mascu-l ine-feminine roles of S i r Pol and Lady Would-be, contributes i t s own kind of abnormality to the deformity of the moral atmosphere ch ie f l y f igured by the metamorphoses of beasts into menJ6 To Bar ish 's observations we might add that the confusion of forms between male and female, as well as between man and beast, can also be connected to the pattern of saturnal ian topsyturvydom which we have been explor ing. I t has been frequently pointed out by a number of anthropologists and l i t e r a r y c r i t i c s that the donning of animal pel ts and the masquerading in the clothes of the opposite sex have been charac te r i s t i c features of 164 seasonal r i t es and fes t i ve celebrat ions of cu l tu res , both ancient and modernJ 7 In th is sense, the breaking up of a l l res t ra in ts inc i ted by the forces of the comic-demonic realm is directed against the boundaries which separate the rat ional and best ia l aspects of man's nature, as well as those which d iv ide the human being into two poles of sexua l i t y , each one of which has r i g i d l y defined soc ia l roles which are not permitted to be v io lated during the normal course of everyday l i f e . I t i s also in keeping with the saturnal ian s p i r i t of the play that the order of l i cent ious revelry i s of l imi ted durat ion. By the end of Volpone, the holiday feast has reached i t s end; the dr ive for sensual g r a t i f i c a t i o n has expended i t s e l f in i t s own self-devouring i n s a t i a b i l i t y . As one of the jus t i ces of the Venetian court proclaims in a statement which re f lec ts a symbolic fusion of the imagery of feas t ing , b e s t i a l i t y , and e v i l : Mischiefes feed Like beasts, t i l l they be fa t and then they bleed (V.x i i .150-51) Like the prototypical V ice , Volpone i s unmasked and punished at the end of the drama, and the four Avocator i , the representatives of the t r a d i -t iona l soc ia l order, to some extent manage to reassert the system of moral value which has been mockingly f louted and debased during the tem-porary ascendancy of the underworld realm. The sentence passed down upon the magnifico by the F i r s t Avocatori i s a harsh one: Thou ar t to l i e in pr ison, cramped with i rons , T i l l thou be 's t s ick and lame indeed. (V.x i i .123-24) The comic-demonic f igure cannot, however, be t o t a l l y rest ra ined. Although 165 he may be br id led l i k e Inc l i na t ion , the Vice of The T r i a l of Treasure, he can never be subjugated completely. While Jonson speaks in the in t ro -ductory Ep is t l e of his aim to "put the snaf f le in the i r mouths that cry out: We never punish vice in our in te r ludes , " he seemingly undercuts th is statement by having Volpone return from prison in order to speak the f i na l l ines of the play. Like Fa ls ta f f in 2 Henry IV, Volpone i s ex-pel led from the dramatic society only to be i m p l i c i t l y reintegrated at the conclusion of the drama. Jonson, as well as Shakespeare, has appar-ent ly been caught in the double-bind created by the ambiguous tension of the an t i the t i ca l responses generated by the comic-demonic f igure . This ambiguity i s c r y s t a l l i z e d in Volpone's remark upon receiv ing his sentence: "This is ca l led mort i fy ing of a Fox" (V .x i i . 125 ) . Demon-s t ra t ing once more his a f f i n i t y with the Vice f igure who cha rac te r i s t i ca l l y reacts with avowed unconcern at the prospect of his own death or chast ise-ment, Volpone displays a kind of gallows humour which centers around his punning on the word "mor t i fy ing. " On one l e v e l , the verb "mort i fy" means to k i l l , destroy, or humi l ia te, and in th is sense Volpone i s a r t i cu la t i ng his awareness of his doom; on another l e v e l , "mor t i f i ca t ion" has a meaning of re l ig ious se l f -den ia l or sensual abnegation, and in th is context, the re-asser t ion of t rad i t iona l value at the end of the play i s t a c i t l y aff i rmed. By forc ing the se l f - indu lgent voluptuary to become an asce t i c , the s p i r i t of topsyturvydom ul t imately completes i t s f u l l c i r c l e , and the underworld realm is once again submerged, divested of i t s temporary pre-dominance. On the other hand, however, i t s power and v i t a l energy are i m p l i c i t l y acknowledged and even sanc t i f i ed . As Percy Simpson has 166 ind icated," to mort i fy" also i s a cookery term meaning to make meat tender 18 by al lowing i t to hang af ter i t has been k i l l e d . In th is sense then, Volpone becomes both s a c r i f i c e and sacrament. Like Fa l s ta f f , who i s also represented in terms of roasted game, Volpone not only par t ic ipates in the saturnal ian feast but also i s , in himself , both the embodiment and s a c r i f i c i a l v ic t im of that feast . Frazer has traced the widespread custom in pr imi t ive agr icu l tu ra l soc ie t ies of "eating the god sacramen-19 t a l l y , e i ther in the shape of man or animal ." This custom, which i s also probably at the root of Chr is t ian r i t ua l in the receiving of the Host, whereby worshippers consume in symbolic form the body and the blood of the s a c r i f i c i a l d i v i n i t y , permits the members of the community to in te rna l i ze the v i t a l physical energy of the scapegoat f igure . Volpone, although a representative of the demonic realm, i s a l so , as Kernan has 20 ind icated, God-l ike in his a b i l i t y to transcend the l im i ta t ions of the human state through the transforming powers of his creat ive imagination. This essent ia l dual i ty i s contained within the mult ip le leve ls of the pun, through which the "mort i fy ing of a Fox" resul ts in both his destruc-t ion and his regeneration. As a resu l t of Volpone's f i na l d i spos i t i on , he funct ions, l i k e most comic-demonic f i gu res , as a scapegoat for the members of the audience as well as for the Venetian soc ie ty . Through the publ ic expulsion of the ev i l which the scapegoat represents, the dramatic community receives a sense of absolut ion from both the fear of the menace he poses to the ex is t ing soc ia l s t ruc ture, and the g u i l t which springs from the vicar ious par t i c ipa t ion in the release of the ins t inc tua l urges de f i n i t i ve of the 167 comic ca thars is . Although i t i s necessary that Volpone be punished for his transgressions against moral law, we, as members of the audience, at the same time want him to escape, secret ly g ra t i f i ed by the release of the forbidden* demonic, impulses he has permitted us. Moreover, we desire his escape for he i s , despite his moral reprehens ib i l i t y , an extremely capt ivat ing character. In his imaginative v i t a l i t y , his Protean powers, his sensual ebul l ience and passion for l i f e , he t o t a l l y ecl ipses C e l i a , Bonario, and the four Avocator i , the colour less representat ives.of v i r tue and j us t i ce in the play. Both he and Mosca possess the inordinate a b i l i t y "to make / So rare a music out of d iscords" (V . i i . 17 -18 ) , a music which, although of " fa l se pace" ( I . i i . 4 ) l i k e Nano's verse, i s , nevertheless, strangely mel l i f luous and resonant in timbre. In our contradictory responses to Volpone's f i na l punishment, we may perceive a restatement of the double-view we i n i t i a l l y encountered in the l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m of Vol pone, some scholars protest ing against the malevolence of the comic ac t i on , others protest ing against the unmerited sever i ty of the sentence given the magnifico at the conclusion of the drama. Jonson, l i k e Shakespeare, dramatical ly plays upon the state of unresolved tension which ar ises whenever we are confronted with the simul-taneously a l l u r i ng and repe l l ing tendencies of the comic-demonic f igure . Both Fa ls ta f f and Volpone par t ic ipa te in the ambiguities and confusion in forms of the underworld realm. Like Fa l s ta f f , Volpone i s an old man who possesses the physical vigor and mental a g i l i t y of youth; l i k e Volpone, Fa ls ta f f cannot be bound by the r i g i d categories of male and female. S i m i l a r l y , both men are i den t i f i ed with both the forces of 168 disease and those of regeneration. Volpone plays the ro le of a s ick and dying old man who has los t the senses of s ight and hearing as well as the potency of his sexual powers. As Kernan has observed, the magnif ico's symptoms, although diss imulated, function symbol ical ly to suggest the disease and deformity of his sou l , his moral blindness and deafness as 21 well as his sp i r i t ua l s t e r i l i t y . When the metaphor of sickness and impotency i s , however, juxtaposed with the remarkable gusto and vibrance of the man, his embodiment of the indomitable v i t a l i t y of the sensual passions, then we again must behold yet another double-visaged manifes-ta t ion of a character in whom the forces of both comedy and ev i l converge. Although a state of unresolved tension, a sense of strained con-t r a d i c t i o n , is integral to both Volpone and Henry IV, i t i s pa r t i cu la r l y heightened in Jonson's p lay, and i s dramatical ly magnified to an almost in to lerab le in tens i ty as the act ion progresses. Both Barish and Bonamy Dobree have commented on th is atmosphere of per i lous equi l ibr ium in Volpone, both of them a r t i cu la t i ng the uneasy qua l i ty of the play in s im i la r terms. According to Bar ish , "Volpone comes nearer to tragedy than any of Jonson's comedies and contains more b i t t e r and unpleasant scenes. Jonson asks us to walk a very narrow edge between laughter and d isgust , and i f we or the actors lose our balance, some scenes may become 22 unbearable." And Dobree, comparing Volpone with Le Misanthrope, l i k e -wise describes the play as a kind of comedy "per i lous ly near tragedy, in which the balance is so f ine that i t seems sometimes as i f i t would 23 topple over into the other form." In both Henry IV and Volpone, we are , in f ac t , ca l led upon to 169 walk the t ightrope of moral ambiguity; in the l a t t e r , however, our state of dramatic suspension is a more precarious one. This foreboding sense of loss of balance i s caused by the anxiety which is provoked in face of the threatening aspects of saturnal ian l i cence. Although a l l three plays are, in many respects, representative of a kind of l i t e r a r y Sa tu rna l ia , a comic-demonic overturning of the t rad i t iona l systems of value, the comic release engendered by the "breaking up of a l l res t ra in ts " i s , in Volpone, car r ied to such an extreme that the comedy i s , at any point , in danger of y ie ld ing to the demonic forces which are also set free within the symbolic context of the dramatic ac t ion . We have only to look at the manifestations of th is comic-demonic release submerged within the latent meanings of the p lay 's imagery and s t ructure, in order to rea l i ze that the underworld realm of Volpone unvei ls the grossest forms of s p i r i t u a l , moral, and physical degeneracy. Rel igious blasphemy, b e s t i a l i t y , physical deformity, hermaphroditism, rape, inces t , sadism, cannibal ism, cop roph i l i a - -a l l of these fearsome and forbidden tendencies are l iberated wi th in the ambiguous darkness of Volpone's "den of v i i l a i n y . " In the f i r s t chapter we noted that comedy often provides a " d i s -arming mechanism," an ef fect of psychological d istancing through which the audience is able to detach i t s e l f from the threatening aspects of the demonic forces, thereby obtaining r e l i e f from anxiety and fear . While th is disarming mechanism c lea r l y functions in both Volpone and Henry IV, i t s e f f i cacy as a safety-providing out le t in Jonson's play i s stretched to i t s fur thest l i m i t s . In Henry IV, the unresolved tension 170 centering around F a l s t a f f ' s moral ambiguity i s sustained in perfect balance throughout the play. In Volpone, however, the ambiguity of the comic-demonic realm is constantly on the verge of co l laps ing and revea l -ing i t s e l f in i t s f u l l unambiguous horror; and, s i m i l a r l y , the comic response is continuously on the verge of being overwhelmed by the fear , outrage, and disgust that are ca l led for th whenever the unmitigated images of Saturnal ian excess unleash the perverse, demonic impulses always at work wi thin the underworld of man's consciousness. 171 Notes for Chapter VI I Plays of Our Forefathers (New York: Duffied and Co . , 1903), p. 298. Ben Jonson: Selected Works, ed. Harry Levin (New York: Random House, 1938)7 p. 11. 3 Endeavours of Art (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1954). 4 Jonson's Moral Comedy (Evanston, 111.: Northwestern Univ. Press. 1971), p. 250. 5 "The Moral i ty Vice in Volpone," Discourse, V (1962), 452. Robert E. Kno l l , Ben Jonson's Plays: An Introduction (L inco ln : Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1964), p. 92. 7 Ph i lo log ica l Quarter ly, XLIX (1970), 43. Q Thomas Mouffet, The Theatre of Insects (London, 1658), pp. 932, 951. This work i s c i ted in both K n o l l , Ben Jonson's P lays , p. 97, and Hal l e t , "The Satanic Nature of Volpone," p. 45n. Q " Int roduct ion," Volpone, Yale Ben Jonson ed. (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1962), p. 13. 1 0 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, edited with an introduct ion by Michael Oakeshott (Oxford: B. B lackwel l , 1957). I I The Secret of Laughter, p. 17. 1 2 The Al legory of E v i l , p. 141. 1 3 "Laughter," p. 84. 14 Cushman, p. 91. 15 Herford and Simpson, IX, 704. 1 6 "The Double Plot in Volpone," Modern Ph i lo logy, LI (1953), 89. 1 7 Ian Donaldson, The World Upside-Down: Comedy from Jonson to  F ie ld ing (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), pp. 15-16, discusses the trans-vestism which often takes place during f e s t i v a l s , and c i tes Naogeorgus (Kirchmeyer), The Popish Kingdom of An t i ch r i s t (1570), a document which describes the Elizabethan custom at the Shrovetide holiday as fo l lows: "Both men and women chaunge the i r weede, the men in maydes array, / And 172 wanton wenches drest l i k e men, doe travel by the way." A lso , see Frazer, The Golden Bough; Chambers, The Medieval Stage; Welsford, The Foo l ; W i l l e fo rd , The Fool and His Scepter; Cornford, The Origins of A t t i c  Comedy.• I o Herford and Simpson, IX. 1 9 The Golden Bough, p. 648. 20 " Int roduct ion," Volpone, p. 13. 2 1 I b i d . , pp. 21-24. 2 2 "The Double Plot in Volpone," p. 85. 2 3 Restoration Comedy 1660-1720 (Oxford, 1924), p. 15. Chapter VII "FLEXIBLE IN THE JOINTS AND LIVELY ON THE WIRE"--THE DEMONIC COMIC-HEROINE IN VANITY FAIR Although the form of Vanity Fa i r unquestionably f a l l s within the category of the novel , there are several thematic and tonal qua l i t i es d iscern ib le wi thin the work which suggest i t s a f f i n i t y with aspects of the dramatic genre, and pa r t i cu la r l y with the moral i ty t r a d i t i o n . In the f i r s t p lace, Thackeray's introduct ion to the novel , which is en t i t l ed "Before the Cur ta in , " c l ea r l y resembles a dramatic Prologue; in i t the omniscient author refers to himself as "the manager of the Performance," and to his readers as "patrons" who are s i t t i n g before the curta in wait-ing for the "show" to beg in . 1 Thackeray speaks of the Wicked Nobleman f i gu re , one of the major characters of the novel , whom, we learn , "old Nick w i l l fetch away at the end of the performance" (p. 6)- -a reference to a dramatic convention extremely popular in both the miracles and l a t e r , the mora l i ty , in which the devi l customarily ascends from Hell to cart of f the ev i l characters at the end of the play. Moreover, the homilet ic nature of the authorial commentary which is pervasive throughout Vanity  F a i r , and which most modern c r i t i c s have found so ob ject ionable , is also sharply reminiscent of the overt d idact ic ism of moral i ty drama which, as we have seen, o r ig ina ted , at least in par t , in the pu lp i t sermon. At one point in the novel , Thackeray refers to himself as a "moral is t " and to the reader as "h is congregation" (p. 80). And although he "professes to wear neither gown nor bands, but only the very same l i ve r y in which his 173 174 congregation is arrayed" (p. 80), the author's sermonizing d ispos i t ion i s unmistakable. Furthermore, Bunyan's The P i l g r im 's Progress, to which Thackeray was indebted for both the t i t l e of the novel and, indeed, i t s central metaphor, is largely wi thin the a l l ego r i ca l t rad i t i on of the Psychomachia, the moral i ty p lay, and the homilet ic sermon. And f i n a l l y , there are, as w e l l , s i m i l a r i t i e s between the method of character izat ion in Vanity Fa i r and that of Jonsonian comedy, which as previously indicated was, in many respects, derived from the a l l ego r i ca l representation of character in the moral i ty p lay. In support of th is point , Arnold Ket t le has observed that the characters in Thackeray's novel "are presented to us, by and large, in the t rad i t i on of the comedy of humours; that is to say, each has par t i cu la r charac te r i s t i cs somewhat exaggerated and s imp l i -f ied by which they are eas i l y comprehensible." More s ign i f i can t than these evident correspondencies between the world of Vanity Fa i r and that of medieval and Tudor drama, however, is Thackeray's creat ion of Becky Sharp, whose ro le wi th in the context of the novel i s remarkably l i k e that of the moral i ty Vice. Just as the Vice was the favour i te of the audience, and the most important character in each of the plays in which he appeared, so the central performance in Vanity  Fa i r belongs to "the famous l i t t l e Becky puppet" (p. 6) who, we might observe, was so popular that she had become "famous" before the novel had been published in i t s en t i re ty . The v i t a l spark of Vanity Fa i r derives large ly from Becky's i r rep ress ib le energy—the novel tends to pal l when-ever she is absent for any extended period of time. S i m i l a r l y , i t i s her comic-demonic progression which makes her, again l i k e the V ice , the 175 main propel l ing vehic le of the act ion in Thackeray's "Novel Without a Hero." I t i s in terest ing that when C. S. Lewis, in his analysis of Satan in Paradise Lost , attempts to account for the essent ia l at t ract iveness of the ev i l character in l i t e r a t u r e , Becky is one of the examples he chooses to consider: In a l l but a few wr i ters the "good" characters are the least success-fu l . . . To make a character worse than onesel f , i t i s only necessary to release imaginatively from control some of the bad passions which in real l i f e are always s t ra in ing at the leash; the Satan, the Iago, the Becky Sharp, wi thin each of us, i s always there and only too ready the moment the leash i s s l i pped , to come out and have in our books that holiday we t ry to deny them in our l i ves . . . We do not r ea l l y know what i t fee ls l i k e to be a man much better than ourselves. His whole inner landscape is one we have never seen, and when we guess i t we blunder . . . To project ourselves into a wicked character, we only have to stop doing something, and something that we are a l -ready t i red of doing; to project ourselves into a good one, we have to do what we cannot and become what we are not.4 Becky, as Lewis' passage would ind ica te , i s one of the most notorious of the successful wicked characters in Engl ish l i t e r a r y h is to ry , As she declares to Amelia a f ter her i n i t i a l , dramatic "act of insubordinat ion" (p. 18) which occurs near the beginning of the novel , "I'm no angel" (p. 19)--a powerfully understated acknowledgement of her moral pos i t i on , one i r re fu tab ly a f f i l i a t e d with the demonic realm. The terms which Lewis has employed to describe these wicked characters, are, however, s t r i k i n g l y evocative of those we have been examining in our discussion of the demonic aspects of comedy. For example, Lewis' descr ipt ion of the tendency of these characters to permit us "to release imaginatively from control some of the bad passions which, in real l i f e , are always s t ra in ing at the leash" i s , in fac t , a restatement of the concept of "freedom from 176 res t ra i n t , " the v icar ious release of the baser