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Ben Jonson - The Alchemist

Ben Jonson (1573-1637) was one of the foremost of the Jacobean dramatists. He wrote a number of plays (both comedies and tragedies) and a series of stylised masques for the Court. He had a keen eye for the follies of his contemporaries, and in this play he particularly satirises human gullibility. He displays considerable understanding of alchemy and makes many jokes based on its symbolism (and in two places even refers to Dee and Kelly). He obviously expected the audience for this play to have some knowledge of alchemical ideas. Jonson's The Alchemist written in 1610, thus presents us with a satirical window through which we can see one way in which alchemy was perceived in the opening decade of the 17th century.

The First Act
The Second Act
The Third Act
The Fourth Act
The Fifth Act

The characters in the play:-

Subtle - The Alchemist.
Face - The house-keeper, otherwise Lovewit's butler Jeremy.
Dol Common - The conspirator of Subtle and Face.

Lovewit - The owner of the house in which Subtle sets up his work.
Dapper - A Lawyer's Clerk, who wants Subtle to help him in gambling.
Abel Drugger - A Tobacco merchant, who wants Subtle to assist him, through magic in setting up an apothecaries shop.
Sir Epicure Mammon - A Knight, who wants Subtle's help in making him wealthy.
Tribulation Wholesome - A Pastor of Amsterdam.
Ananias - A Deacon, colleague of Tribulation. These religious brothers want Subtle's help in minting money to help establish Puritanism in Britain.
Kastril - The angry boy, recently come into an inheritance. He wants Subtle's help in aiding him to win fights.
Dame Pliant - A widow, sister of Kastril, wants to know her fortune in marriage.
Pertinax Surly - A Gamester, who sees through the deceptions.
Neighbours, Officers, Attendants.

The action takes place in Lovewit's house in London, while he is away in the country.

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