The Knight Of The Burning Pestle Critical Analysis
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Francis Beaumont’s satiric comedy Knight of the Burning Pestle makes many points about the nature of drama. Beaumont stages a play within the play called The London Merchant. Through the language his characters in the play and outside of it use, Beaumont illustrates the roles of both the audience and the playwright. The role of the audience is to lose oneself in the play in order to keep the theatrical illusion intact and to respect the vision of the playwright.
In Jasper and Luce’s first scene together their dialogue demonstrates their awareness of their roles in the play. Jasper asks if Luce “know[s] the plot we both agreed on” (1.1.54-5) and she replies “yes, and will perform my part exactly” (1.157-8). Though they are planning their elopement in this scene they use language that evokes the theater suggesting an awareness of their dramatic roles. Further, because Luce knows she is just playing a part she can tell Humphrey what he wants to hear without compromising herself. Additionally, when Jasper strays from the plot to visit his parents his visit does not give him anything. His mother insults him, calling him an “ungracious child” (1.3.27). His father does give him a blessing and ten shillings, but this proves to be worthless. It is only when he returns to the plot and goes to the place of meeting he finds his mothers money indicating that Jasper can only rely on his plot to gain satisfaction. Jasper seems aware of this as he throws his shillings to the ground saying,