Scene 6 (of 12) : Scene 6 Diligence and the Pauper

lines 1910-2043

Part I of the play ends with a concluding speech by Diligence announcing that the second half will stage a meeting of the three estates. Diligence then recommends to the audience that they have a drink of wine and that ladies who ‘list to pish’ do so otherwise their bladders might burst.

Diligence is about to leave when he is interrupted by the Pauper, who enters the playing space begging for alms to feed is children. The Pauper is a radical figure, representing the effects of political failure and corruption upon the ordinary people of Scotland. He tells Diligence, and the audience, that he was once a relatively wealthy farmer but then, when his father, mother, and wife all died in quick succession he was reduced to poverty by the death duties levied by the temporal lords and the spirituality. In particular, the Pauper attacks the clergy for reducing him to penury and then cursing him for his failure to pay his tithe. The scene ends with the Pauper lying down to sleep and Diligence leaving the stage. The Pauper’s intervention disrupts the conventional morality play narrative of the first part of Ane Satyre. It reflects the extent to which the play moves beyond the conventions of the form. Indeed the Pauper is a unique figure in early modern British drama. He is a lower class figure who is not a clown, or a rebel and whose complaints, while being bitter, are reasonable and fair.

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