ins t inc tua l passions, which is charac te r i s t i c of the comic ca thars is . And his use of the term "hol iday" i s also suggestive of the pattern of fes t ive celebrat ion which, as we have seen, d ist inguishes the comic-demonic f i gu re ' s progress--his temporary ascendancy during a period of topsyturvy l i cence , and his f i na l subjugation, s ign i fy ing the end of the merry-making and the return to the " l eash , " a restorat ion of the res t ra in ts of the work-a-day world. Like Fa ls ta f f and Volpone, Becky Sharp is an embodiment of the carnival s p i r i t of comedy. Both the t i t l e and the most prominent motif of the novel indicate that a thematic rendering of the metaphor of "the Fa i r " was one of Thackeray's central concerns. The opening passage of the prologue d i r ec t l y evokes a carn iva l -1 ike atmosphere: As the Manager of the Performance s i t s before the cur ta in on the boards, and looks into the F a i r , a fee l ing of profound melancholy comes over him in his survey of the bust l ing place. There is a great quantity of eating and dr ink ing, making love and j i l t i n g , laughing and the contrary, smoking, cheat ing, f i gh t i ng , dancing, and f i d d l i n g : there are bu l l i es pushing about, bucks ogl ing the women, knaves picking pockets, policemen on the lookout, quacks (other quacks, plague take them!) bawling in front of the i r booths, and yokels look-ing up at the t i n se l l ed dancers and poor old rouged tumblers, while the l igh t - f ingered fo lk are operating upon the i r pockets behind, (p. 5) Conspicuous in th is passage are the images of excess—the eat ing, d r ink ing , the merriment, aggression and sexual spor t—al l of them suggesting the release of a l l res t ra in ts and i n h i b i t i o n s , the celebrat ion of the i ns t i nc -tual passions which i s permitted to take place within the confines of the Fa i r . Throughout the novel , Becky f u l f i l l s a ro le analogous to that of Queen of the Carn iva l . She i s an inveterate enemy to both moral and 177 soc ia l r es t ra i n t s , and her progress from the bottom rungs of English society to the culmination of her career when she i s presented to the court is representative of the ru l ing p r inc ip le of comic topsyturvydom, or the " invers ion of Status" which i s integral to the s p i r i t of fes-t i v i t y . Moreover, the d i rec t ion of her comedy i s one which re f lec ts a kind of profanation of the sacred, a f lou t ing defamation of the precepts, au tho r i t i es , and ins t i t u t i ons of the soc ia l order she is attempting to subvert. Becky's comedy, from the very beginning to the f i na l page of the novel , is a comedy of aggression--one in which laughter is provoked as a resu l t of the discomfiture of another character (usual ly one of eminent soc ia l posi t ion) or through a subversive attack on the eth ica l p r inc ip les of the status quo. When, in the f i r s t , and most memorable comic scene of the novel , she def iant ly hurls Dr. Johnson's d ic t ionary out the coach window, she is thumbing her nose in der is ion not only at Miss Pinkerton's pedantic a i rs and Miss Jemima's tender-hearted nature, but also at the ent i re system of education to which she has been exposed at Chiswick M a l l . Becky, Thackeray asserts on several occasions, "had the keenest sense of humour" (p. 299); and from an ear ly age, she demonstrates a natural capacity to keep those around her "laughing with her fun and mimicry" (p. 182). The laughter she provokes, however, i s c l ea r l y the Hobbesian laughter of super io r i t y . Like Volpone, she i s constantly at-tuned to the p o s s i b i l i t y of f inding a target for her mocking humour; she too is always searching " for any device . . . of rare ingenious knavery" that would afford her "a v io lent laughter" (Volpone, V. I .14-15) . The 178 "devices" she discovers within the context of the novel are numerous, and include such scenes as when she car icatures both Miss Jemmy and Miss Pinkerton to the great del ight of her father and his f r iends; when she g lee fu l l y revels in the humil iat ion of Lady Bareacres, refusing to s e l l the Countess her horses during the evacuation of Brusse ls ; when she performs a splendid imi tat ion of Lady Southdown's r id icu lous fanat ic ism towards her a l l - hea l i ng medicines and zealous re l ig ious t r ac t s ; or when she i s presented to the King, brazenly a t t i red in stolen lace. Moreover, her comedy, l i k e that of the V ice , i s not only aggressively subversive but often demonically sacr i leg ious as w e l l . Thackeray describes her at one point laughing in Miss Pinkerton's face "with a horr id sarcast ic demoniacal laughter" (p. 23); and a f te r she throws the d ic t ionary out the window proclaiming "Vive la France! Vive 1'Empereur! Vive  Bonaparte!," Thackeray's remarks once more associate Becky's humour with the profanations of the demonic realm: "This was the greatest blasphemy Rebecca had as yet ut tered; and in those days, in England to say 'Long l i v e Bonaparte! 1 was as much as to say 'Long l i v e Luc i fe r ! " ' (p . 19). S im i l a r l y , her mocking advice to Rawdon that i f he is l e f t out of his aunt's w i l l , he should, in the t rad i t i on of the younger son of an a r i s t o -c ra t i c f a m i l y , " s e l l out and go into the Church" (p. 285), i s surely sacr i leg ious in i t s impl icat ion that a reprobate such as Colonel Crawley could f ind a place as a member of the supposedly sacrosanct c lergy. And f i n a l l y , Becky's l as t appearance in Vanity Fa i r provides an example of demonic humour which, in some respects, balances the perfect ion of her sa l ien t "act of insubordinat ion" at the beginning of the novel . Here we 179 see the woman who has been previously described as "the godless l i t t l e Rebecca" (p. 327) and one of the " F a i t h l e s s , Hopeless, Char i t y less " (p. 81) , now l i v i n g a l i f e which i s an embodiment of Chr is t ian probi ty and benevolence: She has her enemies. Who has not? Her l i f e i s her answer to them. She busies herse l f in works of p ie ty . She goes to church, and never without a footman. Her name i s in a l l the Char i ty L i s t s . The Des t i -tute Orange-g i r l , the Neglected Washerwoman, the Distressed Muffin Man, f i nd in her a fas t and generous f r i e n d . She i s always having s t a l l s at Fancy Fa i rs for the benef i t of these hapless beings, (p. 666) I f there are any doubts in the reader 's mind as to the s i nce r i t y of Becky's moral t ransformat ion, Thackeray^dist inct ly undercuts i t s authen-t i c i t y by re fe r r ing again in the l a s t sentence of the passage to the metaphor of the " F a i r . " Becky's pseudo-conversion i s , of course, her l as t joke in the nove l ; her assumption of a pious l i f e of char i ty i s the ul t imate a f f i rmat ion of the profanation of the sacred which underl ies both the i conoc las t i c tendency of the carn iva l and the s p i r i t of comedy which, as Sypher s ta tes , "desecrates what i t seeks to s a n c t i f y . " 7 Unl ike the other comic-demonic characters we have previously examined, Becky Sharp i s , however, a woman--a fact which heightens s i g -n i f i c a n t l y the qua l i t y of both the comedy and the ev i l she r e f l e c t s . Although she i s e x p l i c i t l y associated with such male representat ives of o v i l l a i n y as the d iabo l i ca l Napoleon, "the wretched upstart and swindler" (p. 253), and the dev i l h imsel f , Becky i s more often represented through a l lus ions to t r ad i t i ona l feminine e v i l and dece i t . Compared at various points in the novel to De l i l ah (p. 158), Clytemnestra (p. 494), C i rce (p. 640), and the legendary s i rens (p. 617), Becky emerges as a kind of 180 femme fa ta le - -an archetype of the destruct ive feminine p r inc ip le who be-witches and then betrays a l l the men whom she has entrapped in her deadly snares. In her re la t ionships with Rawdon, Jos. Sedley, and even George Osborne, she makes use of the weapons of her sex - - f l a t t e r y , dece i t , and her female a t t rac t i veness- - in order f i r s t to seduce and then to manipulate each man for her own s e l f i s h ends. I f Becky's ro le in Vanity Fa i r is com-parable to that of the t rad i t iona l V ice , then surely i t i s her sexual i ty which functions as her "dagger of la the . " I t i s also relevant that a l l of the t r a d i t i o n a l l y decei t fu l women with whom Becky i s associated are, in f ac t , gu i l t y of sexual crimes against the male sex. De l i l ah ' s i s the symbolic crime of castrat ion as she deprives Sampson of his strength and v i r i l i t y when she cuts his ha i r ; Clytemnestra's i s the two-fold s in of adultery and murder as she i s unfai thfu l to Agammemnon and then plots with her lover to k i l l him; both Circe and the sirens are perpetrators of the ev i l of sexual enchantment, as Circe casts a spel l over her lovers transforming them into beasts, and the sirens ent ice the unsuspecting t r ave l l e r with the sweetness of the i r songs and physical beauty, only to devour him. In her re la t ionsh ip with Rawdon she plays the roles of both Del i lah and Clytemnestra, depriving her husband of his manhood, as she commands and controls the course of his l i f e , and betraying him in her l i a i s o n with Lord Steyne. In her re la t ionsh ip with Joseph Sedley she again functions l i k e Clytemnestra, not so much in an adulterous manner but in the almost cer ta in impl icat ion that she murders him af ter having seduct ively contr ived to deplete his estate of the greatest port ion of his wealth. With George Osborne she f u l f i l l s the ro le of the enchantress, 181 C i r c e , rendering him swine- l ike in his r id icu lous professions of love to her when he has been married to Amelia for only a few weeks. Moreover, i t i s also s i gn i f i can t that in the two most pervasive creat ion myths of Western culture—the B i b l i c a l Paradise myth and the myth of Pandora's box—it i s a woman who is held responsible for bringing about the ruin of mankind. In The Dangerous Sex: The Myth of Feminine  E v i l , H. R. Hays, commenting upon the symbolic pa ra l l e l s between Pandora's "box," and Eve's "snake" and "apple" observes that both the myth of the Fa l l and the Pandora myth are part of a t rad i t i on which connects women, sex, and s i n , and which condemns the female as dangerous because of her g sexua l i ty . In th is sense, Becky Sharp's sexual i ty which, in some ways, i s the most de f i n i t i ve qua l i ty of her ro le in Vanity F a i r , concretely places her in the t rad i t i on of female e v i l . The fact that she is a woman has, as w e l l , some bearing upon the other side of her comic-demonic nature, for jus t as there i s a t rad i t i on of feminine e v i l , so there is a t rad i t i on of the comic heroine to which Becky also belongs. From the time of Aristophanes' L y s i s t r a t a , i t has been conven-t ional for the female ro le in comedy to bring about the redemption of a corrupt and diseased soc ie ty . Armed with the i r chast i ty and the i r v i r t ue , such comic heroines as V i o l a , Rosal ind, and Helena in Shakespearean comedy, Millamant in The Way of the World, Kate Hardcastle in She Stoops to  Conquer, Pamela in Richardson's novel , and Sophia in Tom Jones, through a balance of sentiment, self-awareness, and good sense, manage to educate and regenerate the male protagonist in each work, u l t imately bringing him and the comic society to the point of c l a r i f i c a t i o n and ( in tegra t ion . 182 Frye's comments on the comic heroine in Shakespearean comedy and romance are, in fac t , appl icable to a l l the representatives of th is ro le : " i t i s usual ly the a c t i v i t y of the heroine, or in some cases, her pass i v i t y , that brings about the b i r th of the new society and the reconc i l i a t i on of the older one with i t . " 1 0 In Vanity F a i r , Thackeray examines the t r a d i -t ional ro le of the comic heroine by d iv id ing i t between Becky and Amelia Sedley, one act ive and the other passive. Amelia Sedley i s , of course, the paradigm of passive female con-stancy. While Becky re f lec ts the t r a i t s of common sense and s e l f -awareness, both of which are sadly lacking in Amelia, the l a t t e r exhib i ts the qua l i ty of profuse sentiment. I t i s , however, because of Amelia's lack of awareness, her se l f -decept ion , and her over-abundance of i ns ip id fee l ing that Thackeray d i squa l i f i es her as heroine of his novel. Amelia neither educates nor regenerates; rather , she hersel f i s in need of both education and regeneration. Becky, on the other hand, while she lacks sentiment of any k ind, i s both c lever and quite cognizant of her own capaci t ies—she may be hard-hearted and shrewdly ca l cu la t i ng , but she is not se l f -dece ived. While Amelia's empty-headed devotion toward her ne 'er -do-well husband and her over-protect ive smothering of her son undercut the v i a b i l i t y of her ro le as comic heroine, Becky's i n a b i l i t y to love any-one but hersel f makes her a s im i l a r l y unacceptable candidate for th is ro le . Thackeray, however, uses Becky's comic-demonic nature to advantage here. Amel ia—beaut i fu l , v i r tuous, and chas te—is , in a sense, a representative of the passive romantic heroine who, as a resu l t of her se l f - indu lgent sent imenta l i ty , unfortunately f a i l s to f u l f i l l the ro le . On the other 183 hand, Becky—heart less, ac t i ve ly se l f -seeking and sexual ly promiscuous— represents a d i rec t ant i thes is of the ro le . She i s , to a large extent, an anti-comic heroine, or rather , a "demonic" comic heroine, and her inversion of the t rad i t iona l ro le only serves to heighten the topsyturvy, carnival s p i r i t of her comedy. Unlike the conventional comic heroine who leads her society to a state of integrated harmony, Becky, more l i k e the V ice , general ly breeds dissension and s t r i f e . Her re la t ionsh ip with both S i r P i t t and Rawdon resul ts in a h o s t i l i t y between father and son; and she t o t a l l y subverts the domestic concord between husband and wife not only through her spor-t i ve seduction of Amelia's husband, but in her own marriage as well through her immoral conduct with Lord Steyne. She admits very ear ly in the novel that she i s "no angel" (p. 19); moreover, unl ike the t rad i t iona l comic heroine, she is ce r ta in ly no v i rg in e i ther . In view of the repres-sive nature of V ic tor ian mora l i ty , Thackeray is understandably oblique in dealing with Becky's sexual conduct both before and af ter her marriage. The latent suggestions of her promiscuity are, however, numerous. Becky, we are t o l d , "had never been a g i r l . . . she had been a woman since she was eight years o ld " (p. 21). We learn of her a f f a i r with Reverend Crisp while she i s s t i l l at Miss Pinkerton's academy—an a f f a i r which Thackeray implies was not a completely innocent one. As Becky and Amelia prepare to leave Chiswick H a l l , Thackeray observes: Thus the world began for these two young lad ies . For Amelia i t was quite a new, f resh , b r i l l i a n t wor ld, with a l l the bloom upon i t . I t was not quite a new one for Rebecca--(indeed, i f the truth must be to ld with respect to the Cr isp a f f a i r , the tart-woman hinted to some-body, who took an a f f i d a v i t of the fact to somebody e l se , that there 184 was a great deal more than was made publ ic regarding Mr. Cr isp and Miss Sharp . . . ) . But who can t e l l you the real t ruth of the matter? At a l l events, i f Rebecca was not beginning the world, she was begin-ning i t over again, (pp. 23-24) And i f the above passage were not s u f f i c i e n t l y pointed in i t s innuendo, Thackeray some four hundred pages la te r has Becky re f l ec t upon "her own youth and the dark secrets of those ear ly tainted days" (p. 403). About her sexual career a f ter the d isso lu t ion of her marriage, there i s even less ambiguity. Becky, we learn , "was very respectable and order ly at f i r s t , but the l i f e of humdrum v i r tue grew u t te r ly tedious to her before long" (p. 622). Although Thackeray i s again reluctant to report the graphic de ta i l s of Becky's moral descent, we see her gambling and dr ink ing , and on unpleasantly fami l i a r terms with the male guests in the various boarding-houses at which she stops during her res t less journey through continental Europe. Becky, we are to ld at one point , "was a boarding-house queen" (p. 624); and Thackeray la te r declares that "her d is tas te for respec tab i l i t y grew more and more remarkable. She be-came a perfect Bohemian ere long, herding with people whom i t would make your hair stand on end to meet" (p. 625). Becky's female sexua l i t y , then, functions as a pivotal focus for both the comic and demonic aspects of her charac ter iza t ion . As an embodi-ment of the destruct ive feminine p r inc ip le which sexual ly entices and then.devours, Becky i s an ev i l woman. Her wickedness i s , however, not en t i re l y un jus t i f i ab le . Thackeray suggests time and time again that Becky i s not completely blameworthy. Because she i s a woman who has neither wealth nor soc ia l pos i t i on , she i s forced to use both her i n t e l l e c t and her sexual at t ract iveness to survive in a world that values the 185 appearances of soc ia l prominence and aff luence above a l l e l se . And i t i s her s k i l l at making use of her native resources that allows her to play the game of appearances so admirably. In other words, Becky's manifes-ta t ion of the wi les of feminine ev i l generates an ambivalent reader-response toward her--a response which Ket t le has percept ively e luc idated: Becky, l i k e Moll and C la r i ssa and Sophia (each a f ter her own fashion) before her, rebels . She w i l l not submit to perpetual slavery and humil iat ion wi th in the governess trade. And so she uses consciously and systemat ical ly a l l the men's weapons plus her one natural material asset , her sex, to storm the men's world. And the consequence is of course morally degrading and she i s a bad woman a l l r i gh t . But she gains our sympathy nevertheless . . . and she too gains i t not in sp i te but because of her r e b e l l i o n . i l S i m i l a r l y , Becky in her ro le as comic heroine again evokes a con-t rad ic tory set of responses. She i s both regenerative and deleter ious toward human re la t ionsh ips ; she reconci les as well as destroys. Despite her respective betrayals of both Rawdon and Amelia, she has ul t imately a regenerative ef fect on both characters. As a resu l t of his marriage to Becky, Rawdon undergoes a radica l transformation from an unprincipled gambler and coarse braggart to a generous, s e l f l e s s , and tender-hearted husband and father. S i m i l a r l y , although she has been s e l f i s h l y c r u e l , sp i te fu l and manipulative toward Amelia, she is also capable of educating her by reveal ing George's i n f i d e l i t y and dece i t , thereby shatter ing Amelia's se l f - indu lgent i l l u s i o n s . Moreover, i t i s Becky's presence in Pumpernickel near the end of the novel which provokes the a l te rca t ion between Dobbin and Amelia, a dramatic confrontation which ul t imately leads each of them to a sense of c l a r i f i c a t i o n and a loss of se l f -decept ion , and paves the way for the i r eventual r econc i l i a t i on . In th is way, then, i t i s Becky's unconventional f u l f i l lmen t of the ro le of comic heroine 186 that i s responsible for bringing about the marriage of the two protagon-i s t s , a union symbolic of the comic forces of f e r t i l i t y , concord, and re-in tegra t ion. Becky's sexual conduct, the area in which both the forces of comedy and ev i l are intertwined, also provokes mixed feel ings in the reader. On the one hand, her seductiveness is de l ibera te ly calculated and devoid of fee l ing- -as Barbara Hardy observes: "She i s the kind of u t te r ly se l f - con t ro l l ed courtesan who feigns passion rather than fee ls 12 i t . " Paradox ica l ly , however, her promiscuity, espec ia l l y a f ter the d isso lu t ion of her marriage, transcends a purely soc ia l ambition and re-f l ec t s instead the elan v i t a l of a woman giving free re in to the expres-sion of her sensual appet i tes. In