Ben Jonson, Bartholomew Fair

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Bartholomew Fair (1614) is often described as the last of Ben Jonson’s great comedies. Yet many critics also distinguish the play from its predecessors Volpone, Epicene and The Alchemist, noting its unusually benevolent attitude towards human folly. The carnival world which Jonson creates in this comedy can be seen as a place of festive license, where the failings of humanity are exposed with a new playfulness and generosity. At the same time, the ideals of communal festivity this world relies upon are critiqued as thoroughly as the authoritarian values of those who seek to constrain such license – and, by the end of the play, neither side escapes unscathed.

Bartholomew Fair was first staged …

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Citation: Preedy, Chloe Kathleen. "Bartholomew Fair". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 September 2012 [, accessed 24 September 2023.]

6452 Bartholomew Fair 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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