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Title: Patterns of mischief : the impact of the Gunpowder Plot on the Jacobean stage 1605-16
Author: Buckley, Victoria
ISNI:       0000 0004 2739 5823
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis surveys the impact of the Gunpowder Plot upon the Jacobean stage 1605-16. While historians have long dismissed the Plot as a failed attack undertaken by a group of disenfranchised radicals, its influence on the cultural imagination of English dramatists has largely been overlooked. By surveying details of the Plot itself, and the non-dramatic texts circulating in its immediate aftermath, it becomes clear that non-dramatic Protestant authors responded to the Powder Treason with fear and panic, writing alarmist and inflammatory texts designed to demonise Catholics. These texts include ballads, sermons, and poetry. This circulating Protestant discourse developed specific linguistic Gunpowder paradigms and motifs, which subsequently began to appear on the London stage from 1606. With close readings of a number of plays produced during this period, this thesis demonstrates that playwrights incorporated specific Gunpowder tropes into drama, leading to the creation of a number of Gunpowder plays in the years 1606-16. Gunpowder plays include motifs of undermining, witchcraft, possession, demonic activity, equivocation, treason, and sedition. They also often include depictions of the two women from Revelation, known respectively as the Woman Clothed with the Sun, and the Whore of Babylon. In addition, this thesis reveals that subsequent political events, such as the murder of Henry IV of France in 1610 and the Overbury Scandal of 1613-16, reinforced fear of Catholic terrorism, and were thus incorporated into drama during this period, often conflated with the Powder Plot by playwrights, and circumnavigated via the Gunpowder motifs established in 1606. Moreover, one Gunpowder play, Macbeth, emerges as the definitive dramatic response to the Powder Treason. This thesis seeks to establish that the Gunpowder Plot had such a profound effect on the Jacobean cultural imagination that it provoked a watershed in English drama.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DA385 Early Stuarts ; 1603-1642 ; PR0431 17th century