th is sense, then, although Becky's loose sexual conduct is odious, espec ia l l y in the l i gh t of V ic tor ian mora l i ty , there is another aspect of her character re f lec ted here that is in keeping with the ambiguous qua l i ty of demonic comedy. Like that of the V ice , described by Cushman as "the embodiment of wor ld l iness and sensual i ty" who i s concerned "that humanity shal l give free re in to his 13 i n c l i n a t i o n s , " Becky's sexual i ty i s ind ica t ive of a kind of j o i e de  v i v re , a celebrat ion of the natural l i f e of the i n s t i n c t s . Perhaps Becky's sexual v i t a l i t y i s most dramatical ly rendered in the b r ie f but s i gn i f i can t scene which takes place between her and Joseph Sedley at the Elephant Hote l , an establishment of decidedly low repute. Joseph has been searching for Becky's room when he observes a young d i s -solute student "bawling through the keyhole suppl icat ions to the person w i th in . " As soon as Becky hears Joseph's vo ice, she opens the door: 187 Becky's l i t t l e head peeped out, f u l l of archness and mischief . She l ighted on Jos--' " I t ' s you, " she s a i d , coming out. "How I have been wait ing for you! Stop! not y e t - - i n one minute you shal l come i n . " In that instant she put a rouge-pot, a brandy bo t t l e , and a plate of broken meat into the bed, gave one smooth to her ha i r , and f i n a l l y l e t in h e r ' v i s i t o r . (p. 631) In th is scene the carnival images of ins t inc tua l release—the eating and dr inking and love-making which the Master of the Performance has promised in his descr ipt ion of the "Fa i r " in the Prologue—come together in the symbolic overtones of the plate of cold meat, the brandy bo t t l e , and, of 14 course, the bed. Becky begins to t e l l Joseph her ta le of woe and i s so overcome with g r ie f and despair that she buries her face in the bedclothes. The brandy-bottle ins ide c l inked up against the plate which held the cold sausage . . . And she began forthwith to t e l l her story—a ta le so neat, s imple, and a r t l e s s , that i t was quite evident, from hearing her, that i f ever there was a white-robed angel escaped from heaven to be subject to the infernal machinations and v i l l any of f iends here below, that spot less being—that miserable, unsul l ied m a r t y r -was present on the bed before Jos—.on the bedy s i t t i n g ; o n the brandy-bott le, (p. 633) Apparent in the above passage is a condensation of a number of the pat-terns we have encountered before in our examination of the d is t inguish ing charac te r i s t i cs of the comic-demonic f igure . In the f i r s t p lace, the comedy of the s i tua t ion derives from the topsyturvy s p i r i t of invers ion. The scene functions upon two 1evels--the"appearance, that i s , what Joseph Sedley perceives to be Becky's cond i t ion , and the r e a l i t y , which i s , in f ac t , a d i rec t inversion of what Becky appears to be. Far from being "a white-robed angel" or an "unsu l l ied martyr" v ic t imized by the " in fernal machinations" of the f iends of h e l l , Becky hersel f i s a member of the d e v i l ' s party who i s about to lure another v ic t im into the snares of h e l l . Moreover, the re-appearance of the images of the brandy bo t t l e , the plate 188 of meat and the ubiquitous bed (to which Thackeray emphatically refers twice in the f i na l l i ne ) not only undercuts Becky's professions of un-ta inted v i r tue and innocence, but also re-af f i rms the fes t i ve celebrat ion of the sensual appetites inherent in the V ice - ro le . And f i n a l l y , the ent i re scene i s at once reprehensibly sordid and supremely funny, again i nv i t i ng in the reader an uneasy ambivalent response. Although Becky's comic-demonic ambiguity i s enhanced by the fact that she is a woman, she re f lec ts the double-visaged temperament of the Vice f igure in several other respects. Throughout the novel she mani-fests the charac te r i s t i c V i c e - l i k e a t t r ibu te of ind i f ference. Devoid of the capacity to love any other human being but herse l f , Becky i s "by no means so much interested about anybody's welfare as about her own" (p. 650). Like Volpone, she i s not morally committed to the bonds of mar-r iage , ch i l d ren , or f r iends . She c rue l l y f l i r t s with George in order to sp i te Amelia who has always been a generous f r iend toward her. She con-nives to leave her devoted husband in the spunging-house rather than use her ample funds to release him, so that she can spend the evening in a te te-a- te te with Lord Steyne. And perhaps the most powerful example of her lack of fee l ing i s her cold-hearted i n s e n s i b i l i t y toward ch i l d ren , including a d isp lay of "the most utmost ind i f ference" (p. 502) toward her own son: "She spurned chi ldren and ch i ld ren- lovers . 'I have no taste for bread and but te r , ' she would say" (p. 442). Concomitant with th is a t t i tude of indi f ference is her manifesta-t ion of the amorality of the comic-demonic f igure . As previously sug-gested, Becky's wicked machinations are combined with actions which are, 189 in some respects, beneficent as we l l . Like that of the V ice , Becky's essent ia l amorality i s represented in the fact that she does both good and ev i l haphazardly. We are reminded in par t i cu la r of the Vices Hap-hazard in Appius and V i rg in ia and Courage in The Tide Tarr ie th No Man, both of whom are for tu i tous agents of good as well as e v i l , both of whose actions are extraneous to the laws of any moral code. It is in te r -est ing that Courage's descr ipt ion of his own amorality can be applied with equal prec is ion to the character of Becky Sharp: Now may you see how Courage can work And how he can encourage both to good and bad Thus you may see Courage contagious And eke contrar ious--both in me do res t . For I, of k ind, am always various And change as to my mind seemeth best. (Schell and Shuchter, p. 331) Becky, too, i s both "contagious" and "cont rar ious, " a t t rac t i ve and subver-s i v e , an arb i t ra ry proponent of e i ther good or bad. S i m i l a r l y , l i k e Courage and several other of the moral i ty V ices , and Fa ls ta f f and Volpone as w e l l , Becky i s "always var ious" ; she re f l ec ts the Protean a b i l i t y to change her appearance when i t is to her own advantage. Through her inor-dinate s k i l l at d iss imula t ion , she manages to insinuate hersel f into the good graces of almost everyone with whom she comes in contact, including both the elder and younger S i r P i t t , Lady Crawley, Br iggs, Joseph, Lord 15 Steyne and anyone else who can be of serv ice to her. Like Volpone, Becky i s a magnificent a r t i f i c e r : she i s "an a r t i s t hersel f " (p. 488), a "splendid actress" (p. 506), a "comedian," a "consummate tragedian" (p. 639) who has a tremendous f l a i r fo r dramatic performance. That Thackeray cont inual ly portrays her posing and miming, e f f o r t l e ss l y moving from one 190 "Charade" to another, is an ind icat ion of both her chameleon-like a b i l i t y to change shapes and her essent ia l ambiguity which makes i t impossible ever to pin her down or define her. Moreover, Becky's ta lent for act ing and performing provides another l ink with the metaphor of the f a i r which underl ies the novel . At one point she admits to the boredom and s t i f l i n g monotony she experiences in her l i f e of soc ia l respec tab i l i t y : '"I wish I were out of i t , ' she said to hersel f . . . 'Oh how much gayer i t would be to wear spangles and trowsers and dance before a booth at a f a i r ' " (p. 487). Although she pro-fesses a fee l ing of ennui at th is point , dancing before a booth at the f a i r is exact ly what Becky does throughout the novel. Her dancing, s ing-ing , miming, and charades serve to transport the topsyturvy carnival realm to the world of fashionable London soc ie ty . Like Fa l s ta f f , she functions as a kind of monarch of misrule--both characters bring the forces of comic-demonic release to the cour t , Fa ls ta f f when he dons his mock-crown and scepter at the Boar's Head Tavern, and Becky when she i s presented to the King de r i s i ve ly bedecked in stolen lace and brocade. I t i s also s i g -n i f i can t that the culmination of Becky's act ing career is achieved in her portrayal of the ro le of Queen Clytemnestra, who as murderess and adul -t ress is ce r ta in ly a f i t t i n g embodiment of demonic misrule. The comic overtones of Becky's misru le , although not d i rec t l y d iscern ib le in the actual performance, are re f lec ted in Lord Steyne's pun at the conclusion of the charade--"Mrs. Rawdon Crawley was quite k i l l i n g in the part" (p. 494)--a pun which reverberates both comical ly and demonically at l a te r points in the novel when Becky's adulterous l i a i son with Lord Steyne and 191 her murder of Joseph Sedley are rather pointedly insinuated. The fact that Becky voices the desire to wear trousers as well as spangles during her performance at the f a i r i s also relevant to the comic-demonic overtones of the ca rn i va l . It has been previously indicated that during a period of r i t u a l i z e d f e s t i v i t y , the donning of the clothes of the opposite sex has often been l icenced as representative of the breaking of a l l t rad i t iona l boundaries, including those which general ly separate the sexual categories of male and female. Becky's comic-demonic overturning of the t rad i t i ona l order of respec tab i l i t y invo lves, at some l e v e l , the reversal of conventional sexual ro les . Just as Fa ls ta f f and Volpone ul t imately cannot be bound by the customary demarcations between male and female, so Becky symbol ical ly dons trousers during her carnival dance through Vanity Fa i r . Her shrewd in te l l i gence i s repeatedly compared to that of a man--she i s complimented "upon the b r i l l i a n t way in which she did business . . . [T]here was no professional man who could beat her" (p. 357). And on the eve of the Bat t le of Waterloo, Thackeray pro-fesses so much admiration for Becky's man-like se l f - su f f i c i ency that he claims her as heroine of his novel: I f th is i s a novel without a hero, at least l e t us lay claim to a heroine. No man in the B r i t i s h army which has marched away, not the great Duke himself , could be more cool or co l lec ted in the presence of doubts and d i f f i c u l t i e s , than the indomitable l i t t l e aide-de-camp's wi fe . (p. 288) Becky also drinks and gambles l i k e a man. We learn how she began dr inking gin with her father at an ear ly age, a habit she never completely suppresses even during the period of her l i f e when she moves in the highest soc ia l c i r c l e s . And when she takes up the Bohemian l i f e a f ter her f a l l 192 from respec tab i l i t y , her appreciat ion of the bot t le is even further en-hanced by her exhi larated passion for gambling: Here [ in Brusse ls ] , as at P a r i s , Becky was a boarding-house queen and ruled in se lect pensions. She never refused the champagne, or the bouquets or the pr ivate boxes, but, what she preferred was the ecarte at n ight , - -and she played audaciously. F i r s t she played only for a l i t t l e , then for Napoleons, then for notes: then she would not be able to pay her month's pension: then she borrowed from the young gentlemen: then she got into cash again . . . and would once more take the cards against Monsieur Rossignal , or the Chevalier de Raff. (p. 624) During th is period in Becky's l i f e , we are reminded of the t rad i t iona l ro le of the Vice who, as sensual man given over to the unbridled express sion of the sensual passions, i s often represented indulging his baser ins t inc ts in d in ing , d r ink ing , d i c i ng , and whoring in the underworld realm of the taverns and stews. The fact that Becky i s , however, a woman who i s par t i c ipa t ing in the debauchery of the underworld heightens the demonic aspects of the s i tua t ion as well as the p o s s i b i l i t y for comic re-lease i t provides. When Becky i s banished from high soc ie ty , the carnival i s not over for her. It i s s i gn i f i can t that the underworld realm which is portrayed in the descr ipt ion of Becky's Bohemian l i f e is almost an exact representa-t ion of what the Master of the Performance has promised his audience dur-ing the Prologue to the novel - - "a great quantity of eating and dr ink ing , making love and j i l t i n g , laughing and the contrary, smoking, cheating, f i gh t i ng , dancing, and f i d d l i n g " (p. 5) . And i t i s , of course, Thackeray's purpose in the novel to reveal that the depravity of the Fai r i s contained beneath the hypocr i t i ca l posturings of so-ca l led respectable soc ie ty . Thus, when Lord David Ceci l comments that a f ter Becky loses her soc ia l 193 pos i t i on , "she sinks to the underworld of soc ie ty , " he i s , perhaps, oversimpl i fy ing the s i t ua t i on . Becky i s of the underworld--the carnival realm is her spawning ground, she being the daughter of a Bohemian a r t i s t and French ope ra -g i r l . In other words, she never leaves the underworld; she merely exposes the r e a l i t y of the l i f e of the Fa i r which underl ies the world of appearances of fashionable London. Becky's easy mobi l i ty i s , in some respects, l i k e that of Fa ls ta f f who i s comfortable both in the tavern and at a counci l of war with the King and highest noblemen of the land. Both characters f u l f i l l an intermediary ro le s im i la r to that of the V ice , who often serves as a commentator on the weakness and corruption of the t rad i t i ona l soc ia l order. Becky, as well as Fa l s t a f f , functions l i k e a mi r ror , a re f lec to r of the vice which l i e s hidden beneath the appearances of v i r tue . Dorothy Van Ghent, in her chapter on Vanity F a i r , percept ively describes Becky's function as a micro-cosmic mirror of the moral i ty of the macro-cosmic world. According to Van Ghent, Becky " i s at once a l l the imperatively aggressive, insanely euphoric impulses of a morally s ick c i v i l i z a t i o n , and an indiv idual condemnation of that c i v i l -i z a t i o n . " 1 7 In a remarkable passage which takes place toward the end of the novel , Thackeray draws together many of the motifs we have jus t been con-sidering—the underworld, the c a r n i v a l , the aggressive and euphoric im-pulses which l i e beneath the surface of appearances, and the in ter fus ion of masculine and feminine sexua l i ty . The passage begins with the author's explanation of why he is unable to re la te the sordid de ta i l s of Becky's Bohemian l i f e : 194 We must pass over a part of Mrs. Rebecca Crawley's biography with that l ightness and del icacy which the world demands . . . I defy any one to say that our Becky, who has ce r ta in l y some v i ces , has not been presented to the publ ic in a per fec t ly genteel and inof fensive manner. In describing th is syren, singing and smi l ing , coaxing and c a j o l i n g , the author, with modest pr ide, asks his readers a l l around, has he once forgotten the laws of pol i teness,and showed the monster's hideous t a i l above water? No! Those who l i k e may peep down under waves that are pretty transparent,and see i t wr i thing and t w i r l i n g , d i a b o l i c a l l y hideous and s l imy, f lapping amongst bones,or cur l ing around corpses; but above the water l i n e , I ask, has not everything been proper, agreeable, and decorous . . . When, however, the syren disappears and dives below, down among the dead men, the water of course grows turbid over her, and i t i s labour los t to look into i t ever so cur ious ly . They look pretty enough when they sit upon a rock, twanging the i r harps and combing the i r ha i r , and s ing , and beckon you to come and hold the look ing-g lass; but when they sink into the i r native element, depend on i t those mermaids are about no good, and we had best not examine the f iendish marine cannibals , reve l l ing and feast ing on the i r wretched pick led v ic t ims. And so, when Becky i s out of the way, be sure that she is not pa r t i cu la r l y well employed, and that the less that i s said about her doings is in fac t the bet ter , (p. 617-18) This passage i s s t r i k i ng for i t s coalescence of several of the most s i g -n i f i can t strands of imagery in the novel . The demonic overtones of Becky's ro le are focused in the descr ip t ion of her as an infernal s i r e n , half-male and hal f - female, whose " t a i l " i s " d i a b o l i c a l l y hideous"; she i s represented as "a f iendish marine cannibal" whose bewitching sexual at t ract iveness tempts her vict ims to se l f -des t ruc t ion in the murky depths of the under-world. S i m i l a r l y , the contrast between the s i r en ' s beaut i ful appearance and the grotesque r e a l i t y of what l i e s beneath the water's surface i s powerfully rendered, and the ev i l and horror of female sexual i ty i s re-i terated in a graphic image which again connects woman, sex, and her aggressive destruct ion of the male. There i s also a suggestion of the equation of the euphoric carnival realm and the underworld in Thackeray's descr ipt ion of the pr imi t ive cann iba l i s t i c " reve l l i ng and feast ing" which takes place in the " turb id" depths of the waters below. I t i s pa r t i cu la r l y 195 s ign i f i can t that the t rad i t i ona l " look ing-g lass" of the s i ren is men-t ioned, sa l i en t l y point ing towards Becky's ro le as r e f l ec to r ; within the context of the novel , she holds the mirror and a l l u r i ng l y beckons the rest of the world to come and glimpse the shocking r e a l i t y that both she and a l l others external ly project . The passage i s also s t r i k ing for Thackeray's unveiled expression of moral condemnation directed towards Becky. The fee l ing i t conveys i s one of unmitigated abhorrence and disgust . Becky i s represented as a hideous and d iabo l i ca l monster, a repuls ive image of e v i l . Yet in jux ta -posi t ion with th is powerful statement of repugnance are the author's previous professions of admiration for Becky, his implied enjoyment of her marvellous sense of humour which includes the a b i l i t y to laugh even at herse l f , and the fact that some t h i r t y chapters e a r l i e r , he has pro-claimed her the heroine of the novel . Behind Thackeray's obvious ambivalence towards Becky, we once more perceive the sense of moral ambiguity evoked by the double-sided countenance of the Vice f igu re , the "two faces in one hood" which embody the converging forces of comedy and e v i l . And again, as with Fa ls ta f f and Volpone, th is at t i tude of ambivalence i s re f lec ted in a body of c r i t i c a l commentary which i s divided in i t s estimation of the v a l i d i t y of the f i na l d ispos i t ion of Becky Sharp. Some of Vanity F a i r ' s c r i t i c s vehemently support Becky's f a l l from socia l grace, some protest that Thackeray was not hard enough on her, that he "was of Becky's party wi th-19 out knowing i t , " and s t i l l others feel that her punishment i s too 20 severe, that "she is treated to something more than jus t deser ts . " It 196 can be argued, however, that Becky's f i na l d ispos i t ion i s neither too str ingent nor too len ien t ; i t i s , rather , e f fec t i ve l y ambiguous in keep-ing with the contradictory at t i tudes that are ca l led forth in response to the outcome of the comic-demonic f igure . We want Becky to be punished for the ev i l she has perpetrated; ye t , on the other hand, we want her to escape for al lowing us to par t ic ipa te in the period of comic l icence she has provided us. Af ter her betrayal of her husband, Becky i s cast out from eminent society very much in the t rad i t i on of the Vice who is usual ly banished, hanged, or carted of f to Hel l at the end of the moral i ty drama. We f o l -low the successive humil iat ions of her t rave ls abroad through the sordid boarding-house scene of continental Europe, her every attempt to regain some vestige of respec tab i l i t y doomed to f a i l u r e : Whenever Becky made a l i t t l e c i r c l e for hersel f with incred ib le t o i l s and labour, someone came and swept i t down rudely and she had a l l her work to begin over again. It was very hard, lonely and disheartening, (p. 622) And a few pages l a t e r , Thackeray wr i tes : She was, in f ac t , no better than a vagabond upon the earth. When she got her money she gambled; when she had gambled i t she was put to sh i f t s to l i v e ; who knows how or by what means she succeeded? (p. 626) Becky's l i f e i s portrayed as one fraught with hardship and degradation; nevertheless, she i s able to remain emotionally unaffected by her i l l c i r -cumstances. At the same time we learn that "she was happy enough at the period of her boarding-house l i f e " (p. 623), and that , in f ac t , "she was not worse now than she had been in the days of her prosperi ty—only a l i t t l e down on her luck" (p. 634). Moreover, there are indicat ions that not only i s Becky l i t t l e affected by her vagabond l i f e , but also she 197 ac tua l ly thr ives upon i t . We are given a sense of her i r repress ive v i t a l i t y as she wines and dines and gambles her way from one boarding house to the next; she i s , a f ter a l l , in her "nat ive element": Becky l i ked the l i f e . She was at home with everybody in the p lace, pedlars, punters, students, and a l l . She was of a w i l d , roving nature, inher i ted from father and mother, who were both Bohemians by taste and circumstance . . . and the general buzz and hum of the place had pleased and t i ck led the l i t t l e woman, even when her luck was down. (p. 631) F i n a l l y , Thackeray's descr ipt ion of Becky at the conclusion of the novel suggests that she has r isen considerably in soc ia l stature since the death of Joseph Sedley, and although she i s now only on the periphery of respec tab i l i t y , there i s an impl icat ion that her upward mobi l i ty i s once more in progress. In th is sense then, Becky i s both punished and re-pr ieved. Although she i s doomed to be forever beginning anew, her essen-t i a l r es i l i ency and indomitable s p i r i t permit her to r i se again cheer-f u l l y whenever she i s cast down. Like Natural I nc l i na t i on , the Vice in The T r i a l of Treasure, she may be temporari ly b r i d l ed , but never completely suppressed. And les t we think that the s i m i l a r i t i e s between the ro le of Becky Sharp in Vanity Fa i r and that of the Vice in moral i ty drama are merely co inc iden ta l , the l as t l i ne of the novel and Thackeray's accompanying penci l sketch quite powerfully d i spe l l any such thoughts. The author re-turns once more to the puppet-metaphor introduced in the Prologue to the novel : "Come, ch i l d ren , l e t us shut up the box and the puppets, for our own play i s played out" (p. 666). The adjacent i l l u s t r a t i o n depicts two chi ldren about to close the l i d of the puppet-box in which, amidst a mass of ind is t inguishable f i gu res , the Amelia and Dobbin puppets stand f i rmly 198 upr ight, the former holding a ch i l d in her arms. Tossed outside the box i s the Lord Steyne puppet, who, according to the Master of the Perfor-mance, was to be fetched away at the end of the show by Old Nick, in true moral i ty fashion. S i g n i f i c a n t l y , Becky is also depicted ly ing out-side the box, f o rc ib l y restrained in the arms of a grinning devi l -puppet. I t seems c lear that both Becky and Lord Steyne have been excluded from the new morally redeemed society which has crysta l 1ized.around Dobbin, Amelia and the i r ch i ld ren . Like N i c h o l Newfangle, the Vice in Like Wi l l to L i ke , both have been presumably carted of f to Hell on the back of the d e v i l . The fact that the devil-puppet i s grinning not only provides a graphic image of the confluent forces of comedy and e v i l , but his leer car r ies imp l i c i t sexual overtones as w e l l , once more re- in forc ing the connection between female sexual i ty and the demonic realm. Moreover, the impl icat ion i s that while i t has been re l a t i ve l y easy to subdue the kind of depravity represented by the wicked nobleman-puppet, the b r id l i ng of Becky's special kind of wickedness requires a far greater amount of exer t ion, for her comic v i l l a i n y i s as a t t rac t i ve as i t i s reprehensible. "F lex ib le in the jo in ts and l i v e l y on the wire" (p. 6 ) , Becky re f lec ts both an essential.autonomy and a r e s i l i e n t v i t a l i t y which ul t imately transcend the con t ro l l i ng s t r ings of the puppet-master, and perhaps, even those of Thackeray, himself. We are l e f t with the impression that her subjugation at the end of the novel , l i k e that of the V ice , can only be a temporary one, and that i t w i l l not be long before Becky is once more adorned with spangles and clad in t rousers, en t ic ing ly performing her comic-demonic dance before a booth at yet another f a i r . 199 Notes for Chapter VII Vanity Fa i r : A Novel Without a Hero, eds. Geoffrey and Kathleen T i l l o t s o n , Riverside ed. (Boston: Houghton M i f f l i n Company), 1963, p. 5. A l l subsequent page references are to th is ed i t ion of the novel . "Vanity F a i r , " An Introduction to the English Novel, I (London: Hutchinson Univ. L ib ra ry ) , 1951, 159. 3 "Before the Cur ta in , " in which th is reference to Becky Sharp occurs, was wr i t ten along with the l as t number of the se r i a l publ icat ion and then placed at the beginning of the novel when i t was published as a volume. 4 A Preface to Paradise Lost (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1942), p. 98. 5 Although the d iabo l i ca l element i s unquestionably the most per-vasive in the character izat ion of both Satan and Iago, i t i s s ign i f i can t that neither ro le is devoid of comic overtones. See Spivack's chapters on Iago in The Al legory of Ev i l (pp. 3-27, 415-53) for an excel lent ana l -ys i s of both the ev i l and the g leefu l merriment re f lected by th is char-acter . c Chambers uses th is term to describe the predominant idea of the Feast of Fools (The Medieval Stage, I, 325; also see pp. 15-17 above). 7 "The Meanings of Comedy," p. 224. 8 For an excel lent summary of the pa ra l l e l s between Becky and Napoleon, see Russell A. Fraser, "Pernicious Casuis t ry : A Study of Char-acter in Vanity F a i r , " Nineteenth Century F i c t i o n , XII (1957), 145 f f . 9 (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1964), pp. 79-95. ^ Northrop Frye, A Natural Perspect ive: The Development of Shake-spearean Comedy and Romance (New York: Columbia Univ. Press) , p. 83. 1 1 "Vanity F a i r , " An Introduction to the Engl ish Novel, p. 164. 12 The Exposure of Luxury: Radical Themes in Thackeray (London: Peter Oiven L t d . , 1972), p. 79. 13 Cushman, p. 91. 14 It i s also s i gn i f i can t that Thackeray uses the metaphor of the Fa i r in his descr ipt ion o f ' the top f l oo r of the Elephant Hote l , "where among students,bagmen, small tradesmen, and country folks,come in for the 200 fes t i va l [Prince Polon ia 's renowned evening entertainments], Becky had found a l i t t l e nest" (p. 630). 15 P r a c t i c a l l y the only character of s ign i f icance who is not de-ceived by Becky's d iss imulat ion i s Dobbin. Her a t t i tude toward Dobbin i s , however, i l l u s t r a t i v e of her amoral indi f ference to the categories of good or e v i l . Although she recognizes him as an enemy, she openly admires him and, according to Thackeray "bore him no rancour for the part he had taken against her" (p. 648). In f ac t , she goes out of her way to commend him to Amelia, even though in th is case her a t t i tude i s surely one of d i s in te res t since she has nothing to gain. Ear ly V ic tor ian Novel ists (London: Constable and Co . , 1945), p. 80. 1 7 "On Vanity F a i r , " in The English Novel: Form and Function (New York: Harper and Row, 1953), p. 152. 18 Hays in The Dangerous Sex explains that the male fear of female sexual i ty i s often dramatized in fantasies of the menacing pha l l i c woman "whose organ contains the snake which may b i te and castrate" (p. 94). One of the l i t e r a r y examples Hays c i tes i s Mi l ton 's descr ipt ion in Paradise Lost of the female f igure named Sin who s i t s at the gates of H e l l . This f igu re - -a beaut i ful woman from the waist up, the lower hal f of her body in the form of a serpent endowed with a lethal s t i n g - - i s in many respects s im i la r to Thackeray's female siren-demon. 19 Gordon Ray, Thackeray: The Uses of Adversity (1811-1846) (New York: McGraw-Hil l , 1955), p. 424. 20 Russell A. Fraser, "Pernicious Casuis t ry : A Study of Character in Vanity F a i r , " Nineteenth Century F i c t i o n , XII (1957), 141. Chapter VIII THE CHILD AND THE CLOWN-DEMON—FATHERS AND CHILDREN IN OLIVER TWIST AND THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP Almost everyone who has wri t ten about e i ther Ol iver Twist or The  Old Cur ios i ty Shop has observed that the most in terest ing and v i t a l parts of each novel are those which depict the hidden and pr ivate world of e v i l , darkness, c r im ina l i t y , and dream. According to Arnold Ke t t l e , the power of Ol iver Twist "proceeds from the wonderful evocation of the under-world and the engagement of our sympathies on behalf of the inhabitants of that wo r l d , " 1 while Mark S p i l k a , describing Qui 1p in The Old Cur ios i ty  Shop as Dickens' "greatest comic v i l l a i n , " not only f inds th is character "more appeal ing, in his repuls iveness, than his v ic t im in her goodness," but also observes that " i t i s Qui 1p who has survived the nineteenth cen-2 tury as the novel 's great a t t r ac t i on . " Cer ta in ly , both Ol iver Twist and The Old Cur ios i ty Shop or ig inated in a s im i la r purpose, that which Dickens expressed in a passage subsequently cut from the Preface to the e a r l i e r novel ; there he explains that in Ol iver he "wished to show . . . the p r inc ip le of Good surviv ing through every adverse circumstance, and t r i -3 umphing at l a s t . " A s im i la r object ive i s suggested in the f i r s t chapter of The Old Cur ios i ty Shop, as Master Humphrey speculates upon l i t t l e N e l l ' s "future l i f e , holding her so l i t a r y way among a crowd of grotesque companions; the only pure, f resh , youthful object in the throng" 4 (p. 13). Both novels r e f l ec t the dramatization of the progression of the c h i l d , the symbol of natural Good, moving through a world that i s thoroughly 201 202 ev i l and corrupt in nature. The contrast of two worlds, one of darkness and e v i l , the other of v i r tue and l i g h t , i s i n t r i n s i c to the central atmosphere of each novel , and th is contrast i s , in several respects, commensurate with a kind of Manichean v is ion of the universe. As Donald Fanger has ind ica ted, the works of several nineteenth-century novel is ts are informed by a "Manichean world view" which examines each man's s t ruggle, however obscure, in the l i gh t of the ult imate contest between good and e v i l ; and i t dramatizes th is framework by incarnating the opposed pr inc ip les through the introduct ion of purely good characters (most often women and chi ldren) and, more important, characters c lea r l y i den t i f i ed as d iabo l i ca l surrogates. The former tend often to be sentimentalized po r t r a i t s ; they tend almost always to be v ic t ims, beat i f ied by Chr is t ian pass iv i t y and res ignat ion. The l a t t e r are ac t i ve , aggressive, predatory; and they tend to appear suprahuman, surrounded with a demonic aura and seemingly possessed of at least quasi-demonic powers.5 This world view, although not so relevant to Vanity F a i r , s t r i k i n g l y cor-responds to the f i c t i o n a l metaphor of both Ol iver Twist and The Old  Cur ios i ty Shop; and we might also observe that an almost ident ica l con-tent ion between the forces of good and ev i l i s represented in the Psycho- machia which underl ies the structure of the moral i ty play. I t i s also s ign i f i can t that the Vice of the moral i ty t r a d i t i o n , as well as the chief "d iabo l i ca l surrogates" of Dickens' two novels, Fagin and Qui lp , respec-t i v e l y , are invested with d i s t i n c t l y comic overtones. As we are again about to d iscover , i t i s not necessar i ly a far cry from the world of medieval drama to the f i c t i o n a l world of the nineteenth century. Although i t is un l i ke ly that Dickens was consciously employing the old moral i ty framework in e i ther Ol iver Twist or The Old Cur ios i ty  Shop, there are in both novels echoes of P i l g r im ' s Progress, the same 203 a l l ego r i ca l work of prose f i c t i o n which informs so much of Vanity F a i r , and which, as previously ind ica ted, was i t s e l f inf luenced by the moral i ty t r a d i t i o n . The o r ig ina l sub t i t l e of O l i ver Twist, "The Par ish Boy's Progress," i s a d i rec t a l l us ion to Bunyan's work; and in The Old C u r i - os i t y Shop, Nell and her grandfather are at one point described as "the two p i lgr ims" (p. 114), an imp l i c i t reference that i s made quite pointed a few pages l a te r . As Nel l looks back towards the indust r ia l labyr inth of London which she has l e f t behind, she i s reminded of her "old copy of the P i l g r im 's Progress," and turning to her grandfather, she says: "I feel as i f we were both C h r i s t i a n , and l a i d down on th is grass a l l the cares and troubles we brought with us; never to take them up again" (p. 116). Both Ol iver and Nell a re , in many respects, on a pilgrimage towards sa lva t ion , and during the course of the i r indiv idual journeys, each ch i l d i s surrounded by the secular ized d iabo l i c forces of nineteenth-century urban soc ie ty . In th is sense then, i t i s not only N e l l , but also O l i ve r , who "seem[s] to ex is t in a kind of a l legory" (OCS, p. 13). Both c h i l d -characters are representat ive of the qua l i t i es of v i r t ue , pur i t y , and incorrupt ib le innocence; and both are , in Fanger's words, "beat i f ied by Chr is t ian pass iv i ty and res ignat ion , " as a resu l t of the i r v ic t im iza t ion by "ac t i ve , aggressive, predatory" and, moreover, s a l i e n t l y comic f igures who, despite . the i r secular ized formal izat ion are , nevertheless, imbued with supernatural ly demonic powers. Furthermore, as the c r i t i c a l commentary would ind ica te , i t i s from the underworld realms of these demonic characters that the v i t a l i t y of each novel spr ings. As in medieval drama, comic v ice in Ol iver Twist 204 and The Old Cur ios i ty Shop i s i r r ep ress ib l e . While the virtuous char-acters are s ta t i c and colour less in the i r pur i ty and pass i v i t y , Fagin and Quilp and the i r respective henchmen, the Ar t fu l Dodger and Charley Bates, the Brasses and the dwarf's acrobat ic boy, are a l l v i v i d l y a n i -mated and exuberant as they conduct the i r ev i l in t r igues . And once again the impl icat ion i s obvious that although the path of v i r tue and suf fer ing may be the way to moral sa lva t ion , the course of v i ce , from the perspec-t i ve of the readers' aesthet ic s e n s i b i l i t i e s , i s without question the more a t t rac t i ve and sustaining one. Keeping th is fact in mind, we sha l l now turn to the underworld realms of 01iver Twist and The Old Cur ios i ty  Shop, f i r s t surveying the prototypical comic-demonic a t t r ibutes embodied in both Fagin and Qui lp , and then suggesting how the ambiguity which governs our double-sided response to each of these clown-demons may pos-s i b l y reveal some addi t ional ins ights concerning Dickens' attempt to con-f ront the ambivalences of the parent-chi ld relat ionship—an area of psychological c o n f l i c t c ruc ia l in his own personal l i f e , and a central concern in almost every one of his novels. We know from a l e t t e r he wrote to Forster in 1837, that while Dickens was working on the nineteenth chapter of Ol iver Twist, he was simultaneously engrossed in reading Defoe's History of the Dev i l : I have had great d i f f i c u l t y in keeping my hands of f Fagin and the rest of them in the evenings, but as I came down for res t , I res is ted the temptation . . . Did you ever read (of course you have, though) Defoe's History of the Devi l? What a capi ta l thing i t i s ! I bought i t for a couple of s h i l l i n g s yesterday morning, and have been quite absorbed in i t ever s ince.o While there i s some c r i t i c a l disagreement in determining the extent to which Dickens was influenced by his recent reading of Defoe and the 205 extent to which he was spontaneously drawing upon the t rad i t i on of d e v i l -lore which permeates Western c u l t u r e , 7 his l e t t e r to Forster suggests that during the composition of Ol iver Twist, the image of the devi l was c lea r l y f ixed in his mind. Cer ta in l y , Fagin i s associated with the demonic realm at numerous points throughout the novel. Often pictured hovering over a f i r e , the Jew i s repe t i t i ve l y referred to as e i ther "the o ld 'un" or "the old gentleman," both terms frequently employed in a l l u -sion to the d e v i l . Dickens' concentration on the de ta i l s of Fagin's physiognomy also suggests th is character 's d iabo l ic nature. Fagin's face i s "v i l l a inous- look ing and repuls ive" (p. 56); his features, which are often d is tor ted in a "hideous" or "ghastly g r in " (pp. 59, 145), are at one point marked by an at t i tude of "dev i l i sh an t i c ipa t ion" (p. 358), and at another, "wrinkled into an expression of v i l l a i n y per fect ly demoniacal" (p. 138). Sikes shrinks away from the Jew's conc i l i a to ry pat on the shoulder, dec la r ing , "Reminds me of being nabbed by the devi l . . . There never was another man with such a face as yours" (p. 338). And when Fagin knocks at S ikes ' door, the l a t t e r demands of the growling dog: "Don't you know the devi l when he's got a great-coat on?" (p. 136). In Nancy's words, Fagin i s "devi l . . . and worse than devi l as he's been to me" (p. 351), and i t i s S ikes ' conjecture that the Jew "came s t ra ight o from the old 'un without any father at a l l betwixt" (p. 338). Although Qui 1p i s not e x p l i c i t l y i den t i f i ed with the Father of Ev i l as frequently as Fagin i s , the demonic aspects of the dwarf's char-acter are , nevertheless, emphasized again and again in The Old Cur ios i ty  Shop. Acknowledged at one point as "the prime mover of the whole 206 d iabo l i c device" (p. 604) which gives r i se to the main act ion of the novel , Qu i lp , as the chief embodiment of malevolent energy, i s constantly "dr iv ing people about l i k e an ev i l s p i r i t " (p. 159). "I r ea l l y don't bel ieve he's human," exclaims Mrs. Nubbles, in reference to the dwarf's seemingly supernatural demonic powers; and Dick Swive l le r , a f ter sug-gesting to Quilp that the l a t t e r i s "not a choice s p i r i t , " then specula-t i v e l y adds: "Devil a b i t , s i r . . . I f you' re any s p i r i t at a l l , s i r , you're an ev i l s p i r i t " (p. 239). Also described as "the s ly l i t t l e f iend" (p. 391) and "some fami l i a r demon" (p. 454), Qui lp , l i k e Fagin, i s often represented "grinning l i k e a d e v i l " (p. 145), "with a ghastly smile" (p. 68) on his l i p s . His typ ica l a t t i tude i s one of "gloat ing mal ic ious-ness" (p. 81), an a t t i tude which i s pa r t i cu la r l y ostensib le during the times he d i a b o l i c a l l y mocks his wife and mother-in-law, and during the incident in which he taunt ingly performs "a kind of demon-like dance" (p. 228) around the kennel of a ferocious dog. Both Fagin and Quilp re f l ec t as well several a t t r ibutes charac-t e r i s t i c of the t rad i t iona l V i ce - ro l e . Like the moral i ty V ice , both are tempters and schemers, and in the i r respective re la t ionships to Ol iver and N e l l , Fagin and Quilp function within the t rad i t i ona l pattern of act ing as aged corrupters towards youthful innocence. The f i r s t words Dickens employs to introduce each v i l l a i n suggest an advancement in years - -Fagin i s described "as a very o ld sh r i ve l l ed Jew" (p. 57), while Quilp is presented as "an e lder ly man of remarkably hard features and fo rb id -ding aspect" (p. 65). S i m i l a r l y , the temptation aspects of each ro le re-volve around what Spivackcal1s an "act of seduct ion." For Spivack, 207 the charac te r i s t i c stratagem whereby the Vice achieves his purpose i s a v i v i d stage metaphor for the s ly insinuat ion of moral ev i l into the human breast. For i t s consummation