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Thereby Hangs a Tail: Jonson's The Devil Is an Ass and Stage Representations of Devil-Servants

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Tom HarrisonORCiD


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This article considers an ambiguity concerning the stage presentation of Pug, the inept devil-servant of Ben Jonson’s The Devil Is an Ass, and explores the implications that ‘complete’ or ‘partial’ costume changes have for how an audience interprets the character, and how this apparent visual ambiguity may have been resolved by cosmetics and/or through the performance of a specific King’s Men actor. The article concludes with a comparison with ‘devilish servants-types’ in Othello and The Changeling, and argues that these three plays articulate early modern insecurities about the servant through an explicit association between the servile and the demonic.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Harrison T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Early Theatre

Year: 2019

Volume: 22

Issue: 1

Pages: 141-162

Print publication date: 01/06/2019

Online publication date: 01/06/2019

Acceptance date: 01/03/2019

ISSN (print): 1206-9078

ISSN (electronic): 2293-7609

Publisher: McMaster University Library Press


DOI: 10.12745/et.22.1.3753


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