Reference > Cambridge History > The Age of Dryden > The Restoration Drama > Spanish Personages in English Plays
  Early Spanish Influences in English Drama The Indebtedness of Beaumont and Fletcher, and of other Dramatists, before and after the Restoration, to Spanish Novels, and to Spanish Plays, Examined and Summarised  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

V. The Restoration Drama.

§ 14. Spanish Personages in English Plays.


As to Spanish personages interspersed through Elizabethan drama, it has been well said: “They were either arrogant, boastful, pompously affected or cruel,” sheer caricatures, in a word, drawn with an unfriendly pen. 33  Middleton’s Lazarillo in Blurt Master-Constable (a sad perversion of that delightful rascal, his namesake of Tormes), and Jonson’s ridiculous caricature in the pretended Don Diego of The Alchemist are sufficient illustrations of this. 34  As to the boasters and bullies of the playwrights, Bobadill, Captain Tucca, Ancient Pistol and the rest, there was no need to bespeak them in Spain. For such traits of the kind as were not derived from observation can show a clear literary descent from the Miles Gloriosus of Plautus. That Shakespeare contrived to keep his Don Armado human, as well as absurdly lofty and vainglorious, is partly due to the fact that Armado is the portrait of an actual mad Spaniard, known as “fantastical Monarcho,” who haunted the London of his day. And Armado, too, had had his immediate literary model in Lyly’s contribution, Sir Thopas in Endimion, to the Plantine line of descent just mentioned.
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Note 33. Underhill, J. G., Spanish Literature in the England of the Tudors, 1899, p. 357. [ back ]
Note 34. Middleton might have had his Lazarillo in English, long since translated by David Rowland and printed in 1576. There is no reason for assuming that Ben Jonson knew Spanish; his few allusions to Don Quixote and the Spanish phrases of The Alchemist to the contrary notwithstanding. See Schevill, R., u. s. pp. 612, 613. [ back ]

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  Early Spanish Influences in English Drama The Indebtedness of Beaumont and Fletcher, and of other Dramatists, before and after the Restoration, to Spanish Novels, and to Spanish Plays, Examined and Summarised  
 
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