he displays himself as an a r t i s t in persuasion who def t ly manipulates his v ic t im out of his virtuous i nc l i na t i on and turns him about in the d i rec t ion of his ru in.9 Fagin attempts to lure Ol iver into the realm of ev i l by of fer ing him food, she l te r , and a sense of community wi thin the th ieves ' den. Fagin 's "act of seduction" i s centered upon his perception of O l i v e r ' s ex is ten-t i a l i s o l a t i o n , his being cut o f f from the nurturing guidance, protec-t i o n , and companionship of both family and f r iends . As the Jew remarks to S ikes : "Once l e t him feel that he i s one of us; once f i l l his mind that he has been a t h i e f , and he's ours! Ours for l i f e " (p. 141). It i s not enough for Fagin to capture and imprison O l i ve r ; i t i s rather his purpose to remove from the boy any chance of sa lva t ion . In f ac t , Dickens' use within the novel of an i den t i f i ab l e "metaphor for the s l y insinuat ion of moral ev i l into the human breast" makes Fagin's V i c e - l i k e ro le quite e x p l i c i t : "In short , the wi ly o ld Jew had the boy in his t o i l s . Having prepared his mind, by sol i tude and gloom, to prefer any society to the companionship of his own sad thoughts in such a dreary p lace, he was now slowly i n s t i l l i n g into his soul the poison which he hoped would blacken i t and change i t s hue forever" (p. 134). Qui 1p functions in a s im i la r manner towards both l i t t l e Nell and Dick Swivel ler in The Old Cur ios i ty Shop. With his o f fe r of dr ink, f r iendsh ip , parental pro tect ion, and a potent ial fortune in gold and s i l v e r , Qui 1p i s successful in his attempt "to insinuate himself into Richard Sw ive l l e r ' s confidence" (p. 173). With N e l l , his act of seduc-t ion does not succeed as w e l l . While Fagin's ro le of tempter in his 208 desire to corrupt Ol iver may be seen as somewhat analogous to the r e l a -t ionship between Fa ls ta f f and Hal in Henry IV, Qu i lp 's temptation of l i t t l e Nel l i s more along the l ines of Volpone's seduction of Ce l ia in Jonson's play or Becky's attempt to ensnare Joseph Sedley in Vanity Fa i r . In f ac t , although the sexual overtones in The Old Cur ios i ty Shop are latent and symbolic in accordance with the proscr ipt ions of V ic tor ian mora l i ty , they a re , nevertheless, as heavi ly charged as the d i rec t s ta te-ment of sexual appeti te manifested in Volpone. From Qui lp 's wife and mother-in-law, we learn of the dwarf's seductive magnetism, his " c a p t i -vating q u a l i t i e s " and "powers of ins inuat ion" (p. 132) in his re la t ions with the female sex. Mrs. Quilp advises her f r iends that her husband "has such a way with him when he l i k e s , that the best looking woman here couldn ' t refuse him i f I was dead and she was free and he chose to make love to her" (p. 32). An acclaimed " lady 's man" (p. 36), Quilp i s iden-t i f i e d from the very beginning of the novel as an incarnat ion of d i a -bo l i ca l sexual energy, and his overtures towards Nell are openly lasc iv ious in nature. He proposes marriage to her, o f fer ing to make her his "number two" as soon as his present wife should d ie : "To be Mrs. Quilp the second, when Mrs. Quilp the f i r s t i s dead, sweet N e l l , " said Quilp wr ink l ing up his eyes and lur ing her towards him with his bent fo re f inger , "to be my wi fe , my l i t t l e cherry-cheeked, red- l ipped wi fe. Say that Mrs. Quilp l i ves f i ve years, or only four , y o u ' l l be jus t the proper age for me. Ha, ha. Be a good g i r l , Ne l l y , a very good g i r l , and see i f one of these days you don't come to be Mrs. Quilp of Tower H i l l . " (p. 45) The seductive qua l i ty of Qu i lp 's proposal i s quite obvious here as he i n -v i t i n g l y " lu res" Nel l toward him, and as he lecherously dwells on the physical de ta i l s of her beauty. While almost a l l of the other men in the 209 novel react to Nell exc lus ive ly on the basis of her sp i r i t ua l pur i t y , Qui 1p i s the only one who acknowledges the fact that she has a body. He constant ly refers to her in immodestly sensual terms, descr ibing her as "chubby, rosy, cosy l i t t l e N e l l " and "a f resh , blooming, modest l i t t l e bud," h is suggestive words of endearment becoming even more prur ient as he simultaneously "nurs[es] his short leg" in a la ten t l y obscene manner (p. 73). Qu i lp 's demonic erot ic ism i s , in f a c t , the propel l ing force be-hind l i t t l e N e l l ' s f l i g h t from the inferno of the c i t y , and we w i l l return to a more deta i led examination of the sexual overtones of that f l i g h t when we discuss Dickens' portrayal of the comic-demonic f igure in The Old Cur ios i ty Shop as a lecherous fa ther - f igure . I t i s su f f i c i en t at th is point to observe that Qu i lp 's V i c e - l i k e temptation of Nel l moves in the d i rec t ion of sexual seduct ion, and that i t has a purpose s im i la r to Fagin 's ro le as tempter in Ol iver Twist; both characters attempt to poison and corrupt the pur i ty and innocence of the youthful representative of v i r tue in each novel. I t i s also s i gn i f i can t that both Fagin and Qui 1p dwell in the demonic underworld regions; they are both represented as subterranean and r e p t i l i a n creatures—Fagin i s described as a "loathsome r e p t i l e " (OT, p. 135), Qui 1p, as a "Salamander" (OCS, p. 173)--and both have a "den of v i l l a i n y " comparable to that of the magnifico in Volpone. In 01iver  Twist , Dickens portrays an underworld in many respects s im i l a r to that of the secular ized version of hel l in the mora l i t i es . I t i s the world of the tavern and the stews, of c r im ina l i t y and the gallows. We learn that Nancy's l i f e "had been squandered in the streets and among the most 210 noisome of the stews and dens of London" (p. 301). The l a t t e r are the dens which harbour the th ieves' society in the depths of London's slums, "the foul and frowsy dens" where, as Dickens explains in the Preface, "v ice i s c lose ly packed and lacks the room to turn" (p. x v i ) . These dens are only accessib le through "a labyr in th of dark narrow courts" (p. 108), and at the center of the labyr inth we f ind Fagin, perpetual ly "brooding over a du l l smokey f i r e " (p. 178). Fagin moves more than once during the course of the novel in order to dodge e i ther the law or the vengeful cr iminal element, but wherever he sets up his " in ferna l den" (p. 194), i t i s in a ser ies of squa l id , dark rooms which have a d i s t i n c t l y subter-ranean qual i ty even though they are always si tuated at the top of winding f l i gh t s of d i m l y - l i t s t a i r s . The atmosphere of the infernal underworld c r y s t a l l i z e d around Fagin i s most graphica l ly rendered in a passage in which Dickens describes the Jew "emerg[ing] from his den": The mud lay th ick upon the stones and a black mist hung over the s t ree ts : the ra in f e l l s luggishly down, and everything f e l t cold and clammy to the touch. I t seemed jus t the night when i t bef i t ted such a being as the Jew to be abroad. As he gl ided s t e a l t h i l y along, creeping beneath the shel ter of wal ls and doorways, the hideous old man seemed l i k e some loathsome r e p t i l e , engendered in the slime and darkness through which he moved: crawling for th by night , in search of some r i ch o f fa l for a meal. (p. 135) Just as Fagin seems "engendered in the slime and darkness" of- the demonic subterranean regions, Quilp i s described as "looking l i k e the ; ev i l genius of the c e l l a r s come from underground upon some work of mischief" (OCS, p. 356). Like Fagin, he too has an " in ferna l den" (p. 497) where he sleeps "amidst the congenial accompaniments of r a i n , mud, d i r t , damp, fog and ra ts" (p. 379). Bachelor H a l l , as i t i s c a l l e d , i s s im i l a r l y associated with images of infernal f i r e . The chimney i s erected so as to prevent 211 the smoke from the f i r e -p lace from leaving the ins ide of the den: " in the midst of th is atmosphere, which must have i n f a l l i b l y smothered any other man," Qu i lp , we are t o l d , passed his evenings with great cheer fu l -ness, smoking his pipe "unt i l nothing of him was v i s i b l e through the m i s t but a pai r of red and highly inflamed eyes" (p. 377). He also f inds solace in Bachelor Hal l by dr inking what he refers to as "melted lead and brimstone" (p. 463)--a powerful whiskey, the ef fect of which i s to make him even "more f i e r y and fu r ious , and [to] heat his malice and mischievousness t i l l they b o i l " (p. 459). The s i n i s t e r , demonic qua l i t i es of Fagin and Qui lp 's dens of v i l l a i n y a re , however, somewhat mit igated by an i r rep ress ib le comic v i t a l i t y which i s also contained within the wal ls of the i r respective abodes. Not only i s O l i ver abundantly fed for the f i r s t time in the novel when he enters Fagin 's den, but i t i s here that he laughs for the f i r s t time as w e l l . Juxtaposed to Fagin 's representation as a "loathsome r e p t i l e " i s his ro le as the "p leasant , " " p l a y f u l , " and "merry" old gentleman (pp. 61-63). O l iver i s quite captivated by the s p i r i t of con-v i v i a l i t y and camaraderie which informs the re la t ionsh ip between Fagin and his boys, and he i s convulsed with laughter as he watches the "curious and uncommon game" which they play. The game involves Fagin 's t ro t t i ng back and for th " in imi tat ion of the manner in which old gent le-men walk about the s t ree t s , " while two of the boys s t e a l t h i l y fol low him and attempt to divest him of his valuables. Fagin performs his part " in such a very funny and natural manner that Ol iver laughed t i l l the tears ran down his face" (p. 62). The comedy of th is scene i s demonically 212 subversive of t rad i t iona l moral i ty at the same time as i t i s regenerative. Ol iver and the reader par t i c ipa te in a Hobbesian expression of amused super ior i ty toward the r i ch c lass made to look r id icu lous and inef fectual through Fagin 's c lever parody. And by jo in ing in the th ieves ' aggressive laughter directed against the honest old gentleman, we, as well as O l i ve r , become momentarily i den t i f i ed with the cr iminal forces of the underworld. At the same time, the laughter which i s ca l led for th in Ol iver i s ind ica t i ve of a resurgent fee l ing of community; for almost the f i r s t time in his l i f e , the orphan has experienced a sense of belonging, secur i t y , and freedom from oppression. It i s , therefore, not surpr is ing that l a te r on in the novel , even a f ter he has been recaptured by Fagin and confined in a dark, s o l i t a r y room, Ol iver again cannot prevent him-s e l f from laughing at the Jew's waggish sense of humour: Fagin t e l l s the boy s to r ies of past robberies "mixed up with so much that was d ro l l and cur ious, that Ol iver could not help laughing hea r t i l y , and showing that he was amused in sp i te of a l l his better fee l ings" (p. 134). Despite the repuls ive appearance of the old man and the ins id ious qua l i ty of the ev i l he perpetuates, Fagin i s an exceedingly a t t rac t i ve character. As Spi lka has ind ica ted, i t i s the Jew's comic b r i l l i a n c e , his " revelat ion of l i f e where l i f e can scarcely f l o u r i s h , " that determines our las t ing impression of him: Here in the dark, foul den of thieves and p ros t i tu tes , a greasy Jew is dancing! This i s what remains with us, long a f ter we have fo r -gotten Fagin 's b e s t i a l i t y . The l i f e , the imagination, the cleverness of the old man, shines for th from beneath his matted ha i r ; and l i k e so many of Dickens' v i l l a i n s , he capt ivates u s J O Quilp i s another one of Dickens' capt ivat ing v i l l a i n s , and l i k e 213 Fagin, he i s a t t rac t i ve as a resu l t of what Brass c a l l s "a most amazing vein of comical i ty" (OCS, p. 460). It i s s i gn i f i can t that Brass chooses thus to describe the dwarf's sense of humour af ter being greeted by a powerful stream of invect ive upon knocking at the door of Bachelor Hal l - - Q u i l p ' s comical i ty i s "amazing" pa r t i cu la r l y with respect to i t s v io len t l y aggressive d i spos i t i on . Fagin 's comedy of aggression i s mild in comparison with that of his comic-demonic counterpart in The Old Cur ios i ty Shop. Like the conventional V ice , Qui 1p del ights in tor tur ing his v ic t ims; he derives malicious glee from keeping a l l those around him " in a constant state of rest lessness and ag i ta t ion" (p. 377). He torments his mother-in-law to d i s t r a c t i o n , and he never passes up the opportunity e i ther to b i te his wife or to i n f l i c t pinches on her arms which, as we learn, "were seldom free from the impressions of his f ingers in black and blue colours" (p. 156). When Mrs. Qui 1p at one point asks him how he could be so c r u e l , he de r i s i ve l y mocks her: "How could I be so c rue l ! c r u e l ! " c r ied the dwarf. "Because I was in the humour. I'm in the humour now. I sha l l be cruel when I l i k e . " (p. 371) Qu i lp 's comic for te i s unequivocally the humour of c rue l ty . On his way home af ter having been inexp l icab ly absent for three days, he entertains himself with v is ions of his w i fe ' s fears for his safety. Deciding that she i s probably fa in t ing constantly in g r i e f and te r ro r , he expresses his pleasure in shrieks of demonic mir th : This facet ious p o s s i b i l i t y was so congenial to the dwarf's humour, and so exqu is i te ly amusing to him, that he laughed as he went along un t i l the tears ran down his cheeks; and more than once . . . vented his del ight in a s h r i l l scream, which great ly t e r r i f y i ng any lonely passenger, who happened to be walking on before him expecting nothing so l i t t l e , increased his mi r th , and made him remarkably cheerful and 1ighthearted. (p. 364) 214 Qui lp , moreover, i s always represented as being engaged in some form of sensual g r a t i f i c a t i o n . As an embodiment of the sensual man given over to the expression of the baser l i f e of the i n s t i n c t s , the dwarf takes th is aspect of the V ice - ro le to i t s most exuberant and v io lent ex-treme. Described as a " f i re -p roo f man" (p. 173), he smokes odious tobacco and drinks alcohol of an in to lerab ly f i e r y i n tens i t y , and " in the uproarious hosp i ta l i t y " of his den, he forces Dick and the Brasses on separate occasions to j o in him, the i r comic discomfiture only serving to enhance his "boisterous merriment" (p. 382). His dining habits are no less sensual ly r io tous : He ate hard eggs, shel l and a l l , devoured gigant ic prawns with the heads and t a i l s on, chewed tobacco and water-cresses at the same time and with extraordinary greediness, drank bo i l ing tea without winking, b i t his fork and spoon t i l l they bent again, (p. 40) The dwarf's expression of his sexual appeti te i s also aggressively comic as in the scene where he forces Mrs. Quilp to remain awake, seated beside him for the ent i re night in case he wants her. Gabriel Pearson has pointed out the pha l l i c symbolism of the "deep f i e r y red" end of Qu i lp 's c igar in th is scene in which the dwarf informs his wife that he i s " in a smoking humour and shal l probably blaze away a l l n i g h t " 1 1 (p. 37). S imi -l a r l y , there i s also a scene in the novel which re f l ec ts quite sa l i en t l y Qu i lp 's malevolent desire to d e f i l e l i t t l e N e l l , a scene which i s b r i l -l i a n t in i t s condensation of the precarious balance between hor r i f i ed outrage and laughter which character izes our response to demonic comedy at i t s best. It takes place a f ter Quilp has appropriated the Cur ios i ty Shop and, accompanied by Brass, his legal adv isor , has set up his quarters in l i t t l e N e l l ' s room. When Nel l enters to gather up a few of her 215 possessions, the dwarf addresses her in an o f fens ive ly salacious manner: "What a pretty l i t t l e N e l l ! " c r ied Qui lp. "Oh beau t i f u l , s i r , beaut i ful indeed," said Brass. "Quite charm-i n g . " "Has she come to s i t upon Qu i lp 's knee," said the dwarf in what he meant to be a soothing tone, "or i s she going to bed in her own l i t t l e room inside here—which i s poor Nel ly going to do?" "What a remarkably pleasant way he has with ch i l d ren ! " muttered Brass, as i f in confidence between himself and the c e i l i n g , "upon my word, i t ' s quite a t reat to hear him!" (p. 86) The distancing mechanism provided by Brass' offhand remark serves to ex-plode the heightened anxiety evoked in the reader by Qui lp 's asking Nel l to choose between two equally opprobrious opt ions, and the tension is discharged in the response of laughter. Brass' comment i s funny for two reasons: in the f i r s t p lace, his apprehension of the meaning of the s i t u -at ion i s a comic inversion of i t s rea l i t y—Qu i lp , rather than having a pleasant way with ch i l d ren , has revealed himself to be a perverse, lecherous old man—and secondly, i t re f l ec ts Brass 1 dim-witted s tup id i ty which makes him unable to d is t ingu ish the innocent form of Qu i lp 's i n v i -ta t ion from i t s l a ten t , lasc iv ious content. Our laughter at Brass' s tup id i ty also serves to camouflage the laughter of v icar ious sexual l i be ra t i on that we are allowed to express in face of the threatened v io -la t i on of N e l l ' s pur i ty . In other words, Dickens here le t s us of f the hook, so to speak, and, as a r esu l t , we do not experience the gu i l t we would otherwise feel fo r condoning Qu i lp 's morally subversive proposal. Both Fagin and Qui lp , then, are invested with comic as well as demonic overtones, and i t i s in terest ing that both f igu res , in many re -spects, reca l l the exuberant v i t a l i t y manifested by the comic-demonic characters in medieval drama. Qu i lp , according to G. K. Chesterton, " i s 216 prec ise ly the devi l of the Middle Ages; he belongs to that amazingly 12 healthy period when even los t s p i r i t s were h i l a r i o u s . " Chesterton's observations are supported by a number of passages in The Old Cur ios i ty  Shop. The dwarf 's roars of malevolent de l igh t - - the "ha, ha, ha ! " which pervades the novel--are evocative of the infernal bellows of laughter of both the dev i l and the Vice of the miracles and the mora l i t i es , and Dickens, at one point , s p e c i f i c a l l y associates th is roaring with " laugh-ing l i k e a f iend" (p. 414). S i m i l a r l y , Qu i lp 's synthesis of the forces of comedy and ev i l i s pa r t i cu la r l y evident in the scene in which Mrs. Nubbles i s v ic t imized by the dwarf's uproarious ser ies of "ingenious tor tures" during the coach r ide back to London: [Mrs. Nubbles'] so l i t a r y condit ion enabled him to t e r r i f y her with many extraordinary annoyances; such as hanging over the side of the coach at the r i sk of his l i f e , and star ing in with his great goggle eyes, which seemed in hers the more horr ib le from his face being upside down; dodging her in th is way from one window to another; gett ing nimbly down whenever they changed horses and thrusting his head in at the window with a dismal squint : which ingenious tortures had such an ef fect upon Mrs. Nubbles, that she was quite unable for the time to r e s i s t the be l ie f that Mr. Quilp did in his own person represent that Ev i l Power, who was so vigorously attacked at L i t t l e Bethel , and who . . . was now frol icsome and rampant, (p. 361) Fagin, as w e l l , i s associated with the frolicsome and rampant qual i ty of the ev i l personages in medieval drama. The Jew's "matted red ha i r " (p. 57) i den t i f i e s him with the dev i l as well as the Jewish character of the mi rac les , both of whom cha rac te r i s t i ca l l y wore a f i e r y red wig. Accord-ing to M. F. Modder, the drama of the Middle Ages represented the Jewish characters as "comic types to be der ided, hissed at and general ly r i d i -13 culed" in much the same way as the devi l was mockingly v i l i f i e d . This process can be seen pa r t i cu la r l y in the treatment of Judas, the chief 217 Jewish character of the mirac les, who i s an ear ly representative of the comic-demonic f i gu re , and l