chapter  Six
Thomas Middleton
Pages 30

Thomas Middleton's plays are remarkable for a naturalistic technique which is almost unique in his age. The canon of Middleton's plays is obscure and confused, but with the present knowledge one can point to his achievement as a writer of tragedy in three plays, Hengist, King of Kent, The Changeling, and Women Beware Women. Middleton's plays are conditioned by a Calvinistic bias which leaves little room for the redemption of sinners. Middleton's technique is highly realistic, but there is also an important symbolic element in his dramatic art. A failure to recognize this has led some critics to attribute to Middleton's supposed illogic and his love of the spectacular elements which are perfectly meaningful as part of a ritual technique designed to emphasize an underlying theme. The destructive values which Middleton most strongly castigates are those of worldly success and worldly pleasure, the very values which in the medieval philosopy de contemptu mundi gave strongest evidence of damnation.