Histriomastix otherwise known as the Player’s Scourge or Actor’s Tragedy is a pieces of art, which lays criticism on professional theatre and the actors by lightening up their characters and behavior. Histriomastix directs its focus on how prostitution was portrayed on both the Jacobean and the Elizabethan stage. The article further discusses prostitution in the modern stage as opposed to how it was viewed historically, religiously and in the judicial context. Histriomastix begins by creating a distinction between a prostitute and the market place; the finding is both the prostitute and the goods in the market circulate the same way with the prostitute being her own commodity. Just as in the theater, the prostitute is able to present a situation in which whatever is sold has no value. While in some of the stages, the prostitutes play their societal expected roles in other stages the roles are disguised representing double standards (Prynne, 1999).
The treatment of prostitution is not only treated as a morality issue that should be condemned but also in the most unlikely manner, the actors portray the prostitute and prostitution in a series of metaphoric analogies. This is not that different from the challenges that face women perception and in the way, they are handled. The unfairness to women as viewed to be lesser beings manifests in the piece of art as shown and handled during prostitution scenarios (Gless, 1999). In the Histriomastix as an early modern representation of prostitute, the aspect is openly brought out as merely a sexual ideology. The actor brands the prostitute as a representative of the lost lot and a whore according to the pronouncements. The prostitute represents insatiable appetite, morally degraded personality with a contaminated body and the worst they are branded is the devil’s colleague. Histriomastix deals with prostitution in three major contexts, which range from materialism with respect to culture, performance theory and the feminist theory. In these scenarios, performance theory largely presents the clear difference between the sexual actors and the female roles while materialism is used to vividly show who the prostitute is despite the fact that the prostitute voice cannot be accessed (Prynne, 1999). This presents both the early and the modern prostitutes as ephemerals, that is individuals who cannot be are never heard anywhere and the extreme cases they are heard through the voice of men behind the scenes. The women presented as prostitutes also do not reflect the exact number as they only represent a smaller fraction of the workers. The courts have a biased reflection of the women with those taking care of the higher ranks in society not brought to the limelight. The voices of the prostitutes are minimized as much as possible but I strive to bring it openly for them to advocate for their rights when I am able to do so (Gless, 1999).
The study can also be termed as feminist given the lack of difference between prostitution as it was in the early days and today. The sexual ideology and the prostitute still expose quite a similarity of the modern and the older era about women and their configuration. The prostitute is extremely presented as a very bad character and an extreme example of a whore to make the young girls to refrain from the behavior (Gless, 1999). The one sex model ideology that demand for a clear distinction of a male and a female does not apply in the case where the boy in the play performs a female role in the prostitution struggles. The boy is therefore presented as possessing both feminine and masculine characters as opposed to simply seeing the boy as male whom he actually is.
One sex model is ignored while accepting the other competing ideologies a concept, which presents sex as a sliding scale proving Freud’s model of, ‘penis envy’. For those theorizing a boy the boy and his multisexual present ability will though accept the one sex model. This theory in fact is against the biblical models, which clearly makes a clear separation between the male and the female in terms of sex. The reading further stresses the belief by early English modern that sexual transformation from female to males was much possible in the physical context. The reading through its critics rather goes against this stating it is a naïve conception to imagine that a female is able to change and become a male (Prynne, 1999). This is supported by the fact that there has never been a situation where a male had transformed into a female and it would be illogical to expect the opposite to occur.
As opposed to the modern context where prostitution is defined as the act where women exchange sex for money, the Jacobean and the Elizabethan era presented a different definition. As observed by Ruth in hers studies there has existed a lot of transformation in form of the terms used to describe events. In the medieval context therefore, prostitution is defined as the public display of the woman body and to an extent, it would also mean the sale of the body. The definition of prostitute and prostitution includes the facts of openness; commonness and indiscriminate offer of the bodies and by an extent involve an exchange of such bodies in an unclean manner. The act of prostitution has never been accepted among the biblical society hence it is often expressed as the most ungodly act and viewed as the dirtiest behavior ever witnessed on the planet. Prostitutes are viewed in the society as people who do not posses any acceptable character and dirty hence the clean members of the society must not mingle with them in the utmost extreme (Gless, 1999).
Through the subjects of husbands and wives, the Shakespeare's measure for measure publicly talks about prostitution, marriage and custom. Marriage is described as an open ceremony or act that must be conducted in an open manner to the whole society to know. His according to Shakespeare does not negate the marriages that do not take place in the limelight. The link that connects prostitution to dirt is literal apart from being metaphorical. This is due to the fact that for one to be a prostitute, it means they are open to everybody hence unspecified uncleanness. This act is proved to posses some implications most so to culture. This is viewed in the perception that the female body is viewed as a body that is highly open to uncleanness and can contaminate the male body. A prostitute in this case is viewed as unclean in the sense that they are open to risks of contamination, consumption and penetration of the male bodies in which they come from. This is the express fact that prostitution is prohibited as the woman is much open too much of the uncleanness (Gless, 1999).
Through the approaches to explain prostitution by Histriomastix, the act is a vice and hence not acceptable in the contemporary society. The negatives right from cultural negative image all the way to the impact it has on the health of the parties involved cannot be tolerated. Even the dignified scholars in the society like Shakespeare also advocate for this position zero tolerance to prostitution and an acceptance to clean marriages. Women are also able to make men effeminate hence; they are quite dangerous to men through their sexual passion. Femininity is also contagious and this is caused by lust, which results from visualization of the woman by the men (Prynne, 1999). The women are though not able to have a control of themselves without the surveillance of the men as this renders all women prostitutes. This is because of two reasons mainly, one is their libidinous nature and secondly is the corruption by other older females.
Concerning prostitution, the women are therefore advised to handle themselves with the utmost decorum and be faithful to those they consider their men. This has the impact of saving the world a great deal of costs in terms of diseases resulting from uncleanness; it would also subject the society to healthy marriages. The men must also act right by playing their god given role of providing to the women. This will make them desist from prostitution as an exchange or business where they exchange their bodies for money (Gless, 1999). In this manner the society shall have been relieved.