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Journeymen in MurderThe Assassin in English Renaissance Drama$
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Martin Wiggins

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198112280

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112280.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Journeymen in Murder

Martin Wiggins

Oxford University Press

The assassin, suborned to do another villain's murders, is one of the most recurrent minor figures in plays written during the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I, and Charles I. Evidently, murder plots of this type remained useful to playwrights and interesting to playgoers throughout a long period. The assassin belongs to a side of English Renaissance drama that we do not now find congenial: its violence and intrigue. The popular reputation of Jacobean tragedy today places it alongside Grand Guignol and ‘splatter’ movies, unpleasant entertainments catering for abnormal tastes. One of this book's contentions is that most stage assassins do not kill simply because they are told to, and that their motives are often the centre of their appeal and interest. In part, this interest is akin to that claimed for stage violence by recent critics who have attempted to rehabilitate that aspect of English Renaissance drama.

Keywords:   English Renaissance, drama, assassins, murder, plays, stage violence, Jacobean tragedy, Grand Guignol, intrigue

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