Eric Dunnum deposited Dauphine Was Right: Masques, the Authenticity of (Un)Performed Identity, and the Two Prologues of Epicene in the group EMDC: The Early Modern Digital Collaboratory on MLA Commons 5 years ago
This paper argues that Epicene, Jonson’s first public play after being made official court masque writer, is unusually optimistic about the possibilities of drama. The play explores the possibility of creating an authentic personality through performance, an idea that Jonson is often hostile towards. However, Jonson’s flirtation with this pro-theater perspective was short lived. For complex reasons, Lady Arbella’s complaint about the play led Jonson to once again grow cynical about the possibilities of the public stage. These vacillating perspectives, I argue, can be traced within the two different prologues, which offer two very different perspectives on playing, play going and the theater.