Ballads and Performance: The Multimodal Stage in Early Modern England

"'Hear for your love, and buy for your money': Ballads and Theater as Experiential Commodities"

Danielle Bonneau, “On Merrythought’s Singing, with a Glance at Sir Toby,” Bulletin de la sociétié d’études anglo-américaines des XVIIe et XVIIIe siécles 41 (1995): 7-26. Wong observes that the subject of the ballad is “incongruous with the situation” (“A Dramaturgical Study,” 107). Lindsey also finds this choice of ballad problematic. Despite spending most of his essay interpreting Merrythought’s use of songs as a means of expressing the self, Lindsey offers only the observation that the singing of the ballad is a sign of acceptance, and even this with an interjection that suggests he has questions about the use of this particular ballad in the play: “she thus signifies, I suppose, her acceptance of his merry manners which she had criticized before” (“The Original Music for Beaumont’s Play,” 442, emphasis mine). Wong offers that this “Protestant Song” must be the only ballad that Michael knows (107). Bonneau also emphasizes the Protestant nature of the song and offers that the choice of the ballad lies in its Anti-Popish sentiments “in keeping with his [Michael’s] and his mother’s Puritanical sympathies,” leading to “poetic justice that they should be compelled to embrace mirth as a new creed by singing that very kind of song” (“On Merrythought’s Singing,” 24).

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