The use of a character in disguise has played a major role in the thematic development in many plays in Renaissance Drama. In Thomas Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday the reader is introduced to Rowland Lacy, who takes the disguise of a lower class shoemaker, so that he can be with Rose. In the play Epicene Ben Johnson uses a young boy disguised as a woman to help Dauphine receive his rightful inheritance. The Shoemaker’s Holiday and Epicene both use the tool of disguise, however each play uses disguise to address different social topics. The Shoemaker’s Holiday uses the idea of disguise to address the topics of trade among other countries, peace instead of war, and lower social status for love while Epicene uses the vehicle of disguise to look at isolation and community, marriage ceremony, and the wife’s role in a marriage. .
In Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday the character Lacy goes in disguise has Hans, a shoemaker from Germany. Hans in hired to work with Eyre, the main shoemaker. Dekker uses this hire of Hans to explore two ideas of trade among different countries. The first idea of trade is in the hire of Hans. In scene four, Firk, one of the shoemakers says, Master, for my life, yonder’s a brother of the Gentle Craft Hire him, good master, that I may learn some gibble-gabble. Twill make us work the faster” (46-49). One could see, make us work the faster,” not only as a chance to enjoy work but also as a way to learn skills from a different country. By hiring Hans the shoemakers are also trading cultures and learning about a new group of people. The second idea of trade among countries happens when, through Hans, Eyre gets the deal of a lifetime from the Skipper. Dekker is showing the importance of trade in this scene when Hodge, one of the shoemakers, tells Firk, The truth is, Firk, that the merchant owner of the ship dares not show his head for the love he bears to Hans, offers my master Eyre a bargain in the commodities” (17-20).