A critical study of Thomas Middleton's Hengist, king of Kent

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Nancy C. Simmons (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Jean Buchert

Abstract: Criticism of Thomas Middleton's earliest known tragedy, Hengist, King of Kent: or The Mayor of Queenborough, has been largely either negative or negligible. Hengist is available in a well edited text prepared by R. C. Bald in 1938 from a seventeenth-century manuscript, and study of the play, in the light of present knowledge, indicates that it deserves more serious critical attention than it has received. Such a reassessment is the purpose of this study. When placed in its historical perspective, through an examination of the questions of authorship, dating, stage history, sources, and its relationship to the history play, Hengist is seen to be the product of Middleton's mature genius. Comparison of the finished play with its known sources provides an interesting look at the author's creative process. Where the play deviates from the sources, it reveals Middleton's use of history as a springboard for his own tragic vision. Much of the negative criticism of Hengist hinges on its apparent lack of unity, reflected in the double title (which refers to the main and subplots). It can be demonstrated, however, that the play's theme (ambition) is amplified in the imagery and characterization, and that all of these elements contribute to its cohesiveness. Middleton implements this theme largely through a technique of balance and contrast.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1971
Middleton, Thomas, $d d. 1627 $x Criticism and interpretation
Middleton, Thomas, $d d. 1627. $t Hengist, king of Kent

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