i k e Fagin, i s also dist inguished by a massive quanti ty of red ha i r . Modder also points to a t rad i t i on in Engl ish drama in which characters "resort to Jewish disguises to supply comic r e l i e f 14 or to fur ther some v i l l a i nous scheme," and i t i s c l ea r l y out of th is t rad i t i on that Dickens' comic-demonic conceptual izat ion of Fagin emanates. At the end of the novels, Fagin and Quilp suffer the conventional expulsion of the comic-demonic f igure from the morally cleansed society which c r y s t a l l i z e s around the hero or heroine. Quilp dies by drowning and, even in death, his appearance re f l ec ts the charac te r i s t i c V i c e - l i k e a t t i tude of indi f ference towards the powers of ex t inc t ion . His end i s at once comic and f r i gh t f u l in i t s imp l ica t ion . The f i na l descr ip t ion of the dwarf dwells upon his corpse f l oa t ing down the r i v e r , dragged through the mud and the slime and f i n a l l y f lung upon the banks of a swamp. Dickens then focuses his at tent ion upon the hair of the "deserted carcass" : The ha i r , s t i r red by the damp breeze, played in a kind of mockery of death--such a mockery as the dead man would have revel led in when al ive—about i t s head, and i t s dress f lu t te red id l y in the night wind. (p. 510) This is p rec ise ly the same kind of "mockery of death" which often charac-te r izes the stage ex i t of the moral i ty V ice , a mockery which undercuts both the seriousness and the f i n a l i t y of his d i sso lu t i on . One of the most pervasive qua l i t i es displayed by both Fagin and Quilp i s the i r i r rep ress ib le ubiqui ty. Neither character i s confined to the subterranean depths of the underworld; both of them turn up suddenly and unexpectedly in the most un l ike ly places and s i tua t ions . Like the 218 moral i ty V ice , both are great t r a v e l l e r s , and the ins id ious , mocking presence of both dwarf and Jew permeates both the urban and rural regions of The Old Cur ios i ty Shop and Ol iver Twist , respect ive ly . In th is way then, Dickens' descr ip t ion of Qu i lp 's drowning paradoxical ly aff i rms the dwarf's ubiqui tous, comic v i t a l i t y , a v i t a l i t y which cannot be extinguished even by the powers of death. This qua l i ty of i r r e p r e s s i b i l i t y i s further in tens i f i ed by the fact that Quilp has, symbol ica l ly , outwitted death at an e a r l i e r point in the novel. Like Volpone and Fa l s ta f f , the dwarf feigns death—he allows his w i fe , mother-in-law, and legal advisor to maintain the i l l u s i o n that he has drowned so that he can gauge the i r reactions to the fact of his demise. The scene i s pa r t i cu la r l y r i ch in humour as Qu i lp ' s tenacious se l f - l ove u l t imately forces him out of his hiding place when he discovers that his nose i s going to be designated as " f l a t " on his dea th -ce r t i f i ca te : "Aqu i l i ne ! " cr ied Qu i lp , thrust ing in his head, and s t r i k i ng the feature with his f i s t . "Aqu i l i ne , you hag. Do you see i t ? Do you c a l l th is f l a t ? Do you? Eh?" "Oh c a p i t a l , c a p i t a l ! " shouted Brass, from the mere force of habi t . "Exce l len t ! How very good he i s ! He's a most remarkable man—so extremely whimsical! Such an amazing power of taking people by su rp r i se ! " (p. 368) In much the same way, Qu i lp 's actual death tends to take us by surpr ise in i t s unexpected element of def iant humour; and Brass' subsequent re-mark concerning the dwarf 's f i r s t bout with the forces of ex t inc t ion i s equally appl icable to the comic-demonic ambiguity of his f i na l expirat ion --"Oh exceedingly good! There's not another man a l i ve who could carry i t o f f l i k e that" (p. 462). Fagin, l i k e Qui lp , becomes paradoxical ly most a l i ve in his 219 confrontat ion with death. In Ol iver Twist, Dickens' representation of the f i na l d ispos i t ion of the comic-demonic f igure i s divided into two par ts , one examining the t r i a l of the Ar t fu l Dodger, and the other focus-ing upon the subjugation of the Jew himself . The comic overtones of the conventional cast ing out of the Vice are exc lus ive ly res t r i c ted to the Dodger's t r i a l , f i r s t as Fagin t r i e s to console Charley Bates by helping him to imagine a triumphant p icture of the Dodger's appearance in court - - a "regular game" in which the l a t t e r appears not at a l l as the v ic t im but rather as "the chief actor in a scene of most uncommon and exquis i te humour" (p. 331). The topsy-turvy s p i r i t of comic inversion i s evident here as Fagin persuades Charley to bel ieve that the Dodger's imprison-ment i s an honour rather than a tragedy: "Think how young he i s too! What a d i s t i n c t i o n , Charley, to be lagged at his time of l i f e ! " (p. 330). And th is process of topsyturvydom is again apparent in the actual t r i a l i t s e l f in which the Dodger l i t e r a l l y re f l ec t s one of Bergson's examples of comic inversion by f u l f i l l i n g the ro le of "the prisoner at the bar 15 lectur ing the magistrate," thereby provoking the hearty laughter of the spectators. The Dodger's comical ly def iant demeanor at his t r i a l also re f lec ts elements of verbal humour charac te r i s t i c of the Vice--he complains, for example, that his i s a case of "deformation of character" (p. 334). Moreover, in the l as t l i ne of the scene--"the Dodger was doing f u l l j u s t i c e to his bringing up and estab l ish ing for himself a g lor ious reputat ion" (p. 336)--Dickens makes use of a Fa ls ta f f i an pun which serves as an example of gallows humour in Henry IV, Part I. There Fa ls ta f f ex-presses his indi f ference towards the threat of hanging by exclaiming: "If 220 I become not a cart as well as another man, a plague upon my bringing up" ( I I . i v .490) - -suggest ing, in other words, that his "upbringing" has been such that i t would be f i t t i n g for him to be "brought up" before a court and sentenced to the gal lows-car t . Fagin 's death sentence, however, does fa r less c red i t to his comic-demonic upbringing than that of his henchman. While the Dodger's expulsion i s triumphantly comic, the end of the Jew almost verges on tragedy as the condemned man becomes pa in fu l l y humanized through Dickens' portrayal of the agonized torment and suf fer ing with which Fagin confronts "the oppressive overwhelming sense of the grave" (p. 405). The resu l ts of Dickens' t e r r i f y i ng yet sens i t i ve treatment of Fagin 's anguish in the face of death serves, in many respects, to heighten the reader 's sense of ambivalence towards the Jew. While the ev i l of the o ld man distances us from him, the desperate tenaci ty of his l i f e force draws us sympatheti-c a l l y c loser toward him, and again generates our charac te r i s t i c response of moral ambiguity towards the f i na l d ispos i t ion of the comic-demonic f igu re . Both Fagin and Quilp then f u l f i l l the common scapegoat ro le of the Vice-- they are both u l t imately destroyed not only in order to uphold the moral precept that the path of v i r tue is inev i tab ly triumphant over that of ev i l and corrupt ion, but also to provide the reader with a sense of expiat ion from par t i c ipa t ing v icar ious ly in what Rossi ter c a l l s a " s t i r r i n g debauch of w ish- fu l f i l lment . . . in the glor ious l i f e in the company of the Dev i l ' s d i s c i p l e s . " 1 ^ Our response i s , however, one of ambivalence towards the deaths of both men, for the comic v i t a l i t y with 221 which Fagin and Quilp invest the worlds of Ol iver Twist and The Old Cu r i - os i t y Shop i s as a t t rac t i ve as the ev i l they re f l ec t i s morally repe l len t . There i s as well another thematic pattern manifest in both novels which has some bearing upon our sustained sense of moral ambiguity towards both Fagin and Qui lp . This pattern emanates from Dickens' attempt to confront the con f l i c t i ng fee l ings engendered in the parent-chi ld re la t ionsh ip . In the i r transactions with Ol iver and N e l l , both Fagin and Quilp symboli-c a l l y operate as both negative and pos i t i ve fa ther - f igu res , and the i r comic-demonic heritage can, perhaps, point us towards a deeper understand-ing of th is central conf igurat ion in a l l of Dickens' works. Probably no other novel is t has so cons is tent ly or d i r ec t l y drawn upon the past experiences of his personal l i f e as Dickens. Almost every-one who has commented upon Dickens' f i c t i o n has observed that the novels are a l l , in some form or another, reworkings of the psychological ly c ruc ia l events and experiences of the author 's past. Jack Lindsay c l ea r l y summarizes th is process in his biographical study of the nove l i s t : There i s scarcely any gap between [Dickens'] experience and the crea-t i ve image. That i s why the industr ious commentators have been able to l ink almost every person, however unimportant, in Dickens' work with a person he met or heard o f ; every place with some place which he saw or heard of. The names of the people in his books are almost always woven out of names which for some reason or other assume an emotional s ign i f icance for him. The slow process of absorption and rede f in i t ion which i s usual ly found in a novel is t has l i t t l e relevance to his method. A l l the while he i s consciously or unconsciously mov-ing over the narrow ground of cer ta in key experiences in childhood . . . A l l the weaknesses and strengths of Dickens reside in th is f a c t . 1 7 Lindsay's comments explain why i t i s d i f f i c u l t to in terpret any of the 222 thematic patterns in Dickens' work without resort ing to some biographical mention of the events of the nove l i s t ' s personal l i f e . We have been able up to th is point to i so la te the prototypical comic-demonic character is -t i c s manifested by Quilp and Fagin without a l lud ing to biographical d e t a i l , but so far th is has led only to the i den t i f i ca t i on of a pattern - - a pattern s im i la r to one we have encountered previously in the other l i t e r a r y works we have examined. I f , however, we are to delve into the par t i cu la r way in which th is pattern is contextual ly meaningful wi th in the f i c t i o n a l worlds of 01iver Twist and The Old Cur ios i ty Shop, some br ie f mention of Dickens' contradictory at t i tudes both towards his own father and towards his personal f u l f i l lmen t of the male parental ro le is required. In "Who i s Fagin?," an appended chapter to Dickens: from Dombey  to Pickwick, Stephen Marcus attempts to account for the enigmatic char-acter of the old Jew. Marcus quotes at length from the autobiographical fragment Dickens wrote in 1847; in th is fragment, the novel is t re lates the de ta i l s of his experiences at the blacking warehouse where he was sent to work at twelve years of age when his father was imprisoned for "I Q debt. There the young Dickens met an older boy named Bob Fagin, whose name was given to the infernal humorist of Ol iver Twist. Bob Fagin was extremely kind to Dickens and served somewhat as a tu tor , ins t ruc t ing him in the arts of wrapping the blacking pots and tying them with s t r i ng . He also served as Dickens' protector against the other boys, and s o l i c i -tously took care of young Charles when the l a t t e r suffered the recurrence of his o ld malady—spasmic attacks centered in his s ide . The despair 223 Dickens f e l t as a resu l t of being abandoned by his fami ly , having his education abruptly cut o f f , and being forced to suf fer the humil iat ion and soc ia l disgrace of working in a fac tory , has been extremely w e l l -documented. This traumatic experience had a profound inf luence upon Dickens' l a te r l i f e , and i t i s the propel l ing force which underl ies his imaginative portrayal of the motif of the los t c h i l d which functions so prominently in his f i c t i o n . I t i s , therefore, conceivable to suggest that while Bob Fagin provided a pos i t i ve force of comfort for the young nove l i s t , the repugnance Dickens f e l t towards the degrading circumstances of his l i f e at th is time were projected upon the f i c t i o n a l Fagin who, as a r esu l t , is portrayed in 01iver Twist as a f igure of ins id ious e v i l . According to Marcus, Dickens experienced a powerful fee l ing of ambi-valence towards Bob Fagin--he f e l t grateful for the kindness and gener-os i t y the l a t t e r demonstrated, but at the same time he was humiliated by the imp l i c i t i den t i f i ca t i on of himself with the uncouth company of the 19 boys at the blacking factory. As Dickens himself explained in his auto-biographical paper: I t i s wonderful to me how I could have been so eas i l y cast away at such an age. I t i s wonderful to me that . . . no one had compassion enough on me--a ch i l d of s ingular a b i l i t i e s , quick, eager, de l i ca te , and soon hurt bodi ly or mental ly-- to suggest that something might have been spared . . . My father and mother were quite s a t i s f i e d . They could have hardly been more so, i f I had been twenty years of age, dist inguished at a grammar school , and going to Cambridge . . . I know that I worked, from morning to night with common men and boys, a shabby ch i l d . . . I know that I have lounged about the s t ree ts , i n s u f f i c i e n t l y and unsa t i s fac to r i l y fed. I know that , but for the mercy of God, I might eas i l y have been, for any care that was taken of me, a l i t t l e robber or a l i t t l e vagabond. 2 0 It i s not d i f f i c u l t to perceive that Dickens' a t t i tude of intense resent-ment toward his own parents for having abandoned him, as well as his 224 contradictory feel ings of a t t rac t ion and repugnance towards Bob Fagin, became c r y s t a l l i z e d in his creat ion of the f i c t i o n a l Fagin in 01iver  Twist. In one respect then, both Fagins can be seen as menacing f igures --both can be perceived as attempting to deprive a young boy of his natural b i r th r igh t : Fagin t r i es to prevent Ol iver from becoming a gent le-man, and Bob Fagin is also representat ive, in Dickens' mind, of an obstacle to his gaining the posi t ion of soc ia l and in te l l ec tua l eminence that he believed should be r i g h t f u l l y h i s . Moreover, the anger that Dickens f e l t toward his own fa ther ' s re ject ion of him i s also projected upon the f i c t i o n a l Fagin. It i s apparent from the above passage that Dickens unconsciously believed that his father attempted to make him into "a l i t t l e vagabond or a l i t t l e robber," in a manner s im i la r to the way in which the Jew attempts to corrupt the abandoned hero of 01iver Twist. On the other hand, both Bob Fagin and the Jew f u l f i l l the fa ther ly roles of tutor and protector. While Bob teaches the young Dickens the s k i l l s of the blacking warehouse, the Jew inst ructs Ol iver in the ar t of p ick-pocket ing; while the former protects Dickens from the rougher boys and nurses him in his ai lments, the Jew f u l f i l l s a s im i l a r l y nurturing function towards O l i ve r , providing him with food, she l te r , a vocation and a sense of camaraderie. The sense of a t t rac t ion which accompanies Dickens' negative portrayal of Fagin in 01iver Twist can also be associated with the nove l i s t ' s ambivalent feel ings towards his own father . As previously mentioned, Fagin i s represented not only as a "loathsome rep t i l e " but also as a de l ight fu l "merry o ld gentleman"; and the Jew's exuberant sense of humour probably is a re f l ec t i on of John 225 Dickens' s im i la r comic ta len t . According to reports from those who knew him, John Dickens was a "chat ty , pleasant companion, possessing a varied 21 fund of anecdotes, and a genuine vein of humour," and i t was probably from his father that the novel is t derived his own profound comic v i s i o n . In th is respect then, Dickens' ambivalent feel ings toward both his ov/n father and Bob Fagin (who also f u l f i l l e d a surrogate parental ro le in the nove l i s t ' s l i f e ) are re f lec ted in the portrayal of Fagin in 01iver Twist, who i s at once protector and destroyer, joker and betrayer, comic genius and d iabo l i ca l corruptor. Marcus, however, questions how we can account for the power of the f i c t i o n a l Fagin as an imaginative c reat ion , since the biographical resemblances do not explain "why th is demonic, disgust ing and monstrous old man should be so fasc ina t ing , so comic, even 22 so winning in his abominable wickedness." The answer to th is question i s not so d i f f i c u l t when considered in l i gh t of Fagin 's comic-demonic a t t r i bu tes . A l l of Dickens' personal fee l ings of ambivalence towards his father and Bob Fagin found an extremely su i tab le imaginative vehic le in a f igure whose double-visaged features transcend the purely autobio-graphical and, instead, flow out of a more archetypal mainstream--Fagin i s a powerful, a r t i s t i c embodiment of the Vice.. Just as i t i s no new observation to point to the resemblance be-tween Dickens' childhood experiences in the blacking warehouse and the events that befa l l the young hero of Ol iver Twist, so the s t r i k ing s im i -l a r i t i e s between Quilp and his creator have also been frequently recorded. Dickens shared with the dwarf a dev i l i sh del ight in tormenting both his 226 wife and her mother, and the novel is t also enjoyed a reputation for being something of a mischievous, prac t ica l joker . As one c r i t i c has suggested, Dickens' "mingling of c rue l t y , p layfu lness, and deadly accuracy i s decidedly Qui 1 p i s h , " at the same time as "the dwarf's macabre imagination 23 i s so Dickensian." Furthermore, commentators have frequently observed that the personal c r i s i s in Dickens' l i f e which informs so much of his conceptual izat ion of l i t t l e N e l l ' s f l i g h t from the c i t y towards death, was the nove l i s t ' s i n a b i l i t y to deal with his ambivalent feel ings towards his w i fe 's seventeen-year-old s i s t e r , Mary Hogarth, who died in his arms about a year a f ter Dickens' marriage. According to Mark S p i l k a , "Qu i lp 's marvelous comic ant ics are . . . an honest release of Dickens' sexual f rus t ra t ions" emanating from his re la t ionsh ip with his s i s t e r - i n - l aw . Spi lka argues quite convincingly that Dickens' fee l ings towards Mary Hogarth were unconsciously incestuous, and "when he enshrined her in idea l ized heroines l i k e l i t t l e Nell and a host of sexless sa in t s , he was 24 t ry ing to disguise those f e e l i n g s . " In other words, in The Old Cu r i - os i t y Shop, Dickens set two powerful and contradictory sets of psycho-log ica l forces in motion. The malevolent, comic energy of Qu i lp 's v io lent erot ic ism towards l i t t l e Nel l i s a project ion of Dickens' own obsessive sexual, desire for Mary Hogarth with whom he played the father-ro le in a sublimated Oedipal re la t ionsh ip . And, conversely, the exces-s i v e , se l f - indu lgent sentiment with which so much of Dickens' treatment of Nel l i s invested re f l ec ts the other, complementary side of his mixed fee l ings for his s i s t e r - i n - l a w - - h i s need to repress his sexual desire and to worship her as a sp i r i t ua l embodiment of pre-sexual pur i ty and 227 25 innocence. Although the central motif of N e l l ' s f l i g h t from the demonic erot ic ism la ten t l y manifested by Daniel Quilp stands by i t s e l f wi th in i t s own imaginative framework, Dickens' personal re la t ionship with Mary Hogarth exp la ins, to some extent, the profound ambivalence with which th is motif i s t reated. Quilp functions within the novel large ly in symbolic terms as a sexual father towards l i t t l e N e l l , and Dickens' exam-inat ion of th is ro le draws, to a great extent, upon the comic-demonic ambiguity of the dwarf's sexual i ty which i s a t t rac t i ve at the same time as i t i s threatening. Cer ta in ly , N e l l ' s a t t i tude toward Quilp re f l ec ts th is sense of ambivalence. We are to ld near the beginning of the novel that "while she entertained some fear and d is t rus t of the l i t t l e man, she was much inc l ined to laugh at his uncouth appearance and grotesque a t t i tude" (p. 44). Even l a t e r , a f ter she has been v ic t imized by Qu i lp 's lasc