From Court to Playhouse and Back: Middleton's Appropriation of the Masque


  • Caroline Baird University of Reading



court masque, antimasque, transformation, torch-bearers, Revenger's Tragedy, Women Beware Women, The Changeling, Your Five Gallants


Bringing a thorough study of court masques to bear on reoriented readings of The Revenger’s Tragedy, Women Beware Women, The Changeling, and the lesser known Your Five Gallants, I show that Thomas Middleton’s intimate knowledge of the Jacobean court masque enables him to exploit its conventions, iconography, and structural functions for use in the playhouse. Middleton confidently ‘deconstructs’ masque dramaturgy to create a masque episode which encapsulates the play’s overarching theme and engineers the resolution. At the same time, by subverting the very device used to represent the court to the world, he subtly critiques king and court.

Author Biography

Caroline Baird, University of Reading

Caroline Baird ( is a doctoral student in the department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Her current research is on games and gaming in early modern drama. She also has an interest in music, and has her own business as an agent for internationally renowned musicians. She follows with keen interest the Oxford and London productions of Edward's Boys, the innovative boy players from King Edward VI School in Stratford, directed by Perry Mills.