The Functions of the English Vice and Dutch Sinnekens: A Comparison

  • Charlotte Steenbrugge University of Southampton
Keywords: Vice, sinnekens, Dutch morality, English moral interlude, rhetoricians,


Two markedly similar conventional dramatic types emerged in the sixteenth century: the Vice in the English moral interludes and the sinnekens in the Dutch spelen van sinne. Yet little research has focused on the similarities and differences between the two dramatic types. In fact, the claims concerning possible Dutch influence on English drama have never yet been investigated in connection with these similar dramatic conventions. In this article I compare, synchronically, these two dramatic types in terms of their functions within the plays and argue that the Vice and sinnekens are indeed remarkably similar yet also substantially different and that they certainly do not support, and if anything argue against, a Dutch influence on English drama in the sixteenth century and, for that matter, vice versa.