As we have recently seen in The Changeling, villainous greed is not a successful route to obtain your goals. The same theme is reinforced here by Sir Giles Overreach in A New Way to Pay Old Debts. Massinger’s Overreach makes it known his true colors of extortion and abuse of power; “‘Twas for these good ends/ I made him a justice. He that bribes his belly/ Is certain to command his soul” (2.1.8–10). Going as low as helping his nephew Wellborn relieve himself of all his worth. Overreach goes on to reveal pride that he “value not an atom” of the religious right and wrong, (2.1.26). He creates devious plans to obtain the wealth of those around him concerned only with his position in the end. However, just like Beatrice, all his scheming is for naught. Overreach’s own greed becomes his downfall as he loses to the very people, good people, he planned to sabotage.
Happily, we end the semester with a comedy. One with a valuable lesson. Be weary of the over ambitious ones surrounding you, there is a fine line between ambition and greed. Greedy people will walk all over you if allowed and we should all be aware of them. I am glad to end with a play that didn’t require anyone’s tongue being cut out or children threatened to prove a point. Somehow, this 400 year old play says a lot for what a group of good people can do regardless of the position held by the opposition. Without becoming political, it amazes me how this play points out that if one greedy tyrant is stopped, many other lives can flourish.