Metatheatricality in A Game at Chess



Year of publication 2019
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description A Game at Chess is a play that used to be talked about all around Europe. It describes events which took place in 1623 when Prince Charles, the heir to the English throne, travelled to Madrid to negotiate marriage between himself and the Spanish Infanta Maria Anna, sister of Felipe IV. The negotiations failed, mainly due to the immense resistance of the English public – both noble as well as plebeian. Thomas Middleton, the author of A Game at Chess, wrote this play to attack and make fun of the most important Spanish personalities of the time, and also of other predominantly Spanish figures – the Jesuits and the Catholics in general. To achieve this, he employs, apart from more common means, metatheatrical devices. He lets his characters communicate directly with the audience and flatter it, refers to and parodies other dramatic works, explains how to interpret the roles of the Spanish, compares the Spanish to actors, demonstrates what the Spanish characters think about, brings attention to the great performances of the actors, etc. This paper will look into these metatheatrical devices and try to explicate how they work and in what ways they shape the relationship of the audience to the Spanish characters, and also, what they say about the relationship of the English and the Spanish during the early 17th century.
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