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Gammer Gurton's Needle is a play written at Cambridge University sometime in the first half of the sixteenth century. The author is unknown. Although Gammer makes use of a vice character, it is in no way a morality play: it is pure farce. The whole thing is a mess. While this play has none of the "greatness" of English drama a half a century later, it is thoroughly hilarious. I laughed out loud many times.

Gammer Gurton is an old woman who loses her only needle while mending a pair of pants belonging to her servant, Hodge. Hodge, needless to say, is very upset by this because now he has to wear pants full of holes. Most of the play involves the search for the missing needle. Diccon, a crazy beggar, starts making some plots. He pretends to summon the devil to ask his advice. Hodge, who was present for the beginning of this "ceremony," is so scared that he first loses control of his bowels and then runs off. For much of the rest of the play, he is addressed as "shitten knave," or some similar title.

Diccon claims that the devil told him that the answer to this problem would be found between cat, Rat, and Chat. "Chat" is Dame Chat, an old woman who lives across the street. Diccon now claims to have seen her steal the needle. Separately, he goes and tells Dame Chat that Gammer Gurton thinks she stole her cock and ate him. Dame Chat is thoroughly angry at this unfounded accusation (completely unfounded, as it happens, for the cock is still alive this whole time). Gammer Gurton turns up at Chat's house, and they lay into each other. The two old women fight until both are on the ground.

Gammer Gurton decides to get help, and so she calls in Doctor Rat. He is updated on the story so far. Diccon tells that he saw Chat steal the needle, but also says he can show Rat a place in Chat's garden where he can see her using it. Meanwhile, Diccon tells Chat that Hodge is going to try to sneak into her garden and kill her chickens, so she should watch the hole in the fence carefully.

Needless to say, Doctor Rat gets beat up. So he calls in the Bailiff, who does not understand why he's being asked to prosecute a woman for attacking a man who was sneaking into her garden in the middle of the night. Gradually, all the characters are called before the Bailiff to testify, and the truth comes out: Gammer Gurton lost her needle, and Diccon made up all kinds of stories to make everyone angry at each other. Diccon is given a rather mild punishment, and he jovially slaps Hodge on the ass. Hodge feels a prick then, and discovers the needle in his pants.

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