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Gothic Stirrings on the Georgian Stage, 1740-1780

Nolson, Rachel (2017) Gothic Stirrings on the Georgian Stage, 1740-1780. Masters thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This dissertation explores the role of theatre in the development of the Gothic genre between 1740 - 1780. The study centres around five plays, which are John Home's Douglas [1756], Hall Hartson's The Countess of Salisbury [1765 ]. Arthur Murphy's The Grecian Daughter [1772], John Jackson's Eldred [1773], and Paul Hiffernan's The Heroine of the Cave [1775]. Chapter 1 explores how the Gothic emerged from anxieties caused by the threat of war and invasion. I explore how eighteenth-century struggles with heritage, national identity, and the concept of 'authenticity' contributed to the creation of early Gothic works. I also consider how Graveyard poetry was written in reaction to concerns about religion. The chapter closes with an exploration of Walpole's The Mysterious Mother in relation to these identified anxieties. Chapter 2 reflects upon the intersection of the Gothic with the school of sentimentalism. I consider how David Hume's philosophical theory of morality inspired the Gothic experience of feeling, and how 'gothic' dramatists juggled sentimental scenes with aims of edification. I then explore how the sentimental form was combined with the voguish interest in topography to form the trope of sublime nature. Chapter 3 addresses the connection between the rise of the Gothic and philosophical debates on suicide and melancholia. I explore how discussions of suicide are presented dramatically throughout the five selected plays, and consider how the atmosphere of melancholia comes to permeate the Gothic genre. Chapter 4 considers how sentimental portrayals of women were used to address the issue of national identity. I explore the metaphorical use of the female figure in the conceptualisation of national identity, observing the birth of the Gothic heroine from this reoccurring trope. Chapter 4 closes with an examination of the highly allegorical content of John Home's Douglas, which locates Gothic origins in crises of national identity and conflict.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Rachel Nolson
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2018 16:14
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2018 17:07
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/20751

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