Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Ben Jonson's The Alchemist. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Alchemist: Introduction
The Alchemist: Plot Summary
The Alchemist: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Alchemist: Themes
The Alchemist: Quotes
The Alchemist: Characters
The Alchemist: Symbols
The Alchemist: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Ben Jonson
Historical Context of The Alchemist
Other Books Related to The Alchemist
- Full Title: The Alchemist
- When Written: 1610
- Where Written: London, England
- When Published: 1610
- Literary Period: English Renaissance
- Genre: Comedy
- Setting: London, England, in 1610 during an outbreak of the bubonic plague.
- Climax: Face’s victims converge on Lovewit’s house with the police looking for justice, but Lovewit convinces them that his house has been shut up for weeks and was taken over by criminal conmen.
- Antagonist: Lovewit
Extra Credit for The Alchemist
Famous Friends. In 1597, when Jonson staged his first successful play, Every Man in His Humour, William Shakespeare was one of the very first actors to be cast in the new production.
A Deadly Duel. In 1598, Jonson killed an actor named Gabriel Spencer in a duel and was sent to London’s Newgate Prison for manslaughter. Jonson was sentenced to hang for his crime, but his life was spared with the help of a Jesuit priest. Afterward, Jonson converted to Catholicism, but he soon grew weary of the religion and converted back to Protestantism.