Stage Devils in English Reformation Plays


John D. Cox


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

The More Things Change . ... Prevailing conceptions of stage devils in early English drama derive from patterns of critical interpretation that were established early in the twentieth century. Most influential in forming these patterns was E. K. Chambers, but Chambers was assisted to varying degrees by W. W. Greg, A. W. Pollard, and W. W. Skeat. Pollard's English Miracle Plays, Moralities, and Interludes went through eight editions in a little under forty years (1890 to 1927), becoming the standard anthology for students, who used it until well past the middle of the century. Pollard judged the late morality plays severely; he rejected their penchant for personification because it tended "to didacticism and unreality," and was therefore "wholly undramatic," with the result that "the popularity of the later Morality significantly coincided with the dullest and most barren period in the history of English literature."1

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