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Discuss the meeting of Stanley and Mompesson in Act 1. Consider it's dramatic effectiveness and it's importance in relation to the play as a whole.

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Discuss the meeting of Stanley and Mompesson in Act 1. Consider it's dramatic effectiveness and it's importance in relation to the play as a whole. When the audience first meet Mompesson, he is being shown around the village, to the rector's house. You learn about Mompesson from his conversation with George Savile, "the rector of God has no enemies, only sheep to be fed" is what Mompesson thinks. Savile tells him he is wrong, "now rinse that starch from your face my boy...come two steps down from heaven to speak to these people...you'll have to make concessions". By Savile having to say this, and from what Mompesson previously said, we learn that he is quite high and mighty, or at least he thinks he is, and the people won't like him for that. Stanley first comes onto the scene when the harvest celebrations have begun. He disapproves of them happening, as it is against his puritanical beliefs, and the first thing he says is "this is a sad sight Edward Thornley". As he begins talking to Thornley, it quickly becomes clear that Thornley still sees Stanley as his rector. They both share the opinion put forward by Thornley about Mompesson, that he's "a youngster, full of arrogance and spleen, who spits in the dust as we pass." Stanley has a dark, brooding presence, which contrasts darkly with the happy feel of the celebration and the audience would be able to tell this about him from his appearance and the things he says. ...read more.


This meeting is also preparing the audience for any future conflicts that will occur, as in their second meeting later on in the play. Mompesson is less restrained than before-he is not so formal and polite towards Stanley, even though at first Stanley is stiffly polite to him. Stanley starts trying to tell Mompesson that he shouldn't be giving the people false hopes by saying its "too cold for plague", and Mompesson just points out if Stanley had helped him, if his "heart had been anything but stone", he wouldn't have to be. When Stanley tries to leave, Mompesson won't let him, as he wants Stanley to hear him out. Mompesson has changed a lot since the last meeting, he has seen forty-three people die and that there was no hope as Stanley refused to help him. He feels resentment towards him as well as anger, and now he is making no effort to be nice, since he was spurned last time. This gives a change in the creator of the antagonism, especially at the start of the meeting. At the end Stanley says, "we will not meet again", but even though Mompesson does not wish to meet him he knows "in a small village that is unlikely"-that them meeting for a third time is inevitable. Before their third meeting Stanley has a soliloquy where he is finally open and truthful about himself, and how he's changed. ...read more.


It makes the audience aware that their feelings go far deeper than just their personal beliefs and conflict. There were many plays written at this period of time, which were written as reactions to what had happened like when there was the Commonwealth. That had been a Puritanical rule, and so theatres were banned. After Charles II returned to the throne it was almost as if they were trying to make up for losses during the previous years, with the amount of plays written. They were popular then as it gave people a chance to laugh at the way it was portrayed if it was a comedy, or just for them to reflect back on what had happened if it was a drama, it also gave them insights into what life at court (with the king) might be like, or other parts of Britain. Nowadays, people studying plays know what to expect from plays from different parts of history-the difference in plot, themes and characters (like if a king is in one)-and they can identify where in history plays are from. This makes them popular now as it gives people an insight into what life might have been like back in the 1600's for example, and an example of such a history play is The Way of the World, by William Congreve, which was written about 1700. ...read more.

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