Year

1997

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Hons.)

Department

Department of English

Abstract

In this thesis I argue that the costuming practices in the Macro plays show evidence of social upheaval and were showing the authors' concern over maintaining the status quo. I analysed the plays in turn to determine what evidence there was for costuming. The Virtues' costumes are traditional, often being of biblical origin. The Vices' costumes are secular; rich and fashionable, indicating worldliness. The central human characters' costumes change and most clearly show social influence. These characters are initially either poor, of a labouring class or without possessions- They change from being morally correct, to becoming sinful and then repenting. When they become sinful, they leave the class into which they were born and ascend to the upper class. In this immoral state, their costumes become highly fashionable, indicating their new social status. 1 believe that these costumes are used to express disapproval of the social and class changes which occurred as a result of the Black Death and the subsequent breakdown of the manorial system, which in turn led to the Peasants' Revolt and the rise of the concept of individualism. These upheavals affected the class system and were against the belief that the greatest sin was to deny God's intention that people should remain in the class into which they are born.

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