Scene 4 (of 12) : Verity, Chastity and the Vices

lines 1035-1579

Verity’s entry adds a new and urgent tone to the reforming discourse of the play. Verity, like Good Counsel, tries to reach Rex Humanitas but is prevented by an alliance of the vices, Sensuality, and various members of the clergy. It is the latter who accuse Verity of heresy. The vices are particularly shocked to find that Verity has in her hand an English Bible. Their response is to place Verity in the stocks, although not before she has made an impassioned supplication to God to ‘make some reasonable reformation’.

Chastity enters seeking shelter. Diligence suggests to her that she should ask the Prioress to take her in but as Chastity predicts the Prioress rejects her. Chastity then works her way through the rest of the clergy, the temporal lords, and merchants before finding temporary rest among the craftsmen. The Tailor and Sowter welcome her and offer her protection. Their wives, however, are very unhappy about this because they have no ‘chalmer-glew’. The Tailor’s and Sowter’s wives chase Chastity away and then beat their husbands. Finally, Chastity tries to see Rex Humanitas but fails when Sensuality tells the king that she cannot be in the same place as Chastity. The King asks Sensuality to depose of Chastity as she sees fit and Sensuality orders the vices the place Chastity in the stocks alongside Verity.

Just when the cause of reform seems to have been completely defeated, Correction’s Varlet enters to announce that Divine Correction is on his way. This prompts the vices to flee, but not before Falset and Deceit steal Rex Humanitas’ treasure box.

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