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Synopsis

Measure for Measure, Malcontent and other disguised ruler plays are typically interpreted as synchronic political commentaries about King James. Quarmby, by contrast, traces the disguised ruler's medieval origins and marks its presence on the Elizabethan stage. Influenced by European tragicomedy, the motif had by Jacobean times transformed romantic images of royal disguise into more sinister instances of politicized voyeurism. Market forces in London's vibrant repertory system fuelled this dramatic evolution.

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