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The persecuted Dutchman, or, The original John Schmidt : a farce in one act

by S Barry

  Book   Microform : Micro-opaque  |  New ed., rev. and improved

Light, Low Humor. Fun and easy to read.   (2014-12-09)

Very Good

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by SouthernMuse

The Persecuted Dutchman is a simple farce. The play is unsophisticated and easy to read. It would play well to modern audiences of low humor. Much of the humor is due to malapropisms by the inn's staff, puns due to Schmidt's thick accent and poor grasp of the English language, and comical situations.

Schmidt, the persecuted Dutchman, is a stereotype of the 19th century German or Dutch minority. He is a poor peddler who has trouble collecting his debts. Consequently, he also has trouble paying his debts. He is "te original John Schmidt," not the other John Smith, as he keeps trying to explain. He is the typical rustic and lovable buffoon of the story. All of the characters are familiar stock characters.

Originally, I read the play as part of some Civil War research. The play pre-dated the war by nearly a decade, but was still being performed during the war. I was particularly looking for clues as to the treatment of a Dutch or German minority during the war. I found the play humorous and enjoyable.

Summary:

The action takes place at a 19th century inn. Augustus Clearstarch and Miss Arabella have eloped, but are not yet married. Arabella is hiding from her father, Captain Blowhard, who wants her to marry cousin Soberly.

The Dutchman is a peddler, looking for a cheap room for the night. The staff at the inn accuse him of being "mean" (that is, stingy). He orders a three-cent beer and wants two cents in change. He begs a free onion. He complains about the price of the room.

Teddy, the Irish butler (a "lazy Irish bog-trotter," as the landlady calls him) wants his "parquisites" (perquisites, or gratuity). He takes the Dutchman's boots to black them, intending to keep them as ransom if he doesn't get his tip. Both Teddy and Schmidt use an interesting expression: "nix cum a rouse in a Dutchman's house."

Captain Blowhard and Soberly show up at night looking for "Brown," who has seduced Blowhard's daughter. He confuses Schmidt for Brown and beats him. In fact, Schmidt always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and suffers much comical abuse during the night.

All ends well on a comical note.




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