In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Preliminary. In this paper we intend to set out the basis of a comparative study ~f the Sinnekens, the allegorical stagecharacters which are found in late medieval and early Renaissance Dutch drama, and the Vice of the English interludes. The former occur in about 150 Rhetoricians' plays (Spelen van zinne) which were composed over a century and more (c.1500-c.1620), while the Vice (who should be distinguished from 'Vices,' the generic name for the generality of evil characters) is rather more restricted to about thirty verifiable examples in interludes dating from about 1530 to 1590.1 Each has its own distinctive place in the culture and in the theatrical history of its own country, but we have been struck by a number of similarities in the ways they were conceived and in the ways they operate within their respective theatrical milieux. For the moment we should like to leave open the question of mutual influence, all the more so because such a phenomenon would be very difficult to prove-and it seems unlikely. There might, however, be an underlying similarity of outlook-a similarity possibly dependent upon parallel cultural and historical features. With regard to the origin of the Sinnekens it has been suggested that they developed out of the devils and the vices in morality drama as it was knowri all over fifteenth-century Europe.2 Yet where we can study their history in French drama3 this appears to be impossible for both the Dutch and the English traditions. For in order to substantiate a hypothesis regarding a shared origin of Vice and Sinnekens, the Netherlands are in want of a sufficient quantity of texts dating back to the fifteenth century, whereas England faces a relative poverty of morality plays during the first half of the sixteenth century. Despite the fact that we remain unable to give a solid history of a possible common background, it appears, whichever way you look at it, that the Sinnekens were invented earlier than the Vice and that for whatever reason they had a longer run.