How Marston Read His Merchant: Ruled Women and Structures of Circulation in The Dutch Courtesan


  • Meghan Andrews Lycoming College



John Marston; Dutch Courtesan; William Shakespeare; Merchant of Venice


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.

Author Biography

Meghan Andrews, Lycoming College

Meghan C. Andrews ( is assistant professor of English at Lycoming College. Her current book project argues that Shakespeare’s social networks and institutional affiliations provide important but neglected local contexts key to understanding his works; her next project will focus on how the theatrical marketplace, print marketplace, and other early modern institutions triangulated to shape early modern drama’s ascendance to literary status in the first two decades of the seventeenth century. Her work can be found in Shakespeare Quarterly, Renaissance Drama, SEL, Early Theatre, and Marlowe Studies.






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