Love, Marriage and Money in Shakespeare’s Theatre and Shakespeare’s England



Sir Francis Bacon, a man not much given to romantic illusions, except, perhaps, about the benefits of scientific discovery, begins his essay “Of Love”, in the final version of it published in 1625, with the following words:

The Stage is more beholding to Loue, then the Life of Man. For as to the Stage, Loue is euer matter of Comedies, and now and then of Tragedies: But in Life, it doth much mischiefe: Sometimes like a Syren; Sometimes like a Fury.1

Bacon clearly saw a marked discrepancy between love as it was portrayed in the theatre, where it generally led to the happy ending of comedy in a marriage which, it is assumed, will be completely satisfactory, and love as it existed in real life, where, as it seemed to him, it was productive only of trouble and disaster, either luring its victims to destruction or driving them to it. In his main contention that love on the stage was in general something quite other than love in the big world outside the theatre he was undoubtedly right.


Happy Ending Beautiful Girl Fair Hair Romantic Comedy Villiers Family 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1978

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