But she conquered all my modesty, and all my fears; and in a little time, by the help of this confederate, I grew as impudent a thief, and as dexterous as ever Moll Cutpurse
was, though, if fame does not belie her, not half so handsome.
In the meantime, all the beggars, all the lackeys, all the cutpurses
, joined with the scholars, had gone in procession to seek, in the cupboard of the law clerks' company, the cardboard tiara, and the derisive robe of the Pope of the Fools.
Yes, he said; at any rate those of them who are able to be perfectly unjust, and who have the power of subduing states and nations; but perhaps you imagine me to be talking of cutpurses
Fictionalized dramatization of Mary Frith, aka Moll Cutpurse
, a notorious criminal who dressed as a man and preferred her freedom to marriage.
The play invokes London place names like Katherine's Dock, Newgate, Tyburn, and Westminster, and London fixtures like bear-baiting and the roaring girl Moll Cutpurse
, in conjunction with Dog, creating the sense of a community that, both geographically and metaphorically, is not many miles away from the audience's lived reality (3.1.82-3; 4.2.200; 5.1.215, 217, 176-7).
If people don't use wallets, the cutpurse
will be jobless.
For maximum comic effect and to enable the audience to appreciate fully the cutpurse
's artful skill, the stage should be bare of large structures, such as a property booth.
This is crystallized in The Winter's Tale, where we see the cutpurse
, rogue and ballad-seller Autolycus's strategies of deceit, telling customers that his ballads are "very pitiful, and as true" (4.4.281).
Lee elicits empathy, but never pity, from the reader, and although the emotional and moral complexities of his life as a cutpurse
and street fighter are never fully filled in, his story is sure to find a receptive audience among sympathetic American readers.
At about the same time, there was Mary Frith, AKA pickpocket Moll Cutpurse
, and a giant known only as Daniel, who towered 7ft 6in, had been a porter to Oliver Cromwell and was a clairvoyant who predicted the Great Fire of London and the Great Plague.
This is essentially the same sentiment as that expressed by another picaro thief in another novela ejemplar, "Rinconete y Cortadillo." Cortadillo contends to Monipodio that no self-respecting cutpurse
would confess under torture, " como si tuviese mas letras un no que un si!" (1: 216).
A more accomplished essay is Pascale Drouets analysis of the infamous Mary Frith alias Moll Cutpurse
. He finds in the colourful fictional representations of, and historical documents referring to, Moll Cutpurse
an intriguing connection.