iv ious overtures, the dwarf s t i l l retains a kind of magnetic force over her. One evening as she i s returning to Mrs. J a r l e y ' s caravan, she f inds her-se l f mysteriously drawn towards the gateway of the town "with a mingled sensation of cu r ios i t y and fear" (p. 207); there she unexpectedly beholds Quilp who suddenly emerges from the shadows. Dickens' use of the word " cu r i os i t y " at th is point to describe one aspect of N e l l ' s contradictory fee l ings towards the dwarf i s s i gn i f i can t . The word, which forms part of the t i t l e of the novel , occurs on several occasions and in most i n -stances i t can be interpreted to refer to a kind of cu r i os i t y which i s i m p l i c i t l y sexual in nature. Very ear ly in the novel , Master Humphrey speculates upon N e l l ' s "future l i f e holding her so l i t a r y way among a 228 crowd of wi ld grotesque companions, the only pure f resh , youthful object in the throng." Humphrey continues: "It would be curious to f ind . . . , " but then, perp lex ingly , he blocks of f any further conjecture: I checked myself here for the theme was carrying me along with i t at a great pace, and I already saw before me a region on which I was l i t t l e disposed to enter, (p. 13) I t seems reasonable to assume that the region which Humphrey refuses to permit himself to enter involves fur ther conjecture upon the men or , per-haps, a man in N e l l ' s "future l i f e , " upon her experiences of love, or her possible marriage; but he i s unable to confront such a p o s s i b i l i t y . His " cu r i os i t y " i s aroused, but then suppressed in favour of keeping her in a fantasized state of perpetual youth and innocence. With the exception of Qui lp , a l l of the other men in the novel appear to share Humphrey's i dea l i za t i on of N e l l ' s v i r g i n i t y . Any " cu r i os i t y " they might feel towards her female sexual i ty i s sublimated into sentiment regarding her sp i r i t ua l pur i ty . In th is sense then, the " fa ther ly " men surrounding Nel l—her grandfather, the schoolmaster, K i t , Humphrey (and i n d i r e c t l y , the s ingle gentleman)—are responsible for preventing Nel l from experiencing the natural course of maturation; her development into fu l l -bod ied womanhood i s thus denied. In s t r i k ing contrast to N e l l ' s asexual father surrogates i s Qui lp , whose inflamed sense of cu r ios i t y pervades the novel . Described at one point as "burning with cu r i os i t y " (p. 359)—the imp l i c i t erot ic ism of th is phrase heightened by our reco l lec t ions of the sexual overtones of the dwarf's "smoking humour"—Quilp i s t y p i c a l l y represented in a pose of voyeurism, peering through key-holes, peeking in windows, eavesdropping 229 on conversations from behind par t ly opened doors, and general ly attempting to g ra t i f y an obsessive desire to discover the secrets inherent in the l i ves of other people. Within the context of the sexual undercurrents of the dwarf's voyeur is t ic c u r i o s i t y , N e l l ' s covert witnessing of Qu i lp 's obscenely pha l l i c presence de f i l i ng her bed takes on even wider impl ica-t ions . Having crept into her own room while the dwarf i s sleeping in order to steal his "key" ( in i t s e l f an obvious sexual symbol), Nell stands " for a few minutes quite t ransf ixed with ter ror at the sight of Mr. Quilp who was hanging so far out of bed that he almost seemed to be standing on his head and who . . . was gasping and growling with his mouth wide open, and the whites (or rather the d i r t y yel lows) of his eyes d i s t i n c t l y v i s i b l e " (p. 150). This scene i s remarkably s im i la r in mood and fee l ing to the one which takes place in Ol iver Twist when Ol iver acc identa l ly wakes up and observes Fagin surveying and caressing with obvious pleasure several precious a r t i c l e s of jewelry, "a hideous g r in " (OT, p. 59) upon his l i p s . In th is scene the sexual symbolism of both 26 the small "box" of jewels and the "kn i fe" which Fagin car r ies are counterparts to the dwarf's pha l l i c appearance and his appropriat ion of N e l l ' s "bed"; but even more s ign i f i can t i s the fact that in both novels, i t i s the adu l t , parental world which is portrayed as being in control of the secrets of sexua l i t y , while the ch i l d f inds him/ or hersel f forced into a posi t ion of voyeurism in order to catch a glimpse of th is hidden, pr ivate world. The concept of the secret plays an integral ro le in both novels, and i t i s the adul t , parental world that has in i t s possession a secret 230 of i l l i c i t sexual desire which has some v i t a l bearing upon the fate of the ch i l d in each work. The secret in 01iver Twist i s that of O l i v e r ' s iden t i t y and i t revolves around the i l l i c i t love between O l i ve r ' s parents who were never married to each other. Fagin discovers the secret of O l i ve r ' s parentage and the provis ion in the boy's fa ther ' s w i l l , and sees in th is s i tua t ion an opportunity for personal gain. The secret in The  Old Cur ios i ty Shop also revolves around a s i tuat ion of i l l i c i t love, but in th is case, the love i s incestuous and i s represented through symbolic impl icat ion rather than d i rec t statement. The motif of the secret in The Old Cur ios i ty Shop l inks the dwarf, N e l l , and her grandfather in a web of latent sexua l i ty . On her way home from v i s i t i n g Quilp on an errand for her grandfather, Nel l informs Master Humphrey that she must not t e l l him what she has been doing. She then adds that "there was no harm in what she had been doing, but i t was a great secret—a secret which she did not even know hersel f " (p. 3) . S imi -l a r l y , Quilp admits to N e l l ' s brother, Fred Trent, that he has some inf luence with the l a t t e r ' s grandfather, and that he i s " in a few of [the grandfather 's] mysteries and secrets" (p. 23). Quilp forces his wife to t r i c k N e l l , to get the ch i l d "to t e l l her secret" (p. 51)--a secret which involves her grandfather's la te-n ight adventures. Moreover, there i s a s ign i f i can t conversation which takes place at one point during the novel which gives some focus to the re la t ionsh ip between secrets and sexual desire in The Old Cur ios i ty Shop. Quilp has been describing N e l l ' s physical a t t r i bu tes , dwell ing upon them with lasc iv ious emphasis and "nursing his short leg" at the same time, when he suddenly spies the 231 grandfather's nervous ag i ta t i on : "--but bless me, you're nervous. Why neighbour, what's the matter? I swear to you, " continued the dwarf . . . "I swear to you that I had no idea old blood ran so fas t or kept so warm. I thought i t was sluggish in i t s course, and c o o l , quite coo l . I am pretty sure i t ought to be. Yours must be out of order, neighbour." "I bel ieve i t i s , " groaned the old man, clasping his head with both hands. "There's a burning fever here, and something now and then to which I fear to give a name." (p. 73) The conversation concludes with the grandfather admitting to Quilp that he has los t a l l the money that he has borrowed from the dwarf at gambling. To th is admission, Quilp s i g n i f i c a n t l y twice r ep l i es : "You have no secret from me now" (p. 73). In th is scene we witness a progression of sexual images and implications—from the dwarf's lecherous a l lus ions to N e l l ' s sexua l i t y , to the r iotous ef fect i t has on the old man, to the associat ion of the heat of passion with the grandfather's "old b lood," to the "burning fever" he a r t i c u l a t e s , and a fear , s im i la r to that of Master Humphrey, to acknowledge the fact that the source of his passion l i e s in Nell her-s e l f . Spi lka has pointed out the psychoanalytic in terpretat ion of the 27 re la t ionsh ip between gambling and sexual des i re , but even without re-course to Freud, i t i s obvious that in th is highly charged scene, the grandfather 's " sec re t " - -h i s la te-n ight s in of gambling—functions as an unconscious, sublimated release for his fee l ings of incestuous desire for his granddaughter. Such an in terpretat ion i s re-enforced not only by the fact that he swears that he gambles only for the sake of l i t t l e Nell and that he obsessively whispers her name "at every piece [he] staked" (p. 74), but also in l i gh t of Master Humphrey's e a r l i e r suspicions that old Trent 's "a f fect ion for the ch i l d might not be inconsistent with v i l l a i n y of the worst k ind: even that very a f fec t ion was in i t s e l f an extraordinary cont rad ic t ion" (p. 12). 232 Also s ign i f i can t in th is scene i s the t a c i t i den t i f i ca t i on of grandfather and dwarf. Both share an i l l i c i t desire for l i t t l e N e l l ; both evoke in the ch i l d a contradictory set of responses. Although Nel l i s devoted in her love toward her grandfather, she dreams very ear ly in the novel of his blood "creeping; creeping on the ground to her own bed-room door" (pp. 69-70), the serpentine image of blood in N e l l ' s dream quite obviously the same hot "blood" associated with Trent 's gu i l t y secret . Quilp and the grandfather are associated at other points in the novel as w e l l . Not only are they both connected with images of rep t i l es and the heat of sexual des i re , but also they are both described in terms of wax-work. Af ter she i s almost discovered by the dwarf at the gates of the town to which she has come with Mrs. J a r l e y ' s caravan, Nell i s unable to sleep at night because Quilp "throughout her uneasy dreams was somehow connected with wax-work, or was wax-work himself" (p. 209); and two pages la te r Dickens consciously associates N e l l ' s grandfather with the dwarf by describing the react ion of the chi ldren of the town towards old Trent, " f u l l y impressed with the be l ie f that [he] was a cunning device in wax'1 (p. 211). Even Qu i lp 's comic-demonic features are mirrored to some degree in old Trent. Juxtaposed with the " v i l l a i n y of the worst kind" (p. 12) which Humphrey perceives as underlying the old man's a f fec-t ion for N e l l , i s the fact that Dick Swivel ler refers to him at one point as "the j o l l y old grandfather" (p. 64)--a reference that also points back to Fagin's representation as the "merry old gentleman" in 01iver  Twist. Moreover, the scene in which Nell is forced to witness Qu i lp 's 233 symbolic sexual defilement of her bed, has a counterpart in the scene in which Nel l i s impelled by "a movement of t imid cu r i os i t y " (p. 312) to spy upon her grandfather who i s p lo t t ing with two other men to rob Mrs. Jar ley of her gold. Not only do the motifs of " cu r ios i t y " and the c h i l d ' s voyeur is t ic witnessing of a parental secret carry latent sexual overtones here, but during th is scene one of the gamblers mockingly admires the grandfather's "young blood" (p. 316), another imp l i c i t re fe r -ence to the ero t ic undercurrents of the parent-chi ld re la t ionsh ip . Trent 's decis ion to rob Mrs. Jar ley functions in some respects as a para l le l to his e a r l i e r , more successful attempt to rob his grand-daughter, and again in th is l a t t e r s i t u a t i o n , he i s thematical ly i den t i -f i ed with Qui lp. While Trent robs Nel l of her go ld , the dwarf robs the ch i l d of "her own l i t t l e room" and her bed, both the images of bed and gold carrying symbolic sexual assoc ia t ions. When Nel l and her grandfather f l ee from the demonic, indus t r ia l realm of the c i t y to f ind solace in the peace and pur i ty of the country-s ide, the ch i l d secret ly sews a piece of gold ins ide her dress. On one l e v e l , the piece of gold--"her l i t t l e hoard" which "she f e l t the necessity of concealing . . . from her grand-father" (p. 226) and which her grandfather steals from her as she l i e s trembling with ter ror in her bed—represents, on a symbolic l e v e l , N e l l ' s v i r g i n i t y ; i t i s , in e f fec t , the central secret of the novel which the male, parental- world desperately desires to possess. Within th is con-tex t , K inca id 's descr ip t ion of the s t ructura l momentum of the novel 's p lot requires some qua l i f i ca t ion—"Qui lp i s chasing the old man for the OQ non-existent gold the old man i s also chasing." Rather than being 234 non-existent, however, the gold that both men are obsessively pursuing i s embodied in Nell herse l f . The symbolic associat ion of gold with N e l l ' s v i r g i n i t y i s also related to another motif which i s s i gn i f i can t to our understanding of the parental ro le of Fagin as well as that of Qui lp . Like many of the moral i ty V ices , both men are associated with the possession of money. Fagin i s a professional poacher and fence, while Quilp i s a wealthy land-lord and loan-shark; and both dwarf and Jew are portrayed at various points counting the i r gold. S i m i l a r l y , o ld Trent i s also associated with th is pattern as we witness him short ly a f ter he has stolen N e l l ' s go ld , "h is white face pinched and sharpened by the greediness which made his eyes unnatural ly br ight , counting the money of which his hands had robbed her" (p. 229). In one sense, the possession of wealth in the two novels can be interpreted as a source of parental power. Both the pos i -t i ve and benevolent, as well as the negative and malevolent, father f igures—Mr. Brownlow and the s ing le gentleman, Fagin and Qui lp- -are represented as being extremely wealthy. The menacing, demonic father-surrogates, however, view chi ldren as pieces of property. To Fagin, Ol iver represents a considerable fortune "worth hundreds of pounds" (CT, p. 189) and to Mr. Bumble and the Board, the boy i s worth the pr ice of f i ve pounds to be "paid to anyone who would take possession of him" (OT, p. 21); s i m i l a r l y , to Qui lp , Nell i s his "duck of diamonds" (OCS, p. 85), and he assumes the ro le of landlord over her v i r g i n i t y , in much the same way as he assumes ownership of the cu r ios i t y shop. According to one commentator, Dickens' representation of Qu i lp 's 235 ro le in The Old Cur ios i ty Shop i s both inconsistent and i l l - conce i ved : " [Qui lp] i s quite incapable of bearing the weight Dickens loads on to him. This i s par t ly because his ro le of f inanc ia l shark has l i t t l e to do 29 with his ro le as sexual aggressor." In view of the implied re l a t i on -ship between money, sexua l i t y , and paternal power in the novel , however, the dwarf's combination of these two roles i s quite j u s t i f i e d . Moreover, the i den t i f i ca t i on of these roles becomes even more thematical ly appro-pr ia te in conjunction with Dickens' moral condemnation of nineteenth-century i n d u s t r i a l , urban soc ie ty . In both Ol iver Twist and The Old  Cur ios i ty Shop, Dickens vents his moral indignation at the :pa te rna l i s t i c material ism of a society in which the greatest value one can place on a human a t t r ibu te is a f inanc ia l one. In such a soc ie ty , boys such as the Ar t fu l Dodger are assessed for the i r comparable value in s i l v e r snuff boxes, and the charms of child-women such as Mrs. Quilp are enumerated in the manner of taking inventory at the counting-house--"such a jewel , such a golden casket set with gems of a l l sor ts ! She's such a treasure! I'm so fond of her" (p. 36). Both Fagin and Quilp a re , in many respects, microcosmic represen-tat ions of Dickens' London, the infernal c i t y whose destruct ive yet com-pe l l ing energy i s at once fasc inat ing and malevolent. Throughout both novels the c i t y ' s dark, oppressive atmosphere and satanic landscapes f ind an opposite po la r i t y in the peace and promise of freedom from confinement in the country-s ide. In much the same way, the parental f igures in each novel are thematical ly po lar ized. The schoolmaster and the Garlands in 236 The Old Cur ios i ty Shop and the Maylies and Mr. Brownlow in Ol iver Twist, who are depicted as benevolent, nurturant, and protect ive parental sur-rogates, are associated with the pur i ty and l i gh t of an Arcadian rural se t t i ng , jus t as Fagin and Quilp re f l ec t the menacing and d iabo l i c father-ro le emanating from the indus t r ia l subterranean depths of the urban scene. Northrop Frye in his paper on Dickens' comedy observes that the parental ro le in most of the novels may be categorized according to three major cons te l la t ions : There are often three sets of parental f igures attached to a central character, with several doubles of each. F i r s t are the actual parents. These are often dead before the story begins . . . or are mysterious and emerge at the end, sometimes as bare names unrelated to the s tory , l i k e Ol iver Twist 's father or the parents of l i t t l e Nell . . . Next come the parental f igures of the obstruct ing soc ie ty , general ly cruel or f o o l i s h , and often descended from the harsh step-parents of f o l k t a l e . . . F i na l l y we have the parental or avuncular f igures of the congenial society i t s e l f , those who take on a protec-t i ve re la t ion to the central characters as the story approaches i t s conclusion.30 It i s obvious that in 01iver Twist and The Old Cur ios i ty Shop, the con-genial parental f igures of Frye 's th i rd category are those associated with the res to ra t i ve , rural landscape, one which car r ies c e l e s t i a l over-tones: Nel l both seeks and f inds "asylum in some remote and pr imi t ive p laces, where . . . her la te sorrows and dist resses could have no place" (OCS, p. 344), and O l i ve r , too, u l t imate ly f inds solace in the green world as a member of "a l i t t l e society whose condit ion approached as nearly to one of perfect happiness as can ever be known in th is changing world" (0T, 412-13). S i m i l a r l y , the obstructing parental f igures which correspond to Frye's second category are iden t i f i ed with the s u r r e a l i s t i c , demonic realm of the indus t r ia l c i t y - - t he murky fog of London, the sordid 237 squalor and f i l t h y rooms, the labyr inth ine s t ree ts , and the muddy Stygian r i ve r f lowing through the urban abyss. Yet , Dickens' a t t i tude toward both sets of an t i the t i ca l land-scapes and parental f igures re f l ec ts an element of ambiguity. One of the d is t inguish ing features of Dickens' f i c t i o n i s his use of the tech-nique of doubl ing; perhaps more than that of any other nove l i s t , Dickens' creat ive power resides in his a b i l i t y to present almost everything—land-scape, character, thematic content—from two opposed points of view. "Everything in our l i v e s , whether of good or e v i l , a f fects most by con-t r a s t , " he observes in the f i f t y - t h i r d chapter of The Old Cur ios i ty Shop, and th is dua l i s t i c world-view even transcends what is ostensib ly a Manichean conceptual izat ion of the universe. In both novels, Dickens creates a f i c t i o n a l world in which the realms of good and ev i l are c lea r l y demarcated. At the same time, however, the representation of both realms i s invested with a profound ambivalence that serves to obscure the c l a r i t y of the l ines of demarcation. Dickens' a t t i tude towards the c i t y re f l ec ts a curious synthesis of moral disapprobation and imaginative fervor ; he portrays i t s ins id ious and monstrous aspects, yet his creat ive powers are drawn to i t s boundless v i t a l i t y . A l te rna te ly , his a t t i tude towards the rural landscape i s informed with an underlying sense of i t s i l l u s o r y and dream-like qua l i t y . Both the scenes and the characters who are represented as embodiments of the peace and v i r tue of count ry- ! i fe— the Mayl ies, Mr. Brownlow, the schoolmaster, and the Garlands—are d i s -t inguished, or rather , ind is t ingu ishab le , as a resu l t of the i r essent ia l lack of v i t a l i t y or colour. The s o c i a l l y approved characters in both 238 novels appear to ex is t in K inca id 's words, "at the edge of the grave" 31 indulging what "might be ca l led the tombstone imaginat ion." Nell spends her time in the countryside v i s i t i n g graveyards and old churches, while Rose Maylie and Ol iver repeatedly shed tears in memory of "the f r iends whom they had so sadly l o s t " (OT, p. 415). In s t r i k ing contrast to the p a l l i d characters of the so-ca l led congenial country i s