The Physician and His Servant in the Croxton <i>Play of the Sacrament</i>


  • Jillian Linster University of South Dakota



physician, servant, medical treatment, banns, comedy


The Croxton Play of the Sacrament features a physician who has regularly been characterized as a quack and buffoon. This paper combines the play’s historical and cultural context with a close reading of the text to argue that the doctor himself is a legitimate medical practitioner; the combined clowning of his servant and the foolishness of his patient make the physician appear comical. By considering possible performance choices and the relationship of the audience to the play’s action, I suggest a more complex reading of a scene and character that have previously been too readily dismissed.

Author Biography

Jillian Linster, University of South Dakota

Jillian Linster ( is an instructor of English at the University of South Dakota. Her recent dissertation project examined representations of physicians in popular texts such as plays and ballads to explore the relationship of print publication to the cultural status of medical doctors in early modern England. She is currently at work on an article about the attempted control of women’s bodies through the censorship of print media in seventeenth-century London and a monograph that tells the story of Helkiah Crooke's Mikrokosmographia (1615), the first comprehensive anatomy manual published in the English vernacular.


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