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In Fire from Heaven, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Flea, the authors take a stance on men and women committing sinful acts and using it as a main position in their work. They write from a very religious perspective which is probably due to the time period in which their work was written about. They develop this idea in very different perspectives to get their point across. They express this position vividly throughout their work.
David Underdown didn\'t live in this time period, but his work was a work of history and his ideas coincided with those of the Puritans. He uses these ideas to take a position on the Puritan\'s side and to better explain the good they were trying to achieve. The Puritans of Dorchester as we have learned about our reading, were a very religious group who wanted to create the perfect society. Their mission in Dorchester was to make extinct all the sinful acts of the townspeople. The struggle they started soon ended in failure. They were a definite influence upon his work. His views of sexual misconduct between married men and women being worse than that between unmarried people probably come from his growing up in a more modern world. The Puritans probably did distinguish some, but it wasn\'t very prominent or apparent. His makes this point clear in the passage, "Misbehavior among married people was especially serious, as it was likely to disrupt existing families, which were of course regarded as the essential foundations of any ordered, virtuous society(p.66)." The Puritan influence is very prominent in excerpt from the previous quote, "families,... the essential foundations of any ordered, virtuous society(p.66)." Underdown also makes a reference to the others towns in the area and how the Puritan presence made a difference, "It is unlikely that Dorchester people were any more, or any less, loose in their sexual habits than their neighbors in other place. But stories of their misdeeds even in the years of the puritan ascendancy are abundant(p.66)." With this passage the author shows how the presence of the Puritans changed the total view of the town and its people.
Underdown used the sinful acts between men and women to draw out people and draw a greater conclusion. This greater conclusion being the cause of the Puritans and how virtuous they actually were. The point of laying a mark on people is easy to see in the excerpt, "An assault charge against Parkins in July 1629 was followed by a scattering of others for swearing, drinking and absence from church. But it was his sexual promiscuity that really marked him out(p.67)." The charges against were serious and undoubtably frowned upon, but the fact that he was sexually promiscuous is what separated him from society. The fact that he, "In September 1629 he was alleged to be abusing his position as trustee for a neighbor imprisoned for debt, by sleeping with his wife(p.67)." Some other accounts of his misbehavior are in the passage, "In May 1634 the constables found him in a upstairs room at Christopher Jenkin\'s notoriously disorderly house with an unmarried woman named Sarah Harris, and in the following August he was accused of having raped Mary Jefferies(p.67)." There was a lot of shame in being involved in such acts even if the person did not participate willingly. A case like this was mentioned in the passage, "In January 1635 a more plausible charge of rape was made by Basil Cooke, daughter of a respectable alehousekeeper, William Cooke. Even then the girl\'s parents waited five days before going to the magistrates, during which time Parkins\'s friends the Hasselburys (in whose house the incident occurred) offered Basil\'s mother five pounds to hush it up(p.68)." There were many other incidents like these written in detail throughout Fire from Heaven. Through all these documentations Underdown draws up the big picture of how all these incidents of sin helped overthrow the Puritans. He draws his conclusion from the thought that the Puritans just couldn\'t break the Dorchester townspeople from their sinful habits.
Shakespeare\'s play Much Ado About Nothing is a play of passion and deceit. The plot draws its strength from the thought of a sinful act committed between a man and woman. Shakespeare
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Congregationalism, English Reformation, Puritans, David Underdown, Much Ado About Nothing, Lust, Flea
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