In this essay, I focus upon the ways in which the allegorical actions of moral plays persist into the 1590s and possibly influence a new generation of dramatic works. My first category of allegorical actions consists of situations in which an allegorical-symbolic action is visible to any reader. A second category consists of actions less visible to twenty-first century audiences but resonant for the original playgoers, as with the exit to Hell on the Devil’s back found in the late moral plays and invoked in 1 Henry IV. My third, more elusive category consists of less visible bits of staging that served as signifiers in the original theatrical vocabulary yet are no longer apparent to modern audiences. If our expectations are keyed solely to assumptions about realism and verisimilitude, are we losing sight of alternative ways in which ideas and emotions may have been conveyed to the original playgoers?


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pp. 391-402
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