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This Jacobean city comedy is a curiosity in that it presents a
real-life character, the notorious cross-dresser Moll Frith, who
probably was among the first audiences of 'her' play before she was
taken up for public misconduct. Middleton and Dekker's 'roaring girl'
may outrage her society with her pipe, bluster and swagger, but she
turns out to be the moral centre of the play. Her code of honour leads
her to call the bluff on rogues and conspicuous consumers, to thrash a
hypocritical gallant in a duel, and to act as go-between for the young
lovers thwarted by parental tyranny. This wry dramatisation of female
deviancy exposing male ineffectuality is as much to the point today as
it was in King James's England. An appendix helps the modern reader to
appreciate the canting terms used by the low-life characters.