This essay is about the comparisons in narrative sited in the city in Thomas Middleton’s “A Chaste Maid in Cheapside” and Daniel Defoe’s “A Journal of the plague year”. Both Based in London and the surrounding districts giving glimpses of the places and the lives of the people at those times.
Middleton’s London was based in Cheapside, where from the twelve hundreds the main street had been known to have been a Market, the word ‘cheap’ meaning market, from then on always a prosperous trading area. Many of the streets feeding into the main thoroughfare are named after the produce that was originally sold in those areas of the market, for example, Honey Lane, Milk Street, Bread Street and Poultry.
“Next adjoyning is chepe Ward, and thaketh Name of the Market there kept called West- cheping. This Ward also Beginneth on the East, on the Course of Walbrooke, in Buckles bury, and runneth up on both sides to the great Conduit in chepe. “Strype (2007) (1)
Cheapside was not as the name suggests cheap, it was a long thoroughfare in a busy area, with the great conduit at one end and St Pauls cathedral to the western end. It was a prosperous part of London, processions of royalty passed through and pageants were played out for the Kings and Queens of the time. Though trade was considered not very well thought of, but when in need of money the rich considered marriage suitable. The rich would trade their good names for rich bounties.
Furthermore from Bread Street to Friday Street, the houses and businesses were filled with gold merchants. This is where “Yellowhammer”, one of the chief characters in Middleton’s play who was a gold smith, “a pun on the name as a goldsmith hammers yellow”. (14) Also where at times the play is set.
By the time of the play “chaste maid in Cheapside” the area had under gone a change that it was no longer considered one of London’s Major thoroughfares. “The area was now well known for being frequented by criminals and women selling their bodies”. p13. Thus the meaning of finding a “chaste maid” there was very unlikely, and that everything was for sale.
So sets the stage for a farce in that the rich try to stay rich and they also try to obtain riches and where love will out with a bit of trickery. Enter Sir Whorehound the villain, with “welsh gentlewoman” into the yellowhammer’s abode seeking out Moll, his intended victim and maid of the title, who he means to wed for her dowry, meanwhile Molls family are encouraging her for his money. Furthermore Sir Kix and his wife are kin to Sir Whorehound and need issue to keep their money from going to Sir Whorehound, on the other side Sir Oliver and his wife have to separate because they are producing too many children for their income. Further he has a brother who is also a suitor for Molls hand, and has her heart. Aside the gentlewoman is Sir Whorehound’s mistress who he is trying to marry off to the son of the Yellowhammer’s house, Tim. In addition Whorehound’s other mistress...