chapter  3
38 Pages

3Comedies: Changes: or, Love in a Maze, Patient Grissil, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, Ignoramus, and Senile Odium

In the tragicomedies discussed in Chapter 2, a comic solution was achieved; however, twinship did not facilitate such comedy, but instead it presented a problem in these plots that brought the plays close to tragedy and needed to be mitigated or removed in order for a comic ending to be reached. In this depiction, the tragicomedies emerge as markedly similar to the tragedies, as both genres ultimately portray the twin condition as unnatural and potentially dangerous. As demonstrated in the introduction, such a representation of the twin relationship adheres to the larger cultural understanding of twinship in early modern England. The majority of writing about twins in this period emphasizes their abnormality and reflects an interest in the origins of this deviation, as well as its potential consequences. Yet, despite this overarching stigma, a more positive interpretation of twinship can also be found in early modern drama, suggesting twins were not solely viewed as monstrous in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This positive interpretation appropriately emerges in comedies that feature twin characters. Unlike the tragedies and tragicomedies, which present twinship as a problem that prevents or threatens a comic conclusion, the comedies incorporate twinship within their comic framework, emphasizing positive characteristics associated with the multiplicity of twinship.