Backbiter and the Rhetoric of Detraction


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

This essay will look at the development of one proto-Vice figure, Backbiter, as he appears in two East Anglian playtexts from the fifteenth century.1 The Castle of Perseverance and the N-Town "Trial of Joseph and Mary" share this character, and although his roles in the two plays are not the same, his functions derive from the same potentialities-potentialities enlivened by rhetoric. This examination will begin by discussing the earlier Castle of Perseverance and follow with a discussion of the N-Town "Trial" play in an effort to show the impact of the dissident quality of Backbiter's rhetoric-indeed, Backbiter as rhetoric-upon the operations of the plays.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.