The Magnetic Lady


The Magnetic Lady

"The Magnetic Lady, or Humors Reconciled" is a Caroline era stage play, the final comedy of Ben Jonson. It was licensed for performance by Sir Henry Herbert, the Master of the Revels, on October 12, 1632, and first published in 1641, in Volume II of the second folio collection of Jonson's works.

The play was premiered by the King's Men at the Blackfriars Theatre; it was not an overt failure like "The New Inn," but does not appear to have been a great success either. The play was criticized by the dramatist's long and seemingly ever-growing list of enemies, Inigo Jones being one example.

ynopsis

As the subtitle indicates, "The Magnetic Lady" is a humors comedy, a form that Jonson had begun exploring three decades earlier and the last of the type that Jonson would write. The play is supplied with an Induction and a set of entr'actes that Jonson calls "Intermeans," through which the characters Probee and the ignorant Damplay have the play explained to them as it proceeds, by the Boy who's been left in charge of the "Poetique Shop." The focus of the play lies in the wealthy Lady Loadstone and her young, attractive, "marriageable" niece Placentia Steel. Placentia is the target of the amorous ambitions of a set of gulls and fools and hangers-on — Parson Palate, Doctor Rut, Bias, Practice the lawyer, and Sir Diaphanous Silkworm. Lady Loadstone's brother, Sir Moth Interest, is Placentia's financial trustee, and cares about little but maintaining control of her money. This crew is counterbalanced by two Jonsonian men of worth: Compass, Lay Loadstone's faithful steward, and his friend Captain Ironside.

In Lady Loadstone's household, conditions are upside down (at least in the playwright's system of values). Lady Loadstone commands her little domestic world without male rule — in the words of one critic, it is a "feminocentric environment." Yet she cannot manage her household against her obstreperous servants. The governess, Mistress Polish, the midwife, Mother Chair, and the nurse, Mistress Keep (representing the "smock-secrets" of women), are a set of females out of control — a theme that Jonson visits again and again in his works, as in the Ladies Collegiate in "Epicene" and the chorus of she-critics in "The Staple of News."

The play's action features a dinner party that is never seen onstage, but is reported by various characters. The foppish Sir Diaphanous Silkworm falls into a quarrel with the gruff soldier Captain Ironside, which causes Placentia to go into premature labor, thus revealing her illegitimate pregnancy. A complex tangle of misunderstandings is eventually unwound: fourteen years earlier, Polish switched her own infant daughter with the Lady's niece Placentia. The girl known as Placentia is actually Polish's daughter Pleasance, and the supposed Pleasance, serving as the false Placentia's maid, is the true heir. By the play's end, the two worthy and sensible men in the piece, Captain Ironside and Compass, prove themselves to be the suitable matches for aunt and niece.

References

*Harp, Richard, and Stanley Stewart, eds. "The Cambridge Companion to Ben Jonson." Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000.
* Robinson, Karen, and Susan Frye, eds. "Maids and Mistresses, Cousins and Queens: Women's Alliances in Early Modern England." Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999.
* Woolland, Brian, ed. "Jonsonians: Living Traditions." London, Ashgate, 2003.

External links

* [http://hollowaypages.com/jonson1692magnetic.htm "The Magnetic Lady" online.]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The Church Lady — Dana Carvey as The Church Lady The Church Lady was a recurring character in a series of sketches on the American television show Saturday Night Live from 1986 to 1990, with later appearances in 1996, 2000, and 2011. She also appeared on The Dana… …   Wikipedia

  • The Staple of News — is an early Caroline era play, a satire by Ben Jonson. The play was first performed in late 1625 by the King s Men at the Blackfriars Theatre, and first published in 1631. [James Loxley, The Complete Critical Guide to Ben Jonson, London,… …   Wikipedia

  • The Neptunes discography — The Neptunes are a two member producing group consisting of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo. This discography lists the recorded performances as a duo and individuals. It also lists the writing and production credits as The Neptunes, as Williams… …   Wikipedia

  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete — Title card Genre Comedy Family drama Create …   Wikipedia

  • The Blood Donor — is an episode from the final series of the BBC television comedy series Hancock (formerly Hancock s Half Hour ). First transmitted by BBC TV in 1961, it has become one of the most famous situation comedy half hour programmes ever broadcast in the …   Wikipedia

  • The Less Deceived — published in 1955, was Philip Larkin s first mature collection of poetry, having been preceded by the derivative North Ship (1945) from The Fortune Press and a privately printed collection. Put out by The Marvell Press, a small, upstart operatio …   Wikipedia

  • Magnetic Battery — This article is about a military installation in Queensland. For magnetic electric batteries, see thermoelectric effect. Magnetic Battery Magnetic Island, Australia …   Wikipedia

  • The Night's Dawn Trilogy — British author Peter F. Hamilton s The Night s Dawn Trilogy consists of three science fiction novels: The Reality Dysfunction (1996), The Neutronium Alchemist (1997), and The Naked God (1999). A collection of short stories, A Second Chance at… …   Wikipedia

  • The Open Door — For the Death Cab for Cutie EP, see The Open Door EP. The Open Door Studio album by Evanescence Relea …   Wikipedia

  • The Avengers (TV series) — infobox Television show name = The Avengers caption = John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Emma Peel (Diana Rigg in the tv series.) format = Spy fi runtime = 50 minutes creator = Sydney Newman starring = Patrick Macnee Ian Hendry Honor Blackman Diana… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.