The Devil is an Assby Ben Jonson
The Devil Is an Ass followed Bartholomew Fair (1614), one of the author's greatest works, and marks the start of the final phase of his dramatic career. However just or unjust may be the characterisation of Jonson's later plays as his "dotages," there would
The Devil Is an Ass is a Jacobean comedy by Ben Jonson, first performed in 1616 and first published in 1631.
The Devil Is an Ass followed Bartholomew Fair (1614), one of the author's greatest works, and marks the start of the final phase of his dramatic career. However just or unjust may be the characterisation of Jonson's later plays as his "dotages," there would be no more great works after Bartholomew Fair, and a full decade would elapse between The Devil Is an Ass and Jonson's next play, The Staple of News.
The play opens in Hell, with Satan and an inferior devil called Pug. Pug wants to be sent to Earth to do the Devil's work of tempting men to evil - but Satan thinks he isn't up to the job; the world has grown so sophisticated in its vices, especially in the moral cesspool of London, that a simple devil like Pug will be severely out of his depth. Pug pleads his case, however, and Satan sends him into the world, specifically to plague an eccentric and foolish gentleman named Fabian Fitzdottrel.
Fitzdottrel is obsessed with the idea of meeting a devil; he has consorted with magicians and conjurers (Simon Forman among others) in hopes of encountering an imp who will aid him in the discovery of buried treasure. In addition to his main mania, Fitzdottrel has subsidiary obsessions: he dresses his beautiful young wife sumptuously, but clothes himself in second-hand garments, which he wheels and deals over with enthusiasm. In the play's first Act he is enthusiastic about a fancy cloak that he plans to wear to the Blackfriars Theatre to see a play. Pug comes to him in the body of a thief who'd been hanged earlier in the morning; Fitzdottrel refuses to believe that Pug is a devil, since the corpse's feet are not cloven hooves-but Pug's claim that his name is "Devil" (or "Deville") is enough to earn him a place as a servant in Fitzdottrel's household.
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