The Chaucer Review: An Indexed Bibliography (Vols. 1-30)Return to the Subject List
Houle, Peter. "Stage and Metaphor in the French Morality: L'Homme Juste et L'Homme Mondain." 14 (1979): 1-22.
The French morality play L'Homme Juste et L'Homme Mondain contains a complete treatment of vices and virtues. In the play, Simon Bougouin uses religious verse narrative techniques and techniques adapted from allegorical theater. In the course of their lives, Mondain falls to vice while Juste follows virtue. Bougouin operates on two assumptions: "that morality in both its personal and its historical contexts is best explained by . . . dualism; that the goal of the human is to be assumed into the divine" (2). The stage directions accompanying L'Homme Juste et L'Homme Mondain seem general enough to accommodate any production. The brothers, Mondain and Juste, follow two different paths, one leading towards hell, the other leading towards heaven. Hell is well-developed opposite Paradise by two tier staging. The importance of the ranks of good and evil forces suggests that a multi-level stage would be necessary for effective staging. Apart from staging requirements, only a few other props are needed. The stage placement of Lucifer and God allows the interpretation of the playing area as the moral cosmos. Bougouin dramatizes moral, not temporal, progress through life. Through Mondain, Bougouin demonstrates the debilitating results of sin, both to the sinner and to society, while Juste shows the benefits of virtuous behavior. Spectacle is an important aspect of this morality play since it explicitly pictures the progression from virtue to virtue and from vice to vice.
Stevens, Martin. "The Theatre of the World: A Study in Medieval Dramatic Form." 7 (1973): 234-49.
For medieval drama, the theatrical space could contain the entire cosmos, show interaction between humans and supernatural figures, and depict all of salvation history. Medieval drama tended to stage a contest between cosmic powers of good and evil over human souls. Since good always won, evil characters were never protagonists. Generally, medieval plays had similar structures: the action was either a conversion or a martyrdom. Thus, all stages used similar layouts, which could serve corpus christi, saint, and morality plays. Such a staging may have been similar to Langland's landscape in Piers Plowman, with a tower for heaven, a dungeon (valley) for hell, and a field in the middle for earth. Since the play progresses as characters move from place to place, the journey becomes the focus of medieval plays. The audience is thus drawn into the play, and the off-stage area ceases to exist. Time is linear, so each play or part of the action is essential to the next, though similar patterns of action recur. These elements comprise "native tradition."