Home  »  Volume VI: English THE DRAMA TO 1642 Part Two  »  § 18. His repetitions

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VI. The Drama to 1642, Part Two.

VI. Philip Massinger

§ 18. His repetitions

Massinger’s fatal fondness for conventional repetitions, which has been pointed out in the situations, characters, thoughts and words of his plays, apprises us of the limits of his merits as a dramatic artist. Notwithstanding our readiness to admire the firmness of his construction and the splendour of his diction, we are too often offended by the monotony of his characters and by the narrow range of their ideas; and his treatment of them exhibits hardly any process of development. As a playwright, it is true, he seeks to perfect himself in the technical part of his art; as a psychologist, he is too much inclined to remain on the surface, from beginning to end. We feel that the dramatist does not sufficiently identify himself with his creations, that he does not live in them, that they are formed more from the outside than from the inside. In consequence of this coldness of their maker, we do not recognise in his figures living beings of our own flesh and blood; too many of them remain cleverly formed and ably managed theatrical puppets. It is a great pity that the straitened circumstances of his life, which obliged him to work rapidly, prevented him from devoting a greater measure of love and care to the delineation of his characters. That he would have been able to rouse them to an intenser, fuller life, is impressed upon us as we look on the thoroughly lovable Lidia, on the pure presence of Camiola and at some of his secondary characters, as, for instance, the faithful Adorni, whose love for Camiola is deeper than the selfish desire to win her for himself.