The Chester's Play of Noah's Flood


The Chester’s play of Noahs flood is based on the story of the Bible, so it belongs to the Mystery play. The plot of this play follows the plot of the story in the Bible. At the beginning, God tells Noah that he will put an end to all the people on earth because of their violent and evil deeds. Noah is the only one good man whom god believes, so he is told to build an ark and, besides his family, he has to take into a male and a female of every kind of animals and bird. In the Bible, Noah takes his family and the creatures into the ark without any problem; however, in the play, he gets problems to get his wife into the boat because she can not leave her friends alone and just goes away. Then, the rain fell on the earth for forty days and nights. The flood destroys all the creatures on earth and only those on the ark survive. The play end with the doves returning to Noah with an olive leaf in its break and the promise of God that flood will never destroy all living beings on earth any more (p.318, line 3).


In God promise, he mentions the rainbow. Rainbow, actually, is a sign of the covenant between God and all living beings on earth. When they see the rainbow in the sky, they will remember the promise of God. The number seven appears in the play several times (p.312 lines 118, 123. P. 313 line 137). In the Bible, the number seven is a meaningful number. It suggests the completion of a cycle, perfect order.

Analysis of the character of Noah's wife:

Comparing the story of Noahs ark in the Bible and the Chesters play of Noah’s flood, the most different part between them must be the character of Noah’s wife. In the bible, there is no any description about Noah’s wife, but in this play, Noahs wife is an important character who makes the play more interesting. In the Chesters play, she is a very bad-tempered woman, and it seems that she thinks her friends are more important than her family (p. 314 lines 200-8). She would rather stay with her gossips than go with her family. She thinks her friends love her more and she is the only person who can save them. Bot Noah can not leave his wife alone, so he asks his sons to drag his wife into the ark. When his wife gets into the boat, something interesting happened.

            Noah. Welcome, wife, into the boat.

  Noahs wife. {slaps him} Have thou that for thy note!
            Noah. Aha, Mary, this is hot!

            It is good for to be still. (p.315 Lines 245-8)

Noahs wife seems to be very unhappy to get on the boat and hits Noah. Noah is not angry, he just says, it is good to be still. It means he had better keep silent. Here, it seems that Noah is a henpecked husband; however, he is not really so coward. We know that women were always belittled in the Middle Ages. The idea is also shown in this play. It is obvious that the is a very insensible and unwise woman although she seems more powerful than Noah. However, even though Noah’s wife shows the terrible image of woman, she still plays an important part in this play because she offers the function of entertainment. Actually, she was very popular in that times.