Several plays in the English Renaissance, from the anonymous Arden of Faversham (1592) to Richard Brome's A Jovial Crew (1641), depict land-related problems. These involve the enclosure of the common fields, the dissolution of the monasteries, and the commodification of land. The last aspect, which is the focus of this research abroad project, is most visible in plays that take place in the city, like those by Thomas Middleton, Thomas Dekker, and Ben Jonson. However, most Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Carolinian dramatists have relied on civic topics and their intrigues. Although these land-related problems are often in the background of the action, they provide fuel for the action and conflicts. They portray an important early modern transformation of economic thought: the shift from essence-value objects to use-value commodities, or, according to Aristotle's Politics, the shift from an economic household model (oikos, as he referred to it) to a market-oriented model (chrematistics, in Aristotle's terms). Land, once a resource for household existence, has become a new commodity for the rising classes, who took their chance when the traditional and major landowners were forced to sell part of their dominions or when the crown sold what had, during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, been monastic property. The commodification of land, along with the commodification of two other components of everyday life-money and labour-was paramount to a break in a period of time in which humanity and nature shared their space. Shakespeare and his contemporaries put their efforts into exploring the changing relationship between public and private, into the conflict between a custom-based world and an exchange-based world. Some plays written or co-authored by Thomas Middleton reveal an exaggerated preoccupation with inheritance, lands and their associated revenues, dwelling on the spheres of social displacement and the exploitation of women.
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