Brett Greatley-Hirsch deposited Jewish Questions in Robert Wilson’s The Three Ladies of London on Humanities Commons 7 years ago
In the history of portraying Jews on the early modern stage, critics frequently cite Robert Wilson’s The Three Ladies of London as an anomaly. The play’s first modern editor, H.S.D. Mithal, went so far as to describe Gerontus as ‘a character sui generis’, quite unlike Marlowe’s porridge-poisoning Machiavel, Shakespeare’s knife-whetting usurer, and the devilish doctor in Selimus. This essay explores the questions raised by Wilson’s portrayal of Gerontus, paying particular attention to their critical and theatrical implications. What was understood by the term ‘Jew’ and how might Elizabethan audiences have recognized Gerontus as a Jew? Is the play really an anomaly of early modern theatre history?