When Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker wrote their Roaring Girl in 1611, they based it loosely on Mary Frith, who was frequenting taverns and playhouses in men’s clothing in London and had to appear in front of the court. Moll is the name of half the prostitutes in London and in their play; we meet Moll Cutpurse, the Roaring Girl. Dekker and Middleton use the unusual girl to criticize the London society. Moll goes between classes to evaluate the people in London as is shown when she talks to Sir Thomas and Lord Noland, statingWhen next, my lord, you spy any of one of those,So he be in his art a scholar, question him,Tempt him with gold to open the large bookOf his close villainies; and you yourself shall cantBetter than poor Moll can, and know more lawsOf cheaters, lifters, nips, foists, puggards, curbers,Withal the devil’s black guard, than it is fitShould be discovered to a noble wit (5.1. 304-311).Audiences in the playhouses can understand that Moll is criticizing not only the London lower class, but the upper class as well. She might also warn the lord that a good thief could teach him so much, that the lord will be more knowledgeable than Moll, which might not be the best thing for a lord. Moll is the outcast woman that is, however, able to move between the social classes to serve as a nexus that connects and shows the similarities of the upper and the lower classes in the playhouses.Moving between classes is made possible with the help of monetary funds: “Tempt him with gold to open the large book” (5.1.306). Moll shows the audience that this underworld in London is for sale. Money plays a large role in the play, especially since in the global London many exotic goods are for sale, such as tobacco and…
…talism is the great equalizer and that there is a beginning mobility in the classes. Everything has its price and can be purchased, including the bodies of females. Upper classes can have access with the help of money to the lower classes and lower classes can buy their access to the rich, therefore new kinds of identities are emerging, including empowered women, which the booming city of London and the mercantile class help to make possible.
“cant, v.3.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2014. Web. 12 March 2014.Middleton, Thomas, Thomas Dekker, and Jennifer Panek. The Roaring Girl: A Norton Critical Edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Co Inc, 2011. Print.”rogue, n. and adj.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2014. Web. 11 March 2014.”scholar, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2014. Web. 12 March 2014.