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A Chaste Maid in Cheapside

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  446 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Written for the adult players at the open-air Swan theatre in 1613,this master-piece of Jacobean city comedy signals its ironic natureeven in the title: chaste maids, like most other goods and people in London's busiest commercial area, are likely to be fake. Money is moreimportant than either happiness or honour; and the most coveted commodities to be bought with it are s ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published March 28th 2002 by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama (first published 1613)
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Frank Stein
May 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

First, let me save you some time from reading the footnotes. Every single word in this play is a double entendre for 1. a penis 2. a vagina or 3. a prostitute. For instance a "bow" is also a vagina, a "goose" is a whore, and a "wit" is a penis (which adds a whole new level of course to "rapier wit"). That's about on one page.

Still, the play's remarkably funny, from the willfully cuckolded husband who refuses to besmirch his wife's name by claiming to sleep with her, to the religious Lenten enfo
Robert Stewart
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Of all the 17th century comedies I've read—every one of them thoroughly cynical—this one stands alone. Most city comedies (and restoration plays) depict the world as ruled almost solely by lust and greed. With the Chaste Maid, Middleton cuts it very close indeed. To give you an idea, the maid's parents skip her funeral so they can focus on getting their son an advantageous match.
Oct 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-for-uni
It seems to be inevitable that Renaissance comedies where a simply sexist and misogynist genre. By principle, I should not like this play and, up to a point, I did not. That being said, when the inevitable comparison arises between this comedy and Volpone by Ben Jonson, this play was an improvement from the past experience. Why I cannot really put it into words.

Although it was still offensive towards women, it was less downright violent and agressive. I know it basically it feels a bit like pic
Joey Woolfardis
Dec 09, 2010 rated it did not like it
[Short and quick review from memory before I re-read and re-review at a later date:

I am very disappointed with the one-star... I thought this would be right up my alley, though I assume the fact that They Made Me read it...]
May 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
In my first review I said that I would have to read the play again and I have, so now follows a second review and my original review at the end. I have increased my rating from three to four stars on the second reading!

Elizabethan and Jacobean writers are well known for enjoying innuendos and punning, especially punning of a sexual nature, Shakespeare not excluded, but Thomas Middleton's A Chaste Maid in Cheapside would win first prize if their were a "nudge nudge wink wink" competition among th
M.L. Rio
Aug 01, 2015 rated it liked it
This play is so entirely ridiculous it's almost like reading a Monty Python sketch. Would dearly love to see this staged in door-slamming farcical style. What a riot.
Mar 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Moll is the maid, or pretty young daughter, of Yellowhammer, a goldsmith. She has two men vying for her hand. One is the wealthy Knight, Sir Walter Whorehound, who already has two mistresses, one of whom has several of his children. Yellowhammer favors Sir Walter for a son-in-law. The second suitor is Tuchwood Junior, whose older brother is a local conman. He is Moll's choice, which forces scheming.
A second plot line involves Tuchwood Senior's con of the wealthy Sir and Lady Kix, a couple who ar
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: england, 17th-century
This city comedy opens with a very promising scene of deception and cuckoldry but quickly sags into a conventional, predictable, and rhythm-less mess. By the time it begins to pick up speed, it's already over. Even the editorial introduction in the English Renaissance anthology I'm reading had very little of illumination or interest to say about this play other than a plot summary and a general kudos for its lighthearted depiction of contemporary social life. I'm not sure why they even included ...more
Sam Wescott
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was both my first city comedy and my first experience with Middleton. I enjoyed his ribald humor and the way he pushed the sexual ideologies of the early modern period to their most absurd and contradictory levels. While some find the lack of iambic pentameter to be substandard, I found the common city voice to be refreshing and humorous. A wonderful piece of London color complete with archetypal characters and good, dirty humor. Highly recommend!
Atikah Wahid
Apr 12, 2016 rated it liked it
This play is pretty vulgar. I'm no prude but after the umpteenth innuendo and sexual imagery, you get tired of it. Just like every Renaissance play, it's pretty sexist as well. But it's quite interesting in the way the play sets off characters against each other. And the puns are very punny. The twist ending is also quite hilarious. I do enjoy the fact that there is no obvious "good guy". Would I read it again though? Probably not.
Oct 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Incredibly bawdy, even for its time, but unlike in a play like Burning Pestle, the wordplay and sexual punnery here all coheres and builds towards rather than distracts from an interesting narrative thread. Another example of a couple that has to fake-die before they can be married. And also Puritans getting drunk and peeing on stuff.
Aug 30, 2013 added it
Shelves: skool-is-kool
I can definitely see this being funny when it was written, but oh my gosh every other word is alluding to sex in some way.
Indigo Wayworth
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Middleton!!! So good!!! I love this so much!!!

Read for ENGL3015 Renaissance Drama, and ENGL 4606 Marriage and Adultery in Early Modern England
May 08, 2009 added it
Based my entire senior thesis on this play and maternity/bedtricks. A wonderful play and great for close studying of the commodifying of women and the subversion Middleton performs.
David Loveland
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting, but the ending was a bit of a Much Ado About Nothing/Measure for Measure Rip-off.
Ana Rînceanu
The cynical humor in this play is most pleasing.
Moderately hilarious; abundantly vulgar.
Chris Black
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Raunchy, funny, but a bit slow.
Feb 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: university, read-2017
Unless I was told that 'A Chaste Maid in Cheapside' was a comedy, I wouldn't have realised - mainly because I didn't have a clue what was going on half the time...
Katy Mulvaney
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it
It's always nice to take a break from stressing about putting on a Sondheim play to remember how much Middleton hated people and thought they were all full of nastiness and lies.

If you just accept his outlook on...everyone and their appetites...then there's actually a fair amount to love in this play. Which is why it's probably the only Middleton play I'll ever give as many as 3 stars.

It feels radical to see a parade of women coming to visit a new mother, gossip about the baby, and thoroughly em
Feb 05, 2018 rated it liked it
It was a difficult read. I know the comedies of Shakespeare very well and hoped that this would yield the same sort of pleasures. Alas. It presents a nasty world and much of the comedy derives from people getting the better of each other. Yes, it ends in classic comic form with two couples marrying but it still leaves a very bad taste in your mouth
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is actually my favorite play that we've read so far in my 17th Century Plays class. I liked how intense the characters were since it kept me interested where otherwise I was bored. The rampant misogyny though really depressed me.
Hannah Li
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it
How raunchy
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, read-in-uni
I actually really enjoy this. It was pretty funny, as far as Renaissance plays go.
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
In following the curriculum of an online course about English theater beyond Shakespeare, I've now read several plays written or co-written by Thomas Middleton. It has become clear to me that he was a gifted comic playwright. "A Chaste Maid in Cheapside" sets up several situations that all come together at the end in a funny and delightful way. I was reminded of a perfect "Seinfeld" or "Curb Your Enthusiasm" episode where all the story threads combine for a hilarious and perfect conclusion. This ...more
rated it liked it
Sep 12, 2016
Ellie Lloyd
rated it it was ok
Apr 27, 2018
rated it it was ok
Nov 03, 2014
rated it it was amazing
Apr 11, 2012
Ryan Jenkins
rated it liked it
Sep 25, 2016
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Thomas Middleton (1580 – 1627) was an English Jacobean playwright and poet. Middleton stands with John Fletcher and Ben Jonson as among the most successful and prolific of playwrights who wrote their best plays during the Jacobean period. He was one of the few Renaissance dramatists to achieve equal success in comedy and tragedy. Also a prolific writer of masques and pageants, he remains one of th ...more
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