How Marston Read His Merchant: Ruled Women and Structures of Circulation in The Dutch Courtesan
This essay argues that The Merchant of Venice was highly influential on John Marston’s The Dutch Courtesan, guiding the changes Marston made to his source text. Marston extends Merchant’s critiques of nascent capitalism and is especially critical of the commodifying male sexuality embodied by Freevill and influenced by the characterizations of Portia and Bassanio. Recognizing Courtesan’s debts to Merchant also enables a better understanding of how Marston’s move to the Children of the Queen’s Revels affected his dramaturgy. By showing how Freevill self-consciously and inauthentically performs the role of a romance hero, Marston participates in the company’s characteristic ironizing of romance.
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