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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses usury as a dominant theme in Middleton's plays. Relations of credit and debt mediate every kind of human interaction in his drama, despoiling innocence, violating love, debasing character, and unbalancing the mind. Middleton was particularly well placed to understand the dramatic impact of usury on everyday life. His childhood was marred by a decades-long financial and legal struggle between his mother and stepfather, which temporarily sent his stepfather to debtors' prison and deprived Thomas of most of his inheritance. Fragmentary as it is, the surviving written evidence records several instances of Middleton's financial distress. In 1612 he is listed among the debtors of the deceased Ewen Hebson of Westminster, and he defaulted on loans in 1606 and 1609.

Keywords: Thomas Middleton, plays, usury, usurers, debt

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