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date: 29 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article analyzes John Heywood's The Play of the Weather. The play has a linear and deceptively inconsequential plot. In a single act of 1,254 lines, a series of petitioners present themselves to Jupiter, seeking to arrange for weather best suited to their needs. At the beginning of the action, Jupiter appoints a servant called Merry Report to gather the suitors and to present their cases to him. At the play's conclusion, all the petitioners are reassembled before the god, Merry Report summarizes their suits, and Jupiter makes a long speech deliberating on how he ought to respond. He concludes that all should have a share of the kind of weather for which they ask. In its creation of voices for representatives of a number of ranks in society appearing in sequence, and in its central ‘quiting’ debates, the play is reminiscent of the type of estates satire familiar from The Canterbury Tales. Its subject, the weather, seems relatively trivial, and its conclusion, that things should stay the same, is conservative. However, it is shown that this play conceals under its innocuous exterior topical and audacious political satire from a highly sensitive moment in the reign of Henry VIII.

Keywords: Tudor theatre, plays, Jupiter, Merry Report, political satire, Henry VIII

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