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Title: Illicit power and passion : the horror plays of the 1670s
Author: Hermanson, Anne Melissa
ISNI:       0000 0001 3554 2326
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2007
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A decade after the Restoration of Charles II, a disturbing group of tragedies burst onto the London stage. Ten years later they were gone - absorbed into the partisan frenzy which enveloped the theatre at the height of the Exclusion Crisis. Some modern critics have dubbed these plays the horror or the blood-and-torture villain tragedies. As a group, they possess a definable set of traits and motifs which distinguish them from the . earlier heroic plays on the one hand, and from later sentimental tragedy on the other. They are characterised, abo~'all, by a cynical and unrelenting depiction of evil, violent spectacle, an insatiable human drive for power, an explicit ~bsence of providential justice, and a 10$s of faith in moral absolutes. This thesis is the first comprehensive study of these macabre tragedies and it takes place through the lens of the tumultuous social, religious, philosophical and political events of the 1670s. By the middle years of the Restoration, hopes of new-found peace and security under a constitutional monarchy had turned to disillusionment: Charles II had lost the trust of his parliament, and public fears were rife over his alliance with Catholic France. This was also, importantly, a time when groundbreaking scientific discoveries, based on empirical data, bolstered a materialistic view of the world: a view whic}l called into question seemingly infrangible moral, religious and philosophical certainties. Adopting the term 'horror' to characterise these plays, my contention is that the genre of horror gains its popularity at times of social dislocation. It reflects deep schisms in society, and English society was profoundly unsettled and in a (delayed) state of shock from years of social upheaval and civil conflict. Through recurrent images of monstrosity, madness, venereal disease, incest aiId atheism, the dramatists of the horror plays trope deep-seatea and unresolved anxieties. Ultimately, they take th~ir audience on an exploration ofhuman iniquity, thrusting them into an examination of man's relationship to God, power, justice and evil. English Literature: Seventeenth Century - Stuart Politics - Tragedy History and Literature - Restoration Literature - Nathaniel Lee - Thomas Otway - Thomas Shadwell- Aphra Behn - Elkanah Settle - John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester - John Dryden - John Crowne - Charles II
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available