Three early seventeenth-century “prodigal husband” comedies--The Wise-woman of Hogsdon (Thomas Heywood, c.1604), How a Man May Choose a Good Wife from a Bad (anonymous, c. 1600–1602), and The London Prodigal (anonymous, c. 1603–1604)--reveal how the gendered nature of credit relations in early modern England and the concomitant community surveillance of the household head could cause a newly-married young man to experience his new position of patriarchal authority as loss of autonomy, and to desire nothing so much as escape.


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