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Though scholarship of the early modern era focuses on the character of Moll Frith when considering the gender ideology contained in Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker's "The Roaring Girl," the play's other female characters are also of interest. The "citizen wives" of the play are women who, though married, work outside the home. Their special status in the emerging capitalist marketplace of the early modern era gave rise to unique anxieties about their economic power and sexual availability. These anxieties in turn made these women especially susceptible to slander against their sexual reputation and thus respectability in the community. An analysis of the citizen wives of "The Roaring Girl" demonstrates that the imputation of sexual transgression to urban working women served to discipline an economic and erotic agency that could be perceived as threatening to orderly household management.


This article was originally published in Renaissance Drama, available at

This work is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).



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