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Plays

Spitchcock in Middleton’s “A Trick to Catch the Old One” Essay

August 17, 2021 by Essay Writer

The role of Spitchcock in Middleton’s “A Trick to Catch the Old One” is somewhat minor: for instance, before the first act, he is described merely as “a gentleman.” However, as we learn from the play, the man is very close to Lucre and Hoard, two eternal rivals who like to flaunt their wealth and squander money to prove a point. When they start a fight in the middle of the street, Spitchcock calms them down by saying “Nay, gentlemen, then we must divide you by force.” Thus, he tries to be a mediator and relieve tension between Lucre and Hoard. A question arises as to what his motives are to do so.

What I noticed is that the names in this play are all “telling,” and while Lucre and Hoard refer to luxury and hoarding assets, Spitchcock means “a fried eel.” Thus, given his closeness to the two rivaling characters, his intentions might not be noble – he might be slick and planning to take advantage of the situation. Therefore, this character, no matter how minor, fits the narrative and the purpose of the play that challenges the societal order of the sixteenth century.

Out of the context of the described scene, it is clear that Spitchcock often tries to appease the character of a higher status. He does not do so overtly – instead, he chooses to agree with whatever side he deems right at any given moment. After all, his name means not merely “an eel” but “a fried eel,” a dish ready to be served.

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