the i n -t r i n s i c spontaneity and ebul l ience with which Dickens endows the f igures of the demonic urban scene. Most commentators who have wri t ten about e i ther novel have empha-sized the predominantly grim and d is t ress ing mood of each work, a mood which i s la rge ly enhanced by the moribund qual i ty of the d iv in ized rural se t t i ng , and i t s essent ia l separation from the wel l -spr ings of l i f e . At th is po int , however, we must confront the question of the degree of con-scious control Dickens maintained over his a r t i s t i c c reat ion. Was he consciously c r i t i c i z i n g the i d y l l i c world of the countryside and the humble embodiments of v i r tue that he portrays resid ing there in , or i s i t our twentieth-century prejudice which grasps at any vestige of impl ica-t ion that may s ign i fy that Dickens could not, in a l l earnestness, invest his rural landscapes and bea t i f i c characters with so much that i s o f fen-s i ve l y sentimental to our modern tastes? And conversely, i s i t only a resu l t of our modern pred i lec t ion for iconoclasm that we f ind the v i t a l source in each novel to l i e in such morally reprehensible characters as Fagin and Quilp? In answer to these quest ions, i t i s reasonable to sug-gest that in both novels, Dickens attempts to confront the ambiguities inherent in his Manichean world view, but not with complete con t ro l . The 239 lack of to ta l d i s c i p l i ne over his imaginative energy i s , perhaps, more apparent in The Old Cur ios i ty Shop than i t is in Ol iver Twist , but, nevertheless, in both works Dickens was almost cer ta in ly compelled to invest an abundance of compensatory energy in his creat ion of the ac t i ve , predatory demonic realm, in the same way as he was driven to provide a counter-balancing force of sentiment in his representation of the d iv in ized rural world of Chr is t ian pass iv i t y and v i r tue . The sense of moral ambiguity generated by Dickens' conceptual iza-t ion of two an t i the t i ca l worlds, each of which he condones and condemns at the same time, i s remarkably s im i l a r to the fee l ing of profound ambi-valence evoked by what Rossi ter describes as the simultaneous presence of two r i t ua l s in medieval drama: We are l e f t to wrestle with the uncombinable antimonies of the medi-eval mind: for these immiscible juxtaposi t ions constantly imply two contradictory systems of values, two diverse s p i r i t s ; one standing for reverence, awe, n o b i l i t y , pathos, sympathy; the other for mockery, blasphemy, baseness, meanness or sp i t e , Schadenfreude, and de r i s ion . Above a l l , i t i s the fact that the "other s p i r i t " i s comic that com-pels re f l ec t i on and ana lys i s , for the evaluated ef fect of the ambi-valence reaches out towards a searching irony.32 In a s im i l a r manner, the ambivalence which informs the Manichean world views of 01iver Twist and The Old Cur ios i ty Shop causes us "to wrestle with the uncombinable antimonies" of Dickens' mind, and ul t imately forces us to confront once more the f i na l and most pervasive ambivalence of a l l —that re f lected on the double-sided countenance of the comic-demonic f igu re . Although both Fagin and Quilp function as obst ruct ing, demonic fa ther - f igu res , the paternal roles they symbol ical ly f u l f i l l r e f l ec t aspects which we have observed to be congenial ly comic as w e l l . Moreover, as previously ind icated, the comic vice they perpetrate is as 240 i r rep ress ib le in both Dickens' novels as i t i s in medieval drama; and the imaginative power of each novel springs large ly from the d i a b o l i c a l l y humorous overtones which surround them. Again, as in medieval drama, juxtaposed to the demonic merriment of the comic v i l l a i n s i s the human anguish and suf fer ing of the i r passive v ic t ims. I t i s true that the poignancy of Ol iver and N e l l ' s suf fer ing i s heightened as a resul t of the i r v ic t im iza t ion by the i r predatory aggressors; i t i s , however, also true that neither ch i l d escapes t o t a l l y untainted as a resul t of the comic desecrations i n i t i a t e d by the demonic characters. Like Chr is t and Mary in the Myster ies, neither Ol iver nor Nell is t o t a l l y i nv i o l a te , and the passive heroism of both i s , in the f i na l ana lys i s , rendered somewhat i ns ip id in comparison with the ac t i ve , boisterous v i t a l i t y of the i r infernal tormentors. Because Fagin and Quilp draw upon so much of Dickens' own "demonic imaginat ion," we have the sense that they, l i k e Becky Sharp, Volpone and Fa l s t a f f , have a tendency to elude the i r c rea tor 's moral cont ro ls . This i s the "searching irony" to which Rossi ter refers—that the a r t i s t i c representation of the comic aspects of the demonic realm taps some archetypal power which transcends the boundaries between two contradictory value systems. Essen t ia l l y amoral, both a t t rac t i ve and repu ls ive , destruct ive and regenerat ive, the comic-demonic f igure i ron -i c a l l y can only be defined by an obstinate non-conformist tendency to evade eth ica l categor izat ion. This tendency to defy e i ther c l a s s i f i c a -t ion or res t ra in t gives r i se to the sense of moral ambiguity which char-acter izes our simultaneously engaged and distanced response to the 241 converging forces of comedy and e v i l ; and i t i s th is tenuous balance between engagement and detachment which underl ies the d iabo l i ca l mirth evoked by each incarnation of "that reverend Vice" wherever he or she appears. 242 Notes for Chapter VIII O l i v e r Twi s t, An Introduction to the Engl ish Novel, I, 13. p " L i t t l e N e l l - - R e v i s i t e d , " Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Le t te rs , LXV (1960), 429-30. J "Preface to the th i rd ed i t ion, " OJI i v e r Twi s t , eds. A. Waugh, H. Walpole, W. Dexter, and T. Hatton (Bloomsbury: The Nonesuch Press, 1937), p. v i i . 4 Page references in the text are to the Oxford I l l us t ra ted ed. of both The Old Cur ios i ty Shop (London, 1951) and Ol iver Twist (London, 1949). c Dostoevsky and Romantic Realism (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1965), p. 18. c Letter of November 3, 1837. Quotations from Dickens' l e t te rs are from the Nonesuch edi t ion of The Letters of Charles Dickens (Blooms-bury, 1938). 7 Marie Law uses th is recent f a m i l i a r i t y with Defoe "to account for the satanic quality—unique in Dickens' writ ing—which invests Fagin and some of the other characters in 01iver Twist" ("The Indebtedness of O l iver Twist to Defoe's History of the Devi 1," PMLA, XL [1925], 897). Laur iat Lane, however, has more accurately observed that a great number of the references associat ing Fagin and the devi l had previously appeared in the portions of the novel pr ior to Dickens' reading of Defoe, and that the satanic qua l i ty of Ol iver Twist, fa r from being unique in Dickens' w r i t i ng , "can be apprehended to some extent in a l l the novels he wrote." According to Lane, "It would be f a i r es t to say that Dickens found in the History of the Devil an organised treatment of material which had hi therto rested in his mind in a more or less confused s ta te , and that th is organised treatment may have further stimulated his i n -terest" ("The Devil in Ol iver Twist , " The Dickensian, LII [1956], 132-33). o For a more detai led account of Fagin's i den t i f i ca t i on with the d e v i l , see Lane, "The Devil in 01iver Twist . " 9 The Al legory of E v i l , p. 152. 1 0 Mark S p i l k a , Dickens and Kafka: a mutual in terpretat ion (London: Dennis Dobson, 1963), p. 73. 1 1 "The Old Cur ios i ty Shop," in Dickens and the Twentieth Century, ed. John Gross and Gabriel Pearson (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1962), p. 84. 243 1 p G. K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens (London: Methuen and Co . , 1913), p. 210. 13 The Jew in the L i terature of England (New York: Meridian Books, 196077p. 15. 1 4 I b i d . , p. 123. 15 Henri Bergson, "Laughter," p. 21. ^ English Drama from ear ly times to the El izabethans, p. 127. 1 7 Charles Dickens: A Biographical and C r i t i c a l Study (London: Andrew Dakers, 1950), pp. 24-25. 1 8 (New York: Basic Books, 1965), pp. 358-78. 19 Marcus, pp. 366-69. 20 Col lected Papers: The Nonesuch Dickens, ed. Arthur Waugh, Hugh Walpole, Walter Dexter and Thomas Hatton (Bloomsbury, 1938), I, 70. 21 Quoted in Lindsay, Charles Dickens, p. 12. 22 Marcus, p. 378. 23 A. E. Dyson, "The Old Cur ios i ty Shop: Innocence and the Gro-tesque," C r i t i c a l Quarter ly, VII (1966), 117. ?4 * S p i l k a , " L i t t l e Ne l l—Rev is i t ed , " p. 431. 25 For a more deta i led examination of the re la t ionsh ip between the Mary Hogarth episode and The Old Cur ios i ty Shop, see S p i l k a , " L i t t l e Ne l l—Rev i s i t ed , " pp. 430-33; Marcus, pp. 151-59; and Lindsay, pp. 121-23, 131-35, 191-93. 26 Marcus suggests that the elements of .this scene are symboli-c a l l y evocative of what Freud c a l l s the primal scene (Dickens: from  Pickwick to Dombey, p. 373). 2 7 " L i t t l e Ne l l—Rev i s i t ed , " n. 6, p. 430. 28 James R. K inca id , Dickens and the Rhetoric of Laughter (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), p. 88. 29 John Lucas, The Melancholy Man: a study of Dickens novels (London: Methuen, 1970), p. 87. 30 "Dickens and the Comedy of Humours," in Experience in the  Novel: Selected Papers from the Engl ish Ins t i t u te , ed. Roy Harvey Pierce (New York and London: Columbia Univ. Press, 1968), pp. 49-81, rp t . i The V ic to r ian Novel: Modern Essays in C r i t i c i s m , ed. Ian Watt (Londo Oxford Univ. Press, 1971), p. 61. 31 Dickens and the Rhetoric of Laughter, pp. 51, 72. 32 Engl ish Drama from ear ly times_, p. 72. Conclusion BETWEEN ENGAGEMENT AND DETACHMENT In his attempt to account for the nature of the comedy of ev i l represented in the moral i ty t r a d i t i o n , Spivack remarks: "It i s easier to observe than explain the comic portrayal of ev i l everywhere v i s i b l e in medieval ar t and l e t t e r s . " 1 By f a r , the greatest part of th is d i sse r ta -t ion has been concerned with observing the comic portrayal of e v i l , not only in medieval and Tudor drama, but also in selected works of four major w r i t e r s ; and again the problem of exp l ica t ion remains a d i f f i c u l t one to confront. The task of providing an explanation for the re la t i on -ship between the forces of comedy and ev i l i s , however, possibly more surmountable wi thin the context of th is study essen t i a l l y for two reasons. In the f i r s t p lace, my own invest igat ion to a large extent bui lds upon the ins ights contained within Spivack's exhaustive work of c r i t i c i s m , and secondly, i t has been my basic assumption that the representation of comic d iab le r ie i s , in f ac t , v i s i b l e everywhere and not confined to any one period in h is tory . In other words, by exploring in depth the h i s to r i ca l and cu l tura l factors which contributed to the associat ion of comedy and ev i l in ear ly Engl ish drama, I have found i t possible to general ize my f indings to include examples of the convergence of these two forces in other centur ies. And conversely, a c r i t i c a l observation of the re l a t i on -ship between these two fo rces . in works from other periods in h istory has provided me with a wider perspective from which to view the subject of medieval comic v i ce . 245 246 We have seen, in our discussion of the int rus ion of the comic element into the ear ly l i t u r g i c a l drama of the Middle Ages, how the comic representation of ev i l served at once the in terests of two widely d i f -ferent soc io log ica l groups—the c lergy and the unlettered masses. The c l e r i c a l endeavour to increase the at t ract iveness of homilet ic doctr ine gave r i se to a more extensive use of comedy in the re l ig ious drama, and the targets of laughter were, understandably, the demonic characters whose ev i l and unregenerate natures were s a t i r i c a l l y represented. At the same time, the element of comedy not only f u l f i l l e d the entertainment requirements of the members of the audience, but also allowed them to ident i fy with the transgressions of the ev i l character, thus providing through laughter a momentary l i be ra t ion from the r i g i d confines of the Chr is t ian moral code. This simultaneous presence of two r i tuals—one sacred, the other profane—which emerges from a considerat ion of some of the ea r l i es t examples of comedy in Engl ish l i t e ra tu re i s s im i l a r l y e v i -dent in a l l of the works we have examined. The combination of the forces of comedy and ev i l re f l ec ts the tension between the external values of the preva i l ing soc ia l i ns t i t u t i ons and the internal need of those bound by those values to subvert the t rad i t i ona l moral order. The process of internal subversion i s responsible for the temporary "freedom from con-s t r a i n t , " de f i n i t i ve of both the comic and demonic realms. And i t i s th is tension—emanating from what Rossi ter refers to as "two contradic-2 tory systems of value, two diverse s p i r i t s " --which underl ies the moral ambiguity embodied by the comic-demonic f igure in a l l of his (or her) representat ions. 247 Nowhere i s the qua l i ty of moral ambiguity more evident than in our response to the f i na l d ispos i t ion of th is f igu re . An essent ia l requirement of the ro le of the comic-demonic character, as I have defined i t , i s the fact that his period of subversive revelry i s sho r t - l i ved . A l l of the f igures we have been discussing inev i tab ly lose in the end. Mak's crime is discovered and he i s roughly tossed in a blanket; Cain i s doomed to a l i f e of eternal e x i l e ; the moral i ty Vice i s general ly executed, j a i l e d , or banished to H e l l ; both Fa ls ta f f and Volpone are imprisoned; Becky f a l l s from the top rungs of the ladder of soc ia l respec tab i l i t y ; Fagin i s hanged and Quilp dies by drowning. The unfortunate end of th is f i gu re , as we have remarked, serves to re-asser t the authori ty of the preva i l ing system of mora l i ty , to af f i rm that the path of v i r tue i s more tenable than that of v i ce . Moreover, th is f i na l d ispos i t ion also func-t ions as a scape-goat mechanism so as to allow us a measure of expiat ion from the g u i l t we experience as a resu l t of par t i c ipa t ing in the l i c e n -t ious subversion of order among the ranks of the d e v i l ' s party. Yet at the same time, we are uncomfortable with the punishment meted out, and we at least p a r t i a l l y wish the comic-demonic f igure might escape, for the nature of th is character i s as engaging as i t i s morally reprehensible. The psychological aspects of our double-sided response towards comic-demonic ambiguity can, perhaps, be further comprehended through a c loser scrut iny of the reciprocal re la t ionsh ip between comedy and e v i l . Both fo rces , in themselves, contain contradictory elements which of fer the po ten t ia l i t y for generating an ambivalent response. Everyone who i s acquainted with Paradise Lost is well aware that the apprehension of 248 ev i l can be as inv i t i ng an experience as i t i s menacing. In one sense, ev i l i s a fearsome power which threatens to subsume the indiv idual wi th in i t s anarchic blackness; on the other hand, the v io la t ion of moral taboo and the freedom from super-imposed control th is force represents can be, at the same time, "damned" a t t rac t i ve . As i t turns out, comedy as a vehic le is we l l -su i ted to conveying both the a t t rac t i ve and menacing com-ponents of e v i l , for comedy functions both as an instrument of engagement and a distancing device. This apparent paradox i s elucidated by the fact that i t i s pos-s i b l e to laugh "with" as well as to laugh "at" an indiv idual or a s i t ua -t i o n . As an instrument of engagement, comedy inv i tes our i den t i f i ca t i on with the in fe rna l l y humorous machinations of the demonic character directed against the author i ty of the value-system or i ns t i t u t i on which he attempts to overthrow or c a l l into question. We enjoy the subversive ant ics of the comic-demonic f igure--we laugh with Mak and his blasphemous parody of the na t i v i t y scene; with Cain who t e l l s God to go look for Abel in H e l l ; with Ti t i vi11 us whose comic burlesque of the sacred corrupts the soul of Mankind; with Neither Lover nor Loved who plays a nasty hoax on his oppo-nent in the debate; and with Natural Inc l inat ion whose comic horseplay permits him to elude J u s t ' s attempts to b r id le him. S i m i l a r l y , we are engaged by F a l s t a f f ' s comic mockery of the k ing, Volpone's outrageous voluptuousness, Fagin's infernal "pick-pocket" dance, Qu i lp 's v io len t l y exuberant e ro t ic ism, and Becky's brazen audacity. Laughing with them, we par t ic ipa te in the i r profanat ion, debauchery, v io la t i on of moral p r in -c i p l e , and the i r l i be ra t i on . A l te rna te ly , however, we also laugh at 249 them--at F a l s t a f f ' s monstrously distended b e l l y , at the grotesque sexu-a l i t y of both Volpone and Qui lp , at Avarice who i s sentenced to be squeezed l i k e a sponge unt i l he y ie lds up a l l his stolen goods, at New-guise whose " jewels" are battered by the spade of Mankind, and at Becky's r id icu lous pretensions of moral respec tab i l i t y at the Elephant Hotel as she receives Joseph Sedley while s i t t i n g on a plate of cold meat and a 3 brandy bot t le . As a distancing mechanism, comedy permits us to "disarm" the power of e v i l , for the comic s p i r i t funct ions, in Spivack's words, as 4 "anodyne . . . applied to fear and pa in . " Moreover, an integral part of the disarming e f fec t of the comic s p i r i t l i e s in the scape-goat r i t u a l (represented as well in the fes t ive r i t es of both modern and pr imi t ive cul tures) by which the comic-demonic f igure i s , u l t imate ly , subdued and the holiday from conventional value i s brought to a c lose . The process of laughing "with" and laughing "at" a par t i cu la r stimulus can also be extended to account more prec ise ly for the re la t i on -ship between the forces of external authori ty and internal subversion which determines our ambivalent response to the comic portrayal of e v i l . As we laugh with the comic-demonic f i gu re , we are deriding the weaknesses and r i g i d i t i e s of the external moral and soc ia l order; and in the laughter of degradation we d i rec t against th is f i gu re , we are af f i rming the t rad i t iona l systems of value which, at the same time, we in te rna l l y wish to subvert. Poised precar iously between the poles of engagement and detachment, we walk the t ightrope of moral ambiguity alongside "that reverend V i ce , " a character whose double-visaged countenance requires that he be simultaneously venerated and rev i l ed . 250 Moreover, the fact that the tension between external authori ty and internal subversion i s one which cannot f i n a l l y be resolved, accounts for the comic-demonic character 's v i t a l i r r e p r e s s i b i l i t y and his per-vasive representation in a r t i s t i c forms throughout h is tory . Although the Vice can be phys ica l ly subjugated, the archetypal power of th is f igure cannot be t o t a l l y ext inguished, for he c r y s t a l l i z e s the universal human con f l i c t between anarchy and order, i ns t i nc t and conscience, f ree-dom and con t ro l . In th is sense then, Haphazard functions as the mouth-piece of the comic-demonic f igure when he knowingly proclaims in Appius  and V i r g i n i a : "who companies with me w i l l desire me again" (Dodsley, IV:136). S i m i l a r l y , as Satan in Jonson's The Devil i s an Ass recognized, the world w i l l always be in need of "Vices stranger and newer," in order to serve the demonic purposes of comedy. Although the old moral i ty Vice 5 has for several centuries been "defunct," as long as there continues to be a re la t ionsh ip between the comic s p i r i t and the darker hidden impulses of man, the comic-demonic f igure w i l l make his appearance in human h i s -to ry , voic ing his i r rep ress ib le survival with roars of infernal laughter. 251 Notes for Conclusion The Al legory