June 11, 2011

Pierce Penniless, His Supplication to the Devil

Posted by Retya Elsivia at 10:12 PM

Pierce Penniless is a satire prose by Thomas Nashe. Thomas Nashe is the famous satirist, fiction writer, playwright, poet and pamphleteer in Rennaissance English period. He loved prose, and wrote it with an energy and a verve that impressed, irked, and intimidated his contemporaries, from barbers to scholars to bureaucrats (Thomas Nashe by Poetry Foundation). Thomas Nashe was born in Lowestoft in 1567, his father was a minister named William Nashe and his mother who named Nee Witchingham. In 1581, he entered St. John's College, Cambridge. In 1588, he went to London and associated with Robert Greene and other professionals writers. His first work was published in 1589, The Anatomie of Absurditie and the Preface to Greene's Menaphon.
            He married a granddaughter of William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Hall on 22 April 1626 at Holy Trinity church in Stratford-upon-Avon. They had no children. He is very anti-Puritan like a pamphlet written in 1589, The Anatomy of Absurdity. Thomas Nashe in Poetry Foundation says:
The Puritans are hypocritical, ignorant, and subversive. They oppose learning and threaten commonwealths with their insubordination.
 (Thomas Nashe by Poetry Foundation).                                                                                       
This attitude brought him into the case of Martin Marprelate. Martin Marprelate is a pen name of a radical Protestant came from Puritan group which in 1589 published a pamphlet criticizing the Church of England. These pamphlets are illegal but the pamphlets are very popular in Renaissance English period at that time because of very daring and exciting that makes everyone read it.
In this case, the government hired the author to attack that anonymous author to make their own writing style, which these authors include John Lily who has a bad case previously with Gabriel Harvey who a Cambridge scholar, and other writers is Thomas Nashe. John Lily with the pseudonym name "Pap" criticizing Gabriel Harvey as a Martinist and his writings Three Letters that was published in 1580. Since then a quarrel occurred between John Lily and Harvey that also involves Thomas Nashe who anti-Martinist pamphleteers and he also a fellow of the John Lily. As the result, Harvey made ​​ extreme criticized Nashe's Preface to Greene's Menaphon (Robert Greene is John Lily that both of them established Church Position). After that, in August 1592, Nashe respond by satire prose entitled Pierce Penilesse, His Supplication to the Divell.
            Pierce Penilles told about a melancholy young man who named Pierce. Nashe was generally identified with Pierce and he try apparently adopted him as his own persona. Pierce who devoted himself to study but still got abuse and neglect for his effort. He looks cobbler is thrive and educated people or scholars go hungry. He failed in maintaining his financial which make his lived in squalor financial. This condition make him so distraught then make his last choice is asking help to the devil. He found the spirit in the soul of someone who swears a false when deliver his supplication to the devil. The knight reads the supplication that the satire is the seven deadly sins that have corrupted Elizabethan London. Kind of the sins are vanity, greed, hypocrisy and ambition. The story ended when Pierce was asked to knight to tell him about the nature of devils and hell. Thomas Nashe in Graffiti Artist stated Praising Sir Philip Sidney as a true 'Scholler', Nashe sets off to find himself a new patron in the form of 'a certaine blind Retayler called the Diuell'… (Graffiti Artist)
            Pierce Pennilles that relate to Nashe’s live reality describe about a case which lack of generous patrons. Nashe disappointed with his patrons, Oxford failed to keep their promise to pay his financial which is rent on apartments that as result make Nashe spending his time in debtor’s prison. Nashe wants to tell the state through his work on a society deteriorating around him who fails to appreciate the scholars and artists for prioritizing material gains and social status as well as exclude the values ​​of intellectual.
            Then in 1593, Thomas Nashe wrote Strange News (or the Four Letters Confuted) responded to Gabriel Harvey writing Foure Letters, and certaine Sonnets about Greene's death destitution. The quarrel between them always occurred and continue following the publication of the works of Thomas Nashe, such as Christ's Tears over Jerusalem (1593) Terrors of the Night (1594) The Unfortunate Traveller (1594), Have with You to Saffron-Walden (1596), Isle of Dogs (1597 with Ben Jonson), Nashe's Lent Stuffe (1599). This quarrel ended in 1599 with the help of Archbishop Whitgift and Richard Bancroft, Bishop of London, which commands that the banning all works of Nashe’s satire and Harvey’s satire hereafter, for the new book will be burnt and will not printed anymore.
According to Edmund Gosse in his article The Life and Writings of Thomas Nashe, Pierce Penniless is a grotesque satire on the vices and the eccentricities of the age. As a specimen of prose style it is remarkable for its spirit and "go," qualities which may enable us to forget how turbid, ungraceful, and harsh it is. Nash had now dropped the mannerism of the Euphuists, he had hardly gained a style of his own. "Pierce Penniless," with its chains of "letter-leaping metaphors," rattles breathlessly on, and at length abruptly ceases. Any sense of the artistic fashioning of a sentence, or of the relative harmony of the parts of a composition, was not yet dreamed of (cited on Gosse)
In other ways, A Journal of Comparative and General Literary Studies in New Comparison stated in Pierce Penniless has hybrid structure. Pierce is very much an authorial persona, as many of Nashe's contemporaries literally assumed him to be, but the work consists of a diatribe- Pierce's long, rambling, vituperative "Supplication", which is a letter of complaint to the Devil - inserted into the framework of a non-parodic fiction that achieved a high level of imaginative development. In this, the narrator Pierce declares himself to the reader, goes out to seek, finds and discourses with a servant of the Devil, who as we might perhaps expect, is abroad on the streets of London in the guise of an informer (or knight of the post). But the work ends with the abrupt putting aside of the persona so that the author can address the reader in his own voice. Pierce Penniless begins as a kind of economlc protest. Pierce sees that money and generous patronage have somehow been sucked out of the system that wealth has landed instead in the hands of men too ignorant or mean to use it for the country's good by encouraging scholarship and the arts. Lacking an appropriate theoretical framework, Nashe is obliged to attribute his country's ills - and his own - to the sins and moral failings that the Church had anathematized down the ages. But his plea that gold…." the poor man's god and idol of princes, that looks pale and wan through long imprisonment, might at last be restored to his powerful monarchy ...," and his demonstration of how money is prevented from working effectively by the greed, avarice and materialism that are features of the sins he condemns, indicate that his perception of the effects of the rise of new middle class in England was acute. (A Journal of Comparative and General Literary Studies : 1991)
Pierce Penilesse, His Supplication to the Divell, I conclude that the prose full of passion and colloquial diction with bizarre characterizations of devil that is imaginative fantasy. This work also has a brilliant linguistics language with the authorial persona but a lack of coherence between the works. As we see by comparing the plot in the first and the end of the prose. We can see the satire of this prose from supplication to the devil that means seven deadly sins upon the body politic of England, one of the examples of Elizabethan grotesque invented. Describing of the nature of devil and hill that Puritan disagree with this. Nashe often put his attitude that anti-Martinist and Puritan in each his work. In this work we can see how economic and social problems that character face at that time could be fine with religious solution. This prose got many critics from society as one of this causes is this prose show the economic protest to the society whereas the society undervalue intellectual of scholar and artists.  
1.      Gosse, Edmund. The Vnfortunate Traveller or The Life of Jack Wilton With an Essay on. London.
2.      Poetry Foundation. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/thomas-nashe
3.      New Comparison. 1991. A Journal of Comparative and General Literary Studies.
4.      West, Philip. Graffiti Artist. Thomas Nashe. Phil West's Tutorial Pages.


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