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Epicoene: Or, the Silent Woman   By: (1573-1637)

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Epicoene: Or, the Silent Woman is a brilliant comedy written by the influential English playwright, Ben Jonson. Published in 1609, the play is a satirical look at the excesses and follies of city life during the Jacobean era.

The story revolves around a wealthy bachelor named Morose, who cannot stand any form of noise. His pursuit of absolute silence leads him to search for a wife who would fit his definition of a "silent woman." However, he soon realizes that such a woman does not exist, and chaos erupts when he discovers that his chosen bride, Epicoene, is not as silent as he had hoped.

One of the highlights of Epicoene is its remarkable characterization. Jonson skillfully weaves together a colorful cast of characters who bring the play to life. From Morose's clever servant, Cutbeard, to the scheming and mischievous Truewit, each character has a distinct personality that adds layer upon layer of humor and intrigue to the plot.

The play is filled with witty dialogue and clever wordplay, characteristics that Jonson is renowned for. The banter between the characters is sharp and fast-paced, keeping the audience engaged throughout. Moreover, the play's exploration of gender roles and societal expectations adds depth to the comedic aspects, making it more than just a simple farce.

Another notable aspect of Epicoene is its nuanced commentary on the obsession with silence and the desire for control. Morose's extreme aversion to noise is presented as a humorous exaggeration while also shedding light on a society that values conformity and suppresses individual expression. Through satire, Jonson subtly critiques the hypocrisies and absurdities of his time.

The play's structure is well-crafted, with a tightly woven plot that takes unexpected twists and turns, leading to a satisfying climax. Jonson's depiction of the bustling city streets and high society settings of London allows the reader to immerse themselves in the world of the play, complete with its vibrant and lively atmosphere.

Overall, Epicoene: Or, the Silent Woman is a timeless comedy that still resonates with audiences today. Ben Jonson's brilliance as a playwright shines through in this play, with its sharp wit, memorable characters, and thought-provoking themes. Whether one is a fan of classic literature or simply enjoys a good laugh, this play is a must-read. Jonson's ability to combine humor, social commentary, and memorable characters ensures that Epicoene will continue to entertain and delight readers for years to come.

First Page:


By Ben Jonson


THE greatest of English dramatists except Shakespeare, the first literary dictator and poet laureate, a writer of verse, prose, satire, and criticism who most potently of all the men of his time affected the subsequent course of English letters: such was Ben Jonson, and as such his strong personality assumes an interest to us almost unparalleled, at least in his age.

Ben Jonson came of the stock that was centuries after to give to the world Thomas Carlyle; for Jonson's grandfather was of Annandale, over the Solway, whence he migrated to England. Jonson's father lost his estate under Queen Mary, "having been cast into prison and forfeited." He entered the church, but died a month before his illustrious son was born, leaving his widow and child in poverty. Jonson's birthplace was Westminster, and the time of his birth early in 1573. He was thus nearly ten years Shakespeare's junior, and less well off, if a trifle better born. But Jonson did not profit even by this slight advantage. His mother married beneath her, a wright or bricklayer, and Jonson was for a time apprenticed to the trade. As a youth he attracted the attention of the famous antiquary, William Camden, then usher at Westminster School, and there the poet laid the solid foundations of his classical learning... Continue reading book >>

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