First performed in 1610, The Alchemist is one of Ben Jonson’s greatest comedies. Written for the King’s Men—the acting company to which Shakespeare belonged—it was first performed in Oxford because the playhouses in London were closed due to the plague. It was an immediate success and has remained a popular staple ever since.
The play centers around a con man, his female accomplice, and a roguish butler who uses his master’s house to gull a series of victims out of their money and goods. Jonson uses the play to satirize as many people as he can—pompous lords, greedy commoners, and self-righteous Anabaptists alike—as his three con artists proceed to bilk everyone who comes to their door. They don multiple roles and weave elaborate tales to exploit their victim’s greed and amass a small fortune. But it all comes to a sudden, raucous end when the master unexpectedly returns to London and all the victims gather to try and reclaim their property.
This ebook is only thought to be free of copyright restrictions in the United States. It may still be under copyright in other countries. If you’re not located in the United States, you must check your local laws to verify that the contents of this ebook are free of copyright restrictions in the country you’re located in before downloading or using this ebook.
A brief history of this ebook
Finish metadata and initial publication
Improve this ebook
Anyone can contribute to make a Standard Ebook better for everyone!
To report typos, typography errors, or other corrections, see how to report errors.
If you’re comfortable with technology and want to contribute directly, check out this ebook’s GitHub repository and our contributors section.